Transitive verbs

As we saw in the section on Intransitive Verbs, verbs can be either transitive or intransitive.

A transitive verb has two main features.

  1. It is always an action verb that expresses a doable activity, such as clean, smell, run, jump.
  2. It must have a direct object, ie something or someone who receives the action of the verb.

When no direct object follows the verb, the verb is intransitive. Examples of intransitive verbs in sentences include:

  • John sneezed all morning.
  • Marie lay down and went to sleep.
  • Let’s all sit down and wait for the show to start.

The intransitive verbs are in bold. They do not need a direct object to make sense or complete the sentence.

Examples of transitive verbs

  • Sophie shouted at Louise (shouted is the transitive verb, with Louise being the direct object).
  • He wrote a lovely story about his holiday (wrote is the transitive verb, with story being the direct object).
  • Bella the cat licks her dirty paws before going to sleep in her basket (licks is the transitive verb, with paws the direct object; going to sleep is the transitive verb with basket the direct object).