Hi all,

I'm well aware of ditransitive verbs like give etc. that can take 2 objects.

However, one is a DIRECT object while the other is INDIRECT object.

But how about verbs which can take two DIRECT objects at the same time? Are there such verbs in English? The reason I'm asking is this grammar book I have, written by a Romanian atuhor and held in great esteem in our country, which mentions these verbs, few in number, like:

ask, envy, save, strike, teach.

e.g. The teacher asked (the students) (several questions).

According to said book, both (the students) and (several questions) are DIRECT objects, is that true? Or is it rather that (the students) is an indirect object? Though I guess this cannot be rephrased the usual indirect object way, like:

*The teacher asked (several students) TO the students* ,

in which case (the students) is not indirect object, nor is it a complement to (several questions).

Other examples:

They envied (us) (our success).

He taught (her) (a lesson).

Thanks for all your answers.
1 2
bbbobbbo The teacher asked (the students) (several questions).
In my grammatical analysis there are two direct objects in the sentence.

CB
bbbobbboI'm well aware of ditransitive verbs like give etc. that can take 2 objects.
However, one is a DIRECT object while the other is INDIRECT object.
But how about verbs which can take two DIRECT objects at the same time? Are there such verbs in English? The reason I'm asking is this grammar book I have, written by a Romanian atuhor and held in great esteem in our country, which mentions these verbs, few in number, like:
ask, envy, save, strike, teach.
e.g. The teacher asked (the students) (several questions).
An indirect object is usually associated with the semantic role of recipient of something. In your sentence, the students were the recipients of the questions that the teacher asked. So “the students" = indirect object and “several questions” = direct object. You could think of it as “the teacher asked several questions of the students”.
bbbobbboOther examples:
They envied (us) (our success).
He taught (her) (a lesson).
“us” = indirect object and “our success” = direct object. "We" (i.e."us") suffered their envy.

“her” = indirect object and “a lesson” = direct object. “She” (i.e. “her”) was the recipient of “a lesson”.

BillJ

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Thank you for your warm welcome and all of your answers - I've been reading the posts here long time now without being a registered member.

BillJAn indirect object is usually associated with the semantic role of recipient of something. In your sentence, the students were the recipients of the questions that the teacher asked. So “the students" = indirect object and “several questions” = direct object. You could think of it as “the teacher asked several questions of the students”.
bbbobbboOther examples:
They envied (us) (our success).
He taught (her) (a lesson).
“us” = indirect object and “our success” = direct object. "We" (i.e."us") suffered their envy.
“her” = indirect object and “a lesson” = direct object. “She” (i.e. “her”) was the recipient of “a lesson”.
So you're clearly saying that the verbs in my list (ask etc.) are actually normal ditransitive verbs (with the usual indirect-direct object pair).

I guess i'll have to rethink the whole matter now as it makes me a bit confused, and since I'm having a crucial examination in English this summer, I really need to get my facts clear!

In the following sentence, for instance,

e.g. I'm going to ask (her) (about the trip).

(her) is the indirect object, and (about the trip) is the direct object?

Thank you for your time!
bbbobbboI guess i'll have to rethink the whole matter now as it makes me a bit confused, and since I'm having a crucial examination in English this summer, I really need to get my facts clear!
If your examiner knows the history of English and other Germanic languages, he will doubtless be of the opinion that ask is followed by two direct objects in your sentence. Old English distinguished between the dative and the accusative in the third persons, and the accusative, not the dative, was used with the Old English ascian. In German, which is one of the languages from which English is derived, the accusative is used in similar contexts: ich frage dich, not dir.

CB
Cool BreezeIf your examiner knows the history of English and other Germanic languages, he will doubtless be of the opinion that ask is followed by two direct objects in your sentence.
CB your answer much appreciated.

Funny thing though, and this is what prompted me to open this thread in the 1st place, this category of verbs with 2 DO's is never to be found even mentioned on the internet, however hard i've searched for the subject.

Now it makes me all the more curious where did the Romanian author of the English Grammar do the research - probably some old theories not widely acknowledged these days, as you said.

Ok, so I guess i'll just have to leave it there for now.
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bbbobbboSo you're clearly saying that the verbs in my list (ask etc.) are actually normal ditransitive verbs (with the usual indirect-direct object pair).
Yes. When both objects follow the verb (as in all basic clauses), their relative order is fixed with Indirect O preceding Direct O. So in "The teacher asked the students several questions", "the students" is Ind O, and "several question" is Dir O. It is not a case of there being two direct objects.
bbbobbboIn the following sentence, for instance,
e.g. I'm going to ask (her) (about the trip).
(her) is the indirect object, and (about the trip) is the direct object
This is different. "the trip" is not an object of the verb; it's an object of the preposition "about".

