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TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE VERBS

English Language

Some sentences express a complete thought with only a subject and an action verb.

Example: The sun shines.

Subject Active verb

In other sentences, a direct object must follow the action verb for the sentence to be complete.

A direct object is a noun or a pronoun that receives the action of the verb.

Example: The goalkeeper caught the ball.

Subject action verb direct object

Transitive verbs

A Transitive verb is an action verb that must take a direct object for the sentence to express a complete thought.

A direct object answers the question what? or whom?

Examples:

The captain steered the ship. (Steered what? the ship)

The teacher praised the students. (Praised whom? The students)

Transitive verbs cannot be used alone without direct objects in sentences; they would not have complete meanings.

 

Exercise

What are the action verbs and the direct objects in the following sentences?

  1. He carried his bag with him.
  2. The two friends discussed the examination paper.
  3. We took a trip to Nakuru last month.
  4. The water splashed me.
  5. He gave interesting facts about whales.
  6. We searched the house for rats.
  7. They cheered the team noisily.
  8. My brother bought a camera.
  9. Njoroge admires Papa Shirandula.
  10. We viewed the shouting star at midnight.

Intransitive verbs

An Intransitive verb is an action verb that does not require a direct object for the sentence to have complete meaning.

Examples: The ship sailed.

Subject action verb: The child smiled.

Subject action verb: They do not answer the questions what? or whom? Sometimes they answer the questions how? or how often?

Examples:

The ship sailed smoothly. (How did it sail? Smoothly)

The child smiled repeatedly. (How often did the child smile? Repeatedly)

Both transitive and intransitive verbs

Some verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively.

Examples:

We cheered our team noisily. (Transitive)

We cheered noisily. (Intransitive)

He broke the window pane. (Transitive)

The glass broke. (Intransitive)

NB: Only transitive verbs can be changed from active to passive voice.

Examples:

Active Passive

He kicked the ball; the ball was kicked by him

She bought a new dress; a new dress was bought by her.

She wailed loudly?

They danced well?

 

Exercise

Indicate at the end of each of the following sentences whether the underlined verb is Transitive or Intransitive.

  1. Some whales sing songs.
  2. We gave our books to the gatekeeper.
  3. She cried bitterly.
  4. He made a sketch of the giraffe.
  5. John danced to the music.
  6. The bird flew in the air.
  7. They located the lost ship.
  8. She pleaded with him mercifully.
  9. The children heard the sound from the cave.
  10. It rained heavily.

 

 

See also:

ACTIVE AND PASSIVE VERB FORMS

REGULAR AND IRREGULAR VERBS

SUBJECT – VERB AGREEMENT

THE PROGRESSIVE VERB FORMS

THE PERFECT TENSES

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