You may remember your English teacher, among others, always reminding you to write your answers in complete sentences. I remember it well.

Today, as an English teacher myself, I am the one reminding my students to write in complete sentences.

It’s important to learn how to write a complete sentence.

For a sentence to be “complete,” it really only needs two things: a subject (S) + a verb (V). That’s it!

John (S) laughed (V).

Believe it or not, this is a complete sentence. However, we would be pretty limited if we could only write sentences with subjects and verbs. We have another important element in a sentence. It’s called an object.

The Object

First, let’s examine the basic English sentence structure:

Subject (S)            +            Verb (V)            +            Object (O)

Basically we have someone or something (the subject) doing something (the verb) to or at or for someone or something else. This “someone or something else” that is the receiver of the action in a sentence is called the object.

Let’s take a look at some simple sentences with the SVO structure.

Marlene (S) loves (V) pie (O).

The object follows the verb (the action word) and shows the recipient of the action in the sentence.

You may see objects further classified into direct objects and indirect objects.

Direct objects are the person or item that receives the action directly.

John (S) likes (V) warmer weather (O).

John is the subject. He is the one doing the action; “likes” is the verb, the action in the sentence; and “weather” is the direct object. “Weather” is what is receiving the action of John’s liking.

There is another word in this sentence — “warmer — which is an adjective. We will discuss adjectives in a later post. For now, just know that we want to see the sentence in its simplest form, which is subject + verb + object.

Indirect objects show to what, for whom, from where, or other such things to which the action is being directed. Let’s look at an example in the following sentence:

Brenda cooked a ham for Daniel.

Here, Brenda is the subject, that is, the doer of the action; “cooked” is the verb. Now let’s take a closer look at the objects. What did Brenda do? She cooked something. What did she cook? A ham. That is the direct receiver of the action, so it’s the direct object.

Finally, for whom did Brenda cook the ham? She made it for Daniel; therefore, he is the indirect object.

There are many other elements that form most sentences, but keep in mind that a complete sentence must have at least one subject and one verb. However, another common component of a sentence is the the object. These three elements build the foundation for how to write a complete sentence.