Transitive & Intransitive Verbs
Before reading this GRAMMAR section on Transitive and Intransitive Verbs, you might find the section on Basic Sentence Structure helpful.
A verb is an action or a state of being.
I like to think of the verb as being the life of a sentence. If someone says to you, “Cris cookies,” you have no idea what is happening in the sentence. You need a verb to tell you if Cris hates cookies, or if Cris is baking cookies, or if Cris eats cookies. The sentence has no energy, movement or action without a verb.
Some actions must be received. Others don’t need receiving.
For example, if you say, “I like,” and then you stop, the listener is waiting to hear what you like.
What is the Object (receiver) of your action (i.e., like)?
Verbs that require an Object are called TRANSITIVE VERBS. A good dictionary will tell you if a verb is transitive or intransitive.
Here are a few transitive verbs that English language learners often have trouble with. REMEMBER: You must include an object after these verbs.
Like (examples): I like cookies. I like you. I like it.
Tell (examples): Will you tell her? She told him. I told my friend.
Enjoy (examples): I enjoy learning. I enjoyed the movie.
Repeat (examples): Could you repeat the last question, please? I will repeat it for you.
Some actions are complete without a receiver. They do not need an Object. Verbs that do not require an Object are called INTRANSITIVE VERBS.
For example, you can say, “I work.” Your sentence is finished. No more information is required.
Careful: Many English language learners find the difference between say and tell confusing.
Say is intransitive. Tell is transitive.
Here is a short English Grammar lesson on say and tell.