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I found the above explanation in the book "Oxford Guide to English Grammar"

"After some transitive verbs we can leave out the object when it would add little or nothing to the meaning."

My question is, would you still call them Transitive?

What about the below example

Our cat lived till he was 10

In the above example, the verb "lived" without the object (the life)" which is left out as per the above explanation given in the book. So, is the word "lived" in the above example a Transitive?

I asked this question along with another question here Transitive verbs vs. Intransitive verbs but that is not answered yet. So that I'm separately asking here now.

Please help. Thanks in advance.

  • If an implied direct object is omitted, the clause becomes intransitive.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 15:25
  • @BillJ Yes, that's right as per our discussion in the other question comment section. But the definition given in the book (refer above image) tells different definition. So which one is correct you think?
    – Raj 33
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 15:33
  • 1
    The guide doesn't actually assert that the verb is still transitive after the object has been dropped. Where a basically transitive verb appears without an object the verb is intransitive. For example "He read" entails that there was something that he read, a book perhaps, and hence "read" inherently involves two arguments, but only one need be expressed, in which case the verb/clause is intransitive. In other words, there has to be a direct object present for the verb/clause to be transitive.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 16:13
  • I totally agree with your definition that it needs a direct object to be Transitive. However, this sentence from the book "After some transitive verbs, we can leave out the subject" can only be interpreted as it is still Transitive, thats what the book means. Right?
    – Raj 33
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 16:17
  • I'd say it was saying the same as I did, i.e. the object can be omitted after verbs that are basically transitive, It can work the other way round, too. A basically intransitive verb can appear in transitive constructions, e.g. He died a long and agonising death" / "She smiled her assent".
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


I think that definition is trying to distinguish between uses such as these:

The man is smoking [i.e. "cigarette/cigar/pipe/etc" being understood, thus transitive despite the fact that no cigar or cigarette is actually mentioned].

The fire is smoking [i.e. emitting smoke, thus intransitive].

If the definition of transitive is "able to have a direct object" then the verb in "The man is smoking" would be transitive. If the definition of transitive is "having an explicit direct object" then not.

  • Which definition is correct?
    – Raj 33
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 15:30
  • Such definitions are matters of academic opinion.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 15:49

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