Transitive Verbs

Indicating the person or thing receiving the action

Jason
 

 

Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs

TRANSITIVE VERB — REQUIRES AN OBJECT

A transitive verb is used with an object. In other words, a transitive verb takes a noun phrase (NP) as its complement.  The 'agent' performs the action that is received by the animate or inanimate object.  The meaning of a verb often differs when it has both transitive and intransitive forms.

SUBJ + PRED DIRECT OBJECT COMP / ADJUNCT
NP + V NP PP

Jason studies

English

in the afternoons.

Jason left
forgot

his phone

at home.

Jason knocked
accidently hit

his phone  

on the floor.  

Jason raises
puts up

his hand

in the air.

Jason set
put

his backpack

on the floor. 

Jason laid
put flat

his jacket

on his backpack. 

INTRANSITIVE VERB — DOES NOT TAKE AN OBJECT

An intransitive verb is not used with an object. That is, the verb does not take a noun phrase (NP) as its complement. It may take an adverb (ADV) or a prepositional phrase (PP) as its complement or as an adjunct.  (A passive sentence cannot be formed.)                                                 

SUBJ + PRED NONE COMP / ADJUNCT
NP + V NP PP / ADV

Jason studies

 

all of the time

Jason left
departed

 

at noon.

Jason knocked
sounded

 

on the door.

Jason rises
gets up

 

with the sun.

Jason sits
rests on a chair

 

down for breakfast.   

Jason lies¹
recline

 

on the sofa.   

 

direct object (DO) — a noun phrase referring to a person or thing that is the recipient of the action

indirect object (IO) — a noun phrase referring to someone or something that is affected by the action of a transitive verb (typically as a recipient), but is not the primary object (He gave him the ball.)  him – indirect object, the ball – direct object

 

nominative – a noun form used when it is the subject of the verb; pronouns: I, we, she, he, they

accusative – a noun form used when it is the object of the verb me, us, her, him, them

 

Grammatical Functions:  SUBJ– subject; PRED –predicator; Comp –complement: words required by the subject and verb: IO– indirect object; DO – direct object

Lexical Categories:  NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; P – preposition; PP – prepositional phrase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitive or Intransitive

Verbs with one form (not both)

 

 

 

Transitive Verbs 

INTRANSITIVE TRANSITIVE

*Sophie hugged.


 

* not used

 

 

Verbs that require an object

adore

bite†

change

hug

kiss

like

love

held

monotransitive – includes a subject and an object – Jason hugged Sophie;

ditransitive – includes a subject, an indirect object, and an object – Jason gave Sophie a hug.

bite – That dog bites." – a description of the dog's behavior; or in slang – "That bites." (is unfortunate)

 

 

 

Intransitive Verbs 

INTRANSITIVE TRANSITIVE

Jason agrees
Jason agrees with me on that matter.  (prep phrases)  

*Jason agrees me.
*Jason agrees the discussion.
 

* not used

 

 

Verbs that do not take an object

agree

appear

arrive

become

belong

collapse

consist of

cost

depend

die

disappear

emerge

exist

fall

go

happen³

have¹

inquire

knock (sound)

laugh

lie (recline or tell untruth)

live

look

last (endure)

occur

remain

respond

rise

sit

sleep

stand

stay

swim

vanish

wake²

wait 

¹Except: I was had. (slang) – someone took advantage of me.

²awake (trans. and intrans.) – I awoke / I awoke her.

³happen (intrans.) – *An idea happened. But:  We happened upon an idea. We came across an idea. ("unexpectedly discovered/occured") It happens that we saw him this morning. ("by chance").

*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitive and Intransitive

Verbs with both forms

ate something
 

 

Intransitive Form – the Subject is the "Agent"

INTRANSITIVE TRANSITIVE

.
 

something.

 

answer

ask

clean

dance

eat

e-mail

explore

finish

give

help

hide

hunt

injure

leave¹

read

pass

talk²

text (send a text)

see

sing

speak³

stand*

steal

teach

telephone (someone)

try

wash

woke up (awake)

The above list mentions just a few of the many verbs that follow this pattern.

¹He left. (departed)  He left me. (abandoned) He left his telephone. (forgot)

²He talked. (chatted)  He talked politics./ sense with me.  (discussed a subject).  He talked me to sleep. (bored me)

³He spoke.  He spoke the truth.

*He stood. (on his feet).  He stood his teddy bear against the wall.

 

egg

 

 

Intransitive Form – the Object is the "Agent"

INTRANSITIVE TRANSITIVE

.  

