and Intransitive Verbs The
Difference Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
This exercise was written by Erin
sister broke the window.
you figure out the difference between the verbs (broke, cried) in
the above sentences? I'm not talking about the meaning, I'm talking about the
grammar. In other words, how are these two verbs grammatically different?
should notice that the first verb, broke, has another word after it. The
second verb, cried, does not have another word after it. Generally speaking,
we can say that all verbs in English can be divided into two groups--those that
must have a word (or words) after them and words that do not have to have any
word after them.
rule is simplified right now, but we will learn more later. For now, let's just
focus on the simple ideas.
look at the two different kinds of verbs. Transitive
sister broke the window.
the first sentence, the word that comes after the verb, window, is the object
of the verb. We say that window is the object because it receives the action
of the verb. All objects of verbs receive the action of the verb.
are some more examples of transitive verbs with their objects:
- I sold
took the bus.
bought a radio.
understood her question.
wrote a letter.
a verb has an object that receives the action of the verb, we say that the verb
is transitive. Transitive verbs are more common on the TOEFL than intransitive
verbs, but many students get confused about intransitive verbs.
look at the other kind of verb now.
can see in this sentence that there is no word after cried. In other words,
there is no object for the word, so there is no noun to receive
the action of the word. Think about it--what could we say? My father cried
something. Is there a noun that we could use after cried? We
could probably think of one or two nouns, like tears, or even, good-bye,
but normally, we do not use the verb cry with an object.
this case we say that this verb is intransitive because it does not have
an object after it.
are some more examples of intransitive verbs:
should notice that in each case, the subject is doing the action of the verb and
nothing receives the action.
Test Prep Points
is extremely important to be able to understand whether a verb is transitive
many verbs in class, if your teacher thinks that the verb is hard to understand,
we will ask something like this:
Do we cry or do we cry something?
the student should respond something like this:
this case, we would say that cry is intransitive.
reason that understanding this point is so important is that it is very easy to
become confused about whether a verb is transitive or intransitive. Consider the
went to the store yesterday.
went transitive or intransitive?
people, including native speakers, will tell you that went is transitive since
we have many words after went. However:
say that went is transitive would be a BIG mistake!!
what are all those other words after went? Well, first of all, to the store is
a prepositional phrase. Second, yesterday is an adverb.
more thing: just to make life easier, instead of saying transitive and
intransitive all the time, we will say vi (since that's what most
dictionaries say) if the verb is intransitive and vt (again, since that's
what most dictionaries say) if the verb is transitive.
TestMagic: This is extremely important!! We will do some exercises on this point
a little bit later.
of Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
are some important exceptions to these rules and we will talk about them later.
However, for now, we have enough information to do some practice.
Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
exercise is relatively simple--just decide whether the verb is transitive or intransitive.
In this case, write the answer choice that is more common. Finally, you
will notice that several words have been repeated. This is because I want you
to remember these words since they are the most common on the TOEFL and they cause
the most problems for students.