Transitive VS Intransitive Part 3

Transitive or Intransitive? Some Verbs Can Be Both

Many verbs can be classified as both transitive and intransitive depending on how they are used in a sentence.

  • Urged by the others, she sang.
  • She sang the national anthem at the hockey game.
  • After he cleaned up, he left.
  • He left the gift on the table.

To decide whether the verb is being used transitively or intransitively, all you need to do is determine whether the verb has an object.

  • Does she sing something?
  • Does he leave something?

The verb is only transitive when the answer is yes.

When in doubt, look it up. In the dictionary, verbs will be listed as transitive, intransitive, or both right under the pronunciation key, and any possible differences in meaning between the two uses will be given as well.

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