Grammar-QuizzesVerb PhrasesVerb Complements–Object › Transitive Verbs

Transitive Verbs (verb + direct object)

Indicate the person or thing affected by the action

Jason
 

Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs

TRANSITIVE VERB — ACCEPTS AN OBJECT

A transitive verb requires a direct object to complete its meaning—an 'agent' performs an action and a "patient" ( or "theme") undergoes the action. The direct object usually takes form as a noun phrase. Note that the meaning of a verb may differ slightly in transitive (below) versus intransitive (right) usage.

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

Jason studies

applies mental activity in detail

English

in the afternoons.

Jason left
forgot

his phone

at home.

Jason knocked
accidentally 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 ACCEPT AN OBJECT

An intransitive verb does not accept an object (NP) as its complement. Instead, it may take an adverb or a prepositional phrase as its complement (a required element) or as an adjunct (an optional element).  A passive structure cannot be formed because there is no object.                  

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

Jason studies

follows field(s) of interest

 

in his free time.

Jason left
departed

 

at noon.

Jason knocked
sounded

 

on the door.

Jason rises
gets up from sleep

 

with the sun.

Jason sits
rests on a chair

 

down for breakfast.   

Jason lies¹
recline

 

on the sofa.   

 

NP – Noun Phrase; V – Verb; Adv – Adverb; PP – Prepositional Phrase

Also see Transitive Verb List (below)  | Verbs with Indirect Objects (ditransitive) and  Intransitive Verbs – Never Passive | Transitive Complements: see Grammar Notes.

 

 

 

 

► Show Terminology ▼ Hide Terminology

Terminology

Semantic Roles, Functions and Verb Types

 

Semantic roles:

  • causer/agent—the thing (inanimate) that or the person (animate) who causes the action to occur. (He sang a song. The wind blows.)
  • instrument—something used by the agent in performing the action. (He sang a song with a guitar.)  See By / With.
  • patient (theme)—the person or thing that is affected by the action of the agent; the thing acted upon. (He sang a song.)  (This page.)
  • recipient—the person (or entity) that is the receiver or endpoint of the action. (He sang her a song. He sang a song to her. ) See Ditransitives.
  • beneficiary—the person (or thing) that something is obtained for or done for. (He sang them a song. He sang a song for them.) See Ditransitives.
  • path, source, goal, and location—where the theme moves—starting-point, intermediate point, end-point. (He walked from home to the bus-stop.)

 

Functions: (uses)

  • direct object (DO) — (usually a noun phrase) the person or entity (thing, concept, etc.) that undergoes the action expressed by the predicate.  (He sang a song.)
  • indirect object (IO) — (usually a noun phrase) the people or things that carry the semantic role (meaning) of goal (location), recipient (receiver), beneficiary of (one who receives the benefit of or enjoyment) an action or event. goal—The teacher sent the students home. [to]; recipient—The teacher gave Jason a book. [to]; beneficiary—The teacher saved Jason a book. [for]

Verbs types:

  • dynamic verb – a verb in which an action takes place. (This is not a static/stative verb or copular verb "be".)
  • static verb – (stative verb) a verb that is not dynamic; no action takes place (e.g., be, seem, appear, etc.) 
  • intransitive verb – a verb that does not take an object as its complement (and cannot be passive). (e.g., He lies down.)
  • transitive verb – a verb that takes an object as its complement. (e.g., He lay the baby down.)

 

Pronoun Forms:

  • nominative—a pronoun form used when it is the subject of the verb: I, we, she, he, they;
  • accusative—a pronoun form used when it is the object of the verb: me, us, her, him, them.

 

Also see Aarts 4.1.3.1-2 or Huddleston 4 §8.2.1 as referenced in Grammar Notes (below).

 

 

 

Transitive Verbs

Verbs that take objects

 

 

Transitive Verbs 

INTRANSITIVE

*Sophie hugged.

TRANSITIVE


 

 

* not used

 

 

 

accept  He accepted the offer.

add   He added the numbers.

adore   He adores is wife.

attend  He attended college.

beat  She beat the eggs.

bite She bit her fingernails.

borrow She borrowed some butter.

change She changed her shoes.

choose They chose their seats..

collect They collected the eggs.

complete They completed the test.

consider They considered the problem.

contain The police contained the crowd.

control The officer controlled the traffic.

cross They crossed the street.

count They counted the children.

cover We covered the food.

discover We discovered the error..

divide We divided the tips.

doubt We doubted his story.

draw He drew a picture.

drive He drives a truck.

drop He dropped his keys.

enjoy   He enjoys movies.

