Intransitive Verb: Here’s an easy way to get acquainted

Did you ever need intransitive verbs but don't know correct usage? Here's how from the English Forward team.

Victoria Mac Callum Written by Victoria Mac Callum · 2 min read >
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It is very well known to us that verbs are the words that assert some information about a person or thing. For example Maya dances and sings. Here, the word ‘dances’ and ‘sings’ are the verbs.

What is the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb?

When we consider types of verbs in English grammar, there are mainly two: transitive and intransitive verbs. Usually, it is not difficult for people if they need to identify whether the verb is transitive or intransitive if they know the exact difference.

What is meant by a transitive verb?

Transitive Verbs: When the action of the verb passes over from the subject to an object, it is called a transitive verb. For example, The girl throws the ball. Here the verb throws passes over from the subject girl to the object ball.

What is meant by an intransitive verb?

Intransitive Verbs: When a verb denotes an action that does not pass over from a subject as it just expresses a particular state.

For example, The girl sleeps. Here the verb “sleep” does not pass over from a subject.

What are examples of transitive and intransitive verbs?

Here are some examples of transitive verbs used in their respective sentences:

  • She spoke the lie.
  • Ring the doorbell, Sam.
  • The man pulled the cart.
  • The shot killed the army man.
  • The lion fought the leopard.

Here, spoke, ring, pulled, killed, and fought are used as transitive verbs as they pass over from the doer or subject to the object.

Here are some examples of intransitive verbs used in their respective sentences:

  • She spoke bravely.
  • The temple bell rang loudly.
  • She pulled easily.
  • The poison kills rapidly.
  • The lion fought fiercely.

Here, spoke, rang, pulled, kills, and fought, are used as intransitive verbs as there is no direct object to pass on the verb.

In the above-mentioned examples, the same verbs were used as transitively and intransitively. Therefore, many verbs can be used as transitive and intransitive, both.

Using Intransitive Verbs Reflexively

When, in a sentence, the subject and object are referred to the same person or thing, the use of the verb is called reflexive.

Consider the sentence: The woman killed herself. Here the verb killed is used reflexively.

Now, consider the given sentences where the object is not expressed, but still completes the meaning of a sentence.

  • The tire burst.
  • You enjoy.
  • Americans feed chiefly on fast food.

In the above examples, the reflexive pronoun itself, yourself, and themselves were missing. However, one can understand the appropriate meaning of the sentence. The verbs used here are examples of intransitive verbs

Use of Intransitive Verbs as Transitive

1) Using an intransitive verb in a causative way makes it transitive.

  • Intransitive verb: The dog walks.
  • Transitive verb: She walks the dog.

The first one has no subject whereas in the second case dog is used a direct object

  • Intransitive verb: Kites fly.
  • Transitive verb: The children fly their kites.

The first one has no subject whereas in the second case kites is used a direct object

2) One can distinguish transitive or intransitive verbs through their spellings. Many verbs need to be used in a causative way to turn them into intransitive.

  • Intransitive verb: So many trees fall in the thunderstorm.
  • Transitive verb: Lumberjacks fell trees.

The first one has no subject whereas in the second case trees is used as a direct object

  • Sit here.
  • Set the charger on the table.

The first sentence has no subject whereas in the second case table is used a direct object

3) You can use a transitive verb at the place of an intransitive verb by adding a preposition after the verb.

  • Intransitive: Please investigate the records precisely.
  • Transitive: Please look into the records precisely.
  • Intransitive: I desire a big house.
  • Transitive: I wish for a big house.

4) The transitive verb can also be used instead of an intransitive verb by adding a preposition as a prefix.

  • Example: He overcame cancer. Here, cancer is used as a direct object

Cognate Object and Intransitive Verbs

In a sentence, sometimes intransitive verbs exist even after the presence of the object. However, the object must have the same base form as the intransitive verb. Such objects are called cognate objects.

  • I dreamt of a weird dream.
  • Let me die a great death
  • She laughed a hearty laugh.

Here, dream, death, and laugh are Cognate Objects.

Phrasal Verbs and Transitivity

Even the phrasal verbs can be classified as transitive or intransitive verbs.

Consider the below-given examples:

  • Kevin has chosen to give up baseball.
  • Kevin never gives up.

Here, in both the sentences, give up is the phrasal verb used. In the first sentence, it takes baseball as a direct object. However, in the second one, it is used as an intransitive verb as there is no direct object or indirect object to act upon.

Written by Victoria Mac Callum
Victoria honed up her English language skills in the Media Industry working at a campus radio station in 2014. Since then, she has upgraded to more demanding roles of English teacher on Preply and course creator. She's also a radio presenter, news anchor, voice-over artist, writer and editor. Profile