I am trying to improve my understanding of English. My question relates to transitive and intransitive verb. Transitive verb always require objects and objects can be many types. Object can be gerund, infinitive, wh clause, that clause etc.

When I try to follow dictionary they do not explain the type of object to follow. How an English learner can be sure that in writing paragraphs he is using the correct form of object?

The second questions is can I always use intransitive verbs as transitive verbs? In that case I do not need to remember the difference types of verbs. If I cannot use every verb as a transitive verb then is there a tip to differentiate them?

  • There are collocation dictionaries to help you, or just find examples on the net. There are also learner's dictionaries explaining in what meaning the verb is transitive. One verb can be both transitive and intransitive.
    – V.V.
    Jun 27, 2016 at 6:23
  • 1
    A prototypical object is a noun phrase. Clauses are not normally objects, but catenative complements.
    – BillJ
    Jun 27, 2016 at 7:15

1 Answer 1


How an English learner can be sure that in writing paragraphs he is using the correct form of object

The type of object a verb can take depends heavily on the verb's meaning. This is why the dictionary does not explain, because you should select a type of object that works with verb's meaning.

You can Google for word lists using search terms like "Words that take gerunds as objects", etc. However, I don't think there many verbs that will absolutely not work with concrete nouns as objects (to think is one though.)

can I always use intransitive verbs as transitive verbs

No. For example.

John dies.

Die cannot take an object and make any sense.


  • Not all transitive verbs can work intransitively.

I hit Mark with the ball.

I hit. (Does not make sense unless the object is heavily implied from context.)

  • Some verbs change meaning depending on whether there is an object or not.

She walks to the park. (She is traveling by foot to the park.)

She walks him to the park. (She is either helping an old guy walk to the park or leading a dog on a leash to the park.)

  • Some verbs are reflexive if no object is specified. In this case the real object is myself, himself, etc.

I washed. (Same as saying "I washed myself.")

I washed the car.

  • Many verbs have phrasal variations (i.e. consist of more than one word) that have a different transitive-ness.

I struck the enemy with a sword.

I struck out of the ball game. ("Strike out" is a phrasal verb)

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