Oddly, the question was closed for "being unclear what you're asking" -- even though it is quite clear what I was asking since (1) I asked a direct question and (2) people gave very specific and directed responses that answered the question.
I'm finding myself confused over what is a direct object and what is a prepositional phrase, when you consider an imperative command. For example:
dig hole with shovel
"Dig" is the verb. Dig what? The hole. So the hole is the direct object. That would mean the shovel is the indirect object (i.e., the hole is being dug by what?)
However, going by strict grammar, my understanding is that if a sentence has an indirect object, it will always come between the verb and the direct object. Further, if there is information after the direct object about who or what received the action, that is most likely a prepositional phrase.
But my example sentence above is different than this:
The cupcake with sprinkles is his.
Here the "with" is introducing a prepositional phrase ("with sprinkles"). But in my original sentence, I cannot say "with shovel" is just a prepositional phrase. Or can I?
Another example, in line with my first sentence, would be this:
pick up the hot plate with the gloves
Here the gloves would seem to be the indirect object and the hot plate the direct object. So is it the case that when you use "with" in such sentences, the rule of "indirect objects comes between verb and direct object" is inverted?
I realize the sentences above (save one) are ungrammatical. The context I didn't supply was that I was looking at interactive fiction systems, taught in classes, that parse commands and, by proxy, provide insight into grammar. (Or do they?)
The command "dig hole with shovel" can be reframed as: "John, dig a hole with the shovel."
Those systems always parse the above with "hole" as the direct object and "shovel" as the indirect object.
It's the "with" that's throwing me off. Clearly "John, dig a hole with the shovel" is treating the bit after the "with" as an object: shovel with which to do the digging. Equally clearly "The cupcake with sprinkles is his" is not treating "sprinkles" in the same way.