Distinguishing Transitive & Intransitive Verbs

Transitive and intransitive verbs are essential aspects of English grammar, referred to as transitivity. Many people struggle to distinguish between the two, leading to grammatical errors in their writing. Understanding transitive and intransitive verbs is crucial for success on exams like the TOEFL.

Key Takeaways

  • Transitive verbs require a direct object that receives the action of the verb.
  • Intransitive verbs do not have a direct object receiving the action of the verb.
  • Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive depending on the context in which they are used.

Verbs are action words, and their classification depends on the nature of the object they act upon. They can be transitive, intransitive, or linking verbs.

Transitive Verb

A verb is transitive if it has an object that takes its action. The objects of transitive verbs receive some kind of action from the verb. For example:

  • She broke the glass
  • I bought a pen
  • He read the magazine

In these examples, the word after the verb is the object that takes or receives the action from the verb.

Intransitive Verb

A verb is intransitive if it does not have an object after it that receives action from it. There is a subject that performs the action, but no object receives it. For example:

  • I coughed
  • He ran
  • She slept
  • The baby cried

In these cases, there is no word after the verb to receive its action, making them intransitive verbs.

Transitive Verb vs. Intransitive Verb

  • Transitive verbs require a direct object, while intransitive verbs do not.
  • Objects receive the action of transitive verbs and are placed after the verb in the sentence.
  • The direct object can be found by asking what/whom after reading the subject and the verb.
  • Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive depending on the context they are used in.
  • Sentences written in the passive voice tend to be made up of transitive verbs.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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