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Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Transitive and Intransitive verbs are an important aspect of grammar as they are used to create meaningful sentences. Both transitive and intransitive verbs are types of action verbs. As the name suggests, action verbs are verbs that express an action, e.g., "speak," "hold," and "bring."

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Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

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Transitive and Intransitive verbs are an important aspect of grammar as they are used to create meaningful sentences. Both transitive and intransitive verbs are types of action verbs. As the name suggests, action verbs are verbs that express an action, e.g., "speak," "hold," and "bring."

A verb can either be described as transitive or intransitive, depending on whether or not it needs an object. Are you unsure about transitive and intransitive verbs? Don't worry! We'll take a look at the definition of both transitive and intransitive verbs and will consider their differences. We will also check out some examples and lists of transitive and intransitive verbs.

Transitive And Intransitive Verbs Definition

Check out the definition of transitive and intransitive verbs below. Let's begin with transitive verbs:

Transitive verbs refer to verbs that need a direct object in order to create a sentence that makes grammatical sense. Without an object, a transitive verb will be unable to express a complete thought.

In case you need reminding:

The direct object in a sentence is the person or thing affected by the action of the verb. For example, in the sentence "Katie baked a cake," the direct object is "cake," as it is the thing affected by the action of baking.

An example of a transitive verb is as follows:

"I opened the door."

In this sentence, the verb "opened" is transitive as it does not make sense without a direct object (the door).

On the other hand, here is the definition for intransitive verbs:

Intransitive verbs refer to verbs that do not need a direct object to express a complete thought. They are fine to stand alone.

An example of an intransitive verb is as follows:

"He shouts loudly."

The verb "shouts" is intransitive. It does not need a direct object after it, as it makes sense without one.

Transitive And Intransitive Verbs Rules

The main rules for transitive and intransitive verbs are as follows:

1. Transitive verbs need an object to create a meaningful sentence. In particular, they are used with a direct object, which refers to a person or thing that receives the action of the verb. You must make sure the transitive verb is near the direct object in a sentence, or else the meaning of the sentence could be misunderstood.

2. Intransitive verbs carry meaning on their own, so they do not need a direct object to create a meaningful sentence. If you use a direct object after an intransitive verb, the sentence will not make sense!

It is possible for a verb to be either transitive or intransitive depending on its purpose in a sentence. For example, take the following sentence:

"We are reading quietly."

In this sentence, the verb "reading" is intransitive as it does not need a direct object after it. This sentence makes sense without an object.

However, the sentence can also make sense with a direct object. For example:

"We are reading a magazine."

In this case, the verb "reading" is transitive as it is followed by a direct object.

Transitive And Intransitive Verbs Examples

Here are some examples of transitive and intransitive verbs, along with some example sentences.

Let's start with transitive verbs:

Transitive VerbExample sentence
Examined"The doctor examined the patient."
Greeting"He is greeting his friend."
Like"I like her."
Enjoyed"The guests enjoyed the party."
Sending"They are sending an email."
Make"I make the best birthday cakes."

Now moving on to intransitive verbs:

Intransitive VerbExample sentence
Arrived"We arrived at 10:30 am."
Crying"The baby is crying."
Come"They come home late."
Talked"They talked all night."
Smiling"The child is always smiling."
Sleep"I should go home and sleep."

Lastly, here are some examples of verbs that can be either transitive or intransitive:

VerbTransitive exampleIntransitive example
Reads"She reads the book.""She reads slowly."
Sold"They sold their car.""The ring was sold for $1000."
Walks"She walks her dog.""She walks the wrong way."
Grew"I grew some potatoes.""The child grew quickly."

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs Woman reading a book StudySmarterFig. 1 - The verb "read" can be either transitive or intransitive.

Transitive/Intransitive Verbs and Finite Verbs

It is important to be aware that transitive and intransitive verbs are types of finite verbs. But what are finite verbs? Take a look at the definition below:

Finite verbs are verbs that have a subject (the person/thing carrying out an action) and express tense.

For example, in the sentence "She ran the race," the verb "ran" is finite as it has a subject (she) and expresses tense (past tense).

Every sentence must include a finite verb in order to make grammatical sense, which means that every main verb in a sentence will be finite. This includes transitive and intransitive verbs too! For example, check out the following sentences:

"He watches the news."

In this sentence, the verb "watches" is transitive, as it needs a direct object (the news). It is also a finite verb as it has a subject (she) and expresses the simple present tense.

"Kelly performed well."

In this sentence, the verb "performed" is intransitive, as it does not need a direct object. It is also finite, as it has a subject (Kelly) and expresses the simple past tense.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs Differences

Although transitive and intransitive verbs are both verbs that express action, they do have their differences. As previously mentioned, the main difference between transitive and intransitive verbs concerns whether or not they need to rely on a direct object to create a complete thought.

To recap, the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs are as follows:

  • Transitive verbs need a direct object to express a complete thought.
  • Intransitive verbs do not need a direct object to express a complete thought.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs List

Check out the lists of commonly used transitive and intransitive verbs below. How many of these verbs do you use in everyday conversations?

Transitive Verbs Intransitive VerbsTransitive/Intransitive Verbs
admirefaintanswer
giverain help
oweacheread
affordfallask
greetremainrefuse
pickagreebegin
allowrespondjump
haveappearsee
prefergoborrow
blamerisesell
hitarrive choose
provesitleave
bringbecometouch
informlaughplay
putsleepwatch
buybloomwalk
lendsmiledance
remindliveeat
cutstandwrite
lovecrymeet
makelookfill

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs - Key takeaways

  • Both transitive and intransitive verbs are types of action verbs. As the name suggests, action verbs are verbs that express an action.
  • A verb can either be described as transitive or intransitive, depending on whether or not it needs a direct object.
  • Transitive verbs refer to verbs that need a direct object in order to create a sentence that makes grammatical sense. Without a direct object, a transitive verb will be unable to express a complete thought.
  • Intransitive verbs refer to verbs that do not need a direct object to express a complete thought. They are fine to stand alone.
  • It is possible for a verb to be either transitive or intransitive depending on its purpose in a sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions about Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Transitive verbs are verbs that need an object to create a sentence that makes sense. E.g., "she closed the window."


Intransitive verbs are verbs that do not need an object; they make sense without one. E.g., "I tried not to cry."

Transitive verbs are a type of action verb. They must ben placed near the object in the sentence; otherwise the sentence will not make grammatical sense.

The characteristics that differentiate transitive from intransitive verbs are to do with objects. Transitive verbs need objects, whereas intransitive verbs do not.

If a verb cannot make sense without an object beside it, it is transitive. If a verb makes sense without an object, it is intransitive.

The difference between transitive and intransitive verbs is that transitive verbs need an object to make sense, whereas intransitive verbs do not.


For example:


Transitive: "I grabbed my phone."

Intransitive: "The dog barks too much."

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

True or false?Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive.

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