I want him to go. In this sentence '' him '' is a direct object. who do i want ? him ''to go '' is object complement.

I told him to go '' him '' in this sentence direct or indirect object ? I am really confused. I would be very happy if you could explain it in a few sentences.

  • 1
    Neither of your examples contains an indirect object or an object complement. Please see my answer.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


I want/told him [to go].

This is called a catenative construction.

"Him" is the syntactic object of "want/told" and the understood (semantic) subject of the subordinate infinitival clause "to go" functioning as catenative complement of "want/told".

There is no indirect object or object complement.

Note that clauses do not function as objects, direct or indirect.

  • I'm deeply uncertain about this. Can you provide a source that supports it? I was under the impression that chain verbs / concatenations always function intransitively (compare: "I prefer to stay.")
    – BadZen
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 15:45
  • To be more specific, you're claiming that if you add a pp ('to go') to the end of a valid simple SVO ("I told him."), in some cases the object is no longer an object of the verb. I'm looking for an example from a grammar text like this (and not like "I prefer to stay"). What is the function of the word "him", (syntax, since you are making the distinction...)
    – BadZen
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 15:49
  • @BadZen RE your 1st comment: In complex catenatives with a to infinitival clause as complement, the intervening NP always belongs syntactically in the matrix as object. The complement clause is not an object. RE your 2nd comment: What do you mean by PP? "To go" is an infinitival clause. In "I told him", "him" is object of "told". Similarly, in "I told him to go", "him" is object of "told". I recommend A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (Huddleston & Pullum) 2005 as a good reference book.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 11:54
  • I'm not persuaded. Exactly one author that I've found distinguishes "syntactic object" in this way and zero grammar texts (including this one) I've found do. This answer is somewhat weird and certainly confusing to learners.
    – BadZen
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 12:38
  • @BadZen Did you downvote my answer?
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 12:56

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