What are Indirect Objects
(in English and in Latin)?

Grammar Helps Index



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We will make


the man


an offer.





a job.

The captain told


the people


the story.

You won't grant


the soldier



You gave




some water.

When will she teach


the young students


the lesson for today?

I will offer


the nurses


better pay.

It is better to serve


the old lady


her dinner now.

The cook baked


the children


some cookies.



the family


a new car.

Could you show




the pavilion?





a curve-ball.

He usually picked




a winner.

I will build


the students


a new bookstore.





The indirect object is often used right before a direct object and does not follow a preposition, as illustrated in the phrases above. If a preposition is used, then the word becomes the object of that preposition, as in the following, where to and for are prepositions and man and yourself are their objects:

We will make an offer to the man. Get a job for yourself.

Even though the indirect object is not found after a preposition in English, it can be discovered by asking TO WHOM or FOR WHOM after the verb:

Serve the old lady dinner. "Serve [dinner] to whom?  To the old lady."



The indirect object is often a noun or pronoun put into the dative case, like puellae and eîs in the examples below. Remember that the dative case can be used for several things in Latin. The indirect object is only one of these uses.

The indirect object in Latin can often be translated into English in two ways, sometimes with an indirect object, as in (a), sometimes with a prepositional phrase, as in (b):

puellae dat rosâs. (Puellae is a dative and an indirect object.)

   =  (a) He gives the girl roses. (Girl is an indirect object.)

   =  (b) He gives roses to the girl. (Girl is the object of a preposition, "to.")


eîs dîcit omnia. (eîs is a dative and an indirect object.)

   =  (a) He tells them everything. (Them is an indirect object.)

   =  (b) He tells everything to them. (Them is the object of a preposition, "to.")







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Latin Teaching Materials at Saint Louis University: © Claude Pavur 1997 - 2009.  This material is being made freely available for non-commercial educational use.