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Grammar Lesson of the Month: Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs

December 1, 2017

Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs in English

Do you know the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs? Understanding the difference will improve your English speech and writing.

Grammar Lesson of the Month: Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs

Types of Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs use an object. The object can be a noun, a phrase, or a pronoun.

Transitive verb with a noun

A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. A transitive verb works with the noun.

  • I see the car.
  • I love ice cream.
  • He wants hot chocolate.
  • Have you tried eggnog?

Transitive verb with a phrase

A phrase is a group of words. These words work together as a unit to mean something. There are many types of phrases. Transitive verbs can be used with phrases.

  • I see why you wanted to live in this neighborhood.
  • I love taking long walks by the sea.
  • He wants less now that he’s older.
  • Have you tried talking to your roommate about his dog barking?

Transitive verb with a pronoun

A pronoun is used in place of a noun (usually because we already referred to the noun).

  • Can you see Sarah? Yes, I see her.


Examples of Common Transitive Verbs

Here are some common transitive verbs in English.

  • Buy
  • Cost  
  • Give
  • Leave
  • Lend
  • Make
  • Offer
  • Pass
  • Sell
  • Show
  • Take
  • Wish

Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verbs do not work with an object.

  • What time does your plane arrive?
  • I love to sit on the beach and relax.
  • Today at the gym I stretched and I ran.


Examples of Common Intransitive Verbs

Here are some common intransitive verbs in English.

  • Act
  • Come
  • Cry
  • Die
  • Do
  • Go
  • Grow
  • Laugh
  • Respond
  • Smile

Verbs that are Transitive or Intransitive

Some verbs can be both transitive or intransitive, depending on their use. Within the context of the sentence, you can see if the verb is transitive or intransitive.

  • Studying abroad will change you in wonderful ways. (transitive) 
  • This neighborhood has really changed! (intransitive) 
  • Can you close the door, please? (transitive) 
  • When did this cafe close? (intransitive) 
  • Please write an email to Jim and thank him for dinner. (transitive) 
  • When did you learn to write? (intransitive) 


Why is this important?

Knowing if a verb is transitive or intransitive will help you properly use each verb: using a transitive verb without an object will of course be a major grammar mistake!

  • Can you see Sarah? Yes, I see. (incorrect)
  • Can you see Sarah? Yes, I see her. (correct)
  • I love to sit on the beach and relax myself. (incorrect)
  • I love to sit on the beach and relax. (correct)
  • Today at the gym I stretched and I ran myself. (incorrect)
  • Today at the gym I stretched and I ran. (correct)


Featured Lessons Student Life

Why Your English Isn’t Improving

November 20, 2017

Why Your English Isn't Improving

Do you study and study English but feel like your language skills are not improving? Perhaps you are making some of these very common mistakes.

Why Your English Isn’t Improving

You aren’t getting enough practice speaking

Speaking skills can be some of the most difficult to improve, mainly because it requires many hours of speaking practice to see real improvement. Are you interacting with native English speakers in real-life environments?

Why Your English Isn't Improving

You aren’t making it a part of your daily routine

Change your phone’s language to English. Follow English speaking accounts on Instagram. Always watch movies or TV shows with English subtitles. In short, make sure that English surrounds you!

Why Your English Isn't Improving

You aren’t thinking in English

A common (and understandable) mistake that many English learners make is trying to translate exact sentences and phrases into their native language (or vise versa). Once you realize that English will never directly translate to your native language, you will begin thinking in English. This will greatly help you improve your skills.

Why Your English Isn't Improving

You’re too nervous

It is also common to be nervous to speak English, but this feeling will only hurt your progress! Remind yourself that language learning is a process and that it is OK to make mistakes. Be sure to surround yourself with people who support your language learning and provide you with constructive criticism.

Why Your English Isn't Improving

You aren’t fixing fossilized errors

“Fossilized errors” are mistakes that we make again and again. Is there an English tense that you struggle with? Or a sound that’s difficult to pronounce? Perhaps you have a difficult time with certain irregular verbs? Or maybe phrasal verbs make your head spin? Identify your weaknesses and then work hard to fix them. Speaking without worrying about these mistakes will allow you to communicate confidently!

Converse International School of Languages has provided quality English language instruction to international students in San Francisco and San Diego since 1973. To learn more about our intensive programs and our small classes (no more than 8 students per class; 4 students in our premier programs) contact CISL.


California Life Featured Grammar Lessons San Diego San Diego Travel Tips

“SO” + Adverbs and Adjectives (+ Things that are “SO” San Diego)

November 1, 2017

In the English language, we use the word “so” in several different ways. Each way allows us to speak with more emphasis; some uses of the word “so”  are more typically “Southern Californian” than others. Learn the most common ways of using the word “so” here!

“SO” + Adverbs and Adjectives (and Things that are “so” San Diego)

“So” means several things in English.

“To such a great extent”

In this meaning, “so” is an adverb that shows the degree (level) of an adjective or adverb.

