If you’re looking to deepen (improve, strengthen) your knowledge of English, it might be time to get into (understand, explore) some of the finer points of the language. That’s why this week we’ve decided to take a look at transitive and intransitive verbs. Transitive and intransitive verbs are the two kinds of verbs in English.

Here’s a look at these two types of verbs, as well as how to use them.

Transitive verbs

Transitive verbs are the most common kinds of verbs in English. They are action verbs that take a direct object, which is someone or something that receives the action of the verb. The direct object can be a noun, a phrase, or a pronoun.

For example:

  • He kicked the table. (kicked is the verb, table is the object)
  • Picasso painted the canvas. (painted is the verb, canvas is the object)
  • I wrote a poem on my computer. (wrote is the verb, poem is the object)
  • He put the laundry into the washing machine. (put is the verb, laundry is the object)

The Question Test

If you’re having trouble figuring out what the direct object of a sentence is, use the verb of the sentence as a question in “the question test”. The answer to the question “what?” is your direct object.

For example:

  • I read a book. (I read what? A book.)

In the above example, read is the verb, and book is the direct object.

  • Can you do the laundry? (Can you do what? The laundry.)

Here, do is the verb, and laundry is the direct object of the sentence.

Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verbs are verbs that do not have a direct object. While they are still action verbs, there isn’t anything taking the action of the verb in the sentence.

For example:

  • She snores.
  • I walk for miles.
  • They protested in the park.
  • He sneezed hard.
  • The fish died when the water got too hot.
  • They went out on Friday.

If you can’t figure out (decide, understand, choose) if a verb is transitive or intransitive, try the little question test like we showed above. If there is no answer to “what?”, then the verb is intransitive.

Don’t be alarmed, though- many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive!

Why not try some sentences out for yourself and let us know how it goes!

Test Yourself: transitive and intransitive verbs

Is the sentence: a) transitive or b) intransitive?

  1. She walks.
  2. He goes to the store every afternoon.
  3. I call my mom.
  4. He is reading.
  5. They’re thinking hard.
  6. We go to the movies.
  7. I sit in class every day.
  8. Let’s think for a minute.
  9. She waters her plants on Sundays.
  10. Let’s go.

Answers: 1) b 2) a 3) a 4) b 5) b 6) a 7) a 8) a 9) a 10) b

Do you have any questions about transitive and intransitive verbs? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll make sure to answer them for you!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and after she is finished learning Irish, she will definitely take a look into Portuguese! 

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