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Difference between Direct and Indirect Complement

In the syntax there are two types of complements, the direct object and the indirect object. The former limits and specifies the meaning of a verb while the indirect object is introduced by means of a preposition and is governed by a non-obligatory transitive verb and refers to a recipient who will benefit from what the verb expresses.

Direct complement

The direct object is a concrete syntactic function that limits the meaning of a verb. For example, in the case of the verb “Ver” we find a broad meaning, while the complement limits and specifies its meaning.

It usually starts with “A” if the verb refers to a person or being animated:

  • Juan saw his dog.

Although there may be exceptions such as:

  • The United States beat England.

When we refer to a thing or an inanimate being, the verb is asked What? And it can be switched with “Lo, La, Las, Los” and can be replaced with That, those things:

  • Pedro washes a car.
  • Peter washes it. Pedro washes that.

When the complement refers to a person, the verb is asked Who or who? and is switched to “Lo, las, los, la”.

Indirect compliment

It is a syntactic constituent that is governed by a transitive verb whose semantic interpretation refers to a recipient of the goal of the action expressed by the verb. The complement corresponds to the beneficiary or harmed by the action of the subject and usually refers more to a person than a thing.

It is introduced by the preposition A when the object is a noun phrase and can be replaced by a pronoun. If the indirect object is a pronoun like me, se, le will not have a preposition:

  • Carlos gave the book to Pedro.

Differences between direct and indirect object

  • The direct object is the one that receives the action of the verb.
  • In the indirect object the action of the verb falls indirectly.
  • The direct object may or may not be preceded by a preposition.
  • The direct object is always preceded by the preposition A.
  • The direct object is replaced by the pronouns lo, los, la and las.
  • The indirect object can be replaced by le and les.
  • The direct object when passing from sentence to passive can become the subject of the sentence.
  • The indirect object never modifies its syntactic function.

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