Verbs which must always have an object are called TRANSITIVE – examples include hit, see, want, carry etc. In these cases, the action of the verb has some effect on someone or something else.

Look at the following two English sentences:

a) the dog chased the cat
b) the cat chased the dog

In the above example, ‘chased’ is a verb that needs both a subject and an object. In English we can’t just say ‘the dog chased’, we have to say who or what it chased. There are lots of verbs like this, e.g.,

  • The girl saw the boy
  • The cow broke the fence
  • I love you
  • He wants ice-cream 
  • The car hit the curb

Other verbs only have a subject and can’t have an object, these are called intransitive verbs.  

An example of an intransitive verb is ‘sleep’ e.g., you can’t say *’the man sleeps the dog’. You can say ‘the man sleeps’ or ‘the dog sleeps’.

Note: In many Aboriginal languages, whether a verb is transitive or intransitive will affect how that verb works in a sentence.


Reference: transitivity