An object is a noun or pronoun that completes the meaning of a transitive verb or completes a prepositional phrase.
Objects and Transitive Verbs
Objects are the person or thing acted on by transitive verbs in the active voice. Objects receive the action or are affected by a transitive verb’s meaning. For example,
- I hit the ball.
- I met your sister.
In these sentences, ball and sister are the objects of the verbs hit and ball, respectively. Objects typically follow verbs so a good method for identifying them is to ask the questions What? Where? When? How? Who? and Whom? I hit what? I hit the ball. I met whom? I met your sister.
Objects do not always, however, follow their verbs. Sometimes, in inverted sentence constructions, they can come before a verb, so it is important to be able to identify them. Here is an example,
- The evidence the witness withheld.
In this example, “evidence” is the object and witness is nominative.
Objects within Prepositional Phrases
All prepositional phrases have objects and need objects to complete their meaning. For example,
- I went into the woods.
- The book was written by Mark Twain.
In these sentences, woods and store are the objects of the prepositions into and to, respectively. As you can see, without the objects the prepositional phrase would not make any sense.
- I went into.
- The book was written by.
These sentences don’t make sense because they need to have objects. But, remember to ask our questions from earlier. I went into what? I went into the woods. The book was written by whom? The book was written by Mark Twain.
One thing to keep in mind is that an object is never the subject of the following verb and, therefore, never controls the number of the verb. For example,
- An assembly of visitors was waiting for the tour to begin.
In this sentence, the plural “visitors” is the object of the preposition “of.” The subject is still the singular “assembly” and should be reflected with a singular verb. “Was” is the correct verb for this sentence and not “were.”