The sentences in the first answer to this question on English Language Learners has sentences that seemed to me [before reading the answer] to have two direct objects:

  • I named my daughter Alice.
  • The other students called April smart
  • The cats considered the dry food poison.

According to the answer on the linked site, in each sentence, the bolded clause is the direct object, and the italicized word is the direct object complement.

I have no idea how to translate these sentences into French, though. How do I?

  • Good question that shows a sharp eye for seeming inconsistencies — it does at first sight look like two direct objects, which we know we can't have. Incidentally, there's a semantic range that tends to behave oddly like this across languages, and these verbs highlight it: being or being named. German nennen "to name" also seems to break a similar rule by having two objects in the accusative case.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 7, 2018 at 16:29

2 Answers 2


See the recent discussion here and the references given therein.

In general we dinstinguish between verbs that take a direct object (without the intervention of a preposition) and those that do not.

J'appelle mon amie. I call my friend. Je l'appelle. I call her.

Je vais téléphoner à mon amie. Je vais lui téléphoner.

Many French intransitive verbs may take an indirect (dative) object as in English. The dative form of nouns and some pronouns is obtained by adding à; other pronouns have special dative forms.

Il parle aux étudiants. Il leur parle. À qui parlez-vous ? (He speaks to the students. He speaks to them. Whom were you speaking to?)

A number of French verbs require an indirect (dative) object, whereas their English counterparts take a direct (accusative) object. E.g.:

Repondre à = answer; ressembler à = resemble; se fier à = trust ; obéir à = obey

Many French transitive verbs, which take a direct object, may take an indirect object as well. E.g.: donner, offrir, montrer, enseigner:

Je donne le livre à mon frère => Je le lui donne.

Il enseigne le français à sa femme => Il le lui enseigne (, à elle; reprise)

Il leur offrit un cadeau. He offered them a present.

Returning to your question, the sentences may be translated in French as:

J'ai appelé ma fille Alice. => Je l'ai appelée Alice (direct objetc; accusative)

Les autres étudiants ont appelé April smart. Les autres étudiants l'ont appelée smart. (direct object; accusative).

Les chats considéraient la nourriture sèche comme un poison.


These constructions are termed "attribut de l'objet" in french didactic grammar (object complements in English, I believe) if you want to find more about them. The main difference with English is usually going to be whether or not the complement is introduced by a preposition or not: with considérer, the complement is introduced by comme, whereas as is optional to stilted in English.

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