Difference between transitive and intransitive sentence

1) Is the sentence below transitive or intransitive?

Suburban train services on Central Railway were disrupted after derailment.

A) If intransitive as per my knowledge it should be like.

Suburban train services on Central Railway disrupted after derailment. (Omit were)

B) And if it is transitive then there should be agent and sentence like this:

Suburban train services on Central Railway were disrupted after derailment because of broken track by agitators (Agent).

Please explain how to identify transitive and intransitive sentence from below. 2) Three people were killed. 3) Trees were broken. 4) Water level was increased. 5) Money was transferred.

  • All of your examples are intransitive clauses, because none of them have an object.
    – F.E.
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


You appear to be confusing transitivity (whether a verb is transitive or intransitive) and voice (whether a sentence is active or passive).

A transitive verb is one whose sense requires both an Agent and a Patient. In an ordinary active sentence the Agent is cast as the Subject of the sentence and the Patient is cast as the Direct Object of the sentence:

[Subject/Agent Jack] [active transitive Verb kicked] [DirectObject/Patient the ball].

In a passive sentence, the Patient is 'promoted' to the Subject role and the Agent is either relegated to a preposition phrase headed by by or omitted:

[Subject/Patient The ball] [passive transitive Verb was kicked]
[preposition phrase [preposition by] [Object of preposition/Agent Jack]].

An intransitive verb requires only an Agent: there is no Patient which is acted upon, and consequently no Direct Object. The sentence can only be cast in the active voice, with the Agent as Subject:

[Subject/Agent Jack] [active intransitive Verb ran].

There is no Patient which can be promoted to Subject, so the verb cannot be cast in the passive voice.

In all of your examples, the verb (disrupt, kill, break, increase, transfer) is transitive and the sentence is in the passive voice.

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