This post helps us understand transitive and intransitive verbs in English.
What is a transitive verb in English?
Transitive verb definition: a transitive verb is the main verb that has an object: a person or an object the action is done to. The object receives the action (transitive verb) and comes right after it.
Study the following examples using transitive verbs:
- I love my friends. (object = my friends)
- I will call the students in the morning. (object = the students)
- He studied Botany for 3 years. (object = Botany)
- Jon and I bought a house last week. (object = a house)
Notice the transitive verbs in the above examples (in bold) take an object after them (italicized).
A list of some transitive verbs in English
Examples of transitive verbs
|Love||Everyone loves her.||her|
|Hate||I have never hated you.||you|
|Eat||My friend Monu can eat anything.||anything|
|Wash||He does not wash his clothes.||his clothes|
|Cut||Could you cut these vegetables for me?||these vegetables|
|Drink||I can’t drink this. It has alcohol in it.||this|
|Start||He has started doing his job seriously.||doing his job seriously|
|Finish||Did you finish the task you were working on?||the task|
|Appreciate||We appreciate your help.||your help|
|Like||She does not like to talk to strangers.||to talk to strangers|
|Seduce||Nobody can seduce her.||her|
|Note down||Can you note down this address for me?||this address|
|Hug||I always hug my parents before leaving for work.||my parents|
|Cook||Ashish can cook all types of cuisines.||all types of cuisines|
How to find a transitive verb?
To find out the transitive verb in a sentence is easy. Ask ‘what‘ or ‘whom‘ to the verb to find out the object of the verb. The answer to the question ‘what’ is always an object (non-living), and the answer to the question ‘whom’ is always a person.
If the verb answers any of the two questions, it is a transitive verb. But if it does not, it is not a transitive verb. Let’s take some examples and try this.
- She is cooking pasta for dinner.
Cooking ‘what’ = pasta
Cooking ‘whom’ = no answer (she won’t a person)
Asking what to the verb gets us the object of the verb ‘cook’ and tells us that it is a transitive verb.
- I did not invite Rashmi to the wedding.
Asking whom to the verb gets us its object: Rashmi. Whom did I not invite to the wedding? It is Rashmi (the object of the verb).
A transitive verb can have two objects: the direct object and the indirect object. When a transitive verb has two objects, it answers both ‘what’ and ‘whom’.
- She gifted me a phone on my last birthday.
gifted what = a phone (direct object)
gifted whom = me (indirect object)
- Could you pass Rohan this book?
pass what = this book (direct object)
pass whom = Rohan (indirect object)
- I won’t tell them anything.
tell what = anything (direct object)
tell whom = them (indirect object)
Verbs that take two objects are called ditransitive verbs in English.
A list of transitive verbs that can take two objects
- My father gifted me a car on my last birthday.
The verb gifted is ditransitive. It is followed by an indirect object (me) and a direct object (a car).
Gifted what = a car
Gifted whom = me
- She gave him some chocolates.
She gave what = some chocolates (Direct object)
She gave some chocolates to whom = him (Indirect object)
- Sing me a song, please!
sing ‘what’ = a song
sing ‘whom’ = me
What can be the object of a transitive verb?
This can help you identify and understand transitive verbs in a better way. The object of a transitive verb can be the following:
- I love it.
- I love you.
- I love teaching English. (gerund phrase)
- I hate eating boiled vegetables. (gerund phrase)
- Do you love swimming? (gerund)
What is an intransitive verb?
An intransitive is opposite to a transitive verb. Unlike a transitive verb, an intransitive can’t or don’t take a direct object.
- I was sleeping when you called.
(Sleep is an intransitive verb; it can’t take an object. You can’t sleep something or somebody.)
- Why did you smile at that guy?
(Smile is an intransitive verb; you don’t smile something or somebody. You can do that at somebody or something. That guy is the object of the preposition ‘at’ here.)
- We laughed so hard during the match.
(You can’t laugh something or somebody. Laugh is an instransitive verb; it can’t be acted to a person or a thing.)
- Why are you crying?
(You can’t cry a person or a thing. It is not an action verb that can have a direct object.)
A list of some intransitive verbs
Most intransitive verbs can’t take an object. But there are verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive verbs.
A list of verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive verbs
|Verbs||Transitive verbs||Intransitive verbs|
|Move||Can you move this to your room?||The car was moving fast.|
|Run||He is running this business well.||He was running fast in the park.|
|Change||Let’s change the plan.||He has changed. He is not the same person anymore.|
|Close||They closed the shop early.||The shop closes at 9 pm.|
|Open||Don’t open your eyes. I have something for you.||The shop opens at 8 am.|
|Stop||Can you stop yelling at me?||When the train stopped, we went outside and got something to eat.|
|Start||Stop her going there.||The movie started very late.|
|Do||We did what we could.||We did well in the game.|
Transitive vs Intransitive verbs
Both transitive and intransitive verbs are main verbs (usually action verbs) that function differently in a sentence. A transitive verb has a direct object that comes right after it, but an intransitive verb does not have a direct object. It either can’t have a direct object or does not have it in the sentence.
Transitive verb examples:
- I have never kissed my girlfriend.
- Jon is recording a video right now.
- He could have killed you if he wanted to.
- They envy me because of what I have achieved in life.
Intransitive verb examples:
- He is pouting.
- He sighed after the meeting ended.
- Everyone panicked when we lost the keys.
- He is not coming to the party.
Related video lessons: