A direct object is the element in the sentence that receives the action in a direct manner. It answers the question "what?" and it could be replaced by la, lo, las, los.
Papá trajo una libreta a Camilia.
Dad brought a notebook to Camilia.
What did dad bring? a notebook.
Nosotros jugamos pelota.
We play ball.
What do we play? ball.
Diego compró flores a la abuela.
Diego bought flowers for grandma.
Raúl trajo al turista.
Raúl brought the tourist.
Carlos recibió un recuerdo.
Carlos received a souvenir.
Juana teje un suéter a su hermano.
Juana knits a sweater for he brother.
The direct object may also be compound. For example:
¿Sirven ustedes postres y café?
Do you serve desserts and coffee?
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Direct objects are nouns, pronouns, phrases, and clauses that follow transitive verbs [a type of action verb]. If you can identify the subject and verb in a sentence, then finding the direct object--if one exists--is easy. Just remember this simple formula:
Subject + verb + what?(who?) = the direct object
Here are examples of the formula in action:
Yo bebo limonada.
I drink lemonade.
La policía sigue a los ladrones.
The police follows the thieves.
Sometimes direct objects are single words like limonada; other times they are phrases or clauses like a los ladrones. The formula nevertheless works the same.
In order to recognize the direct object in a sentence you need to follow two methods:
Ask the question "what?
David trajo el jugo.
David brought the juice.
What did David bring? the juice
Rosa siempre dice mentiras.
Rosa always tells lies.
What does Rosa say?
Eventhough the Direct Object might be a person, it is always considered as an object.
Mi esposo llevó a mi hija al zoológico.
My husband took my daughter to the zoo.
Pablo escucha al profesor con atención.
Pablo listens to the teacherwith attention.
There is another way to find the DO (direct object) in the sentence.
Replace the expression that is supposed to be the DO with the DO Pronouns "la, las, lo, los".
El gato se tomó la leche del bebé.
The cat drank the baby's milk.
El gato se la tomó.
The cat drank it.
Replacing "la" for "la leche".
Julio compró los boletos para el estadio.
Julio bought the tickets for the stadium.
Julio los compró.
Julio bought them.
Replacing "los" for "los boletos para el estadio".