 

bake

break

boil

burst

cook

cool

crack

form

fly

fry

heal

melt

move

sail

shake

sweep

tear

turn

transform

reverse

ring

run

roll

 

The passive form "The egg is cracked." suggests that there is no agent.  (cracked – may be a verb or a modifier)

These are also called "dual-transitivity" verbs (Huddleston 216-7)

"Agent Unknown" see Get-Passives.

Also called "ambi-transitivity" or "ergative".

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Intransitive Verbs

Copula & Static Verbs

baby
 

 

 

Static Verbs  with Intransitive and Transitive Forms

INTRANSITIVE VERB

The meaning of a static verb may be expressed as 'equals' or 'is'. No action is expressed.   States of being, sensory states, and measurement states are followed by descriptors rather than "recipients" of actions.                                  

COPULA   VERBS

The baby is tired. (static – describes the baby)

The baby is hers. (static – specifies the baby)

SENSORY STATES

The baby feels wet.

MENTAL STATES

The baby is tired. I know.

POSSESSION STATES

The baby belongs here (adv)  / to her (PP).  

MEASUREMENT
baby on a scale

The baby weighs ten pounds(5 kg). (describes – baby = 10 lbs.)

 

TRANSITIVE VERB

In some cases a verb is be used as a static verb with one meaning and as a dynamic verb with another meaning. Only a dynamic verb can be a transitive verb, which has a subject ('doer'), a verb (action) and an object ('recipient').

DYNAMIC VERB

— none —

DYNAMIC VERB

The mother felt the diaper to see if it was wet.
(The diaper was felt by the baby's mother.)

DYNAMIC VERB

You know our doctor.
(Our doctor is known by you.)

DYNAMIC VERB

The baby has a bottle.       *A bottle is had by the baby.

—  move over   *The baby belongs me.

 

DYNAMIC VERB– different meaning

The doctor weighed the baby.

(The baby was weighed by the doctor.)

The doctor weighed the baby who is ten pounds.

 

 

*not used

In linguistic terms, a transitive verb has at least two 'arguments' – a subject and an object (monotransitive).

Also see Specifying vs. Ascriptive "be" and Never Passive.

 

 

 

Static Verbs (stative verbs)

STATES OF BEING SENSORY STATES MENTAL STATES POSSESSION STATES MEASUREMENT STATES

See  States of Being

See Sensory States

See Cognitive States

See Possession States

See Measurement States

be (am, is, are were, was)  (intrans)

feel (intrans/ trans)

know, think, suppose, imagine,  understand (intrans/ trans)

have  (trans)

weigh   (intrans/ trans)

seem, appear, look  (intrans)

sound  (intrans/ trans)

forget, remember  (intrans/ trans)

own, hold title to (trans)

equal. add up to (intrans)

resemble, looks like  (trans)

taste (intrans/ trans)

desire, *want / *need / (trans)

belong (intrans)

reach, measure (intrans/ trans)

becomes  (intrans/ trans)

see   (intrans/ trans)

believe, feel (intrans/ trans)

 

cost, owe  (intrans/ trans)

get  (intrans/ trans)

hear (intrans/ trans)

recognize (trans)

 

include, contain, (trans) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors & Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

 *He spoke me about that.  

*An idea happened to us. 

*We happened an idea. 

*She laid down for a few minutes.

*Angela studies her lessons hard.

 

 

SOLUTION

He spoke about that.  (Remove the indirect object.)
He spoke to me about that.  (Or use a prepositional phrase instead.)
He spoke about that to me.  
(See Said Synonyms., Indirect Objects)

An idea occurred to us.  "came by chance"

We happened upon an idea. "discovered by chance"

We happened to come across an idea. "thought of it unexpectedly"

She lay down for a few minutes. (Use the correct past tense form for lie.) 
She laid her baby down down for a few minutes. (Use the verb lay if there is a direct object (placing something down.)  (See lie-lay.)    

Angela studies a lot. (Follow studies with an adverb expressing intensity.)
Angela studies English.(Follow studies with a noun expressing subject matter.)
Angela's teacher studied the lesson. (Follow studies (analyzes parts) with a phrase or clause ablout the structure of the lesson.)
Angela studies her lessons completely. (Follow studies (reviews and examines )with an adverb for degree)

  See Pop-Q "Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

(Advanced)

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, a verb is either transitive (takes an object), intransitive (does not take an object), or both.

