I must admit that I never thought anything about transitive/intransitive verbs might confound me like that. The problem appeared when I decided to dive into it a bit deeper and then I had to end up losing the thread completely.

Transitive verb, according to the rule, requires subject+verb+object form and should answer the question "What" or "Whom", while intransitive one sticks to "subject+verb" and takes no object, right? So how come in this sentence below "want" is accepted like intransitive verb? Please illuminate me as much as you can because I feel like I'm gradually going crazy.

"I want to be famous".

I(subject) + want(verb) + to be famous(object). What do I want? I want to be famous. The same could be applied to

"I want you to become famous"

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    If you look at this definition of want dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/want, you will see that it has a [T] after the definition. That means that it is transitive.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 17:39
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    Verbs that can be followed by objects that are infinitive clauses include agree, begin, decide, hope, intend, like, plan, and propose. Not all the transitive verbs can use an infinite clause as object. I do not think I want to live forever, for example, qualifies as a transitive verb usage in the same way as, say, I want eternal life (which has an ordinary noun phrase as its object) or ditransitive He gave me eternal life (direct and indirect objects). Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 17:58
  • Looking at the example I've produced, could you say where I make mistakes, How should I look at it in order to have a proper grasp of it . I'm not looking for the definition of individual words, what I exactly need is to find any clue which will make it easy for me to absorb. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 18:11
  • Cavid - I'm not sure it's helpful to classify an "infinitive clause" as an "object" for this context. Syntactically and semantically it's not at all the same as a normal object (an ordinary noun, as in I want food). You might get some help from this page (I've just realized that the earlier answer I linked to above is simply cut&pasted from the link I've now included in this comment). Once you've got the general principle you can probably guess what "kind" of verbs can be used with an infinitive clause. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 18:20
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    @CavidHummatov "Looking at the example I've produced, could you say where I make mistakes" -- One possible mistake is that you connect what and the answer to a what-question to the concept of "object". Consider this: "What is he doing?" "He's going to school." You wouldn't think that "(going) to school" is the object, right? -- IMHO, it's okay if you understand "to be famous" and "you to be famous" as an answer to the what in "What do you want?" intuitively (like a cheat sheet); however, it's unwise to overgeneralize the connection. (BTW, the formal grammar is a bit complicated.) Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


Want is a transitive verb in English and does not make sense if it is used without a direct object.

Both of your examples have direct objects.

I want to be famous.

Direct object: "to be famous"

"To be famous" is an infinitive phrase and infinitive phrases are a sub-category of noun phrases. Therefore, the entire phrase can be thought of as a noun. As far as English is concerned, in the following sentences,

I want to be famous

I want a cat

"cat" and "to be famous" serve the same function.

In your second example, "to be famous" is still the direct object. "You" is something called the indirect object.

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