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Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

by Mark October 30, 2020

Hello there! This blog post is going to look at an aspect of Verbs in English which is often overlooked – the fact that there are two different ‘types’ of verb in English – namely Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs. You many never have heard of these terms before, but don’t worry! This isn’t as complicated as it might appear at first!

The following sections will deal with each type of verb in turn, with examples to show you how they are used, and a quiz for you to test your knowledge!

Onwards!

Transitive Verbs

So let us begin by talking about transitive verbs. These are verbs which are used with an object, a noun, phrase or pronoun that refers to the person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb. Basically the verb Subject does the action of the Verb to an Object (somebody or something).

For example:

She loves animals
They operate heavy machinery
Mary dislikes it
John usually eats breakfast

The verbs love, operate, dislike and eat are transitive verbs. Each verb has an object or pronoun following the verb.

 

Intransitive Verbs

Moving on to intransitive verbs and as you may have guessed, the difference is that intransitive verbs don’t have an object. In simple terms, the verb Subject does the Verb action. The end.

For example:

The baby was crying
He gets up late everyday
We talked for hours
They laughed hysterically

The verbs be, get up, talk and laugh are intransitive verbs. In these sentences no object receives an action.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Transitive verbs are used with an Object
I finished my book last night = I (subject) finished (verb) my book (object)

Intransitive verbs don’t use an Object
The sun rises early in Summer. = The sun (subject) rises (verb)

Some verbs can be both Transitive and Intransitive

One thing that can make understanding transitive or intransitive verbs complicated is that in English verbs can sometimes be used in both ways! This just means that in some contexts a verb does need to use an object (and is therefore transitive) and in other contexts the verb doesn’t need to use one (and is thus intransitive). The reason for this is that sometimes a verb implies the existence of an object, and it is usually quite clear what that object must be.

For example:

He’s drinking a cup of tea – we have an object here so the verb to drink in this context is transitive.

He’s drinking – no object so the verb to drink in this context is intransitive. However, it is still clear that there is an “invisible” object – he is drinking something, but it isn’t necessary to say exactly what it is that he is drinking.

Some other examples of this:

He drove his car to work – here the verb to drive is transitive – it has an object

He drove slowly – here the verb to drive is intransitive – it does not have an object

He left the meeting at 6 o clock – here the verb to leave is transitive – it has an object

I want to leave now – here the verb to leave is intransitive– it does not have an object

Some Verbs which can be both Transitive and Intransitive

Move – Start – Change – Close – Open – Eat – Drink – Read – Stop – Do – Set – Write – Cook etc…

Test Yourself

Are the verbs in italics in the following sentences transitive or intransitive?

6

1 / 5

The sun sets in the west every evening.

2 / 5

My brother doesn't really enjoy using social media.

3 / 5

The student raised his hand to answer the question.

4 / 5

I'm very disappointed that Barcelona lost last night.

5 / 5

I find it difficult to understand what he's saying when he speaks quickly.

Your score is

Vocabulary

To overlook: Ignore or to not consider

Onwards: Forwards

Thus: Therefore, in this way

To imply: To show/suggest/indicate that something exists but without directly referring to it

Thank you for reading our post. You’ll find more English grammar tips elsewhere on our site and if you’d like information on our English courses in Dublin, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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