Grammar Lesson: Identifying Objects in Sentences

Objects are a necessary grammatical component for students to understand if they are to develop proficiency in constructing meaning at the sentence level. When teaching objects, teachers should have students practice grammar, identify the object of a sentence and learn how objects function within the English language. Use this lesson to teach students about the types of objects used in English and how they function in sentences.

object of a sentence examples object of a sentence examples

Grammar Lesson Introduction to Identify Types of Objects in Sentences

Start with simple transitive verbs and clear direct objects before moving into the more complicated indirect objects and objects of prepositions. For the latter, a lesson in prepositions will need to precede a lesson in objects of prepositions if students are to be expected to identify this particular object.

Begin by explaining to students that there are three main types of objects in English:

  • direct objects
  • indirect objects
  • objects of prepositions

Specify that even though all three types perform somewhat related jobs in sentences, there are distinct differences in both position and function that they'll need to learn. Explain that you'll focus on one type of object at a time so they can master what they need to know to effectively construct sentences. Set expectations for the lesson by previewing how it will unfold.

  • Preview that you will provide some example sentences, then walk them through identifying what they need to know in order to identify the object.
  • Explain that once that happens, you'll use the classroom examples to explain the function and position of each type of object.
  • Review the relationship among subjects, predicates and objects before diving into the different types of objects.

Direct Instruction: Explaining Direct Objects

Of the three main types of objects, the first one that students typically learn to identify is the direct object. Explain to students that objects receive the action of the verb (specifically the transitive verb) in the sentence. For this type of object (direct), the subject of the sentence does something directly to the object (hence the name direct object).

Direct Objects Identification Activity

Use this activity to teach students how to identify the direct object in a sentence. Write each sentence on the board, without marking any of the words.

  • The young man threw the rock.
  • Juan kicked the ball.
  • Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence.
  • Richard Wright wrote Native Son.
  • Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

Lead students through the process of identifying the direct object of each sentence, one sentence at a time. Before getting started, and as needed throughout, reiterate that the subject is doing something (the verb) directly to the object. Read the first sentence, then go through the following steps.

  • First, have students identify the subject (italicized above). Mark the subject on the board.
  • Next, have them identify the verb (underlined above). Mark the verb on the board.
  • Next, ask students what word(s) within the sentence are receiving the action of the verb, as that will be the object (bold above). Mark the object on the board.

Repeat with all five sample sentences. You may also want to work through additional direct object examples.

Direct Objects Function and Position Activity

To expand on what students have learned about direct objects, go over the function and purpose of direct objects. Use the marked sentences written on the board to illustrate these concepts by drawing arrows or another marking to indicate position and function.

  • function - Explain that whatever the subject of the above sentence does (threw, kicked, signed, wrote, and invented), it does to the direct object (the rock, the ball, the Declaration of Independence, Native Son, and the light bulb).
  • position - Explain that direct objects are typically positioned directly after the transitive verb.

Direct Instruction: Explaining Indirect Objects

Once you have covered direct objects, it will be time to focus on indirect objects. Let students know that a sentence can include both direct and indirect objects. Explain that again, the object is receiving the action of the verb, but in an indirect way this time. Explain to students that sentences have indirect objects whenever when the subject of the sentence does something to something or someone else (indirectly). That is why the term indirect is used.

Indirect Objects Identification Activity

Use this activity to teach students how to identify the indirect object in a sentence. Write each sentence on the board, without marking any of the words. Mention that each sentence has both a direct and indirect object, but they should first focus on identifying the indirect objects.

  • I gave my girlfriend a rose.
  • Lisa told her niece a story.
  • Bruce sang his son a ballad.
  • Christian bought Elizabeth a watch.
  • Joshua built Emma a fence.

Repeat what you did for the direct object portion of the lesson, leading students through identifying the indirect object of each sentence, one sentence at a time. Before getting started, and as needed throughout, reiterate that the subject is doing something (the verb), but someone (or something else) will receive the result of that action. A noun other than the subject will receive the action of the verb, so that noun is the indirect object. Read the first sentence, then go through the following steps.

  • Begin by having students identify the subject of the sentence (italicized above). Mark the subject on the board.
  • Next, direct them to identify the verb (underlined above). Mark the verb on the board.
  • Then, ask students what word(s) are receiving the action of the verb, as that will be the object (bold above). Mark the object on the board.
  • Finally, in order to tie this part of the lesson to the previous part, ask students to identify each sentence's direct object. (The last word of each of these examples is a direct object.)

Repeat with each of the five example sentences. If needed, work through additional indirect object examples.

Direct Objects Function and Position Activity

As before, expand this activity by clarifying the function and position of indirect objects by drawing arrows or other marks on the board.

  • function - If the indirect objects were removed, the sentences would still make sense. However, the reader wouldn't know who or what the action was intended for.
  • position - The indirect object comes between the direct object and the action verb in the above sentences.

Direct Instruction: Explaining Objects of Prepositions

Once you have covered indirect objects, it will be time to focus on objects of prepositions. Objects of prepositions receive the action of the subject in the sentences, yet they need a preposition for the sentence to make sense.

  • For example, "We talked the war." is not grammatically correct.
  • The preposition "about" needs to be placed between "talked" and "war" for the sentence to make sense. "We talked about the war."

Point out that the objects of prepositions are often confused with direct objects because they also receive the action of the verb. However, the crucial difference is that the object of a proposition occurs after a preposition.

Indirect Objects Identification Activity

Use this activity to teach students how to identify the indirect object in a sentence. Write each sentence on the board, without marking any of the words.

  • We talked about the war.
  • Virginia swam across the bay.
  • The fisherman fell over the rail.
  • The dog rested by the fireplace.
  • Tim played in the street.

Repeat the identification activity, but in this case asking students to identify prepositions and objects of prepositions, one sentence at a time. Review some examples of prepositions before getting started. Reiterate that the object of a preposition always follows a preposition.

  • Begin by directing students to identify the preposition (underlined above). Mark the preposition on the board.
  • Next, ask the students to find the object of the preposition for each sentence (bold above). Mark the object of the preposition on the board.

Continue through each of the five examples. For additional options, use these examples of prepositional phrases.

Object of Preposition Function and Position Activity

As before, expand this activity by clarifying the function and position of the objects of prepositions by drawing arrows or other marks on the board.

  • function - These objects serve the same function as direct objects.
  • position - Reiterate that the object of a preposition always follows a preposition.

Identifying Objects in Grammar

When students practice grammar, identify objects and understanding how they function within sentences, the process is often slow. Objects are the first nouns that students work with in sentence predicates, so they are more complicated than the subject nouns students typically learn to identify first. Once students have mastered objects at this level, move on to subject and object complements.

Post a comment