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.
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.
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)