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Error Spotting Rules Based on Verbs

Published on Monday, June 18, 2018
Error Spotting Rules Based on Verbs

Transitive Verb

A transitive verb is a verb that requires an object to receive the action.
  • The speaker discussed different marketing strategies in the video. →Correct 
  • The speaker discussed in the video. →Incorrect 
The verb discuss requires an object (different marketing strategies). It is necessary to state what the speaker discussed.
Some other examples of transitive verbs are address, borrow, bring, discuss, raise, offer, pay, write, promise, and have.
  • The instructor addressed the student’s question. 
  • Rani borrowed the methodology book from her classmate because she forgot her copy. 
  • Can you bring your copy of the textbook to our study group meeting? 
  • Shiva gave the gift to his sister. 
  • The committee members will raise money for the new project. 

Direct and Indirect Objects

A transitive verb can take more than one object. Consider the example given below:
  • Shiva gave his sister a laptop. 
In this sentence, there is an indirect object, his sister, and a direct object, a laptop. However, there is another way to say this same idea using a prepositional phrase.
  • Shiva gave a laptop to his sister. 
An indirect object may come between a transitive verb and the direct object, like the first example sentence about Shiva, or the indirect object could be in the form of a prepositional phrase, like the second example sentence about Shiva.

An indirect object is only needed if the action is being done to or for somebody; when using a transitive verb, you need to include a direct object, but you may not need to include an indirect object.

Finding the Object

The direct object can be figured out by using this question format: “The subject did what?” or “The subject [verb] what?
  • The instructor addressed what? → the student’s question 
  • Rani borrowed what? → the methodology book 
  • Can you bring what? → your copy of the text book
  • The speaker discussed what? → different marketing strategies 
  • The committee members will raise what? → money 
The indirect object can be figured out by asking the question “To whom?” or “For whom?”
  • Shiva gave a laptop to whom? → his sister 
Commonly used transitive verbs that must be followed by a direct object:
Bring, send, owe, contain, buy, show, take, tell, verify, check, get, wash, finalize, annoy, lay, lend, offer, edit, make, phone 

Intransitive Verbs

An intransitive verb does not take an object. Using an object immediately after an intransitive verb will create an incorrect sentence. However, there may be other information after the verb, such as one or more prepositional phrases or an adverb. Eg:
  • The students arrived at the residency in Houston. →Correct 
  • The students arrived Houston. →Incorrect 
The second sentence is incorrect because the verb cannot take an object.
Some other examples of intransitive verbs are deteriorate, vote, sit, increase, laugh, originate, fluctuate, and trend.
  • The patient’s health deteriorated quickly. 
  • Ahmad voted in the local election. 
  • May I sit here? 
  • Attendance increased at the weekly study sessions as finals drew near. 
  • Susan laughed. 
Notes: An intransitive verb can take more than one prepositional phrase or adverb.
  • The patient’s health deteriorated quickly during the night. 
  • Ahmad voted for the incumbent in the local election. 
Commonly used intransitive verbs are:
Come, explode, laugh, sit, rise, excel, respond, run, cough, swim, emigrate, smile, act, cry, immigrate, lie, arrive, continue, die, go

Verbs That Are both Transitive and Intransitive

Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive, depending on the situation. In some instances, such a verb may require an object, while in others it does not require an object.


  • We will continue the meeting after the break. (transitive) 
  • The meeting continued after the break. (intransitive) 


  • Three of the students play the guitar. (transitive) 
  • The students will play outside today. (intransitive) 


  • Shiva returned the book to the library. (transitive) 
  • The students returned to school after the winter break. (intransitive) 


  • I grow roses in my garden. (transitive) 
  • My daughter is growing quickly. (intransitive) 

Whether a verb is transitive or intransitive may depend on whether the verb has multiple meanings.
Verbs that can be used as both transitive and intransitive depending on their meanings:
Set, leave, give, study, sit, grow, smell, dance, sing, write, teach, burn, eat, paint, drive, manage, stop, climb, run, check, cost, go, pay, improve.

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