The UVic Writer's Guide: Grammar


The Object (Objective, Accusative) Case


The commonest of verbal completions is the direct object, whatever it is that issues from or undergoes the act of the actor.

In sentence 3i it's "Latin"; in sentence 7 it's "hat," while in sentence 8 it's the word "ball." If the object is a pronoun capable of exhibiting case distinction, the case should be objective. Thus,

20a I hit him

which is easy, and

20b Whom did I hit,

which is less easy, because our word-order instincts urge us to put "who" at the beginning of a sentence whether it's the subject or not.

Sometimes a verb will also take an indirect object, which can be replaced by "to" and a prepositional phrase. Once again the objective case of the appropriate pronoun will be in order. Thus

21a I gave her the ball

21b I gave the ball to her

21c Whom did you give the ball?

21d Whom did you give the ball to? (See sentence 9 above.)

21e To whom did you give the ball?

(You have probably heard that you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, as in 21d, but this is a stylistic question not a grammatical one. If you choose the more elegant approach of 21e, be sure you don't drift off and write

21f 7 To whom did you give the ball to?

There is a lyric by Paul McCartney that reads "This ever-changing world in which we live in.")


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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated Sept 24, 1995