Learning Direct and Indirect Objects from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If you haven’t read, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, I highly recommend it – it’s a great children’s book. It’s also a useful tool to begin learning direct and indirect objects.

How to Use Direct Objects and Indirect Objects

First, I’d like to break down an action into two parts: cause and effect. The cause would be the subject (the one doing or starting the action), and the effect would be the object (the one that feels the result of the action).

Direct Object

A direct object is the thing or person that the verb controls. Depending on the verb, the direct object could be moved, struck, passed, lifted, etc. The action is happening to that object (but it will NEVER be directly after the word “to”!).

“If you give a mouse a cookie…”

You (subject) are giving (verb) the mouse a cookie. The cookie is being given, so “cookie” is the direct object.

Indirect Object

The indirect object is the thing or person that receives the direct object.

“If you give a mouse a cookie…”

You’re giving the cookie (direct object) to the mouse, so “mouse” is the indirect object.

Notice that you can reword the indirect object by moving it after the direct object and putting “to” in front of it. For example, “If you give a cookie to a mouse…”

Since this works without changing the meaning, we know that we have identified the correct indirect object*.

Why This Book?

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is the type of book that follows a pattern. That means that the sentences on each page are fairly similar. Most of the pages involve statements where very little changes except the direct object. That makes identifying the direct object simpler when starting out, so it’s a good way to start learning to recognize them in sentences.

Make sense?

*Once “to” is in front of “a mouse,” “mouse” becomes the object of the preposition and is no longer an indirect object (technically).