Have any questions? Live chat

Writing Blog

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs — How to Tell Them Apart?

November 30, 2022| Category: Writing Tips

There are transitive and intransitive verbs depending on whether one should use an object after them to communicate a complete idea. When used in a sentence, transitive verbs make sense merely when they have an object after them. Intransitive verbs, however, can be used on their own and be meaningful. There are also verbs that can be used either way.

People associate the very word “transitive” with “transit”, which makes one think of some movement and action. Still, this association often leads to confusion, because transitive and intransitive verbs have nothing to do with action or non-action. It is better and more logical to connect the meaning of the word “transitive” to the word “transfer” – a transitive verb transfers its action to some object, which could be a person or a thing. So, transitive verbs actually affect someone/something else.

With this connection in mind, it should be easier for you to differentiate between them and understand the logic behind the usage of transitive and intransitive verbs in English.

How to Differentiate Transitive Verbs?

Transitive verbs are not those that can just have an object after them – they actually demand an object and bear no completed or logical meaning in a sentence without the object. If you read a sentence with a transitive verb that has no object, it will look incomplete.

For example: Please give soup to me.

The verb “give” is transitive and “soup” is an object – it is something that I ask you to give. If you imagine there is no object in this sentence, it would hardly make any sense.

For example: Please give.

Give what? Give who? The very verb “give” naturally demands some object after it.

Take a look at some more examples of how transitive verbs are used with objects:

The men carry bottles of water from the car.

Jane brought her toys.

Could you phone me after work?

My colleague passed a message to me.

Verbs in each of these sentences have objects after them as they complete the actions conveyed by verbs. If you remove objects, the sentences will make no sense to the readers. For example: Jane brought. Brought what?

How to Differentiate Intransitive Verbs?

Intransitive verbs oppose to transitive in their function and usage. They do not require objects after them to communicate an idea across.

For example:

They run.

The dog jumped.

He cried.

Light was blinking.

None of the verbs used in the sentences above need an object to bear sense. You can put a full stop after verbs and the sentence would be complete. More so, if you use an imperative form of the verb, you can produce a good one-word sentence.

For example:




Some verbs in English can be only intransitive and they cannot take an object after them, whereas some other can be both transitive and intransitive depending on the context. Verbs “die” and “arrive” can be merely intransitive. One cannot die something (in the meaning of “stop living”) and one cannot arrive something either.

Transitive or Intransitive? In Some Cases They Can Be Both

Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive depending on the meaning they have in a sentence. For example:

Asked by the teacher, students sang.

Students sang a famous song at the concert.

After she completed all work, she left.

She left a book on the table and went home.

To identify whether the verb is transitive or intransitive, pay attention to whether it should have an object. Did they sing something? Did she leave something? Here the answer is obvious – yes.

If you hesitate about the type of verb to use, you can look up this information in dictionaries. This information is usually provided under the pronunciation key. Moreover, you can find out differences in meaning when looking at the examples.

How to find this information in the dictionary? After the word entry, pay attention to the symbols “vt” or “vi”, which mean transitive verb and intransitive verb correspondingly. In case a verb can be both transitive and intransitive, you will find examples for each usage in the dictionaries.

Being able to clearly differentiate between transitive and intransitive verbs will help you succeed in writing. Just mind that transitive verbs always have an object after them to sound logical and make sense. It is essential to identify them since transitive and intransitive verb may have different meaning.

