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In ‘point new Gryffindors in the right direction ‘, is this the structure of verb + indirect object + direct object, or verb + object + adverbial phrase? As a Korean, I’m easier to accept the former according to my language habit. So I’m confused which one is right?

Nearly Headless Nick was always happy to point new Gryffindors in the right direction, but Peeves the Poltergeist was worth two locked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when you were late for class. (from Harry Potter book 1)

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, tchrist, MετάEd, Noah, Zairja Nov 15 '12 at 17:28

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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You have a pretty high acceptance rate. Would you mind lowering it a little bit? –  Noah Nov 15 '12 at 12:54
    
I think this is General Reference. Why do you think "in the right direction" might be a "direct object"? –  FumbleFingers Nov 15 '12 at 13:33
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Wait, did he get downvoted because his acceptance rate is low??? First time on stackexchange, I didn't even know what upvoting or acceptance was. It's better to put up a faq link on how to ask, upvote and accept questions like this: Click here to learn how to ask questions on stackexchange. –  Chibueze Opata Nov 15 '12 at 14:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's the second:

point [VERB] new Gryffindors [OBJECT] in the right direction [ADVERBIAL]

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This is very similar to OP's catch off-guard question yesterday: both phrases conclude with a modifying phrase required by the idiom. I am tempted to call this one an "adverbial complement", and the other an "adjectival complement". –  StoneyB Nov 15 '12 at 13:29

This is a bit tricky. It could also be subject - verb phrase - direct object - prepositional object (cf. Biber et al. 1999: 150-1). That is, 'point' is a distransitive verb thas has distransitive prepositional uses, 'in the right direction'. Here is an example from Biber et al. (1999: 151):

He only told his name to an Italian painter named Carlino.

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I don't much care for "prepositional object" or "distransitive" here. The obligatory third argument of point might be realized by some other construction than a prepositional phrase--north, for instance--and a directional word or phrase isn't an "object" of the verb in the same way that an indirect object (like that in your example from Biber) is. I think it would make more sense to call it an argument or complement and characterize it as adverbial or directional or something of that sort. –  StoneyB Nov 15 '12 at 14:29

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