We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Retained Object?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A retained object is a somewhat obscure part of grammatical labeling for language that generally refers to a noun that functions as an object in specific kind of sentences. One of the simplest explanations of a retained object is that it acts as an object in passive form. Passive form is a particular kind of writing that uses a more complex structure, with an implicit or indirect subject, rather than a clear and direct subject.

Some experts further describe a retained object as an object that carries over in a switch from active to passive form. To understand this phenomenon, it’s useful to be familiar with active and passive forms. An active form presents a clear, direct association of a subject with an object. For example, an active form sentence might go like this: “Joe gave the book to Suzy.” Here the subject, Joe, is referenced before either of the other two nouns in a sentence, for a result that reads clearly and demonstrates the relationship between nouns directly.

As a contrast to the above, a passive form sentence might go this way: “The book was given to Suzy by Joe.” Here, the subject comes at the end of the sentence, but the object, the book, is carried over. This is one example of what language experts mean when they talk about a retained object.

Retained objects have radically different uses and identifiers in different languages. Some languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, have multiple types of retained objects that function differently within the language. These sorts of grammatical label applications help linguists and others to explore the function of a language in a very detailed way.

One of the prime characteristics of a retained object in the English language is its ability to maintain a consistent form throughout active and passive forms. Some experts might call this type of noun a “durable” object, or one that has consistency through different uses. Aside from being useful in language teaching, this specific type of object might also help with natural language processing, where engineers use subject and object labeling as part of parsing human language for interpretation by computers and technologies. Sorting out the references of nouns, pronouns, and other identifiers is a key component of making AI or Artificial Intelligence applications more able to “understand” human speech or text communications.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.