What is the difference between an intransitive and a transitive verb?

Expert Answers
dalepowell1962 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A transitive verb transfers the action from the subject to the object.  For example:  Tom threw the ball.  The subject is Tom.  The verb is "threw" and it is transitive.  The reason why is because "ball", the object receives the action.  It is what is thrown.  The action is transferred from Tom to the ball- from subject to object- by the verb "threw". 

Here is the same verb as an intransitive verb:  Tom threw all day.  Here, Tom is still the subject and he still throws.  However, we do not know what or whom he threw.  We just know he threw whatever it was all day.  No action is passed- so therefore, the verb is intransitive.

oceans11 | Student

A transitive verb takes a direct object, a word or word group  that completes the meaning of the verb by naming a receiver of the action.  Transitive verbs usually appear in the active voice, with the subject doing the action and a direct object receiving the action. Active-voice sentences can be transformed into passive voice, with the subject receiving the action instead.  Active Voice:  The early bird sometimes catches the early worm.  Passive Voice:  The early bird is sometimes caught by the early bird.  The direct object of a transitive verb is sometimes preceded by an indirect object, a noun or pronoun telling to whom or for whom the action of the sentence is done.  Ex.:  You show (to) me a hero, and I will write (for) you a tragedy.  The direct object of a transitive verb is sometimes followed by an object complement, a word or groups of words that completes the direct object's meaning by renaming or describing it.  Ex.:  Love makes all hard hearts gentle.  Intransitive verbs take no objects or complements.  They may or may not be followed by adverbial modifiers.  Ex.:  Money talks.  Nothing receives the actions of talking in the sentence, so the verb is intransitive.  Intransitive verbs are often followed by adverbial modifiers.  Note:  A dictionary can tell you whether a verb is intransitive or transitive.  Some verbs have both transitive and intransitive functions.  Transitive:  Sandra flew her Cessna over the canyon.  Intransitive:  A bald eagle flew overhead.  In the first example, flew has a direct object that receives the action: her Cessna. In the second example, the verb is followed by an adverb (overhead), not a direct object.