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I am struggling to fully understand what is meant by a 'transitive' verb. As far as I have been able to grasp it thus far, a verb is transitive if it needs an object to act on. So in;

"The man ate the food"

'ate' is transitive, because there has to be something that he ate. However if we take;

"The train arrived in London"

'arrived' seems to be often described as intransitive in this context. But why cannot 'London' be seen as the object in this sentence? Afterall, the action of arriving
is being done on the object London, or am I just hopelessly confused about what 'object' means? I can see other contexts wherein 'arrived' appears more clearly intransitive, such as;

"The train arrived ten minutes late"

But I want to be clear about whether "arrives in the station" or "arrives on my desk" can be seen as transitive uses of the verb. It would be much appreciated if someone could kindly clarify this for me.

Thanks.
Comments  
Hi,
the train doesn't do anything to London. It does something "in" London. That's where the fact happens, just the location. The train arrives. Where? In London.

As far as I know, transitive verbs are not followed by prepositions or adverbs that come between the verb and the object. It's just VERB + OBJECT, with no prepositions or adverbs in between.

I ate an apple.
I ate in the kitchen.
I ate too much.
I ate when I arrived home.


Only "an apple" is the object of "ate" used transitively, all the others are used intransitively and followed by adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions introducing an adverbial phrase (I hope it's called that way), etc.

Emotion: smile
Thanks Kooyeen, that has really cleared things up for me. Much appreciated!
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Anonymous"The train arrived in London"
"in London" is an averbial clause.
Anonymouswhy cannot 'London' be seen as the object in this sentence?
Because nothing happens to London! When the man eats the food, he acts upon the food; something happens to the food. London just happens to be the place where the action of arriving took place.
The man ate the food in London doesn't have two objects, for example.
Nor does The man threw the paper into the wastebasket.
Emotion: smile
CJ
then... what if it was "think"

I can use "think" instead of that arrive, but It's same that London doesn't got anything.
I think london.... but think is transitive verb...r
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Anonymousthen... what if it was "think"I can use "think" instead of that arrive, but It's same that London doesn't got anything.I think london.... but think is transitive verb...r
Are you sure that is the question you want to ask? Using think instead of arrive doesn't make sense.

The train arrives in London.

Using "think" instead of "arrive":

The train thinks in London.

What is that supposed to mean?
______________________

think does not have to be transitive. You can just think.
I was thinking.
I was thinking in London.

But it can be transitive, as when you specify the thought.

I thought that he had locked the car.

CJ
CalifJim
Anonymousthen... what if it was "think"I can use "think" instead of that arrive, but It's same that London doesn't got anything.I think london....  but think is transitive verb...r
Are you sure that is the question you want to ask?  Using think instead of arrive doesn't make sense.The train arrives in London.Using "think" instead of "arrive":The train thinks in London.What is that supposed to mean?________________________think does not have to be transitive.  You can just think.  I was thinking.  I was thinking in London.But it can be transitive, as when you specify the thought.I thought that he had locked the car.CJ
Wait, are you saying that if a verb is followed by a subordinate clause, then it's transitive? I've never realized that.
Eugene Leoare you saying that if a verb is followed by a subordinate clause, then it's transitive? I've never realized that.
Yes, but only if it's the right kind of subordinate clause! It has to be a content clause, usually with that or implied that, though whether and if (and maybe a few others) are also possible.

What did you say? (You said what?)

I said (that) the house should be painted.
The boss never said whether the window trim should be painted as well.

(The whole underlined part is the content of what was said, so it's the object. If you have an object, you have a transitive.)

The same holds for constructions like believe (that), know (that), decide (that), fear (that), hope (that), and on and on.

A temporal clause (when, before, after, etc.) won't work, nor will clauses with unless, because, although, etc. These can't be objects of verbs.

CJ
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