"sandwich" approach A+ essay abstract abstract writing academic paper academic paper outline academic papers academic paper writing academic requirements academic sources academic writer academic writing academic writing issues academic writing rules academic writing tips active and passive voice in research writing active voice additive transitions adversative transitions a good book report a good summary AI-generated content AI-generated writing AI detection software tools AI detectors Alternative hypothesis an introduction to academic writing annotated bibliography annotation APA style appeals to trust and connection argument argument analysis argument analysis assignment argument analysis essay argumentative essay argumentative writing argument paragraph arguments article articles a thesis statement become a better writer become a writing guru bias bias-free writing blogs Bloom’s Taxonomy body paragraph body sentences boost academic vocabulary brainstorming business capitalization capitalization rule capitalize capstone paper capstone project career career in writing causal transitions challenges a new freelance writer may face with characteristics of academic writing chronological order citation cite the source clarity in writing clients closing sentences coherent academic writing college essays college writing common mistakes comparative essay compare and contrast paragraph complex assignment Complex hypothesis concept map concluding paragraph concluding sentence conclusion conclusion in academic writing conclusion in an essay conclusion writing conduct a search content content writing coordination counterargument Covid-19 creating concluding sentences creating PowerPoint presentations credible resources credible sources customer feedback decode instructions decoding professors’ instructions definition of proofreading descriptive headings descriptive paragraph diagrams difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography division double quotation marks edit your writing effective conclusion effective headings effective paragraph elements of academic language elements of paper writing emotional appeals Empirical hypothesis essay's conclusion essay mistakes essay paragraph essay pitfalls essays essay structure essays writing essays writing tips essays writitng tips essay writing ethos explain complex concepts expository essay features of academic writing figure figures and tables first-person pronouns flow of ideas free freelance freelance jobs freelancer freelance writer freelance writers freelance writing freelance writing business Google in academic writing graphs handling difficult tasks headings heuristics high-quality papers higher-level headings high grades high school-level composition high school assignments how reading helps you become a better writer how to avoid plagiarism how to write how to write a good film review how to write capstone paper how to write phd hypothesis hypothesis writing important improve writing skills in-text citations incorporation of visuals intellectual property interpret instructions intransitive verb introduction introduction paragraph introductory paragraph italics italics for titles job journal judgmental language language and style literature review Logical hypothesis logos lower-level headings main point of the paragraph make the article engaging meeting deadlines meeting the requirements meet the deadlines methodology methodology chapter methodology section MLA style narrative paragraph non-descriptive heading note taking Null hypothesis objective tone objective writing objectivity online online writers opening paragraph opinion essay order of importance outline outline writing paper outline papers parallelism paraphrase paraphrasing passive voice past simple pathos peer response peer review personal pronouns personal response personal response essay personal response paper persuasion persuasive essay persuasive writing PhD research proposal plagiarism plan for writing planning popular and scholarly sources popular sources positive feedback PowerPoint presentation PowerPoint Presentation tips PPT PPTs presenting data in figures and tables present perfect present simple primary research problems writers face procrastination profession professional freelance writer pronouns proofreading tips qualitative methods quality quantitative methods quotation marks quotation marks for titles quote quoting racist and sexist biases in AI papers reduce word count redundancy redundant reliable sources repetition repetitive sentences repetitive writing reputable sources research research paper research paper in college research paper in high school research paper writing revising an essay rhetoric rhetorical devices rules of academic writing satisfy your customers scholarly archives scholarly materials scholarly sources second-person pronouns secondary research sentence structure sequential transitions Simple hypothesis simplifying complex assignments single quotation marks skills sources spatial order specificity spell checker spelling spelling error spelling rules start writing statistical data in academic papers Statistical hypothesis statistics statistics in academic writing stop procrastinating stress and creativity strong topic sentences structure of an expository essay subheadings subordination success successful academic writing successful papers successful paraphrasing suitable concluding sentences summary summary writing supporting evidence synthesis paper synthesize information synthesize sources table tables tables/graphs/charts task list as a guide techniques for writing summaries techniques to explain a difficult subject tenses in academic writing text structure the contents of the paper the main intention of the assignment thesis statement the structure of body paragraphs thinking levels third-person pronouns time management tips on revising an essay tips to writing a PhD research proposal tips to writing a social science paper token sentences topic of the paragraph topic sentence transitional words transitions transition terms transitive and intransitive verbs transitive verb types of academic texts typical writing problems unique idea use Google for research utilizing AI tools in academic papers vocabulary vocabulary building well-structured essay what writers can learn from reading novels word choice word count work wrap sentences write a conclusion writer writer job write unique texts writing writing a book report writing a film review writing a good PhD research proposal writing an A+ film review writing an essay writing an outline writing a paragraph writing as profession writing a statement writing a summary writing burnout writing clear writing errors writing essays writing fast writing hacks writing job writing mistakes writing mood writing papers writing pitfalls writing process writing skills writing style writing tips