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OBJECTIVE CASE, Direct Object, Predicate Objective


The objective case, as its name implies, is the case of the object. Most of its uses are covered by the following rule:–

 The object of a verb or preposition is in the objective case.

The object of a preposition has already been explained and defined

.  The object of a verb may be (1) the direct object, (2) the predicate objective, (3) the indirect object, (4) the cognate object. Of these, the direct object is the most important.

The objective is also used (5) adverbially , (6) in apposition with another objective and (7) as the subject of an infinitive

1. Direct Object

   Some verbs may be followed by a substantive denoting that which receives the action or is produced by it. These are called transitive
verbs. All other verbs are called intransitive.

  1. That man  struck  my  dog .

  2. The arrow  hit  the  target .

  3. Cæsar  conquered Gaul .

  4. Mr. Holland  sells flour .

  5. The farmer  raises corn .

  6. Mr. Eaton  makes stoves .

  7. My grandfather  built  that  house .

In Nos. 1–4, the verb is followed by a noun denoting the receiver of the action. Thus, in the first sentence, the dog receives the blow; in the second, the target receives the action of hitting. In Nos. 5–7,

the verb is followed by a noun denoting the product of the action. For example, corn is produced by the action expressed by the verb raises.

In each example, the noun that follows the verb completes the sense of the verb. “That man  struck  —-.” “Struck  whom ?” “He struck the  dog .” Until the dog is added the sense of the verb struck is incomplete.

   A substantive that completes the meaning of a transitive verb is called its direct object and is said to be in the objective case.

  Thus, in the examples above, the dog is the direct object of the transitive verb struck; the target is the direct object of hit,–and so on. Each of these nouns is therefore in the objective case.

   The direct object is often called the object complement, or the   object of the verb.

 Intransitive verbs have no object.

  The lion  roared .

  The visitor  coughed  gently.

  The log  drifted  downstream.

  We all  listened  intently.

Compare these sentences with those in § 99. We observe that the verbs (unlike those in § 99) admit no object since their meaning is complete without the addition of any noun to denote the receiver or product of the action.

“The man  struck —-” prompts the inquiry, “Struck  whom ?” But no such question is suggested by “The lion roared ”; for “Roared what ?” would be an absurdity.

 The predicate nominative must not be confused with the direct object. They resemble each other in two particulars: (1) both stand in the predicate and (2) both complete the meaning of the verb. But they differ utterly in their relation to the subject of the sentence. For–

The predicate nominative describes or defines the subject. Hence both substantives denote the same person or thing.

  Charles [SUBJECT] {is | was | became | was elected}  captain    [PREDICATE NOMINATIVE].

The direct object neither describes nor defines the subject. On the contrary, it designates that upon which the subject acts. Hence the two substantives regularly[18] denote different persons or things.

  Charles [SUBJECT] {struck  James  [OBJECT]. | threw a  stone    [OBJECT]. | built a  boat  [OBJECT].}

Both the direct object and the predicate nominative are classed as  complements , because they are used to complete the sense of the predicate verb

  A verb of asking sometimes takes two direct objects, one denoting the person and the other the thing.

  •  She asked the  boy  his  name .
  •   Ask  me  no  favors .
  •   I asked the  lawyer  his  opinion .

2. Predicate Objective
   Verbs of choosing,  calling,  naming,  making, and thinking may take two objects referring to the same person or thing.

 The first of these is the direct object, and the second, which completes the sense of the predicate, is called a predicate objective.

  We chose Oscar  president . [ Oscar  is the direct object of  chose ;    president  is the predicate objective.]

  I call John my  friend .

  They thought the man a  coward .

  Make my house your  home .

  The predicate objective is often called the complementary object or the objective attribute. It is classed as a compliment.

An adjective may serve as predicate objective.

  I call this ship  unseaworthy .

  Your letter made your sister  anxious .

  What makes Edwin so  careless ?

3. Indirect Object and Similar Idioms

   Some verbs of giving,  telling,  refusing, and the like, may take two objects, a direct object, and an indirect object.

 The indirect object denotes the person or thing toward whom or toward which is directed the action expressed by the rest of the predicate.


  •   Dick sold his bicycle.    Dick sold  John his bicycle.
  •   I gave permission.        I gave this man permission.
  •   He paid a dollar.         He paid the gardener a dollar.
  •   She taught Latin.         She taught my children  Latin.

Most of the verbs that admit an indirect object are included in the following list:–

  allot, allow, assign, bequeath, bring, deny, ensure, fetch, fling,   forbid, forgive, give, grant, guarantee, hand, lease, leave, lend,   let, owe, pardon, pass, pay, refund, refuse, remit, restore, sell,   send, show, sing, spare, teach, tell, throw, toss, vouchsafe.

