Dear teachers,

There's something I still don’t grasp is to know when a verb like become, appear, grow, remain, stay, stand and seem (in which category would you list these verbs?); and verbs involving the senses like feel, look, smell, sound and taste are considered intransitive or intensive. Is it that if these kinds of verbs (and others?) are not followed by a complement or an object they are automatically intransitive? Would you please give me examples where both situations appear and how to recognize them?

Miriam has given me the sentence:

"Your dreams will come true."

How can I know that "will come" is an intensive verb is it because "true" here must be an adjective?

Thanks a lot.

Have a nice weekend,

1 2
Hello Hela

I'm not quite sure what you want to know, but let me make a try.

In short, an intransitive verb is the one that does not take a direct object. In another words, there is no receiver of the action expressed by an intransitive verb.
My dreams will come true.
Here "true" is an adjective and a complement. As there is no direct object for "come", the verb "come" is analyzed to be intransitive. Semantically this "come" is synonymous to "become" and can be taken as a kind of copular verb. [Verbs like "become", "appear", "grow", etc. are usually called "copular verbs" or "linking verbs". "Intensive verbs" is not a technical term commonly used in English grammar.]
Verbs like "smell" or "taste" are "perception verbs". They are used sometimes as a transitive verb and sometimes as an intransitive verb.
(as v.t.) The cat smelled the fish. ("the fish": DO)
(as v.i.) The fish smelled bad. ("bad": C=Adj)
A verb that can be used both transitively and intransitively is called "ergative verb" or "middle verb"

Is this what you wanted to know?

Thank you Paco for your explanations! They are very useful but what I wanted to know is when to decide if a verb is intransitive and when it is copular. Maybe we call it intransitive when it's followed by an adverbial and copular when it's followed with a noun or adjective = complement. What do you think?


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Hi Hella

A copular verb is a kind of intransitive verb. So we can't tell the difference between an intransitive verb and a copular verb. Or do you mean you want to know any way to differentiate copular verbs and non-copular verbs among intransitive verbs? If so, it is very easy. Copular verbs are quite few. Stative copular verbs: be, appear, feel, look, seem, sound, taste, remain, keep, stay. Dynamic copular verbs: become, come, get, go, grow, prove, turn. When a sentence uses one of these verbs and its construction is analyzed as S+V+C, then, it is highly probable that the verb is a copular verb. You can confirm it by knowing whether a nexus relation holds between S and C. "Dreams will come true"-> "dreams = true". "He looks smart" -> "he=smart".


[PS] However, there are many exeptional cases. For example "He came back exhausted". This is SVC in the construction and a nexus relation holds (he=exhausted). But this "came" is clearly a non-copular intransitive verb.
Thanks, Paco.

See you soon,


I have a question of my own now. I got quite lost in English verbs typology. Both stative and dynamic verbs can be either extensive or intensive. Would then intensive verbs be defined as consisting of copular and subject complment and never transitive? I understand that extensive might be divided into transitive and intransitive. Transtive can be used in passive voice, and intransitive cannot.

The problem that really bothers me is that I don;t know how to distinguish an intensive verb from an extensive verb.

Thanks for your help,

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passive voice
Google "intensive verb" "extensive verb".
You will get very few hits, which says to me that this is highly specialized terminology, and not standard.
Maybe the few hits you get will help, but what I saw seemed to be some sort of outline of a computer approach to grammar, or some such thing.

Hello June

I'm not a linguist but let me tell a bit I knew. "Intensive verbs" and "extensive verbs" are terms used by MAK Halliday, a socio-linguist who published many linguistic books in 1960s. Roughly speaking, he used "intensive verbs" to mean "linking verbs", though he divided them further into two classes :"verbs used to state attributions" (EX: He is a student; She seems wise; I got sick) and "verbs to make definitions" (EX: My name is Alice; Three and five equals eight). "Extensive verbs" are verbs used to describe subject's actions (or activities), no matter whether they are intransitive or transitive.(EX: He laughed; He got a new car.) Please note some of verbs were grouped into different categories depending on their different meanings.

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