Verb: Transitive or intransitive?

A verb is a word which expresses being, action, or state.
I am. (being)
George writes. (action)
The house stands. (state)

Verb: Transitive or intransitive?

From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey

I. An intransitive verb does not require an object to complete its meaning.

Fish swim.
The subject of the sentence is “Fish”. The predicate is “swim.”
A verb which does not require an objective element to complete its meaning, is called an intransitive verb.
Flowers bloom.
Grass grows.
The wind blows furiously.


II. A transitive verb requires an object to complete its meaning.

John studies grammar.
In this sentence, the meaning of “studies” is completed by the word “grammar,” which is an objective element.

1. A verb which requires an objective element to complete its meaning, is called an transitive verb

The hunter killed a bear.

2. The action expressed by the transitive verb refers to some object outside of the subject, upon which it terminates. 

The scholar learned his lesson.
That house has seven gables.

3. The action expressed by an intransitive verb has no such reference, but affects the subject only. If an object is required to complete its meaning, the verb is transitive, otherwise intransitive.

That girl studies algebra.
The verb “studies” is transitive, because its meaning is completed by the object “algebra.”
That boy studies.
The verb “studies” is transitive, because some word, such as “lesson,” “grammar,” etc, is required to complete its meaning.

The wind blows.
The verb “blows” is intransitive, because the action expressed by it affects the subject only, and does not require the addition of an object to complete its meaning.

4. A verb is transitive if its subject can be made its object, by inverting the sentence.

The letter was written by me.
i.e. I wrote the letter.
The verb “was written” is transitive, because its subject becomes its object by inverting the sentence.

III. How a verb is used in a sentence determines its classification.

1. Some verbs are transitive in one instance, and intransitive in another.

It breaks my heart. (transitive)
Glass breaks easily. (intransitive)
He returned the book. (transitive)
I returned home. (intransitive)

2. An intransitive verb becomes transitive when it is followed by an object like itself in meaning.

He lives a noble life.
He dreamed yet another dream.
Those men are playing a game of chess.
Grinned horribly a ghastly smile.

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