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Sorry for asking again. I confuse using direct object with Object of preposition.... For example

David pointed at Kyle's bowling ball. (https://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/prepositional-phrases.html)

I know that is right sentence.

But I usually say :David pointed Kyle's bowling ball.

Beause I've thought the bowling ball is receiving the action of the verb;point.

Direct object and object of preposition look like similar to me... Help me...

  • How about to refer to the online etymology dictionary (link: etymonline.com)
    – GKK
    Nov 21, 2017 at 12:53
  • Why not look up the word "point" and study its usages. You can analyse examples with this word and find out how to use it. Nov 21, 2017 at 16:36

3 Answers 3


You can't do this sort of analysis without taking into account the syntactic requirements of the particlar words.

It happens that "point" used in this way* does not take a direct object, but requires an indirect object introduced by "at" or "towards".

"Indicate" has a very similar meaning to "point", but does take a direct object for the destination: "He indicated Kyle's bowling ball [with his finger]".

There is no way to predict this other than learning the requirements of the particular words.

*Note: "point" can take a direct object, but it means the object you are using to point with, rather than the direction of the pointing: "He pointed his finger at her". "Please don't point your gun at me".


David pointed Kyle's bowling ball.

He cannot affect the ball only by the gesture in the picture with using the verb 'point' without using tools like pen, knife, marker, or etc. (I mean you cannot make any scratch, or mark on the ball using only by the gesture)

So, considering only the sentence without the picture, you cannot express what you mean depending on the sentence, and situation, but just it can mean that the man made the whole shape of the ball sharp, or by using the ball you indicated somewhere.

  • This is not a helpful answer. The semantics do not enter into the question: it is simply the syntactic requirements of the particular verb "point". (If the example used "indicate", the answer would be diffferent.,
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 21, 2017 at 18:07

The verb to point can take a direct object.  However, a ball cannot be easily pointed. 

Let's look at some sensible direct objects: 

Dave pointed his finger at the ball. 
Dave pointed a gun at the ball. 
Dave pointed the mouse cursor on the ball. 
Dave pointed Susan toward the ball. 

These direct objects have their positions changed.  That's what it means to "receive the action" of the transitive verb to point

The ball doesn't receive an action in any of these sentences.  It is a target, and it does receive a relationship, and that relationship is the result of an action.  However, that's not the same thing as receiving the action itself. 

It is very difficult to see what receives the action of a verb without first knowing what the action of that verb is.

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