Transitive Verb Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Transitive verbs may sound complicated, but they're actually quite easy to understand. This lesson gives teachers classroom activities and games designed to teach transitive verbs to students of different ages and abilities.

What Makes a Verb Transitive?

As students acquire more English grammar knowledge, it becomes necessary for them to delve into specifics. Hopefully your learners are already comfortable with the concept of verbs, so defining transitive verbs in a relatable and understandable way should be a piece of cake.

One great way to kick off a grammar focused lesson like this is to begin with an activity that checks prior student knowledge and reinforces any new concepts through questions, explanations, and examples. As you move through the following questions with your students, it can be helpful to write relevant points and details on the blackboard to help students visualize the information.

  • What's a verb? (A word that shows an action)
  • What's a direct object? (The thing or person the action happens to)

Then, write on the board:

  • A transitive verb 1) expresses an action and 2) has a direct object.
    • Rachel threw (transitive verb) the baseball (direct object).
    • Johnny cleans (transitive verb) his room (direct object).

Ask the class for other examples of transitive verbs and record correct answers on the board. At this point, you may want to mention intransitive verbs, which occur when there is no direct object following the verb. For instance, 'Sara is often seen running'. Intransitive verbs deserve a lesson on their own, so be sure not to get too involved in this topic.

Verbs in Action

To begin this activity, you will need to write the following sentences on the blackboard:

  • Kim _____ the ball over the wall.
  • Just as he looked up, the water bottle _____ Hal in the face.
  • Tom and Tina _____ the car before their parents got home.
  • Before students _____ to college, they should do research.
  • The dog _____ the cat.

Ask students to take out a sheet of paper and number it from one to ten. Students should fill in as many transitive verbs as they can for the five sentences you wrote on the board. They should also add five sentences of their own, leaving the verbs out. When students have finished all ten sentences, have them exchange papers. Each student should fill in transitive verbs for sentences six to ten and return the paper to the original student.

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