Indirect object



What is your opinion on these sample sentences:

1.  John gave the boy the ball.
2.  John gave the ball to the boy.

Is boy an indirect object in the second sentence? Some grammar books say so.

I always thought the indirect object had to be between the verb and direct object. In sentence 2, I know the boy also still fits the indirect object definition of "to/for whom the action is done," but isn't boy the object of the preposition, or can it now be both?

Barbara Gasdick
Posted 22 February 2003


Marcella Frank says, in Modern English, A Practical Reference Guide (Regents/ Prentice Hall, 1993), page 8:

An object of the verb can be卆n indirect object. This is the second object TO or FOR which the action of the verb is directed. The indirect object precedes the direct object.

Please give that man some money.

The indirect object may also be expressed in a TO or FOR phrase after the direct object:

Please give some money to that man.

She says on page 191:

Although grammarians often classify the TO phrases after certain verbs as indirect objects, these phrases could with equal justification be called merely prepositional objects.

This probably doesn't help much! Nomenclature is not always consistent, and it's confusing.

See also Indirect objects with to and for