Definitions

doubly transitive verb form

Transitive verb

In syntax, a transitive verb is a verb that requires both a subject and one or more objects. Some examples of sentences with transitive verbs:

  • Harry sees Adam. (Adam is the direct object of "sees")
  • You lifted the bag. (bag is the direct object of "lifted")
  • I punished you. (you is the direct object of "punished")
  • I give you the book. (book is the direct object of "give" and "you" is the non-prepositional indirect object of "give")
  • John traded Jane an apple for an orange. ("Jane", "apple", and "orange" are all objects of "traded")

Those transitive verbs that are able to take both a direct object and an indirect object are called ditransitive; an example is the verb give above. Verbs that require a single object are called monotransitive. There are a few verbs, like "traded" above, that may be called "tritransitive".

Verbs that don't require an object are called intransitive, for example the verb to sleep. Since one cannot "sleep" something, the verb acts intransitively. Verbs that can be used in a transitive or intransitive way are called ambitransitive; an example is the verb eat, since the sentences I am eating (with an intransitive form) and I am eating an apple (with a transitive form that has an apple as the object) are both grammatically correct.

There are languages which distinguish verbs based on their transitivity, which suggests that this is a salient linguistic feature. For example, in Japanese:

授業が始まる。
Jugyō ga hajimaru.
The class starts.

先生が授業を始める。
Sensei ga jugyō o hajimeru.
The teacher starts the class.

However, the definition of transitive verbs as those which have one object is not universal and is not used in grammars of many languages. For example, it is generally accepted in Polish grammar that transitive verbs are those which:

Both conditions are fulfilled in many instances of transitive verbs, ex. Maria widzi Jana (Mary sees John; Jana is the accusative form of Jan) - Jan jest widziany przez Marię (John is seen by Mary). However, there are exceptions, and verbs with one or even two objects may also be intransitive.

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