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What Are Transitive And Intransitive Verbs In English?

A verb can be described as either transitive, intransitive verbs or linking verbs. A transitive verb is one that requires an object to make sense. And, an intransitive verb does not require an object. But what exactly is the difference in practice? And how does it affect your writing? Check out this article to get a thorough understanding of how each works. 

What Are Transitive And Intransitive Verbs In English? | English Medium

Transitive Verbs

A transitive verb requires an object to make sense. The “object” in this context is the thing that is being acted upon in a sentence. To use a transitive verb, we need to specify what is happening to the verb by giving an object after the verb.

Example:  “Please bring the books.”

In this sentence, the verb bring is transitive; its object is books, the thing that is being brought. Without an object of some kind, this verb cannot function.

“Please bring.”

Bring what, or who? The question begs itself because the meaning of bring demands it.

Let’s take a look at another example: 

The sisters discussed their plan. (Correct)

The sisters discussed. (Incorrect)

In the above two sentences, the latter makes no sense because it is not clear as to what the sisters discussed. Therefore, the first sentence is grammatically correct. 

Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verbs do not need a direct object. As such, you can form a grammatical sentence with just a subject and an intransitive verb. Take a look at these examples: 

  1. They jumped. 
  2. The sisters argued.
  3. She danced.
  4. They were singing. 

For instance, “the sisters argued,” makes complete sense by itself even though we are not aware of what they were arguing about. 

Transitive or Intransitive?

Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive depending on how they’re used. For example:

I danced to Beyonce’s songs at the party. (correct)

I danced at the party. (correct)

Both sentences here are grammatically correct. In the first, “danced” is a transitive verb with “Beyonce’s songs” as its object. But “danced” has no object in the second sentence (i.e., we don’t specify what we were dancing to).

As such, “danced” can be either transitive or intransitive depending on how we use it. And we can tell whether a verb is being used transitively or intransitively by looking for a direct object.

Finally, most dictionaries will say whether a verb can be used transitively or intransitively, so you can check any term you use in your own writing to make sure it can take an object 

And if you need a grammar expert to review your work, we’re always here to help. Write to us at

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