Transitive Verbs – Where to Use Them

What are Transitive Verbs?

This article will give you more information on transitive verbs and also provide transitive verbs examples. A transitive verb is a verb that can be used with a direct object; that is a noun, pronoun or phrase that talks about the thing or person that is being affected by the action stated in the verb.

In other words, we can say a transitive verb is something that is done to a person or something. Majority of the verbs are transitive.

To make this clearer, let’s look at some examples:

  • We need to improve customer service
  • I fancy your courage
  • He loves dogs
  • I couldn’t accommodate him today

In the above examples, the following words are the transitive verbs, improve, fancy, love, and accommodate.

Let’s break this down further:

He said the prayer

Here, said is the transitive word, while the prayer is the direct object.

The direct opposite of a transitive verb is an intransitive verb. This means that an intransitive word is not used together with a direct object.

To differentiate the two, let’s use examples:

  • He kicked a ball

Kicked from the word kick is a transitive verb. Here, our direct object is a ball. To kick is a transitive verb because of the fact that you can kick something. You can kick the door, bucket etc.

  • He snores

This is an example of an intransitive verb used in a sentence. Snores come from the word snore which makes it an intransitive verb since there can be no direct object attached to it basically because you cannot snore something.

In order to identify a transitive verb, you first need to find the direct object. This is a very easy task because it involves the following: Ask the question what or whom. The answer to this will determine whether you are dealing with transitive or intransitive verbs. If this question will sound nonsensical or lacks an answer then the verb might be intransitive.

Let’s put this into practice using some sentences here:

  • Peter loves berries

The question is, what does Peter loves?

Answer: Berries

Loves come from the word love and to love is a transitive verb since a direct object can be attached to eat.

  • Peter eats mangoes

What does Peter eat?

Answer: Mangoes

To eat is a transitive verb since you can attach a direct object to it.

Note that, direct objects can also be in form of noun phrases rather than single words. For example:

Peter bought a crate of soda

I saw the bird flying away

Peter loves chicken wings

The words in bold are the noun phrases

It is also important to note that, it is not a must for the direct object to be something that is tangible. Provided that when you question the verb what or whom you get a sensible answer then that is a transitive word. For example:

When it reached midnight, all the children went home.

The word midnight is not tangible but it is the direct object for the verb to reach.

Look at this example of an intransitive verb

  • They arrivedafter everybody had left

When you ask the question, what arrived you cannot get an answer, clearly, you cannot arrive something. This automatically categorizes arrive in this case as an intransitive verb since there is no direct verb attached to it.

Transitive verbs examples

The following are just some examples of transitive verbs. In order to ascertain that they are indeed transitive verbs, make sure you pose the question what or whom so that you can identify the direct object.

The italicized words are the transitive verbs and the words in bold are the direct objects.

  • Nothing can changethe heart of a good person and no amount of intimidation can manage to remove their kindness from them

Transitive verbs are very common, they can even be found in the midst of the direct objects of another transitive verb. The following examples show this.

I don’t like people who own guns. They are cowards who probably don’t have the guts to fight people themselves.

There are several instances here where we can identify transitive verbs

The first instance:

  1. Don’t like what? People who own guns
  2. Have what? The guts to fight people

The second instance:

  1. Own what? Guns
  2. To fight what? People

Another example:

It is hard to get two dogs to pull a sled through snow

Instances:

  1. To get what? Two dogs
  2. To pull what? A sled
VerbExample
buyCan I buy you a soda?
passAndrew passed her a cup of tea.
sellPaul was trying to sell me his car.
takeWe took Lorna some wine and flowers.
offerThe organization has offered me a chance.
wishThey wished us all the best in our examinations.
lendCould you lend some cash?
givePeter gave me a pen for my birthday.
makeShall I make us some dinner?
showShow me your birthday presents.
leaveLeave me a message I am currently busy.
costPeter’s mistake cost him his wife.

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There are some words that can be both transitive and intransitive

Let’s briefly look at them in details.

For example:

  1. Peter walks his cat in the evening
  2. Peter walks in the evening

In the first sentence, ‘walks’ has a direct object, ‘his dog’ and therefore it is a transitive verb. In the second sentences, ‘walks’ has no direct object that is; it is not being done to anything hence making it an intransitive verb.

Apart from this, there are other verbs that can be either be transitive or intransitive based on their meaning in the context of the sentence.

For example:

The students protested their rights at the student’s center (transitive)

The students protested at the student’s center (Intransitive)

To that point you can now be confident that you understand transitive verbs and you can apply them correctly in sentences.