Transitive and intransitive verbs

A transitive verb is one that is used with an object: a noun, phrase, or pronoun that refers to the person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb. In the following sentences, admire, maintain, face, and love are transitive verbs:

I admire your courage.

We need to maintain product quality.

I couldn’t face him today.

She loves animals.

 

Some transitive verbs can be used with a direct object and an indirect object:

Liz brought

her

a glass of water.

 

[indirect object]

[direct object]

He sent

her

a letter.

 

[indirect object]

[direct object]

 

Read more about direct and indirect objects.

 

Here is a short list of some common verbs that can take a direct and indirect object:

Verb

Example

give

Pat gave me a book for my birthday.

buy

Can I buy you a drink?

pass

Paul passed her a cup of coffee.

make

Shall I make us some lunch?

sell

Jenny was trying to sell me her car.

take

We took Maria some flowers and wine.

show

Show me your holiday photos.

offer

The company has offered me a job.

leave

Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.

wish

Everyone wished us all the best for the future.

lend

Could you lend me £20?

cost

Ben’s mistake cost him his job.

 

Intransitive verbs

An intransitive verb does not have an object. In the following sentences, cry, work, laugh, and talk are intransitive verbs:

The baby was crying.

I work for a large firm in Paris.

They laughed uncontrollably.

We talked for hours.

 

Transitive and intransitive verbs

Many verbs can be transitive or intransitive. For example:

The choir sang carols. [transitive]

Pete always sings in the bath.   [intransitive]

She left London on June 6. [transitive]

I want to leave early. [intransitive]

 

Here is a short list of some common verbs that can be transitive or intransitive:

Verb

Transitive

Intransitive

move

Could you move your car please?

The trees were moving in the breeze.

start

Taylor was found guilty of starting the fire.

The match starts at 3 p.m.

change

Marriage hasn’t changed her.

The area’s changed greatly in the last decade.

close

Close your eyes; I’ve got a surprise for you.

Most shops here close at 5.30 p.m.

open

Open the window; it’s too hot in here!

The museum opens at 10 a.m.

stop

Greg tried to stop her from leaving.

When the rain stopped, we went for a walk.

do

Have you done your coursework?

Joe’s doing well in his new job.

set

Kate set a chair next to the bed.

The sun was setting and a red glow filled the sky.

run

Michelle used to run a restaurant.

The path ran over the hill.

live

Our cat lived till he was 10.

He was living a life of luxury abroad.

wash

Have you washed your hands?

I washed, dressed, and went out.

write

Write your name here.

Kevin couldn’t read or write.


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Grammar and usage