Transitive Vs. Intransitive Verbs — A Quick Guide

Whether or not an object is necessary for the verb to express a complete thought, a verb is either transitive or intransitive. Only when a verb acts on an object does it make sense as a transitive verb. In the absence of one, an intransitive verb makes sense. You can use some verbs in both ways.

In today’s article, we are going to take a look at transitive vs intransitive verbs. Specifically, what is what and how to use both in sentences?

What Are Transitive and Intransitive Verbs?

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When a verb expresses an action the subject carries out, it is referred to as a transitive verb.

Understand that transitive verbs adhere to two rules to define them. First, all action words are transitive verbs.

Since no action is occurring, you cannot have a transitive verb that describes a state of being. A linking word doesn’t adhere to the definition of a transitive verb either. As a result, verbs like “be,” “feel,” and “grow,” in all of their forms, cannot be transitive verbs. As such, the dictionary will list them under the intransitive verbs category.

Second, you must always connect a transitive verb to the sentence’s object. Let’s dissect the fundamentals of sentence structure to see what that means.

The subject of every sentence is a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun that is doing or being something. The verb will also describe an action or state of being, linking them or occasionally to an object.

A transitive verb is defined as a verb “having or needing an object,” per the Cambridge Dictionary. 

You can probably guess what an intransitive verb would be now that you know what a transitive verb is. There you have it.

You can use an intransitive verb in sentences or contexts without necessarily needing an object to explain the action the subject is performing.

Nevertheless, a few exceptional verbs can serve as transitive and intransitive verbs.

An intransitive verb is “characterized by not having or containing a direct object,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Cambridge Dictionary defines an intransitive verb as one “having or needing no object.”

Transitive vs Intransitive Verbs

Transitive verbs have an object when they appear in a sentence with an action word. When not present in sentences with action words, action words are intransitive verbs.

You must first define the main distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs, which is as follows. Here are a few examples of transitive verbs to illustrate how transitive and intransitive verbs differ in their use.

Only when a phrasal verb is present can a verb be considered transitive despite not having an object. Without looking at phrasal verbs, the topic of “what is a transitive verb” cannot be fully explored.

You can use both transitive and intransitive verbs with phrasal verbs. Action verbs or states of being are employed in sentences without apparent purpose.

Final Thoughts

Transitive and intransitive verbs create a verb tense in English based on what object is performing the action. In a verb tense, both types of verbs are transitive, not direct. To make things clear, transitive verbs are the verbs in the English language that require a direct object.

We hope you enjoyed our guide on transitive vs intransitive verbs. If you have any more questions, make sure you let us know!

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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