Verbs with Two Objects

Introduction to Verbs with Two Objects

When we construct sentences in English, we often use verbs along with objects. While most verbs typically have a single object, there is a range of transitive verbs that have two objects. This grammar tutorial will delve into the topic of verbs with two objects, also called ditransitive verbs. Through detailed explanations, examples, and rules, you'll understand how and when to use these verbs correctly, enhancing your sentence structure and the fluency of your expressions.

Understanding Ditransitive Verbs

A ditransitive verb, as the name suggests, takes two objects. These two objects are typically a direct object and an indirect object. The verb originally expresses an action, which is performed by the subject. This action is directly received by the direct object, while the indirect object is less directly involved.

Here is a classic example:

"Sarah gave John a gift."

In this sentence,

  • The subject is "Sarah".
  • The ditransitive verb is "gave".
  • The direct object is "a gift".
  • The indirect object is "John".

Placing the Indirect Object

While constructing a sentence with a ditransitive verb, you can place the indirect object immediately after the verb, or, after a prepositional phrase. Both these placements are correct and the choice essentially depends on style and emphasis.

Using the above characters, the sentence can then be written in two ways:

1. Sarah gave John a gift.

2. Sarah gave a gift to John.

In both these sentences, "John" is the indirect object.

Types of Ditransitive Verbs

1. Verbs of Giving

This group includes verbs such as 'give', 'send', 'show', and 'tell'. Essentially, these verbs express the action of passing something to someone. Here are a couple of examples:

"Kevin sent his mom a postcard."

"Rachel told her classmate a secret."

2. Verbs of Making

This group includes verbs like 'make', 'get', 'find'. Often, these are used when something is created or caused to exist. Here are some examples:

"He made his son a toy car."

"I will get you a cab."

3. Verbs of Saying

This group includes verbs like 'ask', 'promise', 'teach', which are used when there is an action of communication. Here are some sentences:

"The professor taught her student a valuable lesson."

"They asked him the directions."

Rules for Using Verbs with Two Objects

Rule 1: Verbs Must Agree with Their Objects

The verb must always agree with its subject, so when using ditransitive verbs, be sure that they correctly relate to the objects. Both objects should be involved in the action that the verb is expressing.

Rule 2: Correct Order of Objects

When you place the indirect object immediately after the verb, you should not use a preposition. When the indirect object is placed after the direct object, it must always follow a preposition, usually 'to' or 'for'.

Rule 3: Use Appropriate Verb Form

Remember to use the correct form of the ditransitive verb depending on the sentence’s tense. For example: 'give' in present, 'gave' in past and 'will give' in future.


Using verbs with two objects requires a deeper understanding of their application in sentences. With this tutorial, you have learned about the concept of ditransitive verbs, their types and the crucial rules to use them correctly. Practice constructing sentences with these to improve your written and spoken English. Remember, accuracy in grammar greatly enhances the quality of your communication.

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