Is it possible to use the verb give with only a direct object? For example,

Could you give the definition?

Or need I to add an indirect object, so the sentence becomes

Could you give me the definition?

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    Yes, with give it's perfectly normal to leave the receiver to be inferred in the context. With questions, it's normally the speaker, hence to me is overkill. And, btw, with short words, especially pronouns, Dative movement is much more likely. I.e, Could you give me the definition? is better conversational English than Could you give the definition to me? – John Lawler Oct 2 '14 at 0:11

I cannot think of any English verb that requires an indirect object, so I cannot give an example of one.

As you can see, give is not such an example.

  • Tell normally requires an indirect object, though not a direct object. That's one of the differences between tell and say. – John Lawler Oct 2 '14 at 0:08
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    C'mon, @JohnLawler, tell the truth. – Malvolio Oct 2 '14 at 0:14
  • There are fixed phrases like tell the truth and tell shit from Shinola, and special constructions (like That would be telling) with special meanings. But normal sentences using the verb tell require an indirect object, but not a direct one. She told me, but she'll never tell him. She told me that, but she'll never tell him that. But not *She told this, but she'll never tell that. – John Lawler Oct 2 '14 at 0:22
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    I see your point, that idiomatically, tell usually requires an indirect object. You can say something in an empty room, but you cannot "tell" in that situation. But there are so many of what you call "fixed phrases" -- tell the story, kiss and tell, tell tales -- it begins to look like regular usage. Tell shit from Shinola is a different use of tell, meaning "to count, reckon, or enumerate" (as in tell time) or "to discern, notice, identify or distinguish" (as in, well, you know), that always takes a DO and never an IO. – Malvolio Oct 2 '14 at 0:31
  • There are many, many different meanings for every verb, depending on the constructions it appears in. That's why I keep harping on constructions instead of words. There's no end to words, but constructions are how the words are used. – John Lawler Oct 2 '14 at 0:34

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