1. Transitive Verbs
A transitive verb is a verb that ‘transfers’ the action to and affects a noun (or substantive). This noun that it transfers motion to is called the ‘direct object‘. Therefore by the very nature of a transitive verb, it is a verb that requires a direct object. Conversely, if there is a verb that has a direct object, it must be a transitive verb. Without a direct object, the transitive verb would cause the sentence to be left hanging and seem incomplete.
For example “Do not quench the spirit” (I Thess 5:19). The understood subject of the sentence is ‘you’ (required because of the imperative mood). (The verb, strictly speaking, is ‘do quench’; however, there is a very important adverb ‘not’ inserted here). If the sentence ended with “Do not quench,” the question could not help but be asked, “Do not quench what?” The verb ‘quench’ requires a direct object to complete the meaning of the sentence. Thus the noun ‘spirit’ is added as the direct object of the verb.
Examples and Observations:
- “I know the muffin man.”
(Lord Farquaad, Shrek, 2001)
- “We lost a daughter but gained a meathead.”
(Archie Bunker in All in the Family, 1971)
- “Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory.”
(George Santayana, The Life of Reason)
- “I punched Mickey Mantle in the mouth.”
(Cosmo Kramer, Seinfeld)
- “A musicologist is a man who can read music but can’t hear it.”
(Sir Thomas Beecham)
- Lay and Lie
“There have been some difficulties with grammar since I last wrote. Lay is a transitive verb (I lay down a case of claret every month; she laid the table), lie an intransitive one (he lies over there; she lay in bed until noon). Do not confuse them.”
(Simon Heffer, “Style Notes 28: February 12, 2010.” The Daily Telegraph)
- “More exactly, we should talk about transitive or intransitive uses of certain verbs, as a great many verbs can be used in English both transitively and intransitively. Land is transitive in The pilot landed the plane safely, but intransitive in The plane landed. Carry is transitive in They carried backpacks, but it has an intransitive use in His voice carries well (= ‘projects’).”
(Angela Downing, English Grammar: A University Course. Routledge, 2006)
- Among transitive verbs there are three sub-types: monotransitive verbs have only a direct object, ditransitive verbs have a direct object and an indirect or benefactive object. Complex-transitive verbshave a direct object and an object attribute. . . .
- monotransitive: He bought a book.
- ditransitive: He gave her the book.
- complex-transitive: She found the book interesting.