Do All Sentences Need an Object?

All sentences need to be complete and precise. A sentence needs to be grammatically complete is only a subject and verb. Even then, the subject can be implied. For example, if I say “Sit” and gesture toward an empty chair. What I really mean is, “You (person) sit down and join me.” Sit is a verb, and the subject of this sentence is understood to be “you” or my interlocutor (speaking partner).

This type of subject is often referred to as “you understood,” and it precedes a verb used as a command. While it is a complete sentence, it is a very simplistic sentence. No, it doesn’t need an object to be complete. We will explore some f these examples below.

A sentence in English does not require an object to convey meaning and understanding. An object adds clarity and meaning to sentence structures but depending how the language is presented, and the form of the verb, intransitive, for example, it is possible to construct an English sentence without an object.

A simple command can convey all you need to know in one word without an object, but let’s look at some other sentence types and ways to convey meaning. We will also examine when objects are required and when they aren’t enough by themselves.

Before we go on to explain some of the elements of sentence construction is will be useful to offer a quick note on the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs and why they can dictate if a sentence requires an object to be understandable.

The Difference Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

DifferenceTransitive VerbsIntransitive Verbs
Needs an Object to do its actionYes, requires it to have meaningNo doesn’t not require it to have meaning
Examplesbring, carry, throw, dismiss, raise, promise, offer, borrow. talk, stop, move, run, exist, smile, listen, leavePurposeTo complete a verbs actions, the verb needs to be put onto object to have full meaning. Often used in imperative sentences. Do not need an object to complete meaning.
OtherCan have more than one object, and requires at least oneDoesn’t require an object after the verb but can have other grammar structures such as prepositional phrases, or adverbs.

Just to add an element of confusion to the mix some verbs like – grow – play – return – can be both transitive or intransitive. If you are unsure then you can check out either a paper dictionary, or an online version which will show the verb use and whether it is intransitive or transitive. You can see examples of both type of verbs and how they relate to objects here as well.

The Four Most Basic Types of Sentences

At the earliest stages of education, students often learn that there are four types of sentences ( highlighted below) These sentences are named because of their jobs. Whatever the sentence is doing and implying, that is its type and label. Some of these sentences will contain objects.

Declarative Sentences

This sentence type makes a statement. It declares something. “Mavis went skiing.”  The previous sentence contains a subject—Mavis, verb—went, and object—skiing. The object is skiing because it is where the subject—Mavis, went.

Interrogative Sentences

These sentences are questions. Many people may feel they are not sentences, but they are bound by the same requirements. However, since they are questions, they are sometimes inverted. “Where are you going?” Where is the object in this case because “you” is the subject. The verb is “are going.” The answer to the question reveals the subject, verb, object order. I am going to the store.

Imperative Sentences

This type of sentence we have already discussed briefly—commands. Often the subject of the sentence is implied. Please bring my water bottle from the kitchen. This sentence may first appear without a subject. The verb is bring the object is my water bottle. Essentially, it is only bottle as my and water are adjectives, but that’s less important for this purpose.

Exclamatory Sentences

These sentences are filled with emotion. They are exclamations, as you may have guessed. “I got the job!” This sentence contains a subject, verb, and object.

Sentence Complexity

In addition to the type of sentence, the complexity of the sentence matters. Sentences are made of phrases. There are two basic types of phrases—the independent clause and the dependent clause. An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence; it doesn’t need anything else to contain a complete thought.

On the other hand, a dependent clause depends on something else to make it complete. Let’s look at how these clauses can be combined to make sentences.

Online sentence games:

Just to share some games for classrooms as we have you here!. We have 2 sentence games on the site, and we have written a blog on the best 10 online sentence games we have used and found to help teach sentence structure to younger and ESL students. They are all fee to play and you can check them out with the following links.

Simple Sentences

A simple sentence is one independent clause standing alone. Think of this like a root word. Words can have roots, affixes, or be compound. Sentences are similar. Simple sentences are like the roots. You should always have some of these sentences in your writing. They must contain a subject and verb with or without the object. They may contain adverbs or adjectives, but they will never be compound or complex.

Compound Sentences

This type of sentence is like putting together two or more simple sentences using coordinating conjunctions. These conjunctions are often referred to as FANBOYS—For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. They simply combine two independent clauses or simple sentences.

Complex Sentences

Every sentence must contain an independent clause, but complex sentences also contain dependent clauses. These are sentence fragments that may look like sentences, but they cannot stand alone. The phrase “Since it rained yesterday,” cannot stand alone. It contains a subject—it, verb—rained, and object—yesterday, but it also contains a subordinating conjunction.

This means it makes that independent clause subordinate or dependent. These sentences often do have objects as well. They have many more parts of speech and grammar rules.

Other Parts of a Sentences

As long as a sentence has a subject and verb, it can be a sentence. However, let’s look at what each part does and how it helps a sentence become more precise or more confusing. There are many different aspects.

Subject

We have mentioned this word repeatedly but have failed to define it. The subject is the noun in the sentence performing the verb. It can be a pronouns or proper noun.

Verb

The verb is the action of the sentence. This is what is being performed by the noun. All sentences must have a verb is some form.

Object use in Sentences

There are direct and indirect objects. These are the things being acted upon by the subject or for an object.

Indirect Objects

These objects are not receiving the action but the result of the action. For instance, Jeremy took Carla a pizza. In this case, Jimmy is the subject, and took is the verb, but he did not take Carla anywhere. He took her a pizza. The direct object is the pizza, but it was for Carla.

Direct objects

These objects are the objects being acted upon directly. In the above example, the direct object is the pizza. It is being taken somewhere, in this case, to Carla.

Adjectives use in Sentences

These words describe nouns. They may describe objects or subjects. One way to remember what an adjective does is to remember that subject, object, and adjective all have ject in them. They are used together. For sentences using adjectives, they can clarify which noun, especially if common nouns like boy, girl, book, or thing, are used. If you are looking for adjectives activities we have both downloadable resources and ideas on how to teach adjectives here.

Adverbs use in Sentences

Adverbs are like adjectives for verbs. Like adjectives, you can remember which part of speech they describe because verb is in both of them.

Predicates and Sentences

Sometimes you will hear people say that sentences must contain a subject and a predicate. You know what a subject is, but you may still be wondering about the predicate. A predicate is simply the part of the sentence that is not the subject or related adjectives. It generally starts with the verb and goes through the rest of the sentence.

Complexities

Like sentences that may contain simple, compound, or complex designs, subjects and predicates can have different levels of complexity. However, they are more limited to simple or compound. Their differences are relatively straightforward. A simple subject has one noun. Bill went to the store. Bill is a simple subject. Likewise, a compound subject would be more than one. Bill and Shonda went to the store.

Predicates have similar rules. A simple predicate is just the verb. In the example above, “went” is the simple predicate. Complete predicate (rather than compound or complex) means everything else. Again, using the above example, “went to the store” is the complete predicate. It contains the object and verb.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, complete thoughts or sentences can contain several things. We did not even cover different types of verbs, adverbs, adjectives, or other modifiers. However, it is not required that sentences contain objects to be complete. It can clarify the sentence, and it certainly helps add variety to writing. You are not required to use objects, but a paragraph full of simple sentences with no objects will get boring and possibly confusing quickly.

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