Transitive & Intransitive Verbs

Transitive / Intransitive verbs

 Intransitive verb 

An intransitive verb does not take an object. In more technical terms, an intransitive verb has only one argument (its subject), and hence has a valency of one. 

In English, the verbs sleep and die, are intransitive. Some verbs, such as smell are bothtransitive and intransitive.


・Harry will sleep until sunrise. (sleep has no object)

・He died on Friday. (die has no object)

・You smell. (smell has no object)

 Unlike other types of verbs, intransitive verb can end sentencesNote, however, that intransitive verbs are not required to end the sentence. 

They can be followed by adverbsprepositional phrases, and other optional elements:

・A howl rose from the audience.

・Margaret slept peacefully.

 Transitive verb 

 A verb that is accompanied (either clearly or implicitly) by a direct object in the active voice. It links the action taken by the subject with the object upon which that action is taken. Consequently, transitive verbs can also be used in the passive voice when the direct object of the equivalent active-voice sentence becomes the subject.


Direct object

A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a "transitive verb" in an active sentence or shows the result of the action. It answers the question "What?" or "Whom?" after an action verb.


・Mary burnt the toast.

-What did Mary burn? - She burnt the toast.
"toast" is the direct object.

A simple direct object is only the noun or pronoun, whereas a complex direct objectconsists of that noun and pronoun and any modifiers that accompany it.


・Mary burnt the toast and the eggs.

-What did Mary burn? - She burnt the toast and the eggs.
"toast" and "eggs" are the direct objects.

The direct object generally comes after the verb, just as the Subject generally comes before it. So in a declarative sentence, the usual pattern is:

 Subject ⇒ Verb ⇒ Direct Object 

・"I remembered what she wanted me to do." 

The Direct Object is most often realised by an noun phrase, as in the examples above. However, this function can also be realised by a clause. 

 1.An infinitive or infinitival clause 

・I remembered to eat.

 2.Bare infinitive clause 

・ She made the lecturer laugh

 3.A gerund or gerund phrase 

・I remembered being there.

 4.-ed clause 

・ I'm having my house painted


・ remembered that he was blond.

 6.Nominal relative clause 

・I remembered what she wanted me to do.

 Monotransitive verb 

A monotransitive verb is a verb that takes two arguments: a subject and a single direct object.

 Subject +Monotransitive verb + Direct Object 

Verbs which take only a Direct Object are called Monotransitive verbs.


・ I bought cat.

・The cat bit me.

・He broke my car.

・The chef ate his own curry rice.

Indirect object

 An indirect object precedes the direct object and tells to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done and who is receiving the direct object.

  There must be a direct object to have an indirect object. Indirect objects are usually found with verbs of giving or communicating. An indirect object is always a noun orpronoun which is not part of a prepositional phrase.

 Indirect objects are usually placed directly before the direct object.

 Ditransitive verb 

A ditransitive verb is a verb which takes a subject and two objects. According to certain linguistics considerations, these objects may be called direct object and indirect object , or primary and secondary. 


Red=ditransitive verb   Blue=Indirect   Green=Direct

・He gave Mary ten dollars.

・He passed Paul the ball.

・Jean read him the books.

・She is baking him a cake.


English grammar allows for these sentences to be written alternately with a preposition  :  To or For 

Blue=Prepositional phrase

・He gave ten dollars to Mary.

・He passed the ball to Paul.

・Jean read the books to/for him.

・She is baking a cake for him.

Many ditransitive verbs have a passive voice form which can take a direct object.

Blue=Active voice  Red=Passive voice

・Jean gave the books to him.

The books were given to him by Jean.

 Complex transitive verb      

Some verbs are followed by two phrases, but they have a different order and function fromditransitive verbs : 


・ My grandpa calls teenagers blithering idiots.

・She considered George a friend.

 In such cases, the first noun phrase is the direct object-that is, George is the object of her consideration.
  The second noun phrase, a friend, actually says something about George. We can show this by inserting a "to be" in between the direct object and the second noun phrase or by substituting an adjective for it:


・She considered George to be a friend.

・She considered George friendly.

In such structures, the second noun phrase or the adjective is called an object complementor object predicative.

Some other verbs which can be complex transitive are callnamethink. In the sentences below, they are used first as regular transitive or intransitive verbs and then as complex transitive verb:

・George called Martha.
・George called Martha sexy.

・Gwen named the puppy.
・Gwen named the puppy Misty.

・Dagbert thought hard.
・Dagbert thought the test a hard one.

 Reflexive verb  

A reflexive verb is a transitive verb whose subject and object always refer to the same person or thing, so the object is always a reflexive pronoun.( as in English -self ) 


・Did you enjoy yourself?

・Peter washes himself.

・Мary and Peter kiss [each other].

・She threw herself to the floor.

 Ambitransitive verb  

An ambitransitive verb is a verb that can be used both as intransitive or as transitivewithout requiring a morphological change. That is, the same verb form may or may not require a direct object.

English has a large number of ambitransitive verbs


Blue = Object

・I read my newspaper.

・I always read in bed.