An Object is normally a noun, pronoun or noun phrase that comes straight after the verb, and shows what the verb is acting upon.

  • Year 2 designed puppets. [noun acting as Object]
  • I like that. [pronoun acting as object]
  • Some people suggested a pretty display. [noun phrase acting as Object]

Objects can be turned into the Subject of a passive verb, and cannot be adjectives (contrast with Complement).


  • A display was suggested. [Object of active verb becomes the Subject of the passive verb]
  • *Year 2 designed pretty. [incorrect, because adjectives cannot be objects]

Note that Object is a function label which covers two different types: Direct Object and Indirect Object (and some other units typically selected by verbs). We use the label prepositional Object to indicate the function of a unit that comes after a preposition, typically a noun phrase (e.g. on the stairs, with cheese).

Foregrounding - activity

In pairs or small groups, explore instances of grammatical foregrounding in Funeral Blues. This could be done by producing an analysis grid, where students examine how a grammatical feature of the text is foregrounded, and most importantly, discuss the potential meaning of the foregrounded feature. How do the instances of foregrounding add to our understanding and enjoyment of the poem?

To get you started, here are a couple of ideas:

Grammatical feature

Direct Object or Subject Complement?

Is the highlighted Complement a Direct Object or a Subject Complement?

Direct Object

Consider the examples below. What do the highlighted phrases add to the meanings?

  • He stroked the dog. [W2F-018 #175]
  • They carried mugs of beer. [W2F-018 #140]

These phrases tell us who or what is being 'verbed', i.e. who is undergoing the action denoted by the verbs, in these situations: the dog is stroked, the mugs of beer are carried. Without these phrases, our examples would be incomplete.

Indirect Object

Consider the following example. Here we have two noun phrases which follow the Predicator (the verb).

  • I’ll give [you] [the school’s number]. [W2F-020 #192]

Can you see how they build up the meaning of the clause? Both noun phrases refer to participants in the situation of ‘giving’, but the participants have different roles.


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