# 14 How can direct objects be taught?
"Direct object" labels a grammatical category established by ancient Greek and Roman grammarians as they observed the properties of "actions."
Actions are performed by the "doer" of the action, labeled by the grammatical category "subject." The "subject" could be a person (John came), an animal (The lion roared), a thing (The pencil fell), or an abstraction (Liberty requires responsibility). Grammarians observed long ago that certain actions can be performed by a doer: John comes every day in the mornings. Other actions must be performed by a doer and must include something else to be performed. For example: to throw. A doer or subject must throw and s(he) must throw something for the action to take place. If nothing is thrown, then the action just does not occur. One cannot "throw" nothing!
The grammatical category "direct object" labels this "something" or "someone" that must be involved in the action for the action to take place. Thus:
|A subject||must perform an action||onto something/someone||for the action to occur--|
|The criminal||killed||his victim.|
In Spanish the pattern is identical to English:
|Beti||come||un poco de carne.|
|El criminal||asesinó||a su víctima.|
Both, English and Spanish explicitly name the direct object --as shown above-- or can use direct object pronouns to refer to the already named direct object.
|The criminal||killed||him (or her).|
|María||va a escribir||las cartas.|
|María||va a escribirlas.|
|Beti||está comiendo||la carne.|
|El criminal||asesinó||a los niños.|
|El criminal||los asesinó.|
|El criminal||asesinó||a nuestro amigo.|
|El criminal||lo asesinó.|
Teaching direct objects, then, requires that students observe and perceive the thousands of actions that require a "doer" and a "done-to," or direct object, for the action to take place.
English requires that the "done-to" or direct object, once named, be referred to by a pronoun indicating whether the direct object is a thing (or animal), "it," or a person: "him," "her," "them." In the plural, things, animals or persons are labeled "them."
Spanish requires that the "done-to" or direct object, once named, be referred to by the article ONLY. The noun labeling the person or thing is dropped.
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