I was reading a book on English grammar and it stated that the object complement may also be an adjective. In the sentence "Roger called George heartless", Roger was the subject, called was the verb, George was the direct object and heartless is the object complement. But heartless is what receives the verb, and George should be the indirect object. If we change "heartless" to "a moron", we see that moron becomes the direct object while George becomes the indirect object?

Is there something wrong with my reasoning?

Edit: So what I meant when I said heartless is what receives the verb, is that with direct objects, the subject is performing the verb and the verb is performed on the direct object. For example, "You broke the window!". You is the subject, broke is the verb and window is the direct object. In this sentence, window 'receives' the verb.

  • What does "heartless is what receives the verb" mean? – John Lawler May 12 '18 at 2:28
  • Your edit doesn’t really answer John’s question.  In “Roger called George a moron”, who is the target of the action: George or “a moron”? (Since your intuition seems to be impaired, I’ll say that I believe that it’s obviously George.) Compare “You broke the window” to “I painted the wall.”  The direct object is obviously the wall.  So why would “I painted the wall blue” be any different? – Scott May 12 '18 at 3:15
  • 'Heartless' complements the object, George. The terminology 'receives the verb' is your own (so far, unexplained) invention. – Nigel J May 12 '18 at 5:02
  • "Heartless" does not complement the object -- it is complement of the verb, though it does of course refer to the object "George". – BillJ May 12 '18 at 7:55

Consider two example sentences given by the OP:

  1. Roger called George heartless.

  2. You broke the window.

In the first sentence, the OP thinks that there are two objects or, at least he doubts why the object complement heartless is not considered as an object!

In both sentences the verbs are action verbs. An action verb normally takes a noun or noun equivalent as its object. The word heartless is an adjective. An adjective qualifies a noun, and here it qualifies the object George; thus it becomes an object complement.

All verbs cannot take two objects. Normally, verbs like give, grant, tell etc. take two objects. Such verbs are referred to as ditransitive verbs.

Edit: As the OP thinks, heartless is not the word that 'receives' the verb. It is George that 'receives' the verb. Roger called George (to be ) heartless.

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