Verbs : Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

In the glossary of grammatical words and phrases suggested for pupils of primary school age it is suggested that pupils should know the difference between a transitive verb and an intransitive verb.

A transitive verb is one that is used with an object. 

The object of the verb can be a noun, a phrase, or a pronoun that refers to the person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb.


In the following sentences, applaudkeepbeat, and hate are transitive verbs:

  • I applaud your performance.
  • We need to keep quality players.
  • I couldn’t beat him yesterday.
  • She hates bullies.

Some transitive verbs can be used with a direct object as well as an indirect object:

  • Gill boughther mother some chocolates.
  • She senthim a Valentine’s card.

An intransitive verb does not have an object.

In the following sentences, howlwalkshake, and sleep are intransitive verbs:

  • The dog was howling.
  • I walk to keep fit.
  • They shook uncontrollably.
  • We slept for hours.

Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive depending upon how they are used in the sentence. The most common of these are:


– move
– set
– do
– start
– close
– change
– open
– run
– live
– wash
– stop
– write