Intransitive Verb

Understanding Intransitive Verbs

Action VerbsOpens in new window describe things that happen including causes and effects. Sometimes an action verb can have an object, other times it cannot.

Action verbs that cannot have an object are called Intransitive Verbs.

Intransitive verbs cannot be used in passive voice and do not have complements. They usually involve actions that we do to ourselves such as smiling.

Take for example the action in the sentence

  • You smile yourself

The action does not affect an object. This is usually true in all languages. That is, smile is usually intransitive in all languages. It can, of course, be followed by a prepositional phraseOpens in new window showing the direction or purpose; however, unlike motion verbs (See Motion VerbsOpens in new window), the prepositional phrase is not needed.

Common examples of these verbs include: benefit, cry, excel, happen, immigrate, laugh, listen, sigh, yawn.

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  • References
    • Advanced Grammar: For Academic Writing Intransitive Action Verbs (pg 34) By Richard Stevenson.

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