What are transitive verbs? Here you will find the definition and useful examples of transitive verbs in English. You will also find different forms of transitive verbs and example sentences to make your study of grammar much easier.
Transitive Verb Definition
Every verb that accepts one or multiple objects in a grammatical structure, more often than not a sentence, is called a transitive verb. Like any other thing in nature or in grammar, transitive verbs have their opposite mirror image, the intransitive verbs. These types of verbs have a long tradition. They were first discovered and regularly used in ancient times. The first grammarian or philosophical school that studied them and used them regularly were the Stoics of Ancient Rome and Athens. Those are verbs that do have objects in their grammatical structures.
A basic example of a verb discussed above would be:
- Maya sent candy from Switzerland
- My mother took me to the ZOO last week.
Types of Transitive Verbs
Based on the number of objects that they need, they can be separated into a few categories.
The first ones that we are going to talk about are monotransitive. The monotransitive verb is a type of verb that only comes with two arguments, a subject, and a direct object.
An example of a monotransitive verb would be:
- He accomplished his mission in life.
- They finished cleaning their room.
- They are maintaining a romantic relationship.
- The match ended after overtime.
Verbs that come with two arguments, or two objects, one direct and one indirect are called ditransitive verbs. The most used verb of this kind in the English language is probably the verb give.
Examples of a ditransitive would be:
- He told Jennifer his darkest secret.
- Mark passed Joseph his cigarette.
- He is baking Ronda something delicious
- I am mailing my girlfriend the romantic poetry I wrote for her.
- The bank granted him a massive loan.
This type of verb can also come in a lot of passive voice sentences, not only active ones. For example:
- The toys were given to us by the Red Cross.
Another kind of ditransitive verb is the attributive ditransitive verb. These kinds of verbs attribute a single object to each other. Examples of such verbs would be:
- The United States made George Bush Senior the President.
- We will name her Sarah, after her late grandmother.
Verbs that have three objects in their grammatical structures are called tritransitive verbs. Since there are not three different kinds of objects in the English language, this type of verb structure uses, an indirect, a direct and a prepositional phrase to form this type of structure. There is still debate in the field of language studies as to this definition. Many still think that this type of verb doesn’t really belong to the translative verb family. Since we respect all sides of the coin, we have decided to include it in our article. In addition, clauses that behave like a grammatical argument can also be sued to form this type of verb structure.
Examples of tritransitive verbs would be:
- I will trade you my share in the company for your share in the hotel business out west.
- I bet that you that he will not accomplish the task at hand.
In the case that a prepositional phrase alone acts like a or similar to an object, some grammar experts call that structure a pseudo-transitive. They are more common in other languages, and not English. In some cases, one could combine a single direct object with a prepositional phrase. Some call that type of construction a complex transitive. This type of structure can be created with not just prepositional phrases but also dependent clauses etc. Grammarians still debate if these structures should and could be included in this family of verbs.
The contrast to transitive verbs, as we have mentioned earlier, are intransitive verbs. Those are the kinds of verbs that do not necessitate objects. Another key to recognizing those types of verbs is that they are primary action verbs. Examples of such verbs and their sentences would be:
- Anna went home.
- Derrick swims.
- John dies at the end.
- The dog lies in front of the house.
- Children sit in the classroom.
There are verbs that go both ways, verbs that can be both intransitive and transitive. We call such verbs ambitransitive. The verb usually associated with being ambitransitive is to eat.
- She eats – Would be intransitive
- She eats oranges that she helped pick three days ago at her grandparents’ farm. – This would be transitive.
Transitive Verb Infographic
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