Second Object Complement in French : COS

complement d'object second french (1)

The French language has no more than 3 types of object complements. You may have heard about COD and COI, but have never crossed the second object complement (COS).

In this lesson, we’ll explain what it means and why it is easier than you think.

How many objects there are in French?

There are three object complements :

  • COD
A direct object complement is attached to the verb directly, without preposition, and it designates the being or the object on which the action relates and answers the questions who? or what? placed after the verb.

Je prends ta main.

I take your hand.

Learn more about Direct Object Pronoun here.

  • COI

The indirect object complement (COI): attached to the verb indirectly, via a preposition (à, de, pour…), answers the question of whom? whose? to what? placed after the verb.

Je donne le livre à Pierre.

I give the book to Pierre.

Learn more about indirect objects here.

  • COS

The second object complement (COS): indicates the benefit of the person doing the action, is introduced by a preposition, and completes a verb already constructed with a COD or a COI. It used to be called an attribution supplement.

Je parle souvent de toi à mon frère. (De toi : COI / à mon frère : COS).

I often speak about you to my brother. ( about you – COI / to my brother – COS)

When the COS is a pronoun, it is built without a preposition.

Je lui ai emprunté son vélo. (son vélo : COD / lui : COS).

I borrowed her a bicycle.

Learn more about indirect Object Pronouns here.

Second Object Complement

The second object is always a COI (indirect object) when used after a COD (direct object). It is called second because it assists the COD in the sentence and specifies the action of the verb.

Pierre raconte ses vacances à ses amis.

Pierre tells his friends about his holidays.

A qui raconte-t-elle son histoire ? “A ses amis”. est alors un COS.

To whom she tells her story? To her friends.

Je lui dis un secret.  A qui dis-je un secret ? “à lui”est un COS.

I tell her a secret. To whom I tell the secret? “To her” is a COS.


  • when a verb has a COI in addition to a COD, we speak of COS (complement of the second object).
  • we identify a COS in the same way as a COI by asking the question TO WHOM / TO WHAT / FROM WHOM / FROM WHAT
  • The COS can be placed before a COD in the sentence

Ready to Put Your Knowledge into Practice

We share with you an exercise to help you put your knowledge into practice.

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