Transitive verb

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Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. A transitive verb is a verb that takes one or more objects. This contrasts with intransitive verbs, which do not have objects. Transitive verbs may be further divided by the number of objects they occur with.

Although transitivity is traditionally thought of as an inherent quality of verbs, some theories in linguistics treat it as an element of grammatical constructions.

While all verbs that take at least one object are considered transitive, verbs can be further classified by the number of objects they take. Verbs that require only two arguments, a subject and a single direct object, are sometimes called monotransitive. Verbs that are able to take two objects, a direct object and an indirect object, are called "ditransitive",[1] or less commonly "bitransitive".[2] An example of a ditransitive verb in English is the verb to give, which may feature a subject, an indirect object, and a direct object: John gave Mary the book.

There are also a few verbs that take three objects. These are sometimes called "tritransitive".[3] In English a tritransitive verb features an indirect object, a direct object, and a prepositional phrase – as in I'll trade you this bicycle for your binoculars – or else a clause that behaves like an argument – as in I bet you a pound that he has forgotten.[4] Not all descriptive grammars recognize tritransitive verbs.[5]

A clause with a prepositional phrase that expresses a meaning similar to that usually expressed by an object may be called "pseudo-transitive". For example, the Indonesian sentences Dia masuk sekolah ("He attended school") and Dia masuk ke sekolah ("He went into the school") have the same the verb (masuk "enter"), but the first sentence has a direct object while the second has a prepositional phrase in its place.[6] A clause with a direct object plus a prepositional phrase may be called "pseudo-ditransitive", as in the Lakhota sentence Haŋpíkčeka kiŋ lená wé-čage ("I made those moccasins for him").[7] Such constructions are sometimes called "complex transitive". The category of complex transitives includes not only prepositional phrases but also dependent clauses, appostives, and other structures.[8] There is some controversy regarding "complex transitives" and "tritransitives"; linguists do not agree on the nature of the structures.

In contrast to transitive verbs, some verbs take zero objects. Verbs that do not require an object are called intransitive verbs. An example in English is the verb to die.

Verbs that can be used in an intransitive or transitive way are called ambitransitive verbs. In English, an example is the verb to eat; the sentences You eat (with an intransitive form) and You eat apples (a transitive form that has apples as the object) are both grammatically correct.

The concept of valency is related to transitivity. The valency of a verb considers all the arguments the verb takes, including both the subject and all of the objects. In contrast to valency, the transitivity of a verb only considers the objects. Subcategorization is roughly synonymous with valency, though they come from different theoretical traditions.

Lexical versus grammatical information

Traditionally, transitivity patterns are thought of as lexical information of the verb, but recent research in construction grammar and related theories has argued that transitivity is a grammatical rather than a lexical property, since the same verb very often appears with different transitivity in different contexts.[citation needed] Consider:

  • Does your dog bite? (no object)
  • The cat bit him. (one object)
  • Can you bite me off a piece of banana? (two objects)
  • The vase broke. (no object; anticausative construction)
  • She broke the toothpick. (one object)
  • Can you break me some toothpicks for my model castle? (two objects)
  • Stop me before I buy again. (no object; antipassive construction)
  • The man bought a ring. (one object)
  • The man bought his wife a ring. (two objects)

In grammatical construction theories, transitivity is considered as an element of grammatical construction, rather than an inherent part of verbs.[citation needed]


The following sentences exemplify transitive verbs in English. (Direct objects are in italic; indirect objects are underlined.)

  • We are going to need a bigger boat.
  • You need to fill in this form.
  • The plane took off half an hour later.
  • Hang on, I'll be with you in a minute.

Other languages

Some languages distinguish verbs based on their transitivity, which suggests this is a salient linguistic feature. For example, in Japanese:

Jugyō ga hajimaru.
The class starts.
Sensei ga jugyō o hajimeru.
The teacher starts the class.

However, the definition of transitive verbs as those with one object is not universal, and is not used in grammars of many languages.

Hungarian has a misunderstood feature as if having transitive and intransitive conjugation for all verbs. The concept of transitive, intransitive is misplaced here.

  • There is only one general conjugation.

In present and future, there is a lesser used variant - a Definite, or say emphatic conjugation form. It is used only when referring to a previous sentence, or topic, where the object was already mentioned. Logically the definite article A(z) as reference is to be used here and due to Verb emphasis (definite) word order is changed to VO.

  • If you don't want to be definite you can simply

házat látok ------ I see (a) house -- (general)

látom A házat --- I see The house - (The house we were looking for)

almát eszem ------- I eat (an) apple -- (general)

eszem Az almát --- I eat The apple - (The one mom told me to)

bort iszom ------ I drink wine -- (general)

iszom A bort --- I drink The wine - (That you offered me before)

In English one would say 'I do see the house', etc., stressing the Verb - in Hungarian the Object is emphasized - but both mean exactly the same.

(to aid correct reading Hungarian 'sz' is written as 's', 'á' means it is long, the definite article in capital may help understanding)

See also


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