there. I stumbled upon this sentence: The charity gave them money to help them purchase a house. While trying to analyse it, I met some problems related to the verb "to help". My first thought when looking at this sentence is that "them" must function as indirect object, since they are the ones benefitting from the action/fulfilling the roles as recipients. But as far as I know, a transitive verb must have a direct object in order to have an indirect object. I tried checking it up, but the only thing i find, is that "to help" requires a structure verb + (someone) + to-infinitive/in + present participle/with + something. Does anyone have a good answer to this???

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    In I helped John cook, John is undoubtedly the "direct" object, but you could argue that "cook" is the "indirect" object. And there's nothing wrong with omitting either or both "objects" there, so I help is fine, as is I helped John and I helped cook. Does that help? Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 13:42
  • Thanks! :) Yes, it was of great help. Although, I thought "cook" was an infinitive clause that just served as a complement, but what you show is also an interesting (and somehow confusing) example (^o^)
    – Maria Lima
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 14:52
  • Yes, strictly speaking the final word in I helped Jon cook is an infinitive ("unmarked", as it happens, but it's perfectly okay and means the same if we include the "infinitive marker": I helped John to cook). But does knowing this terminology help you to understand which constructions are valid, and which aren't? I suspect not. Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


The charity gave them money [to help them [purchase a house]].

If there's only one object in a clause it is always a direct object.

In this example the matrix clause (the whole sentence) has "money" as direct object and "them" as indirect object. The embedded subordinate clause (in outer brackets) is an adjunct and has "them" as direct object of "help".

The further subordinate clause (in inner brackets) is complement (not object) of "help" and has "a house" as direct object of "purchase".

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    Thank you so much for the explanation! It was much easier to see the pattern when putting it into clams :)
    – Maria Lima
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 14:55
  • Agreed, good answer
    – Wiser2k1
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 16:29

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