Indirect Complement – Concept, how to identify it and examples

We explain what is the indirect object in a sentence, examples and how to identify it. Also, what is the direct object.

indirect compliment
The indirect object is usually a person or animal.

What is the indirect object?

In grammar and syntax, an indirect object (OI) or indirect object (CI) is called a specific function that the syntactic constituents can perform within the sentence, that is, phrases, nouns, pronouns and substantive subordinate clauses. This function is to be the beneficiary entity, harmed or affected by the action of the verb, or be its target or receiver.

In Spanish, the indirect object is usually preceded by a preposition (generally “to” or “to”), and usually it is a person or an animal, although it can also be abstract entities or things.

In addition, within the sentence it usually presents an obligatory duplication with the unstressed dative pronoun, that is, it is usually accompanied, but not substituted, by the pronoun “le” or “les”, as can be seen in the sentence “Maritza bought her mother a bouquet of flowers”, in which we identify:

  • A sentence subject, “Maritza”, who carries out the action of the verb.
  • A main verb of the sentence (“bought”), core of the predicate.
  • A direct object (“a bouquet of flowers”), on which the action of the verb falls.
  • An indirect object (“a su madre”), beneficiary of the action of the verb, accompanied by a dative pronoun (“le”) that is also part of the indirect object by duplication.

The indirect object can appear in transitive verbs, that is, in verbs that require a direct object, but unlike the latter, the indirect object accommodates different structures and is not exclusive to any type of sentence. In fact, in some sentences it constitutes an optional, omissionable information, the absence of which does not alter the nucleus of meaning of what has been said.

Depending on it, indirect objects can be classified into two large groups:

  • Plot indirect objects. They are those that belong to the argument of the sentence, that is, they are not omissible and that provide the necessary information to understand the action of the verb. For instance: “
  • Indirect non-plot objects. They are those that do not belong to the argument of the sentence, that is, they are precisely omitted and provide additional information, optional, to the sentence.

How to identify the indirect object?

To identify the indirect object in a sentence, we can resort to strategies such as the following:

  • Locate the prepositions “a” or “para”. Typically, the indirect object is introduced by these prepositions, especially if there is already an identified direct object in the sentence. So the mere presence of these propositions could suggest to us that it is an indirect object. For example, in the sentence: “Maritza bought a bouquet of flowers for her mother”, knowing that “a bouquet of flowers” is the direct complement, the appearance of “for” in “for her mother” is enough to indicate that the latter is the indirect object.
  • Asking the verb “to whom?”, “To what?” or “for whom?”. This is the traditional method, taught in schools, and although it is not usually too precise, it can be very useful when it comes to finding the indirect object. It is enough that we answer these questions in the framework of the sentence, for example, in the sentences “Maritza bought a bouquet of flowers for her mother” or “Maritza bought a bouquet of flowers for her mother”, we can ask “For whom? did Maritza buy a bouquet of flowers? ” or “Who did Maritza buy a bouquet of flowers from?” (answer: “to his mother” or “to his mother”).
  • Substitution with unstressed dative pronouns. We already said before that the indirect object is usually accompanied by dative pronouns (“le”, “les”, “te”, “me”, “se”) that duplicate its meaning within the sentence, which in turn can be a clue to identify the indirect object. However, in some cases we can substitute it (not accompany it) by said pronouns, to know if it is the indirect object or not. For example, in the sentence we are using as an example, “Maritza bought a bouquet of flowers for her mother”, we could introduce the pronoun as follows: “Maritza you bought a bouquet of flowers “, where” him “replaces” for his mother “, that is, the indirect complement.

Indirect complement examples

Here are some example sentences in which the indirect object has been highlighted:

  • Juan brings her many gifts to your daughter.
  • Proust you wrote many letters to his mother.
  • Do youI you are telling the truth?
  • I will spare my life to all my rivals.
  • I will askyou help to my nephew.
  • Tea I got the concert tickets.
  • The Greeks you they composed poems to Zeus.
  • You I’m going to buy a new dress to my wife.
  • That news them it fell like a bucket of cold water.
  • To nobody he cares what you’re going to say.
  • Do youI know bought a new computer?
  • That watch you belongs to the coordinator.
  • The advice of my grandfather I they were very helpful.
  • To the doctor I know you hair is falling out.
  • Do we have enough breakfast for all your brothers?
  • This is directed to whom may interest.

Direct complement

Unlike the indirect object, the direct object or indirect object it is exclusive to transitive verbs and in the sentence it takes the place of the entity that directly receives the action of the verb or who is affected by it. Therefore, it can be identified by substituting the accusative pronouns “lo”, “los”, “la”, “las” or even “that”.

Thus, in our customary example, “Maritza bought a bouquet of flowers for her mother”, the direct object would be “a bouquet of flowers” (“Maritza bought that for her mother”).

Circumstantial complement

The circumstantial complement, unlike the previous cases, is a syntactic function usually performed by an adverbial, nominal or prepositional phrase. As the name implies, its function is to express the circumstances in which the action of the verb occurs: time, place, mode, quantity, cause, and so on. Thus, there is a wide variety of circumstantial complements.

Thus, in the sentence “Yesterday afternoon my mother came”, we have a sentence subject (“my mother”) and a main verb (“wine”), and the rest of the predicate is a phrase that characterizes the action of the latter. , that is, a circumstantial complement of time: “Yesterday afternoon.”