Transitive Verbs

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Transitive Verbs :

Verbs carry the idea of being or action in the sentence.

  • I am a student.
  • The students passed all their courses.

As we will see on this page, verbs are classified in many ways. First, some verbs require an object to complete their meaning: "She gave _____ ?" Gave what? She gave money to the church. These verbs are called transitive. Verbs that are intransitive do not require objects: "The building collapsed." In English, you cannot tell the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb by its form; you have to see how the verb is functioning within the sentence. In fact, a verb can be both transitive and intransitive: "The monster collapsed the building by sitting on it."

Although you will seldom hear the term, a ditransitive verb — such as cause or give — is one that can take a direct object and an indirect object at the same time: "That horrid music gave me a headache." Ditransitive verbs are slightly different, then, from factitive verbs, in that the latter take two objects.

Verbs are also classified as either finite or non-finite. A finite verb makes an assertion or expresses a state of being and can stand by itself as the main verb of a sentence.

  • The truck demolished the restaurant.
  • The leaves were yellow and sickly.

Non-finite verbs (think "unfinished") cannot, by themselves, be main verbs:

  • The broken window . . .
  • The wheezing gentleman . . .

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