15  How can indirect objects be taught?

As indicated in Question 14, actions must be performed by a "doer," labeled by the grammatical category "subject," and many thousands of actions must be performed by the "doer" onto "something" or "someone" for the action to occur. This person or object, or "done-to," is labeled by the grammatical category "direct object."

"Doer" or subject performs action onto "done-to" or direct object
The clerk brought the records.
El asistente trajo las notas.


Involved in the action performed by a "doer" onto a "done-to," a third party --person, animal, or object-- can be found. This is the "indirect object."

The clerk brought the records for the boss.
El asistente le trajo las notas a la directora.


There are four basic English sentence patterns that show the involvement of this third party --or indirect object:


Ana gives the doll to Pilar.
Ana gives Pilar the doll.  


Ana takes away the doll from Pilar.


Pilar breaks Ana's doll.  


Mother fixes Ana's doll.  
Mother fixes   the doll for Ana.


In Spanish, there is only one sentence pattern to show the involvement of the third party or "indirect object."

1. Ana le da la muñeca a Pilar.
2. Ana le quita la muñeca a Pilar.
3. Pilar le rompe la muñeca a Ana.
4. Mamá le arregla la muñeca a Ana.


The key to teaching "indirect object" in both English and Spanish is the students' perception of the doer, action, done-to and third party. Teachers must use activities where students can perform many actions involving a doer, a done-to and a third involved party. Students and the teacher can collaborate to bring pictures to the classroom depicting an action performed by a doer onto a done-to with the involvement of a third party. Only through extensive and prolonged opportunities to observe and perceive actions will students learn to express doers, actions, done-to's and involved third parties.




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