The English language has many grammar rules and exceptions. For Indian learners, particularly those for whom English is not their first language, one such confusion is the distinction between intransitive verbs vs transitive verbs. It's an essential concept, but its practical application can be confusing.

So what are these terms - intransitive and transitive verbs? Simply put, a transitive verb requires an object to express a complete thought, while an intransitive verb does not. But don't get confused by these definitions! By the end of this blog, you will be confidently identifying and using both types of verbs.

Understanding Intransitive Verbs vs Transitive Verbs

Before we start, let's refresh some basic terms. The basic form of a sentence in English is Subject-Verb-Object. Subjects are the 'doers' in a sentence, verbs indicate the 'action' and objects 'receive the action'. For example, in the sentence "Ravi reads a book", 'Ravi' is the subject, 'reads' is the verb, and 'a book' is the object. Verbs fall under two categories: transitive and intransitive.

Let's begin by understanding transitive verbs. Simply put, a transitive verb requires an object to make the sentence meaningful. For instance, in the sentence "I love biryani", 'love' is a transitive verb as it conveys the action of loving to the object 'biryani'.

Familiar examples of transitive verbs include 'write', 'send', and 'give'. So, you could say, "I write emails", "They send invitations", or "He gives presentations".

Now let's look at intransitive verbs. These are independent verbs that don’t need an object to complete their meaning. They express actions without affecting anything else in a sentence. Take for example: "She smiles". Here, 'smiles' is an intransitive verb as it doesn't require an object for completion.

Commonly used intransitive verbs include 'arrive', 'run' and 'sleep'. You could make sentences like "The train arrives at noon", "They run in the park every morning" or "I sleep early on weekdays".

Understanding the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs can greatly improve your English proficiency and open up a whole new world of communication possibilities!

Identifying Transitivity and Intransitivity of Verbs

Understanding whether a verb is transitive or intransitive can be challenging. But don't worry; we've got you covered with some practical tips and examples.

1. Look for an Object: A transitive verb requires an object to complete its meaning while an intransitive verb does not. For instance, consider the sentence "Rajesh reads." Here, the verb "reads" leaves us wanting to know – reads what? Hence, it's likely a transitive verb.

2. Asking "what" or "whom": A transitive verb gives a concrete answer when you ask "what" or "whom" to it. Verbs like "read" and "tell" that provide an answer when asked "read what" or "tell whom" are hence transitive.

2. Sentence Test: Try constructing a sentence with just the subject and the verb. If it makes complete sense without an object, it's an intransitive verb. For example, "Geeta sleeps."

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Many learners, especially those struggling with the advanced concepts of the English language, confuse transitive verbs with intransitive verbs. Let's look at a few common mistakes Indian English learners often make:

Mistake 1: Using an intransitive verb where a transitive verb is needed.


She threw. (But what did she throw?)


She threw the ball.

Mistake 2: Adding an unnecessary object to an intransitive verb.


He arrived the party.


He arrived at the party.

To avoid these mistakes, remember this golden rule: transitive verbs need an object to make sense, whereas intransitive verbs do not. Learning more about grammar will help you avoid such errors. Clapingo's comprehensive guide on learning English grammar step by step can be a great resource for you.

Practical Exercises for Mastering Intransitive Verbs and Transitive Verbs

Practice makes perfect! To master the use of intransitive and transitive verbs, here is a short exercise.

Q. Identify whether the following sentences contain intransitive or transitive verbs:

a) The cat chased the mouse.

b) The bird flew.

c) She sings beautifully.

d) They built a house.

e) The flowers bloomed in the garden.

After you are done marking your answers on your own, check below to see if they are correct:

a) Transitive - "chased" (action transfers to "the mouse").

b) Intransitive - "flew" (no direct object).

c) Intransitive - "sings" (no direct object).

d) Transitive - "built" (action transfers to "a house").

e) Intransitive - "bloomed" (no direct object).

Another exercise could be constructing dialogues based on everyday scenarios. Let's take a festive family gathering:

  • Ravi: "Did you light the candles?" (Light has an object (the candles) and is hence a transitive verb.)

  • Priya: "Yes, they glowed beautifully all evening." (Glowed does not have any object. It is an intransitive verb.)

Keep practising these exercises which can help you master this tricky aspect of English grammar. For more practical exercises and deeper insights into English grammar, check out the Clapingo blog on Unlocking the Secrets of English Grammar: A Practical Guide. This guide will surely help you improve your English language skills!

Here's another informative YouTube video about verbs:

Advanced Usage of Intransitive Verbs vs Transitive Verbs

It's fascinating to note that some verbs can work both ways - they can be transitive or intransitive based on the context.

Consider the verb ‘run’. You can 'run a marathon' (transitive usage) or just 'run' (intransitive usage). The former requires an object (marathon) for completion, while the latter stands complete by itself. Here's a dialogue to illustrate this:

Ajay: "I run every day."

In this case, 'run' is intransitively used since Ajay just runs; he doesn't run anything specific.

Now consider this dialogue:

Ajay: "I run a startup."

This time, 'run' is transitively used because Ajay runs something specific – a startup.

Now practice these scenarios in your daily conversation and soon enough, you'll master the use of transitive and intransitive verbs.

How Clapingo Can Help?

By now, you've gained a solid understanding of both intransitive and transitive verbs. You know that intransitive verbs don't need an object to complete their meaning, while transitive verbs require one. You’ve also experimented with examples and exercises.

Now, apply this knowledge in your daily interactions. In restaurant orders or office discussions, try to purposefully use these verbs. Soon enough, their usage will become fluent to you!

How about adding professional guidance to this self-practice? This is where Clapingo comes into the picture! Clapingo's one-on-one coaching sessions by native speakers can provide personalised insights into these concepts. The flexible schedules mean you learn at your convenience.

Remember, English mastery is a journey - every small step counts. Start learning with Clapingo now and see how we can make this journey smoother for you!


1. Can you give an example of an intransitive verb?

Certainly, an intransitive verb doesn't need a direct object to complete its meaning. For example, in the sentence "He laughed.", "laughed" is the intransitive verb.

2. How does understanding the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs help?

Understanding these differences enhances your grammar knowledge, making your English more fluent and accurate.

3. How can I improve my usage of transitive and intransitive verbs?

Understanding the differences between transitive and intransitive verbs is the first step. Regular practice through speaking and writing exercises can also help solidify these concepts.

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