Difference Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs (With Table)

The English language has become an indispensable part of our lives. From day-to-day conversations to job interviews, from blogs to news articles… English keeps us communicating our ideas effectively to our audience. Verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc., are some of the major elements required for framing sentences in English. But we often get confused between two terms and use them in the wrong manner. One such term is the transitive and intransitive verb.

Transitive Verb vs Intransitive Verb

The difference between transitive and intransitive verbs is that a transitive Verb is incomplete without transferring its action to the object, whereas an intransitive verb will make sense even if we remove the object from the sentence where it is being used. Some verbs can be used as both; transitive as well as intransitive.

A transitive Verb is the one that needs one or more objects to complete itself. Transitivity is thought of as an activity that is transferred to a patient through an agent. Transitive verbs can be of many types based on the number of objects required by them. Verbs that require only one object are termed monotransitive, verbs that require two objects are bitransitive or ditransitive, and a verb that takes three objects is termed as tritransitive.

An intransitive verb, however, does not require an object. The intransitive verbs can be identified by the fact that they are not followed by who or what. Intransitive verbs can further be classified into unaccusative and ergative verbs. An unaccusative verb is the one where the action of the verb is not directly initiated by the subject, while an ergative verb is the one where an agent subject is present.

Comparison Table Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Parameters of ComparisonTransitive VerbIntransitive Verb
DefinitionA transitive Verb is the one that needs one or more objects to complete itself. An intransitive verb on the other hand does not require any object
Active/ Passive VoiceThe verb can be used in passive voice. The verb cannot be used in passive voice.
Imperative VerbThe verb cannot be used to end a clause sentence. The verb can be used to end a clause sentence.
Ending ClauseCannot be imperative Can be imperative
What Follows The VerbNoun, Noun Phrase, pronoun, and determiner Preposition, Adverb, and Adverbial phrase
Some ExamplesBring, envy, give, discuss, find, let, guard, have, like Act, chat, arrive, come, fall, go, itch, happen

What is Transitive Verb?

A transitive Verb is the one that needs one or more objects to complete itself. Transitivity is thought of as an activity that is transferred to a patient through an agent. Transitive verbs can be of many types based on the number of objects required by them. Verbs that require only one object are termed monotransitive, verbs that require two objects are bitransitive or ditransitive, and a verb that takes three objects is termed as tritransitive.

In theories about grammar, it is clearly stated that transitivity is not an inherent part of the verb. It is rather an element of grammatical construction.

An indirect object, a noun, noun phrase, or a pronoun can be a part of the transitive verb. It may be a direct object and may indicate a person or a thing receiving the action. A very simple example to understand this is to Find her a bouquet. Here ‘her’ is a transitive verb.

What is Intransitive Verb?

An intransitive verb does not require an object. The intransitive verbs can be identified by the fact that they are not followed by who or what. Intransitive verbs can further be classified into unaccusative and ergative verbs.

An unaccusative verb is one where the action of the verb is not directly initiated by the subject. The main purpose behind using unaccusative verbs is to depict movement or action. An ergative verb, on the other hand, is the one where an agent subject is present. The difference between these two can be witnessed where an auxiliary verb is used for these categories.

Most of the intransitive verbs can take up cognate objects. Cognate objects originate from the same root as the verb. For instance, we can say, “He lived a happy life.” Which means that he lived and his life was happy.

Main Differences Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

  1. A transitive verb is incomplete without transferring its action to the object, whereas an intransitive verb will make sense even if we remove the object from the sentence where it is being used.
  2. A transitive verb may be available in passive voice, while an intransitive verb may not be available in Passive Voice.
  3. A transitive verb cannot be used to end a clause sentence, whereas an intransitive verb can be used to do so.
  4. A transitive verb cannot be imperative, while an intransitive verb can be imperative.
  5. A transitive verb may be monotransitive, bitransitive, tritransitive, etc., while an intransitive verb can be unaccusative and ergative.
  6. Bring, envy, give, discuss, find, let, guard, have, like, etc., are some of the verbs that are transitive, while Act, chat, arrive, come, fall, go, itch, happen are some of the intransitive verbs.
  7. The sentence ‘My sister made this’ contains a transitive verb, while the sentence ‘Everybody laughed’ contains an intransitive verb.

Conclusion

A verb can be classified in several different ways, out of which one is categorizing it based on being transitive or intransitive. A transitive verb may require an object to make complete sense, while an intransitive verb will make complete sense even without the presence of an object. They may be classified into different categories based on several different factors. An interesting fact to note is that some verbs function as both transitive as well as intransitive and are hence known as ambitransitive verbs.

References

  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/eeb53ef2031b7b6f8404a7e26d54618e/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1818557
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/607937/
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