expect She expects an answer.

fill She filled the bathtub.

feel She felt his forehead.

forget She forgot the key.

guess We guessed his name.

hang We hung our coats.

hate We hate their advertisement.

held We held our babies.

hit She hit me.

hug We hugged them.

introduce He introduced Gary.

invite He invited Adele.

join He joined the army.

kill  He killed a spider.

kiss He kissed a girl.

lead He lead a group.

left He left the house.

lend He lent some money.

lift  He lifted the weights.

like He likes the changes.

love He loves his son.

marry He married his girlfriend.

notice We noticed a mistake.

obtain He obtained a permit.

offer  We offered help.

order  We ordered dinner.

passed  We passed the test.

permit  He doesn't permit dogs.

pick  We picked an apple.

pour  We poured some milk.

practice  We practiced the play.

prepare  We prepared the food.

prove  He proved his theory.

provide  We provided assistance.

pull   We pulled the fire alarm.

push  She pushed the door.

reach  We reached our destination.

realize  She her mistake.

receive   We receive help.

recognize  They recognized him.

refuse  We refused the offer.

remember  We remember him.

repeat  He repeated the word.

report   She reports the news.

require  They require identification.

save  She saved her money.

search  The police search the house.

separate  She separated the egg.

serve   We serve dinner.

share  We share our toys.

shout  He shouted the answer.

show  We showed the pictures.

sign  He signed the contract.

smell  He smelled the flower.

spell  She spelled her name.

spend  We spent our money.

spread  We spread the blanket.

suck The baby sucks his thumb.

suggest  He suggested a restaurant.

supply  The investor supplied the funds.

surprise  They surprised us.

surround  The wall surrounds the yard.

taste He tasted the soup.

tear  She tore the paper.

thank  They thanked us.

wave He waved the flag.

wear He wears jeans.

win He won the race.

The above is a partial (incomplete) list of transitive verbs. Some verbs may occur without an object because it is understood from context. (He sucks!) Some verbs may also have other meanings  (i.e., She realized her mistake. / She realized her dreams.)

mono-transitive – 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

Verbs that do not take objects

 

 

Intransitive Verbs

INTRANSITIVE

Jason agrees

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

TRANSITIVE

*Jason agrees me.

*Jason agrees the discussion.  

 

* not used

 

 

 

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 not tell the truth)

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/occurred") It happens that we saw him this morning. ("by chance").

*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitive or Intransitive

Verbs that optionally take objects

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. (burn, cook, dance, decide, dream, dress, fail, fly, improve, return, sing, fit)

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.

 

 

 

 

Intransitive

The object is the "agent"

egg
 

 

 

Intransitive form with no "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 (mono-transitive).

Also see Specifying vs. Ascriptive "be" and Intransitive 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., Ditransitive Verbs)

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 about the structure of the lesson.)
Angela studies her lessons completely. (Follow studies (reviews and examines )with an adverb for degree)

  See Pop-Q "Study

 

 

 

 

 

► Show Grammar Notes and Works Cited ▼ Hide Grammar Notes

Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR

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

TRANSITIVE / INTRANSITIVE VERBS

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)

 

 

 

 

REED-KELLOGG SYSTEM

Jason answered /me/ the question.

 

 

 

LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In current linguistic analysis, a verb can be complemented by (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)

NP COMPLEMENTS (TRANSITIVE)

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 + infinitive) complex-transitive Infinitive Cls w/Subj

Jason made me leave(NP + plain form verb) complex-transitive Plain 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

 

TREE DIAGRAM

Tree - Jason answered

Tree - Jason answered me

Tree-Jason answered the question

 

Word Categories: N – Noun; V – Verb; Aux – Auxiliary; Adj – Adjective; Adv – Adverb; P –Preposition; Det –Determiner.

Phrasal Categories: NP – Noun Phrase; VP – Verb Phrase; AdjP – Adjective Phrase; AdvP – Adverb Phrase; PP – Prepositional Phrase; DP – Determinative Phrase.

Clausal Categories: Cls – clause; F – finite clause; NF – nonfinite clause (Ger – gerund; Inf – infinitive; PPart – past participle).

Word Functions: Subj – subject; Pred – predicate/predicator; Compcomplement: elements required by an expression to complete its meaning (DO – direct object; IO – indirect object);  Adjunctadjunct: elements not required by an expression to complete its meaning (Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator); Suplsupplement: a clause or phrase added onto a clause that is not closely related to the central thought or structure of the main clause.

 

Works Cited

  • Aarts, Bas. Oxford Modern English Grammar. Oxford UP, 2011.
  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

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 list 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