He offered to lend the book to the student.

Subject: He
Verb: offered

I don't know what the object should be, is it "to lend the book"? but then the object itself would be comprised of a verb and its complement, which makes it S+V+O+V+C , but this structure seems ungrammatical, what's the correct way to put this?

And what does the PP to the student stand for? I know it adds information to the verb lend , but is it a complement or something else?

He wants us to use the service.

Subject : He
Verb : wants
Object : us

"to use the service " confuses me, is it a complement consisting of infinitive verb + its complement or object?

But then the structure would look like S+V+O+C+V+C(or O), which doesn't seem grammatical, what's the correct way to explain this?


2 Answers 2


He offered to lend the book to the student.

"He" is the subject and the verb phrase "to lend the book to the student” is the main predicate.

Within the VP is the subordinate infinitival clause "to lend the book to the student" which functions as complement of "offered". "The book" is object of "lend", and the PP "to the student" is complement (not indirect object) of "lend".

He wants us to use the service.

The subject is "he" and the verb phrase "wants us to use the service" is the main predicate. Within the predicate is the subordinate infinitival clause "to use the service", which functions as complement of "wants".

The intervening NP "us" is the syntactic object of "wants", and the understood (semantic) subject of "to use the service". "Us" is called a ‘raised’ object because the verb it relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically. "The service" is object of "use".

Note that analysing such sentences SVOC or whatever is inappropriate. That kind of analysis is only suitable for simple canonical clauses.

  • Thank you so much for the answer and telling me that analysing the sentence isn't appropriate. When I first started learning English in school, I was taught that all English sentences will fall into those four English patterns without any exception, and I've been struggling with fitting the sentence into those patterns as most of the sentences don't seem that simple. Your telling me gives me a different insight, it's really helpful, thank you so much again !
    – Peilin
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 2:22

As in other languages some English verbs take both a direct and an indirect object. Example:

I loaned (verb) her (indirect object) the book (direct object).

You can rephrase this so that the indirect object is an adverb phrase

I loaned the book to her (adverb phrase)

The direct object can also be a phrase:

He cooked (verb) us (indirect object) curry with a side of saffron rice (direct object phrase)

In your first example, "to loan the book" is a noun phrase that acts as the direct object of "offer". "To the student" is a little bit unclear -- it's definitely an adverb phrase as above, but we can't say for certain if it modifies "offer" or "loan". Both work -- and in the end it doesn't really matter, as the meaning is much the same either way.

Your second example is more straightforward

He (subject) wants (verb) us (indirect object) to use the service (direct object phrase).

Just keep in mind that you can substitute phrases for the various parts of speech, and it should be clear. Again, it's probably not much different in your own native language.

  • Thanks , if I change the sentence to , might sound weird,"He forced us to be a volunteer/ happy " .Does the same rule apply ? Will “to become a volunteer” or “to become happy” still serve as a direct object phrase?
    – Peilin
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 16:07
  • @Peilin No, that doesn't sound odd at all. "He forced us to volunteer" is perfectly normal, where the infinitive "to volunteer" acts as a noun. Or a noun phrase "The sergeant forced the soldiers to volunteer for the mission".
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 17:42

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