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In "I want the following: butter, sugar, and flour" "the following" seems a "direct object", "following" seems like a verb. I thought nouns seem like objects?

  • The following must be a noun phrase. We can tell because of the determiner the. I'm not sure what you mean by "nouns seem like objects". Perhaps you mean "I thought objects had to be nouns"? – snailboat May 10 '15 at 1:46
  • "I thought objects had to be nouns" something like that. A, "noun phrase" seems thought a, "direct object"? It seems, "the" a, "determiner", gets, "following" a "verb" to go into a, "noun phrase", and, or, "direct object", like, maybe, "the smelly"? – saySay May 10 '15 at 1:52
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An object does not necessarily have to be a noun. They can be nouns, pronouns, phrases, or clauses. Here are some examples:

  • I want cookies. (direct object = noun)
  • I want to work. (direct object = verb phrase)
  • I want that. (direct object = pronoun)
  • I want you to stand up for yourself. (direct object = clause)

You can see that a direct object can take many forms. In your sentence, however, it is a noun. More specifically it is an ing-form of the verb to follow used as a noun. You can often use ing-forms as nouns:

  • The fighting led to arrests.
  • Closing up prevents any more customers from entering your shop.

Note that the ing-forms used as nouns do not necessarily take an article.

If you want to learn more about ing-forms, you can take a look at this page.

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"the following" is elliptic and stands for "the following things". When "the following" is used without "things" we must see it as a noun, meaning everything that follows. Probably used only before enumerations.

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