  • Why are you so angry? (This person isn’t a little angry: he is very angry.)
  • I didn’t realize the car was parked so far away. (The person is surprised that the distance is very far.)
  • Why are you speaking so slowly?
  • My presentation didn’t go so well.

“Very, very”

In this meaning, “so” is an intensifier. It intensifies (gives more meaning to) the adverb or adjective it is modifying.

In these cases, we can switch the word “so” with the word “very.” The meanings seem the same, but “so” is more intense than the word “very.”

  • You are so beautiful.
  • Thank you so much!
  • That was so thoughtful of you.


We often use the construction SO + ADJECTIVE/ADVERB + THAT to show the effect of something.

  • He was so tired that he fell asleep while eating his ice cream.
  • I was so upset that I threw my shoe.
  • She was so tall that none of the pants in the store could fit her.

Slang: “so” for a characteristic

With this meaning, “so” is used to show that something or someone is the perfect example of another thing. For example, if someone’s name is Summer, and she lives in San Diego and goes surfing every morning, she is SO Californian!

  • My friend Jane is the perfect student. One day after the teacher gave us our assignment, she completed it! That’s SO Jane.
  • We went surfing, ate a burrito, and then watched the sunset. Today was SO Southern California.
  • With that shirt and those cowboy boots, you look SO country.
  • This sushi roll has avocado and cilantro. It’s SO Californian.

Things that are “so” San Diego

Fish tacos

Yes, tacos with fish. Or lobster. Or scallops! With its close proximity to Mexico, it’s no surprise that California food is influenced by typically Mexican spices and flavors. Since San Diego is on the beach, it’s also no surprise that the local food includes a lot of seafood! While in San Diego, be sure to try fish tacos. In most places, you can order the fish grilled or fried. The toppings will vary at each restaurant, but many include avocado or guacamole, salsa, and cabbage.

Seafood + Mexican food? SO San Diego!


The craziest and most exciting week in San Diego is ComicCon week! Every July, celebrities and comic book fans come to the city’s Convention Center for a crazy week of events, shows, and exhibits. It’s the perfect time to walk around Downtown San Diego and see all of the costumes. Be on the lookout for celebrities as well: you never know who you are going to see!

ComicCon? SO San Diego!


Go to Mission and Pacific Beaches and most days you will see Slomo: a man on rollerblades who rides up and down the beach boardwalk for hours. Slomo is a staple of the city, and he is now famous throughout the nation: the New York Times made a video about him! Slomo is actually a doctor who retired in order to pursue real happiness. He found it . . . on the beaches of San Diego!

The happiest person alive is a doctor-turned-rollerblader? SO San Diego!

Surfboard museum in a taco shop

A taco shop in Pacific Beach isn’t just a taco shop: it’s also a museum that pays tribute to Southern California’s surf culture! In 1989, Cindy and Sam McLarty opened Taco Surf, a surf shop that displays more than 90 surfboards.

Is there anything more “San Diego” than a surf museum in a taco shop? Nope! SO San Diego.


Featured Lessons Vocabulary

Grammar Lesson of the Month: Latin in English

September 1, 2016

“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit (everything changes, nothing perishes).”
― Ovid, Metamorphoses

People often say that English comes from Latin. But how “Latin” is English? According to experts, English is about 29% Latin. Understanding the origins of English (and specifically how Latin works within it) will help you have a better understanding of the English language.

Origins of English Pie Chart

According to this “Origins of English” chart, English is nearly 30% Latin!

Latin in English

How is Latin working in English? Latin is used in English in the form of expressions, terms related to law and science, and with adjectives related to nature and biology. Let’s take a look at each.

Common Latin expressions

Here are some Latin expressions commonly used in English:

  • e.g. (exempli gratia)
    • Definition: for example
    • Example: Most of San Diego’s main beaches (e.g. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach) have boardwalks.
  • etc. (et cetera)
    • Definition: and other things; and so forth
    • Example: We did all the major touristy things: the SD Zoo, the beaches, Balboa Park, etc.
  • i.e. (id est)
    • Definition: which means; in other words
    • Example: I’m super pale, i.e. I need a tan!
  • N.B. or n.b. (nota bene)
    • Definition: note well; take notice
    • Example: As you can see from the report, the weather in SD is beautiful year-round, but n.b. the cooler evenings. You will need a sweater.
  • P.S. (post script)
    • Definition: an addition remark at the end of a letter
    • Example: P.S. Did I mention that I love you?


Latin in law

Latin is commonly found in terms related to law . . . but you don’t have to be a lawyer to use these terms!

