Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

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Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

CHAPTER 11.  TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE VERBS

1. Direct objects

Most of the verbs examined so far have been in the Active Voice. When a verb is in the Active Voice, the subject of the verb refers to the person or thing performing the action described by the verb; and the object of the verb refers to the person or thing receiving the action described by the verb.

In the following examples, the objects of the verbs are printed in bold type.
e.g. He read the book.
I did not see the balloon.
They ate the potatoes quickly.
She rode her bicycle along the sidewalk.
Do we understand it?

In these sentences, the verbs readdid seeaterode and do understand are in the Active Voice; and the words bookballoonpotatoesbicycle and it are the objects of the verbs. These objects are said to be direct objects, because they refer to things which receive directly the actions described by the verbs.

See Exercise 1.

2. Lay and Lie, Raise and Rise, and Set and Sit

Verbs which take an object are usually called transitive verbs. Verbs which do not take an object are usually called intransitive verbs.

Many English verbs can be used either intransitively or transitively. For instance, in the sentence Most birds can fly, the verb to fly is intransitive, since it is used without an object. But in the sentence This pilot will fly the plane, the verb to fly is transitive, since it takes the object plane.

However, some English verbs can be used only intransitively. A few pairs of verbs should be noted. The two verbs of each pair have similar meanings, but one of the verbs can take an object, and the other cannot. In the following table, the verbs labeled intransitive are those which cannot take an object.

Infinitive Simple Past Past Participle
  Transitive:   to lay   laid   laid
  Intransitive:   to lie   lay   lain
  Transitive:   to raise   raised   raised
  Intransitive:   to rise   rose   risen
  Transitive:   to set   set   set
  Intransitive:   to sit   sat   sat

Particular care must be taken not to confuse the verbs to lay and to lie, since, as shown above, the Simple Past of the verb to lie has the same form as the bare infinitive of the verb to lay.

a. To Lay and To Lie

To lay is a transitive verb, which can take an object. The following examples illustrate the use of the Present Continuous, Simple Past, and Present Perfect tenses of the verb to lay. The verbs are underlined, and the objects of the verbs are printed in bold type.
e.g. I am laying the table.
He laid a bet on the white horse.
The hen has laid an egg.

To lie is an intransitive verb, which cannot take an object. The following examples illustrate the use of the Present Continuous, Simple Past, and Present Perfect tenses of the verb to lie.
e.g. She is lying on the sofa.
We lay on the beach in the sun.
He has lain in bed for a week.

In these examples, it might appear that the words sofabeach, and bed act as objects of the verb to lie. However, this is not the case.

Not only verbs, but also prepositions have the ability to take objects. A few commonly used English prepositions are atbyforfrominofonto and with. Prepositions will be discussed in detail in a later chapter.

In the examples above, sofa, and beach are objects of the preposition on; and bed is the object of the preposition in.

See Exercise 2.

b. To Raise and To Rise

To raise is a transitive verb, which can take an object. The following examples illustrate the use of the Present Continuous, Simple Past, and Present Perfect tenses of the verb to raise. The verbs are underlined, and the objects of the verbs are printed in bold type.
e.g. She is raising poodles.
He raised the window.
They have raised a crop of wheat.

To rise is an intransitive verb, which cannot take an object. The following examples illustrate the use of the Present Continuous, Simple Past, and Present Perfect tenses of the verb to rise.
e.g. The moon is rising in the east.
They rose to the occasion.
The temperature has risen by five degrees.

In these sentences, the verbs have no objects. The words eastoccasion and degrees are the objects of the prepositions into and by.

See Exercise 3.

c. To Set and To Sit

To set is a transitive verb, which can take an object. The following examples illustrate the use of the Present Continuous, Simple Past, and Present Perfect tenses of the verb to set. The verbs are underlined, and the objects of the verbs are printed in bold type.
e.g. They are setting a record.
We set the jars on a shelf.
Have you set the date for your trip?

To sit is an intransitive verb, which cannot take an object. The following examples illustrate the use of the Present Continuous, Simple Past, and Present Perfect tenses of the verb to sit.
e.g. They are sitting by the front steps.
sat at my desk for an hour.
You have sat on the couch all afternoon.

In these sentences, the verbs have no objects. The words stepsdesk, and couch are the objects of the prepositions byat and on.

See Exercises 4 and 5

3. Indirect objects

In addition to taking direct objects, some verbs also take indirect objects. In the following examples, the direct objects are printed in bold type, and the indirect objects are underlined.
e.g. We gave the child a toy.
I sent the man the information.

In these examples, the words child and man are said to be the indirect objects of the verbs gave and sent. Indirect objects refer to things which receive indirectly the actions described by the verbs. In the above examples, the words toy and information are the direct objects of the verbs.

Indirect objects usually refer to living things.

It is possible for a sentence containing an indirect object to be rewritten by placing a preposition before the indirect object. When this is done, the original indirect object can be regarded either as the indirect object of the verb, or as the object of the preposition.

