A question about transitive verbs

English grammar and usage issues

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A question about transitive verbs

Unread postby Kean » 29 Oct 2007, 15:53

I'm struggling with a question from one of my students regarding the verb "eat".
From the information I've got:

"I'm eating dinner" is described as a transitive use.
"I'm eating" is described as an intransitive use.

"Where can I park?" is described as transitive, because the object can be understood from the context.

So the question is, how can one "test" whether a verb with no object is truly being used intransitively, or merely transitively but with the object left out??

cheers,
confused of Italy
Kean
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Re: A question about transitive verbs

Unread postby Chopvac » 01 Nov 2007, 18:37

Kean wrote:I'm struggling with a question from one of my students regarding the verb "eat".
From the information I've got:

"I'm eating dinner" is described as a transitive use.
"I'm eating" is described as an intransitive use.

"Where can I park?" is described as transitive, because the object can be understood from the context.

So the question is, how can one "test" whether a verb with no object is truly being used intransitively, or merely transitively but with the object left out??

cheers,
confused of Italy


The easiest way to think of this is to ask yourself if the intransitive verb has an obvious and ubiquitous object associated with it. For example:

eat - you eat food, not shoes or frogs
sleep - you sleep in a bed, not a toaster
play - you play music games, sports and amusements, not work
sit - you sit on chairs and sofas, not icepicks
wait - you have wait _somewhere_, not nowhere
go - you have to go _somewhere_, not go nowhere

And so on. It's not universal for all intransitives, but it works for many/most of them.
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Re: A question about transitive verbs

Unread postby matthau » 25 Mar 2008, 19:17

What if we talk about transitive and intransitive meanings, rather than verbs? Then we won't face this dilemma. Depending upon the context, a verb may have either a transitive or an intransitive meaning.
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