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I recently learned that I cannot use “be consisted of” because it is intransitive verb.

Example:

  • Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen. (o)
  • Water is consisted of hydrogen and oxygen. (x)
  • Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. (o)
  • Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. (o)

According to grammar-monster, an intransitive verb does not take a direct object; but, I think “consist of” takes direct object, which is “hydrogen and oxygen” from the above example.

I am wondering why “consist of” is intransitive verb despite of taking direct object.

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    I don't think it's a matter of transitive vs intransitive; it's that "consist" is a verb of its own, where as "make" (or "compose" etc) requires the passive "is made" with an auxiliary verb to make the meaning "having a structure of composition which includes ...".
    – tripleee
    Feb 2, 2023 at 8:15
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    You just have to learn that consist of means be made up of - the 'be' part is included in the meaning of the word. Feb 2, 2023 at 9:02
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    Welcome to ELL! I'm not sure why someone downvoted your question. I think you did a good job explaining why you thought consist takes a direct object. It is confusing because we rarely see a sentence like "Water consists" where nothing follows "consist". Maybe it helps to notice that it is the water that "consists", not the hydrogen and oxygen. With a transitive verb like "The water erodes the land.", it is the land (or direct object) that is eroded.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 2, 2023 at 16:58

1 Answer 1

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"Consist" is intransitive. "Hydrogen and oxygen" is not a direct object in "Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen."

A direct object is called that because it is a noun phrase used directly as the complement of a verb.

In the sentence, "Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen", the verb "consists" takes the complement "of hydrogen and oxygen". This is a prepositional phrase. "Hydrogen and oxygen" here is the object of the preposition "of", so it is not the direct object of the verb.


Passive constructions are a separate issue. A verb doesn't necessarily have to be transitive to be able to be used in a passive construction (for example, "It was taken care of" is not ungrammatical).


Note that "consists of" means "is composed of".

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