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Indirect vs direct object


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Old April 14, 2022, 11:42 AM
Sang Sang is offline
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Indirect vs direct object

After a year of intense study, I'm still so confused about indirect and direct object pronouns. Especially when sentence like this "El capitan les manda que los soldados descansen. Les manda descansar". I understand that in order to have an indirect object in a sentence, there must be a direct object, either real or implied. It's was quite easy with verb like dar, traer, vender, prestar, etc. because it implied give something, bring something, sell something, that something an direct object. But with verbs like "mandar", what is the "direct object"?
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Old April 14, 2022, 02:49 PM
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Rusty Rusty is offline
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The direct object may be an action (in its infinitive form) or it may be a noun clause. Both of these cases are used in your examples.

Les manda descansar.
Here, the direct object is the infinitive 'descansar' (an infinitive, playing the role of a noun, can be a direct object); the indirect object is 'les'. When only a pronoun is used, the speaker assumes we know whom is being commanded (the indirect object must have been declared previously).

A direct object always answers the question, "What?" "What does the captain command?" -(To) rest or resting.

An indirect object always answers the question, "To whom?" or "To what?" Naming the recipient of the action is the reason we would use an indirect object (to whom is the action transferred?).

In answer to "What does the captain command?" I provided three answers. That's because all three can be used in English to express the direct object.
'To rest' is a full infinitive; 'to' is actually part of the action being expressed. 'Rest' is a bare infinitive (it lacks the word 'to'). 'Resting' is a gerund.
In each case, the direct object is a noun in form and function.

The first sentence you wrote would make more sense without the pronoun 'les'; in other words, without an indirect object pronoun. The direct object is the noun clause that follows the verb (introduced by 'que').
"What does the captain command?" -That the soldiers rest. The whole noun clause serves as the direct object.

The Spanish sentence makes sense without the indirect object pronoun, because there is no indirect object.

We might be tempted to translate it into English as, "The captain commands the soldiers to rest." This is a valid English sentence. However, it doesn't have the same structure in Spanish, so it's difficult to wrap our heads around it.
The English sentence makes use of a direct object (the soldiers) and an infinitive, defining what is to be done by the direct object. The infinitive is 'to rest'.

As written, your Spanish sentence has no referent for the indirect object pronoun. Without more context, we have no idea whom 'les' could possibly represent. It can't be 'the soldiers', because they are the subject of the noun clause, which serves as the direct object to the verb 'manda'.

If you want to say "The captain commands the soldiers to rest" in Spanish, you'll need an indirect object (a prepositional phrase beginning with 'a' (to), plus the prepositional object 'los soldados') and a noun clause that conveys the action to be done.

El capitán (les) manda a los soldados que descansen.

Using the indirect object pronoun 'les' is redundant here, but is allowed and used a lot.

Because a verb of volition was used, the verb in the noun clause must appear in the subjunctive mood.

Last edited by Rusty; April 14, 2022 at 06:51 PM. Reason: augmented
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