For example, the sentence We gave the child a toy, can be rewritten as follows:
We gave a toy to the child.
In the rewritten sentence, child can be regarded either as the indirect object of the verb gave, or as the object of the preposition to.

The following examples illustrate the position of the indirect object in a sentence. The direct object, toy, is printed in bold type, and the indirect object, child, is underlined.
e.g. We gave the child a toy.
We gave a toy to the child.

When an indirect object is not preceded by a preposition, the indirect object must be placed before the direct object. Thus, in the sentence We gave the child a toy, the indirect object child is placed before the direct object toy.

However, when an indirect object is preceded by a preposition, the indirect object must be placed after the direct object. In the sentence We gave a toy to the child, the indirect object child is preceded by the preposition to. Therefore, the indirect object, child is placed after the direct object toy.

The object which is placed last in a sentence tends to receive greater emphasis than the object which is placed first. Thus, the word order of a sentence can be varied in order to give greater emphasis to one object or the other. For instance, in the sentence We lent the teacher a book, the direct object book is slightly emphasized. However, in the sentence We lent a book to the teacher, the indirect object teacher is emphasized.

See Exercises 6 and 7.

A few English verbs, such as to describeto distributeto explain and to say, can take an indirect object only when the indirect object is preceded by a preposition. In the following examples, the direct objects are printed in bold type, and the indirect objects are underlined.
e.g. He described his experiences to the reporters.
They distributed the leaflets to their friends.
We explained the situation to the participants.
She said something to her teacher.

These verbs cannot take an indirect object which immediately follows the verb. One reason for this may be to avoid creating sentences which are ambiguous or confusing. For instance, a sentence which began with the words He described the reporters… would create the impression that it was the reporters who were being described. When the reporters is preceded by the preposition to, there is no ambiguity.

EXERCISES for Chapter 11

Exercise 1 

In each of the following sentences, underline the direct object of the verb. For example:
She forgot the pencils.
She forgot the pencils.

Was he writing a letter?
Was he writing a letter?

You did not answer the question.
You did not answer the question.

1. I watched the birds.
2. He did not close the window.
3. She rang the bell.
4. Did you find the answer?
5. I opened the door.
6. Did she play the violin?
7. You will need an umbrella.
8. They are not carrying the parcels.
9. You organized the race.
10. Were they using the blankets?

Exercise 2 

In the following sentences, the direct objects of the verbs are printed in bold type. In addition, each sentence contains an adverb or adverb phrase indicating time. Depending upon whether or not there is a direct object, complete each sentence using either to lay or to lie, as appropriate. Use the Present Continuous tense if the action takes place in the present, and use the Simple Past tense if the action took place in the past. For example:
They __________ the bricks now.
They are laying the bricks now.

I _______ the money on the counter last night.
laid the money on the counter last night.

Right now, the dogs _________ in the middle of the road.
Right now, the dogs are lying in the middle of the road.

Yesterday, he ___ in bed until ten o’clock.
Yesterday, he lay in bed until ten o’clock.

1. Now I ______________ too close to the fire.
2. Last night he _____________ twenty dollars on top of the bookcase.
3. Right now she _______________ a fire.
4. Until last year, the treasure ______________ hidden under the earth.
5. Yesterday she ______________ her coat on the bed.
6. His books _____________ on the floor all last week.
7. Right now he _______________ low in order to stay out of danger.
8. Yesterday morning he ______________ the parcel close to the door.
9. Last night they _____________ in wait for the thieves.
10. Now they ________________ their cards on the table.

Exercise 3 

In the following sentences, the direct objects of the verbs are printed in bold type. In addition, each sentence contains an adverb or adverb phrase indicating time. Depending upon whether or not there is a direct object, complete each sentence using either to raise or to rise, as appropriate. Use the Present Continuous tense if the action takes place in the present; and use the Simple Past tense if the action took place in the past. For example:
Right now, he __________ sheep.
Right now, he is raising sheep.

Last night he ______ their expectations.
Last night he raised their expectations.

The price of housing _________ now.
The price of housing is rising now.

Last year she ______ at six o’clock every morning.
Last year she rose at six o’clock every morning.

1. Last night, when we heard the news, our hopes _____________.
2. Last year they _________ six hundred dollars by selling chocolate bars.
3. Now they ______________ the price of gasoline.
4. The price of gold _____________ yesterday.
5. At the moment, he ______________ corn.
6. Right now mist _______________ from the water.
7. Last week, you _____________ a difficult question.
8. The temperature _____________ at the moment.
9. Now he _____________ his hat.
10. The water level ______________ last week.

Exercise 4 

In the following sentences, the direct objects of the verbs are printed in bold type. In addition, each sentence contains an adverb or adverb phrase indicating time. Depending upon whether or not there is a direct object, complete each sentence using either to set or to sit, as appropriate. Use the Present Continuous tense if the action takes place in the present; and use the Simple Past tense if the action took place in the past. For example:
Now they ___________ the table.
Now they are setting the table.

Last night we ___ our alarm clock for six o’clock.
Last night we set our alarm clock for six o’clock.

