Intransitive Verb: Definition, Meaning, and Examples
Action verbs can be divided into two categories: transitive (verbs that take a direct object) and intransitive (verbs that don’t take a direct object).
You’re probably very familiar with intransitive verbs, even if you don’t know it!
Today, we’re diving into everything you need to know about intransitive verbs, including a bunch of examples. You’ll be an expert in no time.
What Are Intransitive Verbs?
An intransitive verb is a type of verb that does not take a direct object. In other words, it does not need a noun to receive the action.
We need to understand what a direct object is to understand intransitive and transitive verbs.
A direct object is a noun or noun phrase that is the recipient of an action in a sentence.
What Is the Difference Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs?
The difference between transitive and intransitive verbs lies in the necessity of a direct object. The intransitive verb does not take a direct object, whereas the transitive verb does take a direct object.
What does this mean? In order for a transitive verb to make sense, it must be followed by a direct object. This object receives the action of the transitive verb.
Let’s look at the verb “bring.” If you write, “I bring,” you have a complete sentence. There is a subject and a verb. However, it doesn’t make sense. I bring what?
Bring is a transitive verb because it needs an object to receive the action in order to make sense.
“I bring cookies” makes the sentence grammatically correct. “Cookies” is the direct object. It’s what I bring.
An intransitive verb does not need an object to receive the action. The prefix “in” means without or not, so you can remember that an intransitive verb is without a direct object.
How Do You Identify the Intransitive Verb in a Sentence?
Identifying the intransitive verb in a sentence requires you to look for what isn’t there.
First, find the action verb in the sentence. It can be helpful to circle or highlight the verb when you’re getting used to identifying sentence components.
Then look at what comes after the verb. Is there a noun close by that is receiving the action?
That noun is the direct object. It usually immediately follows the verb, although it can have a determiner or adjective in front.
If there’s no direct object, the verb you found is an intransitive verb.
Let’s look at two examples to determine if there’s an intransitive verb.
Babies grow quickly in the first year.
He threw a toy at my head.
In the first sentence, the action verb is “grow.” Following the verb, we have an adverb (quickly) and then a prepositional phrase (in the first year).
There is no direct object receiving the action “grow.” Therefore, “grow” is an intransitive verb.
In the second sentence, the action verb is “throw.” Immediately following the verb, is “a toy.” Toy is a noun, and a is the determiner.
The toy is being thrown. It is receiving the action. Because it’s receiving action, “toy” is the direct object, which makes “threw” a transitive verb.
Easy enough, right? Remember, intransitive means no direct object. Usually, your sentences will sound wrong if you place an object next to an intransitive verb.