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I was doing an exercice about identifying types of verbs (transitive or intransitive) in a sentence. And I am confused about a sentence.

An old baggar stood by the gate.

In the answer for the above sentence, the verb is marked as an intransitive verb.

But as per the explanation in the book, a transitive verb is one that passes over a subject to an object. And in the above sentence the object is gate.

In the above sentence, is the verb stood transitive or intransitive? And how?

  • The word gate is the object of the preposition by. So there is more than one kind of object in English sentences. – user6951 May 30 '15 at 14:37
  • I think you will find this answer helpful. – user6951 May 30 '15 at 15:26
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Unfortunately, Ghanshyam, for non-natives like us, there is only one way to learn things in English. Memorize them. Especially for Indians where we have our own rules to amend the language, there is nothing we can do. Just observe native speakers and their styles and you learn. That's it.

Well, now here, it's an intransitive verb. True. That's because transitive verbs requires something to transfer! [I remember that way -transitive transfer, intransitive, no transfer, thanks grammargirl]

Said that, intransitive verbs can stand alone without any support. They won't look odd. Say--

He ran

the sentence is fine without any additional information.

But then...

I want

is 'half'. You want 'what'? So, here, the verb 'want' is transitive which requires something to transfer. You add 'what you want' and it is a complete sentence. They call it as an object.

I want a car

In your example,

An old baggar[sic] stood (by the gate)

'by the gate' is an additional information but not necessary to complete the sentence.

Hence, they mark it with 'intransitive'.


The verb 'stand' is both transitive and intransitive but in its general (and most of?) usages, it's 'transitive'. More information is on OALD.

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The verb stood, in your example is used intransitively, having the meaning of being placed or situated.

The gate is not the object of the verb stood.

Consider:

An old beggar, by the gate, stood.

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There is no direct object in this sentence, by the gate is a prepositional complement in the sentence.

So you answer your question, the verb to stand is intransitive.

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A where-indication is no object and a direct object has no preposition.

Added

And I would not use the term object for two different things. Actually that is confusion of grammar terms even if the use of "object of a preposition" is frequent. Some use the terms complement, I would prefer a completely new term, perhaps preposition and its connected noun.

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The verb here is actually TRANSITIVE.

As per my information, we can convert intransitive verbs into transitive by using prepositions with them. Here 'by' preposition does this work.

An old beggar stood.

The above sentence uses stood as an intransitive verb. But,

An old beggar stood by...

becomes incomplete without an object. Hence, here, stood is a transitive verb.

I would suggest you consult your teacher or someone knowledgeable in English in your area and ask him. But I would say this is a transitive verb.

For more such examples, check out this link.

  • It is not transitive, look at the fourth meaning given here: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/… – Sander May 30 '15 at 13:43
  • @Sander So what is laugh in "They laughed at me". oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/… – Phoenix May 30 '15 at 14:33
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    In that sentence it is intransitive and 'at me' is an indirect object. However, if you say 'He laughed a mean laugh.', then it is transitive. – Sander May 30 '15 at 14:37
  • In They laughed at me, me is the direct object of the phrasal verb Laugh at. But in this sentence, at is not a preposition, but a particle. (See my answer). And in stand by, by is a particle of the intransitive phrasal verb stand by. Also @Sander – user6951 May 30 '15 at 15:04
  • Ah yes, I might be mistaken about the verb laugh at. In this case stand by is not the verb though, right? Standing is the verb and by the gate is the complement. In the sentence 'He stood by doing nothing' the verb is stand by. – Sander May 30 '15 at 15:21

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