Transitive and Intransitive Verb

The children play fairly. In the light of knowledge about the subject, verb and object we can easily find them in here. The subject is ‘the children’ whereas the verb is ‘play’. Where is the object? Surprisingly, there’s no direct object in this sentence. So is this sentence incomplete? Not at all. What about the verb? Let us also learn about the Transitive and Intransitive Verb

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Transitive Verb

Intransitive Verb

We know that a person or thing that does the action is known as the subject of the sentence. The action word in the sentence is known as the verb. Also, the person or thing that receives the action is known as the object. For instance:

The boy ate the fruit.

  • Subject: The boy
  • Verb: Ate
  • Object: The fruit

Here, the verb ‘ate’ has a direct object – fruit. Such verbs are known as transitive verbs. When the verb has an object that receives the direct action of the verb, it is called a transitive verb. Mostly, a transitive verb takes a single object. However, sometimes it takes two objects – one indirect and one direct object.

  Study the Introduction to Verbs here. 

A direct object is the receiver of the action done by the verb in the sentence. The person or thing to whom or on whom the action of the verb is done or who receives the direct object is called the indirect object. For instance:

The batsman hit the ball with his bat.

  • Subject: The batsman
  • VerbHit
  • Direct object: The ball
  • Indirect object: Bat

Intransitive Verb

An intransitive verb doesn’t require a direct object. Unlike a transitive verb, it makes complete sense on its own. Thus without actually taking a direct object, the intransitive verb can make a meaningful sentence. Evidently, they are also known as the verbs of complete predication.

Sometimes an intransitive verb requires a word to make complete sense (of course not an object). In that case, the intransitive verb is known as the verb of incomplete predication. Also the word or words, we use to help the intransitive verb make complete sense out of the sentence, is known as the complement of the verb. Here are some examples:

The child cries.

  • Subject: The child
  • Intransitive verb: cries

Observe how the subject and the intransitive verb together make up a meaningful sentence. Note that, there is no direct object here. Further, there’s no word that the transitive verb uses to add sense to the sentence. Evidently, the intransitive verb here is a verb of complete predication.

The child cries loudly.

  • Subject: The child
  • Intransitive verb: cries
  • The complement of the verb: loudly

It can be seen that again there’s no object in this sentence. However, the intransitive verb is not alone as it was in the earlier case. Here, the intransitive verb takes help of the word ‘loudly’. Thus, the intransitive verb is a verb of incomplete predication.

    Learn more about the Forms of Verb here. 

Transitive and Intransitive Behaviour

You must remember that there are no separate lists for intransitive and transitive verbs. Instead, most of the verbs can behave both transitively and intransitively in the English Grammar. It is important to realize that the only difference is the presence of a direct object. This will be further clarified with the help of the following sentences:

  • Intransitive: The man was walking on the road.
  • Transitive: The man was walking fast.

Solved Example for You

Question: Identify whether the verb is intransitive or transitive:

  1. The boy watered the plants.
  2. They are Europeans.
  3. She appears lonely.
  4. The tea tastes bitter.


  1. Watered (transitive)
  2. Are (intransitive)
  3. Appears (intransitive)
  4. Tastes (intransitive)
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