English Transitive Verbs
and Intransitive Verbs


Not every verb takes a direct object.

The direct object completes the meaning of the verb, but not every verb needs completion.

For example:

  • I built last year.
This sentence feels incomplete. Something is missing. What did I build?

To complete the idea I should add a direct object: "I built a house last year."

Now the idea is complete.

An opposite example:

  • I ran yesterday.
This sentence is completely fine just like that, right? The idea is complete, and the verb doesn't require a direct object.


Definitions

Verbs that take direct objects are called transitive verbs.
The meaning of a transitive verb is incomplete without a direct object.

"She is drinking a glass of water."

"She is drinking a glass of water."

Verbs that don't take direct objects are called intransitive verbs.
The meaning of an intransitive verb is complete by its own.

"She is standing."

"She is standing."

The word transitive comes from the Latin "to go across."

Intransitive means not transitive.

Examples of transitive verbs (the transitive verb is green and bold, the direct object is brown):

  • Could you bring an umbrella?

  • They bought a yacht.

  • I read all his books.

  • He teaches driving.

  • You promised to take us home.

  • She plays the drums.

Examples of intransitive verbs (the intransitive verb is green and bold):

  • Let's go.

  • The kids are jumping.

  • Sam is sleeping.

  • We will talk tomorrow.

  • He sits here.

  • Her stomach aches sometimes after lunch.

Many English verbs can be used both as transitive and intransitive verbs.

Now, what does that mean?

It means that you can use them with a direct object, or without, depending on the sentence.

For example:

  • We won!
  • We won the game!
Both of these sentences are correct. The verb "won" is intransitive in the first sentence, and transitive in the second one.

Some more examples (transitive verbs are green, intransitive verbs are brown):

  • Nicole opened the door.
  • Suddenly, the doors opened.
  • Will you help us? 
  • She never helps around the house.
  • Jimmy runs a successful company.
  • Jimmy runs very fast.

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