Intransitive Verb: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is a Verb?
  • 0:35 Types of Action Verbs
  • 2:02 Complex Sentences
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

In this lesson, we'll review the definition of a verb. Then, we'll look closer at action verbs and the two main types of these action verbs. Finally, you will be able to determine the difference between a transitive verb and an intransitive verb.

What Is a Verb?

Every form of communication centers on some sort of action. No sentence is complete without it. A verb is exactly that: the action in a sentence. Look at the following sentence:

The boy jumped.

What is the action? You would likely respond that 'jumped' is the action, which is entirely correct. In that example, 'jumped' is the verb. It explains the action of the boy, who is the subject of this simple sentence. There are a few different types of verbs besides action, but for the purpose of this lesson, we'll stick with action verbs.

Types of Action Verbs

There are two types of action verbs: intransitive and transitive. A transitive verb must have a complement, or a noun that immediately follows it. We call that noun the direct object. Intransitive verbs, on the other hand, have no direct object. Look at the sentence from earlier:

The boy jumped.

We have already established that the verb is 'jumped.' Is there an object that immediately follows the verb? No, there is not. So, this verb is an intransitive verb. It has no direct object. Now look at the next example:

The boy threw the ball.

First, ask yourself what is the action of this sentence? What did the boy do? He threw. 'Threw' is the verb. Now ask, is there a noun directly after the verb? Yes, there is. What did the boy throw? The ball. Direct objects answer the question 'what?' Therefore, this sentence has a direct object, and 'threw' is a transitive verb. Look at these examples. For each one, check to see if there is a direct object.

Susan ran. (no direct object, intransitive verb)
Susan ran a mile. (direct object is 'mile,' transitive verb)
Tim ate. (no direct object, intransitive verb)
Tim ate lunch. (direct object is 'lunch,' transitive verb)

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