I dream of winning a gold medal in next Olympics.

Is the verb – dream – in this sentence transitive or intransitive? If it happens to be transitive, how can we passivize the sentence? I have come across some grammar books that said a verb when being used transitively can always be converted into passive form.

  • "Dream" is used intransitively here - there is no direct object - and hence it cannot be passivised.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 19:11
  • @BillJ: It gets a bit more tricky with That never happened! You must have dreamt it!, where you could say it is an "object" referencing the thing that didn't happen. Or you could say there's a deleted preposition ...you must have dreamt about it Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 19:35
  • It's certainly used transitively in poetic usage at least: "I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream."
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 20:35
  • We know that "dream" can be used transitively. But that has nothing to do with the OP's question about their specific example in which "dream" is being used intransitively.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 7:23

2 Answers 2


Dream is not in this sentence, nor ordinarily a transitive verb. Hence it cannot be turned into a passive sentence.

The use of "of" in this sentence is one indicator it's not transitive. The direct object is typically not used with a preposition.

  • What is Winning the gold medal was dreamed of by me?
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 19:36
  • It's like how you could theoretically say "The path was walked down by me". It's not a standard passive and "walk down" isn't parsed as a transitive verb.
    – eques
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 20:51
  • "Dream is not in this sentence" Is there are word or words missing here? Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 1:17
  • No, words are not missing. The comma could be omitted or another added to clarify the meaning, which is "dream is neither in this sentence nor ordinarily a transitive verb"
    – eques
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 13:06
  • I dream of winning a gold medal in next Olympics.

Here, "dream of" is intransitive - there isn't a direct object following it. As Martin Manser says in Useful Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs:

"dream of" is intransitive (informal) - consider the possibility of something;

However, "dream" can be transitive with gerund phrases, cognate objects, direct objects after "dream up/away", and that-clauses.

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