Transitive v. Intransitive

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Beebee, May 8, 2007.

  1. Beebee Junior Member

    USA - English
    I often see the terms "transitive verb" and "intransitive verb" but I' unsure of what each means. Could anyone give me a few examples so I understand a little better? Thanks so much!
  2. Dawei Senior Member

    English (USA)
    An intransitive verb can stand alone without anything after it and still be a complete sentence. It is independent. She ate. He runs. We left.

    Transitive verbs require something more. We You broke...your arm.
  3. Beebee Junior Member

    USA - English
    Makes sense. Thanks!
  4. mariange Senior Member

    Granada (Andalucía)
    España -español
    An intransitive verb is a verb without a direct object. All intransitive verbs are in the active voice. You cannot form the passive voice with an intransitive verb because you need a direct object to form the passive voice. The action of an intransitive verb ends with the verb and is not transferred to an object or person.
    Creo que los verbos que citas son transitivos porque
    admiten un objeto directo, aunque no esté expresado
    Ex: he left his wife/ I ate three eggs / He runs his own business.
    Un verbo intransitivo no lo admite nunca: es el caso del verbo "ir" (to go) en español.Y nunca admitirá la construcción pasiva.

  5. Dawei Senior Member

    English (USA)
    A verb can be both transitive and intransitive. They are called ambitransitive, and English has many of them.

    None of my examples were in the passive voice. However, passive verb phrases can be intransitive even if the active form of the verb is transitive. For example, in "He broke his arm," "broke" is transitive. But, if it is changed to passive, (eg "His arm is broken"), then "is broken" can be considered an intransitive verb phrase.

    But you are right, I should have used examples of words that cannot be both transitive and intransitive. The problem is that English is too flexible for its own good, and there are few good examples of words that are 100% intransitive; sleep and die are good examples.
  6. Sairen Senior Member

    Midwestern US
    USA / English
    Another handy rule of thumb is that the direct object answers "What?" to the verb.

    For example, in the sentence
    "He ate three eggs." we can ask "He ate what?" The answer (three eggs) is our direct object. If we have a direct object, then we also have a transitive verb.

    So now, we can investigate some of the examples given above.
    He left what? The store. <So 'to leave' is transitive here.>
    He went what? <This sentence makes no sense. 'To go' is intransitive.>
    He slept what? <Ditto above.>
    He wants what? A good job. <'To want' is transitive.>

    Hope that helps a bit. :)
  7. olidengel New Member

    Hola a todos:
    Ya entiendo la diferencia en inglés entre un verbo transitivo e intransitivo. Lo que quisiera saber es qué implica que un verbo sea transitivo o no, osea, de qué manera influye a la hora de conjugar el verbo.
    Un saludo y muy agradecido
  8. Dawei Senior Member

    English (USA)
    Ser transitivo o intransitivo no influye el conjugar del verbo...

    No entiendo muy bien tu pregunta.
  9. SpiceMan Senior Member

    Osaka 大阪
    Castellano, Argentina
    La conjugación en inglés no cambia en nada. Por eso a veces no captan tan fácil la diferencia los angloparlantes.

    John broke my chair. John rompió mi silla.
    The chair broke. Se rompió la silla.
  10. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    A verb is called transitive when it has a direct object.
    A verb is called intransitive when it doesn't.

    However, it is probably better to talk about transitive or intransitive use of verbs, because many verbs can be used either way. Examples:

    Bebí agua (transitive)
    Bebí mucho (intransitive)

    "Agua" is a direct object, but "mucho" is an adverb (complemento circunstancial).
  11. Minnas New Member


    I need help! If we have this sentence:

    I was standing at the table.

    What kind of verbs are "was standing" (copula/transitive/intransitive)?

    I'm really confused about this one. :(



    P.s. I don't speak Spanish! :)
  12. Judica Senior Member

    East Coast, US
    AE (US), Spanish (LatAm)
    Past Progressive.
  13. Minnas New Member

    Now, I'm even more confused.

    I'm just interested in this specification - copula, transitive or intransitive.

    Are you saying it's neither of these?
  14. MdW New Member

    English - Ireland
    Hi guys. I'm really excited since this is my first post on your fora. And I have been reading your comments since a few years now.

    I would say 'was standing' is an intransitive verb.

    I have been searching the net during hours for an answer to the following question: Does anybody know if the object 'black man' in the sentence 'A white man was telling off a black man' is a direct object or an indirect one?

    Is it possible to have a sentence with a transitive verb and only an indirect object?

    Thanks a lot in advanced and I hope you have a great evening!

    La unica forma de no saber es no querer saber

Share This Page