BillJ
Hello, bbbobbbo!

Your post was the third Google result when I looked up "two direct objects"; and. after reading your question and some of the responses, I had to join this website so that I could offer a different point of view. I know I am responding years after you asked your question, but maybe this response will still be of interest to you and others.

Let's look at "The teacher asked the students several questions."

The respondents who say that "the students" is an indirect object have an interesting point, along the lines of "I gave her the gift" and "I gave the gift to her".

But it's not just Romanians who have written that in such a sentence both "the students" and "several questions" are direct objects of "asked". I have read the same in various (late-)20th-century publications about English grammar and usage that are by writers and editors whose first language was English. (I will name them for you when I have found them again.)

Here is a different way to look at it; this way also is questionable:
1. A verb can take an indirect object only if it has been given a direct object.
2. If just one object has been given to a verb, then that object must be a direct object. (But this is a matter of debate. See, for example, "Object" in The Oxford Companion to the English Language.)
3. Therefore, if a verb has been given two objects, and each one could appear on its own as the direct object, then both objects are direct objects, even if they are 'recipients' of the action in different ways.

Let's analyze "The teacher asked the students several questions" and "I gave her the gift" according to those three points.

• Can we say "The teacher asked the students" as a complete sentence? Yes. Therefore "the students" is a direct object.
• Can we say "The teacher asked several questions" as a complete sentence? Yes. Therefore "several questions" is a direct object.
• This means that, in "The teacher asked the students several questions", both "the students" and "several questions" are direct objects.

• Can we say "I gave the gift" as a complete sentence? Yes. Therefore "the students" is the direct object.
• Can we say "I gave (to) her" (in which the person represented by "she" is understood to receive something that I gave to her) as a complete sentence? No; we can say "I gave her" only if we extend the sentence so that it also includes the object that I gave ("a gift"): therefore, "her" is an indirect object. (But see additional comment on this, below.)
• This means that, in "I gave her the gift", "I gave to her the gift", and "I gave the gift to her", "the gift" is a direct object and "her" is an indirect object.

To say "I gave to her" as a complete sentence is non-idiomatic in English. But you may point out that we can say "I will write to you" as a complete sentence (meaning "I will write a letter to you"). That is a special exception: first of all, that use of "write" is relatively new; second, it is not idiomatic in English to use "to" before the object of the verb "ask"—we say "The teacher asked the students", not "The teacher asked to the students". The fact that we cannot use a preposition before an object of "ask" is a further suggestion that "ask" (unlike this relatively new use of "write") is not taking an indirect object in "The teacher asked the students".

On p. 256 of the grammar, Oxford German Dictionary and Grammar says that, in English, the indirect object is the object that has, or can have, "to" in front of it. We have already seen that "to" cannot appear before an object of "ask". A very similar statement is made in the grammar in Oxford French Dictionary and Grammar. Both those grammars are from 2000.

What about your other examples?
• "They envied us our success." Both "us" and "our success" are direct objects: no "to" can be inserted.
• "They taught her a lesson" is different. Here, "her" is an indirect object, while "a lesson" is a direct object: we can use "to"—as in "They taught a lesson to her", which can be rearranged poetically as "They taught to her a lesson".

Here's a different kind of example. We can say "He believes me" and "He believes that she is old" (sometimes the conjunction "that" is omitted in the latter). In "He believes me", "me" is the direct object. (We cannot say "He believes to me".) In "He believes that she is old", the subordinate clause "that she is old" is the direct object. (We cannot say "He believes to that she is old".) We can combine the two sentences into one—"He believes me that she is old"—and both "me" and "that she is old" are still direct objects.

In the end, I would say the answer to the question of whether "to" can be inserted is the best way to determine whether an object is indirect or direct. We cannot say "I envy to you" and "I ask to you"; therefore, all objects of "envy" and "ask" are direct. We can say "I teach to you"; therefore, some objects of "teach" are indirect.
You can't possibly imagine how much I appreciate your answer - a great many thanks!

Even though (as you stated yourself) you answered after 2 years, it is still a great answer that does shed light upon this issue for the first time since I first started questioning the matter.

Should you find the grammar books in question, I (and possibly others) will be greatly indebted to you.

as a side note: I truly find tremendous joy in the fact that once more Romanian authors of English Grammar are proven right, following a long tradition of studying English in this country.
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