The second object (COS) in French
What is the second object complement in French ?
The second object complement (French: le complément d'objet second) is a complement that is preceded by a preposition. It completes the direct object complement in a sentence.
To make it simple, the COI changes its name and becomes the second object complement: COS.
|Pierre donne un cadeau à son frère||Pierre donne un cadeau à son frère||(Peter gives a gift to his brother)|
|Julia achète un foulard à sa mère||Julia achète un foulard à sa mère||(Julia buys a scarf for her mom)|
How to recognize the COS in French ?
The COS indicates who benefits or who harms the action made by the subject.
The complement is introduced by a preposition and is attached to a verb that is already built with a COD (after the latter, so it comes second)
The presence of the COD is mandatory in this type of construction, otherwise the sentence will be incorrect.
- Subject + verb + COD + COS
Roméo annonce une bonne nouvelle à sa famille. (Romeo announce a good news to his family)
- The subject is "Roméo"
- The transitive verb is "annonce"
- The direct object is "une bonne nouvelle"
- "à sa famille" is a COI because you ask the question "à qui ?"
- But it is the second complement in the sentence, therefore it becomes a COS
Papa a demandé une nouvelle voiture de service à son directeur général. (Dad asked a new service car to his CEO)
- The subject is "papa"
- The transitive verb is "a demandé"
- The COD is "une nouvelle voiture de service"
- "à son directeur" is a COI because you ask the question "à qui ?"
- But it is a second complement in the sentence, therefore it becomes the COS
The position of the COS in French
The COS can be placed in different ways in a sentence:
- After the first COD
- If the COS is a pronoun, it always stands before the verb.
- If the COD and the COS are pronouns, we look at their grammatical person: in the 3rd person → the COD is before the COS; 1st and 2nd person => the COS is before the COD
- If the verb is imperative, the COS is after the COD.
|After the COD||Papa a donné sa voiture||Papa à donné sa voiture à maman||(Dad gave his car to mom)|
|Pronoun||Papa a donné sa voiture à maman||Papa lui a donné sa voiture||(Dad gave her his car)|
Papa l'a donné à maman
La maîtresse prête un stylo à Marcel
Papa la lui a donné
La maîtresse me le prête
(Dad gave it to mom)
(The teacher lends it to me)
|Imperative||Donne lui ton sac.||Donnes-le lui.||(Give it to him)|
If the COS is usually placed after the COD, it sometimes happens to be placed before:
- Le client a commandé au vendeur une voiture. (The client ordered to the seller a car)
- Le client a commandé une voiture au vendeur. (The client ordered a car to the seller)
The grammatical category of the COS in French
As a general rule, the COS can not be deleted and it is part of the verbal group and a sentence can have two COS at the same time.
The grammatical nature of the COS can be:
- A noun
- A nominal group
- A pronoun
|Noun||Selena emprunte un bijou à sa soeur||(Selena borrows a jewel to her sister)|
|Nominal group||Pierre offre une montre au nouveau marié||(Peter offers a watch to the new bride)|
|Pronoun||Marie lui donne un dilemme||(Maria gaves him an ultimatum)|
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