Direct and indirect object: position

Some verbs can be followed by two objects – a direct object and an indirect object.

Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object

  • The President awarded John a gold medal. (indirect object – John; direct object – a gold medal)
  • My mother told me an interesting story.
  • We promised our guide a nice reward.
  • The teacher wished the boys all success.
  • He bade his friends a sad farewell.

‘The President awarded the gold medal’ to whom? To John.

‘We promised a nice reward to whom?’ To our guide.

The answer to the question to whom orĀ  for whom is the indirect object. It is usually a person or persons.

Subject + verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object

This order is preferred when the direct object is shorter than the indirect object, or when the indirect object has to be stressed.

  • He distributed chocolates to all the boys in his class. (Direct object – chocolates, Indirect object – all the boys in his class)
  • I don’t lend my books to anybody.
  • Don’t show the letter to any of your friends.
  • The hostess made coffee for all of us.
  • She ordered a new dress for herself.
  • The tailor made a suit for my father-in-law.


Complete the following sentences using an indirect object or a direct object, as required.

1. I bought ——————— a present.

2. He threw the beggar ———————-

3. The British Council offered him ———————

4. The man sent ——————– a message.


1. him / her / them / John / Alice etc
2. a coin / a loaf of bread etc
3. a scholarship / an award etc
4. me / us / them etc