Sentence Autopsy: Part 2

blog-stargateWelcome back! I’m all rested up and ready to continue with Part Two of my Sentence Autopsy. Today we’re probing the pancreas and the gallbladder of sentences – also known as objects and complements.

There are two types of objects in English – a direct object and an indirect object. The direct object points to the person or thing that is affected by the verb’s action and can usually be determined by isolating the verb and asking the question “whom?” or “what?” after it.

  • It looked like a Goa’uld ship had crashed on the planet.
    Q: looked like what? A: a Goa’uld ship. So direct object = Goa’uld ship.

The indirect object points us to the person or thing that receives the direct object. It can determined by isolating the verb and asking the question “to whom?” or “to what?” or “for whom?” after it.

  • Colonel Carter tossed Teal’c a piece of the alien spacecraft.
    Q: tossed to whom? A: Teal’c. So indirect object = Teal’c.

Complement refers to something that completes. In English, there are two types of grammatical complements – subject complements and object complements. A subject complement provides detail about the subject that completes our understanding. Typically, it is a noun, pronoun or adjective, and it will follow a linking verb.

  • The Egyptologist that cracked the code was Dr. Jackson.
    The linking verb was points to the subject complement, Dr. Jackson (which completes our understanding of the subject, Egyptologist).

Similarly, an object complement gives us information to complete our understanding of the object.

  • After all the kerfuffle, O’Neill couldn’t believe the Stargate worked.
    In this sentence, Stargate is the direct object, and worked completes our understanding of it, making it the object complement.

And there you have it – our autopsy is complete! So whether you’re writing your dissertation, an email or your conspiracy theory manifesto, you now have all the tools to write beautifully structured sentences.


Image credit: © 007genie /
Stargate is a registered trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyers Studios Inc. All rights reserved.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s