The meaning of a transitive verb is incomplete without a direct object, as in the following examples: INCOMPLETE The shelf holds

. COMPLETE The shelf holds three books and a vase of flowers. INCOMPLETE The committee named. COMPLETE The committee named a new chairperson. INCOMPLETE The child broke. COMPLETE The child broke the plate. An intransitive verb, on the other hand, cannot take a direct object: This plant has thrived on the south windowsill. The compound verb "has thrived" is intransitive and takes no direct object in this sentence. The prepositional phrase "on the south windowsill" acts as an adverb describing where the plant thrives. The sound of the choir carried through the cathedral. The verb "carried" is used intransitively in this sentence and takes no direct object. The prepositional phrase "through the cathedral" acts as an adverb describing where the sound carried. The train from Montreal arrived four hours late. The intransitive verb "arrived" takes no direct object, and the noun phrase "four hours late" acts as an adverb describing when the train arrived. Since the company was pleasant and the coffee both plentiful and good, we lingered in the restaurant for several hours. The verb "lingered" is used intransitively and takes no direct object. The prepositional phrase "in the restaurant for several hours" acts as an adverb modifying "lingered." The painting was hung on the south wall of the reception room. The compound verb "was hung" is used intransitively and the sentence has no direct object. The prepositional phrase "on the south wall of the reception room" acts as a adverb describing where the paint hung. Many verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on their context in the sentence. In the following pairs of sentences, the first sentence uses the verb transitively and the second uses the same verb intransitively: transitive According to the instructions, we must leave this goo in our hair for twenty minutes. In this example, the verb "leave" takes a direct object, the noun phrase "this goo." intransitive We would like to stay longer, but we must leave. In this example, the verb "leave" does not take a direct object. transitive The audience attentively watched the latest production of The Trojan Women. In this example, the verb "watch" is used transitively and takes the noun phrase "the latest production of The Trojan Women" as a direct object. intransitive The cook watched while the new dishwasher surreptitiously picked up the fragments of the broken dish. In this example, the verb "watched" is used intransitively and takes no direct object. intransitive The crowd moves across the field in an attempt to see the rock star get into her helicopter. Here the verb "moves" is used as an intransitive verb and takes no direct object. transitive Every spring, William moves all boxes and trunks from one side of the attic to the other. In this sentence "moves" is used as a transitive verb and takes the noun phrase "all the boxes and trunk" as a direct object. What are transitive verbs? Transitive verbs are action verbs that have an object to receive that action. In the first sentence above, the direct object ball received the action of the verb hit. Here are some more examples of transitive verbs: I baked some cookies. I rode the bicycle. I moved the chair. I stitched a quilt. All of the verbs in the above sentences are transitive because an object is receiving the action of the verb. But what about the sentence “The bird sang.” Is the verb in that sentence a transitive verb? No, in this case the verb sang is an intransitive verb.

What are intransitive verbs? Intransitive verbs are action verbs but unlike transitive verbs, the do not have an object receiving the action. Notice there are no words after the verb sang. More examples of intransitive verbs: I laughed. I cried. The book fell. The horse galloped. The sun set. In all of the above cases the subject is performing the action of the verb and nothing is receiving the action. What about this sentence? I walked to the park today. Is walked transitive or intransitive? Think about the rules. Since walked has words coming after it, the verb must be transitive, right? WRONG! The phrase to the park is a prepositional phrase andtoday is an adverb. There is no object receiving the action of the verb walked so the verb is intransitive. To recap, a transitive verb must be an action verb plus there must be an object to receive that action. A transitive verb requires an object in the form of a noun or pronoun to complete its meaning. This object answers the questions who(m) or what. Examples: -The students write compositions. What do the students write? Compositions. -Peter loves Mary. Who (m) does Peter love? Mary. What is an intransitive verb? An intransitive verb is one that does not require an object to complete its meaning. The sentence may end with the verb, an adjective, or an adverb. The questions one may ask with these forms are “when, where, how, or why.” Examples: - The children sat. - The children sat at 7:30 pm. (when or what time?) - The children sat at the table. (where?) - The children sat quietly. (how?) - The children sat because their mother told them to. (why?) Finding the Direct Object A direct object can be a person or thing that receives the action of the verb directly. When trying to determine the direct object, you should ask two questions: whom or what. Let’s see an example – Mount St. Helens released a lot smoke last week. Subject Verb Direct Object In this example, if you ask yourself, “What did Mount St. Helens release?” the answer is “a lot of smoke.” “A lot of smoke” is the direct object. Another example – Parents can’t take their child to school. Subject Verb D. Object In this example, if you ask yourself, “Whom can’t the parents take to school?” the answer is “ their child.” “Their child” is the direct object. IMPORTANT: As you can see, the questions ask “whom” or “what” the subject is or isn’t doing to something or someone else. The answer to the question will provide you with the direct object. Let’s look at another example:

Crude oil has gone up since the beginning of the year. Subject Verb When In the preceding example, the information following the verb does not answer to the questions “whom” or “what.” As a result, the sentence does not have an object. The information after the verb answers to the question “when.” Look at another example – The man marched down the street at dawn. Subject Verb Where When Again, the example shows you that the information provided after the verb answers to other types of questions. As a result, this sentence does not have an object. Look at the sentences below. Underline the direct object if there is one. 1. An earthquake caused terrible damage in Haiti in January 2010. 2. Red Cross volunteers have flown to Haiti to help. Myra M. Medina, Miami Dade College Quick rules:  Transitive verbs are action verbs that require a direct object. The verb's action is transferred directly to the object, which can be a noun, pronoun, phrase, or clause.  Find the direct object by asking Subject + Verb + What/Whom?My dad is driving Fred to his friend's house. My dad is driving whom? Fred. That's the direct object. Therefore, drive is a transitive verb.  Intransitive verbs don't require a direct object. My dad goes to work every morning. My dad goes what or whom? That doesn't make sense, so there is no direct object. Therefore, go is an intransitive verb. [In this sentence, the natural question is: My dad goes where? Where questions are answered by prepositional phrases, such as 'to work.'] The tricky part: Many verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on context. 1. After we eat at my house, we can go outside. (intransitive) After we eat our sandwiches, we can go outside. (transitive) 2. The truck runs on diesel gasoline. (intransitive) My uncle runs a restaurant. (transitive) 3. I'm reading. (intransitive) I'm reading an article in TIME magazine about sharks. (transitive) Quick tip: Sentences written in the passive voice always contain a transitive verb. It makes sense when you think about it. When the writer uses thepassive voice, the subject is hidden and the focus is on the direct object. Break it down using the same Subject + Verb + What/Whom? formula, and fill in the missing subject. 1. Rachel was given detention. [The teacher] gave what? Detention (direct object). To whom? Rachel (indirect object). Since there is a direct object, give is a transitive verb. 2. The ball was hit past third base. [The batter] hit what? The ball (direct object). To/For whom? We don't know (no indirect object). Since there is a direct object, hit is a transitive verb.