God, these indirect and…

God, these indirect and direct objects are kicking my ass. I remember verb conjugations pretty well, but I'm not sure I ever understood indirect and direct objects. They're *hard*! So incredibly similar, and easy to get confused. And I really do need to understand the difference between "they're giving it to her" and "they're giving her to it" -- especially if I'm ever going to write a interspecies sf arranged marriage romance. :-)

3 thoughts on “God, these indirect and…”

  1. I think you’re miles ahead if you’ve got the verb tenses, which are important and complicated – perfect, imperfect, that darn subjunctive? If the object is feminine, then “giving it to her” and “giving her to it” are both se la, anyway, aren’t they? Now you’ve got me wondering. It’s a lot simpler than the Latin which has noun cases for all the nouns, so that word order becomes all but irrelevant. Anyway, I doubt it’ll be kicking your butt for long!

  2. I will try, MM. I always found that the easiest way to understand it is to use a combination of Structural Linguistics and Generative. Looking at the sentence structurally, you remove the modifying elements until you have the base sentence. Compare “They are giving Mary the dog” with “They are giving the dog to Mary.” The base sentence is a simple S TrV DO. “They give the dog.” Inserted is “to Mary,” which is a simple IO in the first and added as an equivalent phrase in the second. (In a transformation grammar the IO phrase/word is the remnant of an imbedded sentence.) Boiling down a sentence structurally makes it simpler, because not done right you get nonsense. You couldn’t have a base sentence “They give Mary” and retain the core semantics of the sentence. Anyway, it was a trick I learned long ago and it mostly works quite quickly. Your two sample sentences, of course will be shown to be totally different sentences in meaning, as word order requires different meaning in English. “The bishop killed the king” is not the same as “the king killed the bishop.”

  3. Thanks, GAC. Every little bit helps. I think mostly I understand the concept, but have trouble just remembering which forms do what in Spanish. It’d be hell if I had to translate to Spanish, but I think I’ll be reasonable okay going in reverse now.

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