What Is a Transitive Verb? | Examples, Definition & Quiz
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g., a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase) to indicate the person or thing acted upon by the verb. For example, in the sentence “I received a letter,” the direct object is necessary for the statement to make sense.
In contrast, an intransitive verb is a verb that doesn’t take a direct object (e.g., “Hannah runs”). Some verbs can be classed as either transitive or intransitive, depending on how they are used.
How are transitive verbs used in sentences?
Transitive verbs follow the same rules as most other verbs (i.e., they must follow subject-verb agreement and be conjugated for tense, mood, and voice). A verb is transitive if it requires a direct object (i.e., a thing acted upon by the verb) to function correctly and make sense.
In sentences containing transitive verbs, the direct object usually comes immediately after the verb. Objects can be nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases (i.e., a noun or pronoun along with all relevant modifiers, such as articles, adjectives, and attributive nouns).
A ditransitive verb is a type of transitive verb that takes two objects: a direct and an indirect object. An indirect object indicates the person or thing that receives the direct object.
Transitive vs. intransitive verbs
Unlike transitive verbs, intransitive verbs don’t act upon anything, so they don’t require an object. However, a transitive verb can be followed by a modifier such as an adverb or prepositional phrase to describe how or where the subject performs the action.
Some verbs can be used only as transitive (e.g., “enjoy”) or intransitive verbs (e.g., “sit”). However, some verbs can function as either transitive or intransitive verbs, depending on how they are used in a sentence. These are called ambitransitive verbs.
Quiz: Transitive and intransitive verbs
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Frequently asked questions
- What are transitive verbs?
The direct object usually comes immediately after the verb (e.g., “Karen is taking a photo”). Without a direct object (in this case, “a photo”), sentences containing transitive verbs do not make sense (e.g., “Karen is taking”).
- What is the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb?
Verbs are classed as either transitive or intransitive depending on whether they need a direct object to form a complete thought.
- What are direct and indirect objects?
- A direct object is a person or thing acted upon by a verb.
- An indirect object indicates the person or thing that receives the direct object.
For example, in the sentence “I read Mia a story,” “a story” is the direct object (receiving the action) and “Mia” is the indirect object (receiving the direct object). Verbs that require a direct object to function correctly are called transitive verbs.
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