GRAMMAR: Transitive and intransitive verbs

transitive_and_intransitive_verbsTransitive and intransitive verbs have different rules when you use them to make sentences. Read the two sentences that follow. They contain examples of transitive and intransitive verbs.

Do you know which sentence contains a transitive verb and which one contains an intransitive verb?

Examples of transitive and intransitive verbs in sentences.

1. The boss surprised his workteam.

2. The boss smiled.

Answers to the examples of transitive and intransitive verbs in sentences.

1. is a transitive verb. 2. is an intransitive verb.

Can you see the important difference in sentence structure when using transitive and intransitive verbs? Think about the sentence structure NOT the meaning……

Read the rest of this post to learn about the differences.

Transitive verbs

A transitive verb needs a direct object to make a complete sentence.

Nouns or pronouns can act as direct objects.

For example:

She likes. Incorrect

She likes ice creamCorrect

I have invited. Incorrect

I have invited himCorrect

The verb ‘like‘ needs a direct object – in these examples ‘ice cream‘ (noun) and ‘him‘ (pronoun) to make sense and to form a complete sentence.

The direct object of an transitive verb is something that ‘receives the action’ of that verb.

Intransitive verbs

An intransitive verb does not take a direct object. For example:

He arrived. Correct

You can add more information to the sentence above.

For example: ‘He arrived half an hour late‘.

‘half an hour late‘ is NOT the direct object of ‘arrived‘ though. It is a noun phrase that acts as an adverb. It doesn’t ‘receive the action’, it adds extra information by describing when the man arrived.

More information about transitive and intransitive verbs

Some verbs can act as both transitive and intransitive verbs.

For example:

The All Blacks wonCorrect (this sentence is grammatically complete)

The All Blacks won the Rugby World CupCorrect (the Rugby World Cup is the object of the verb ‘won’)

Some transitive verbs can be followed by two objects (one direct and one indirect object).

For example:

Sam bought Jane some chocolates.

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