Intransitive verbs

As we saw in the previous section on Action Verbs, some verbs can be intransitive. This means they don’t have or need a direct object in order to make sense (as opposed to transitive verbs, which always have a direct object). An intransitive verb is always an action verb.

Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive, depending on what they mean. Try comparing these two sentences using the verb “to eat”:

  • Because of her health problems, Rachel always eats before leaving the house (eats as an intransitive verb)
  • If there is no bread in the house, Rachel eats a bowl of porridge instead (eats as a transitive verb, with porridge as the direct object).

Examples of intransitive verbs

Some verbs, such as go, arrive, lie, sneeze, sit and die are always intransitive.

  • We will go to the shops later.
  • They arrived at the gate with just minutes to spare.
  • The dogs always lie under a tree in the shade.
  • I sneezed for hours after shaking that blanket.
  • Shall we sit down on this sofa?