In current linguistic analysis, a verb can take (require / be followed by) a variety of words or structures. A verb's complementation depends on its meaning.  A verb is "typed" according to its complementation (by what can follow it).  (Swan 606)  A transitive verb can be "monotransitive" having one direct object or "ditransitive" having two objects — direct and indirect. Other NP complements may be "complex intransitive" as shown below. (Huddleston 216-20, 244-51, 296-321)

TRANSITIVE / INTRANSITIVE VERBS NP COMPLEMENTS (TRANSITIVE)

Jason answered(intransitive use) / Jason answered me. (transitive use)

Jason answered the question. (transitive use)

He spoke the truth. (transitive use)

He spoke to me about the matter. (intransitive use)

He told me the truth. (transitive use)

Thank you for your gift. (transitive use – "you" is the direct object; "for your gift" is a prep. phrase)

 

Jason answered(no complementation) / Jason answered me. (NP)

Jason answered the question. (NP)

He spoke the truth. (NP)

He told the people the truth². (NP + NP) ditransitive

Thank you for your gift. (NP + PP) monotransitive Buy vs. Thank

Jason broke the egg.  / The egg broke(NP/ __j) dual-transitivity

Jason looked up the problem. (particle + NP) Phrasal Verbs

Jason considers you weak. (NP + Adj) complex-transitive

Jason wants you to leave. (NP + infinitie) complex-transitive Infinitive Cls w/Subj

Jason made me leave(NP + plain form verb) complex-transitive Bare Form Infinitives  

Jason slammed the door shut(NP + adjective) complex-transitive  Adj as Complements
 

  OTHER VERB COMPLEMENTATION  (iNTRANSITIVE)

 

 

He spoke to me about the matter. (PP + PP)

Jason looked at the problem. (PP)

Jason arrived at the station / here. (PP – place)

Jason arrived in the morning / today. (PP – time)

Jason looks nice. (AdjP) complex-intransitive States of Being

Jason enjoys researching. (Gerund) intransitive Verb + Gerund 

Jason likes to research. (Infinitive) intransitive Verb + Infinitive

 

REED-KELLOGG SYSTEM TREE DIAGRAM

Jason answered /me/ the question.

 

 

 

Tree - Jason answered

Tree - Jason answered me

Tree-Jason answered the question

CATEGORIES:  NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; Detdeterminer; PP – prepositional phrase; P – preposition; AdvP – adverb phrase; Adv – adverb; AdjP– adjective phrase; Adj – adjective
FUNCTIONS: Subject:  Subject,   Predicate: Predicator (V) Complements: (elements required by verb) Object, Indirect Object, Predicative Complement  Adjuncts: (optional modifiers) Adj, Adv

 

 Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

A Visitor

knocking on the door
 

Read for Errors

Last month, I was taking a nap when something strange happened me.  I was resting myself on the couch when a sound awoke me. Someone was knocking. I got up and answered. When I opened, I saw a man who was about forty. 

He smiled me and said, "Hi, I'm your cousin."  I laughed.  "Impossible," I said, "both my parents were only-children." I told to check the address again. The man understood his mistake and left me.

only-child (n.) – the only child born to parents, having no siblings

 

 

 

Does the verb take a direct object?

  1. Select the response from the menu that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 1-10" button.

 

1.


2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

My Morning Routine

Waking up
 

 

Is the verb intransitive, transitive, or both?

  1. Select an option—intransitive, transitive, or both.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 11-21" button.

 

11.
Every morning, I wake __ up and find my way to the bathroom with my eyes half-closed. 

       

12.
I wash _____, and then I look in the mirror.

       

13.
After that, I go to the kitchen and eat ___

       

14.
Angela waits____  at the breakfast table. 

       

15.
We discuss _____  before we leave for work. 

       

16.
I return to the bathroom, and I shower ____
       

17.
Three times a week, I shampoo ____. 

       

18.
Every weekday morning, I shave _____

       

19.
Then, I dress, and check ____ in the mirror. 

check – review something to see if it is correct or OK

       

20.
Outside the front door, a friend waits ____ to carpool to work. 

carpool – share a ride

       

21.
Angela hugs ____ before I leave. 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Laptop Topper

cat on laptop
 

 

Read for Errors

I have a roommate with two cats.  One of the cats that belongs him he likes to sleep on my computer. The cat lays down the top of the computer and purrs. She waits me until I come over and shoo her away.  This amuses her because she wants to play.

However, this delays me because I have to work.  I think the computer warms her so she likes.  Unfortunately, she weighs too much and could crush my computer.  I should put away my computer, but I need for my research.

purr (v.) – sound a contented cat makes

research (n.) – inquiry or investigation into a subject

shoo (v.) – make a sound to drive a cat, dog, bird away

 

 

Does the verb take a direct object?

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

22.
I have a roommate with two cats. One of the cats that belongs him he likes sleep on my computer.


23.
The cat lays down the top of the computer and purrs. She waits me until I come over and shoo her away.


24.
This amuses her because she wants to play. However, this delays because I have to work.

25.
I think the computer warms her so she likes. Unfortunately, she weighs too much and could crush my computer.


26.
I should put away my computer, but I need for my research.


 
cat