Is it correct to use a construction with the verb 'think', having an indirect and direct object, like the following, which I heard, I believe, on Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends from my childhood.

'We think him vulgar'

That phrase has stayed with me my entire life!

Dictionaries haven't turned up anything, so I wonder if this is dialectical or just plain queer.

  • 1
    The "think somebody/something + adj" construction is listed by the entry for "think" in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, which is freely available online: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/…
    – herisson
    Mar 28, 2016 at 6:20
  • I did not think to look on that dictionary; I must have looked up the noun instead.
    – JDF
    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:01

2 Answers 2


I think your view of the verb construction is not correct. "vulgar" is an adjective, so it can't be an object.

The sense of the sentence is: He is vulgar, so I think. This was formulated with an ati-construction (accusative + to-infinitive):

  • 1 I think him to be vulgar. - Compare: I hold him to be a good man/I imagine him to be a good man.

And "to be" was dropped:

  • 2 I think him vulgar.

In 1 vulgar is a predicative complement after the copula verb/linking verb to be. In 2 vulgar is an object complement modifying him.

That's the way I would see the sentence construction.

OALD has a verb pattern/construction of the type: to think sb/sth + adjective - I think it highly unlikely that I'll get the job. - She thought him kind and generous. See OALD think in no. 1 http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/think_1?q=think

Of course, you can say it simpler: I think he is vulgar.

  • Oh whoops; yes, my mistake, vulgar is definitely an adjective. Thank you.
    – JDF
    Mar 27, 2016 at 2:55

"We think him vulgar".

Yes, it is, but there's only a direct object, no indirect object.

Him is direct object and vulgar is predicative complement. Note that the complement is said to be 'object orientated' because it relates to the object, rather than the subject. Its function is complement of the verb think, not modifier of him.

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