Pronouns are commoner as indirect objects than nouns.

  •   They denied her the necessities of life.
  •   I guaranteed them a handsome profit.
  •   The king vouchsafed them an audience.

 It is always possible to insert the preposition  to  before the indirect object without changing the sense.

Since the indirect object is equivalent to an adverbial phrase, it is classed as a modifier of the verb.

  Thus, in “Dick sold  John  his bicycle,”  John  is an adverbial   modifier of the predicate verb  sold .

The indirect object is sometimes used without a direct object expressed. Thus,–

  He paid the hatter.

Here  hatter  may be recognized as an indirect object by inserting    to  before it and adding a direct object (“his  bill ,” “his    money ,” or the like).

 .  The objective case sometimes expresses the person  for whom  anything is done.

  William made his  brother  a kite [= made a kite for his brother].

  Sampson built  me  a boat [= built a boat for me].

This construction may be called the  objective of service .

  NOTE. The objective of service is often included under the head of the indirect object. But the two constructions differ widely in sense and should be carefully distinguished.

To do an act to a   person is not the same thing as to do an act for a person. Contrast   “John paid the money  to  me,” with “John paid the money  for  me”;    “Dick sold a bicycle  to  me,” with “Dick sold a bicycle  for  me.”

 The objective case is used after like,  unlike,  near, and next, which are really adjectives or adverbs, though in this construction they are often regarded as prepositions.

  •   She sang like a  bird. [ Like  is an adverb.]
  •   The earth is like a  ball. [ Like  is an adjective.]
  •   My office is near the station. [ Near  is an adjective.]
  •   That answer was unlike Joseph’s. [ Unlike  is an adjective.]
  •   This man walks, unlike  Joseph. [ Unlike  is an adverb.]
  •   A stream ran near the hut. [ Near  is an adverb.]

The use of the objective after these words is a peculiar idiom similar to the indirect object (§ 105). The nature of the construction maybe
seen (as in the indirect object) by inserting to or unto  (“She sang like unto a bird”).

NOTE. The indirect object, the objective of service, and the objective after like,  unlike, and near are all survivals of old dative constructions.

Besides the case of the direct object (often called accusative ), English once had a case (called the dative )   which meant to or for  [somebody or something].

The dative case is easily distinguished in Greek, Latin, and German, but in English, it has long been merged in form with the ordinary objective.

4. Cognate Object
    A verb that is regularly intransitive sometimes takes as an object a noun whose meaning closely resembles its own. 
 A noun in this construction is called the cognate object of the verb and is in the objective case. 

  •   He ran a  race.
  •   The mayor coughed a dubious, insinuating cough.
  •   A scornful laugh laughed at him.
  •   The trumpeter blew a loud blast.
  •   She sleeps the sleep of death.

NOTE.  Cognate  means “kindred” or “related.” The cognate object repeats the idea of the verb, often with some modification, and may be classed as an adverbial modifier.

Its difference from the direct object may be seen by contrasting “The blacksmith struck the anvil ” with “The blacksmith struck a mighty blow ” (cf. “struck mightily ”). For the pronoun  it  as a cognate object

5. Adverbial Objective

  A noun, or a phrase consisting of a noun and its modifiers, may be used adverbially. Such a noun is called an adverbial objective. 

  •   We have waited years for this reform.
  •   I am years older than you are.
  •   The river is miles away.
  •   The water rose three feet.
  •   This is an inch too long.
  •   My brother is twenty years old.
  •   I will stay for a  short time.
  •   Wait a moment.
  •   Come here this instant!
  •   Turn your eyes this way.
  •   This silk is several shades too light.

A group of words consisting of an adverbial object with its modifier or modifiers forms an  adverbial phrase  

6. Objective in Apposition
  A substantive in apposition with an objective is itself in the objective case.
  Yesterday I saw Williams the expressman. [Apposition with the   direct object of the saw ]
  Tom gave his friend  John a book. [Apposition with the indirect  object  friend .]
  He lives with Andrews the blacksmith. [Apposition with the object   of the preposition  with .]

This rule follows from the general principle that an appositive is in the same case as the substantive to which it is attached 
7. Subject of an Infinitive
 The subject of an infinitive is in the objective case.
This construction will be treated in connection with the uses of the infinitive 

 To parse a word is to describe its grammatical form and to give its construction.
In parsing a  noun, we mention the class to which it belongs, give its gender, number, person, and case, and tell why it is in that case. Thus,–
  1. Frank shot a wolf.
   Frank is a proper noun of the masculine gender, in the singular number and third person. It is in the nominative case because it is the subject of the verb shot.

   Wolf is a common noun of the masculine or feminine [or common]   gender, in the singular number and third person. It is in the objective case because it is the object [or direct object] of the transitive verb shot.

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