  • ad hoc
    • Definition: translated to “for this,” used to describe something created or used for a specific purpose.
    • Example: They created an ad hoc agreement for the new client.
  • affidavit
    • Definition: translated to “he has sworn,” used to describe a formal statement.
    • Example: I have a signed affidavit from the witness.
  • bona fide
    • Definition: translated to “in good faith,” used to show someone’s good intentions regardless of a situation’s outcome.
    • Example: The man said he thought he was buying a bona fide autograph of Michael Jordan, but it was a fake.
  • de facto
    • Definition: translated to “from fact” or “in fact,” used to reference something that is true in practice, but has not been officially instituted or endorsed. (This is often applied to an unofficial position someone works without being given an official title.)
    • Example: He worked as the de facto manager until a new one was hired.

Latin in adjectives

An interesting way English has preserved Latin is found in the use of some adjectives. In many cases in English, there are both German and Latin nouns for one thing. The Latin word is often more formal and is related to science. It is often both an adjective and a noun (depending on its use) and typically serves as the adjective form of the Germanic noun. In the examples below, the Latin version serves as an adjective.


Here are some examples in relation to nature and biology:

  • bee/apian
    • I am allergic to bees. (noun)
    • Apian allergies are common. (adjective)
  • bird/avian
    • I love to watch the birds in the morning.  (noun)
    • Avian sciences are fascinating. (adjective)
  • cat/feline
    • I’m a cat person. I’ve always had cats.  (noun)
    • My dog sometimes acts like a cat. I say she has feline tendencies. (adjective)
  • dog/canine
    • My dog is 10 years old.  (noun)
    • There is nothing more impressive than canine loyalty. (adjective)
  • horse/equine
    • Have you ever ridden a horse? (noun)
    • I am studying equine diseases. (adjective)
  • man/masculine
    • I met a man from Kentucky. (noun)
    • This cologne has a very masculine odor. (adjective)
  • moon/lunar
    • There will be a full moon tonight. (noun)
    • Did you see the lunar eclipse? (adjective)
  •  sun/solar
    • I need some sun! (noun)
    • The car is powered by solar energy. (adjective)
  • water/aquatic
    • I’m afraid of dark water. (noun)
    • Have you been to the new aquatic center? (adjective)
  • woman/feminine
    • He married a wonderful woman from Germany. (noun)
    • What a beautiful and feminine dress. (adjective)



A few others, just for fun:

  • boat/naval
    • Do you know how to drive a boat? (noun)
    • I just learned about this interesting naval battle in history class. (adjective)
  •  book/literary
    • That was a great book. (noun)
    • I always appreciate a literary man or woman. (adjective)
  • house/domestic
    • They just bought a new house. (noun)
    • I prefer domestic chores to chores outside, like mowing the lawn. (adjective)
  • town/urban
    • Do you live in a town or in the country? (noun)
    • I had a very urban childhood. (adjective)

 Can you think of ways that Latin lives in English? Tell us on Facebook!

California Life Featured Lessons San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips Suggested student activities

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + “Paddle” Idioms

August 28, 2016

“Always behave like a duck. Keep calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddle like hell underwater.”

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + "Paddle" Idioms

San Diego is a dream for water sports lovers: the warm weather makes it possible to enjoy the water longer than other parts of the U.S., and the city’s many beaches provide the perfect places to surf, bodysurf, kayak, swim, snorkel, kitesurf, and sail! (Don’t know all of those vocabulary words? Check out our article on Beach Vocabulary and Activities to learn more!)

Stand up paddleboarding (also known as SUP) is a Hawaiian sport that has become popular for many San Diegans. With this fun water activity, you stand on a large flat board and use a paddle to move. Many variations have been created, like SUP yoga, SUP while surfing small waves, and SUP with fishing. Creative!

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach

Mission Bay is an excellent place to try SUP: the protected waters of the bay are calmer than other areas. Rent a paddleboard at one of the local shops and give it a try! (Click on this link for a list of all the places you can rent SUPs in Mission Beach and Mission Bay.)

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + "Paddle" Idioms

English Expressions with “Paddle”

Before trying SUP, check out these idioms with “paddle.”

Paddle one’s own canoe

Definition: To be independent and self-sufficient.

Example: After a month of training, it’s time for you to paddle your own canoe. Good luck!

Doggy paddle

Definition: An elementary swimming stroke in which the swimmer uses his/her hands to swim in a manner resembling a swimming dog.

Example: Last year I could only doggy paddle: this year, I can finally swim!

Example: The kids can doggy paddle, but they can’t really swim.

Up the creek without a paddle

Definition: To be in a difficult situation with no apparent solution.

Example: I lost my cell phone and my wallet, and I was in a strange part of town. I was up the creek without a paddle.

Example: When the presentation began, his computer froze. He was up the creek without a paddle!

Note: this expression can be shortened to “up the creek.”

Example: You’re going to be up the creek if you don’t start saving your money now!

Keep (on) paddling

Definition: To continue something that is difficult; to persevere and not give up.

Example: I know studying for this test is hard. You just have to keep on paddling. You’ll pass!

Example: It took weeks to finish the project. They just kept on paddling, and eventually, they finished.