pagare una macchina 30 mila euro

Considering that "30 mila euro" is a direct object, I'm assuming that "una macchina" can only be an indirect object. The thing is that in French etc, an indirect object (except for personal pronouns) is usually preceded by a preposition. Which is the source of my confusion here.

  • It is not an indirect object (it's more like a complemento di fine, describing the aim of the action). The question of why it does not have a preposition is very interesting though, 'd suggest to edit the question to focus on that.
    – Denis Nardin
    May 29, 2018 at 20:58

3 Answers 3


This is an interesting question. A traditional answer would be that una macchina is the direct object (complemento oggetto) and trentamila euro is a complemento di prezzo o stima, which, as you can see here, “quando dipende da verbi come pagare, costare, sborsare, ... si trova in forma diretta e si esprime senza preposizione” (when it depends on such verbs as pagare, costare, sborsare appears in a direct form and is expressed with no preposition). So, trentamila euro is direct, but it is not the object of the verb.

On the other hand, the very notion of complementi is quite controversial. There are more modern approaches to grammar (of which I am no expert) in which each verb admits zero or more arguments; in this viewpoint, the verb pagare admits 1 to 3 arguments (one argument is the subject, and it may be the only one, as in “Andiamo, [io] ho pagato”; or a second one may appear: “[Io] Pago un caffè”; or a third too: “Gianni ha pagato questa macchina trentamila euro”). If your Italian is up to it, you can read about some alternative approaches in the article about “Complementi” in the Treccani Enciclopedia dell'italiano, as well as in the article about “Argomenti”.

  • I much prefer this description. I find it weird that in the classical description the object changes between Ho pagato 30 mila euro and Ho pagato una macchina 30 mila euro...
    – Denis Nardin
    May 29, 2018 at 21:10
  • @DenisNardin It’s nothing unusual that the same thematic role can be marked differently by the same verb. Consider the sentences, “Il nemico affonda la nave,” and, “La nave affonda.” In the former, la nave is the direct object. In the latter, it’s the subject.
    – Tom S. Fox
    May 29, 2018 at 22:03
  • As an interesting tidbit, in an ergative-absolutive language such as Basque, the ship would be marked the same way in both sentences.
    – Tom S. Fox
    May 29, 2018 at 22:12

Well, actually una macchina in your phrase is the direct object, since it answers the question What (che cosa?).

In this case 30 mila euro is a complemento di prezzo.

  • 2
    Note that in English indirect object denotes what we call in Italian complemento di termine (and it is slightly different, for example it can be made the subject of a passive sentence)
    – Denis Nardin
    May 29, 2018 at 21:09
  • @DenisNardin I agree with you, some subtle differences are quite controversial and sometimes it’s difficult to tell them apart
    – abarisone
    May 29, 2018 at 21:11
  • 1
    I meant that in I paid 30000 euros for that car. [for that car] is not considered an indirect object, at least in the grammar I studied
    – Denis Nardin
    May 29, 2018 at 21:12
  • No, the indirect object is preceded by a, never by per.
    – Tom S. Fox
    May 29, 2018 at 21:57

No, it’s the direct object. If it were the indirect object, it would be preceded by the preposition a.

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