ambitransitive verb

understanding ambitransitive verbs

Ambitransitive Verbs are verbsOpens in new window that can either have an object or not have an object. They can be used both transitively and intransitively.

For example, survey these two sets of sentences (the ambitransitive verbs are in bold, the object in italics):

  • 1a)  I drove home.
  • 1b)  I drove my car home.
  • 2a)  She played.
  • 2b)  She played a game.

This is by far the most common type of verb in English. Ambitransitive verbs can either have no object or can have an object.

Ambitransitive verbs need to be divided into three groups:

  • those that can have gerund clauses or infinitive clauses as their complements,
  • those that can only have gerund clauses as their complements,
  • and those that can only have infinitive clauses as their complementsOpens in new window.

In similarity to transitive verbsOpens in new window, ambitransitive verbs can be used in passive voice as long as they have an object in active voiceOpens in new window. Note that they cannot have an object in passive voice.