At the moment, the cat __________ on top of the car.
At the moment, the cat is sitting on top of the car.

Yesterday he ___ at his desk all afternoon.
Yesterday he sat at his desk all afternoon.

1. Right now they ______________ down to a good meal.
2. Yesterday they _____________ the empty bottles on the front step.
3. At the moment, she _______________ in front of the fire.
4. Now we _______________ the suitcases on the moving belt.
5. In ancient times, King Arthur’s knights ____________ at the Round Table.
6. Yesterday morning the doctor _____________ the broken bone.
7. Right now, we _______________ around the table.
8. He ______________ a good example last week, by studying hard.
9. Now she ______________ her watch to the correct time.
10. Yesterday afternoon we ___________ at the end of the dock, in the sun.

Exercise 5 

In the following sentences, the direct objects of the verbs are printed in bold type. Paying attention to whether or not there is a direct object, for each sentence, choose the correct verb from the pair given in brackets, and complete the sentence using the Present Perfect tense of the verb. For example:
I ________ two blankets on the bed. (to lay, to lie)
have laid two blankets on the bed.

He ________ down for half an hour. (to lay, to lie)
He has lain down for half an hour.

They ___________ the flag. (to raise, to rise)
They have raised the flag.

Our opinion of them _________. (to raise, to rise)
Our opinion of them has risen.

We ________ the electric train in motion. (to set, to sit)
We have set the electric train in motion.

She ___ just ___ down. (to set, to sit)
She has just sat down.

1. They ____________ a limit of four cartons per customer. (to set, to sit)
2. We ______________ our plans carefully. (to lay, to lie)
3. You ____________ very early for the past three weeks. (to raise, to rise)
4. We _______________ in the car all afternoon. (to set, to sit)
5. They _______________ four children. (to raise, to rise)
6. He _____________ a record for endurance. (to set, to sit)
7. I _____________ awake half the night. (to lay, to lie)
8. They _______________ the table. (to lay, to lie)
9. She _______________ still for fifteen minutes. (to set, to sit)
10. You _______________ your standards. (to raise, to rise)
11. Your standards ________________. (to raise, to rise)
12. Your gloves ________________ on the table all week. (to lay, to lie)

Exercise 6 

Rewrite each of the following sentences, omitting the underlined preposition which precedes the indirect object, and making the necessary changes in word order. For example:
I bought a rose for the singer.
I bought the singer a rose.

She gave an apple to the boy.
She gave the boy an apple.

1. I handed the book to the student.
2. He wrote a letter to the twins.
3. She made a scarf for the girl.
4. I told the story to the audience.
5. We paid the money to the dentist.
6. He sent a reply to the doctor.
7. We offered the job to the students.
8. She told the news to her friends.

Exercise 7 

Rewrite each of the following sentences, inserting the preposition to before the indirect object, and making the necessary changes in word order. For example:
I wrote the president a letter.
I wrote a letter to the president.

They showed the visitor the garden.
They showed the garden to the visitor.

1. We sent the reporters a photograph.
2. They mailed the agency a postcard.
3. I paid the manager the fee.
4. We sold the students the doughnuts.
5. You read the teacher the story.
6. She mailed the seamstress the material.
7. I sent the workers a message.
8. He offered his guest the wine.

ANSWERS TO THE EXERCISES for Chapter 11

Answers to Exercise 1 :

1. birds 2. window 3. bell 4. answer 5. door 6. violin 7. umbrella 8. parcels 9. race 10. blankets

Answers to Exercise 2 :

1. am lying 2. laid 3. is laying 4. lay 5. laid 6. lay 7. is lying 8. laid 9. lay 10. are laying

Answers to Exercise 3 :

1. rose 2. raised 3. are raising 4. rose 5. is raising 6. is rising 7. raised 8. is rising 9. is raising 10. rose

Answers to Exercise 4 :

1. are sitting 2. set 3. is sitting 4. are setting 5. sat 6. set 7. are sitting 8. set 9. is setting 10. sat

Answers to Exercise 5 :

1. have set 2. have laid 3. have risen 4. have sat 5. have raised 6. has set 7. have lain 8. have laid 9. has sat 10. have raised 11. have risen 12. have lain

Answers to Exercise 6 :

1. I handed the student the book. 2. He wrote the twins a letter. 3. She made the girl a scarf. 4. I told the audience the story. 5. We paid the dentist the money. 6. He sent the doctor a reply. 7. We offered the students the job. 8. She told her friends the news.

Answers to Exercise 7 :

1. We sent a photograph to the reporters. 2. They mailed a postcard to the agency. 3. I paid the fee to the manager. 4. We sold the doughnuts to the students. 5. You read the story to the teacher. 6. She mailed the material to the seamstress. 7. I sent a message to the workers. 8. He offered the wine to his guest.

 

If you find any mistake in the questions or need an explanation for the correct answer, please let us know by leaving a comment below. We will immediately correct the mistake or try to explain the answer as much as possible.

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