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Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Perfect English Grammar

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Transitive verbs must have a direct object:

  • I enjoyed the party (NOT: I enjoyed).
(The subject is 'I', the verb is 'enjoyed' and the direct object is 'the party'.)
  • William likes chocolate (NOT: William likes).
(The subject is 'William', the verb is 'likes' and the direct object is 'chocolate'.) Intransitive verbs can't have a direct object. Intransitive verbs also can't make a passive.
  • They arrived.
(The subject is 'they' and the verb is 'arrived'. There's no object.)
  • The children are sleeping.
(The subject is 'the children' and the verb is 'are sleeping'. There's no object.)

Many verbs have a transitive and an intransitive form:
  • John ate the pizza (transitive).
  • John ate (intransitive).
Also, some verbs that have more than one meaning can be transitive or intransitive depending on which meaning is being used.
  • I see the mountains (see = see with your eyes, transitive).
  • I see (see = understand, intransitive).