Grammar Lesson: Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 15, 2010

A transitive verb is an action verb that has a direct object. Remember that a direct object (a noun or a pronoun) answers the question Whom? or What? after the action verb. Thus, in the sentence, "The clown threw the toy into the air," the verb, threw, is transitive because (A) it is an action verb, and (B) there is a direct object, toy.

Here are some other examples of transitive verbs. The verb is underlined, and the direct object is italicized.

      Danielle wanted pizza for lunch.
      The old shed really needs repairs.
      We believed him.

An intransitive verb is an action verb, but it does not have a direct object following it. In the sentence, "Veronica remained here after the incident," the intransitive verb, remained, does not have a direct object after it. No noun or pronoun receives the action of the verb.

Some other examples of intransitive verbs are these.

      They laughed quite loudly.
      The boys sprinted from the alley.
      These scientists know about physics.

Activity 1

On the line before each, write T if the underlined verb is transitive or I if it is intransitive.

  1. We walked slowly around the lake.
  2. We walked the dog in the park.
  3. Reggie wrote your card.
  4. Reggie wrote.
  5. Reggie wrote carefully.

Activity 2

Ten of these sentences include transitive verbs, and ten include intransitive verbs. Write the letter T (for transitive) or I (for intransitive) on the line next to the sentence.

  1. These flowers need more sunshine during the next few weeks.
  2. Walk more quietly down the hallway.
  3. Drivers noticed the many potholes on the roads last spring.
  4. Mrs. Littlefield helped Roger find his dog, Rex.
  5. You do not need to help yet.
  6. A newscaster examined the historical photographs.
  7. We witnessed the beautiful sunrise.
  8. That hurts him.
  9. Bring the tickets with you this evening.
  10. My dog ran away last night.
  11. The rain came suddenly.
  12. Jasmine walked confidently down the street.
  13. The heavy winds lifted the table into the air.
  14. Larry spoke eloquently at the banquet.
  15. Dan rested often during the challenging climb.
  16. The scouts marched in size order at the jamboree.
  17. Did you give Candace the candy?
  18. My dad wished for clearer skies.
  19. These candles will glow for a long time.
  20. We interviewed Gussy after the memorable performance.


Activity 1

  • The transitive verbs are in sentences 2 and 3.
  • The intransitive verbs are in sentences 1, 4, and 5.

Activity 2

  • The sentences that include transitive (T) verbs are numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 17, and 20.
  • The sentences that include intransitive (I) verbs are numbers 2, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, and 19.
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