Intransitive verbs have the pattern N + V (noun + verb). The clause is complete without anything else:


Noun Phrase (Subject) Verb Phrase
The baby
was sleeping

(John) (smiled).
(Nothing) (has happened).
(The baby) (was sleeping).





I heard the statement below from a great grammarian. I think he is British.

"In theory, at least, any English verb might be used in both transitive and intransitive senses."

If it's true, so there should be some way or means whereby to make the verbs below transitive.

Look upon them please:

work, laugh, talk, sleep, lie, go, jump, smile, happen and etc

If we can, for example using prepositions, use them transitively and then make passive voice sentences this way, how to do this please?
If possible, please create a passive voice using one few of those verbs and then I will figure out the method.

Thanks beforehand.

Hello Abbasi,

If you want to write a sentence using these verbs and ask us a specific question about it, we'd be happy to help you, but I'm afraid we don't generally comment on what other sites or grammarians say. Our main purpose is to help users with what is on our site or with content directly related to it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team



I have some confusion between intransitive verb and adjective. For instance,

My hands break. (intransitive verb)
My hands are broken.(adjective)

Which sentence should I use? Do both sentences indicate the same meaning. How do I know to use an intransitive verb or an adjective in a sentence? I really hope you can enlighten me. This confusion has been disturbing me.

p/s: Im not a native English speaker.

Thanks in advance.


Hello Shafiq,

In the example you give, the sentence with an adjective describes a state, i.e. the condition of your hands, or the result of an action. Verbs, in contrast, generally indicate an action or process. Sentences with adjectives are probably more common than sentences with verbs. I'd suggest you observe how sentences are used in the resources in our Magazine section. Whenever you don't understand why a sentence is written in a certain way, then feel free to ask us about it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

When a verb has prepositional object such as 'listen to, wait for, and look at,' is this verb transitive or intransitive? Thanks!

Hello ehc,

This is a point of contention between grammarians. You can see the verb as intransitive and therefore taking a prepositional, rather than a direct, object. On the other hand, you can see the prepositional object as sufficient to describe the verb as transitive (and the fact that a passive form can be made might be seen to support this).

My own view is that a transitive verb has a direct, not a prepositional, object and so this is not a transitive verb. However, as I said, this is a point about which grammarians differ.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Clause starting with "that" after a verb is transitive or intransitive ?? Like, He said that he had gone to England. Here, how is the verb "say" is used?

Hello Rahul Paul,

'Said' can be both transitive and intransitive. Where it is followed by a that-clause, the that-clause acts as the direct object and the verb is transitive. For examples of other reporting verbs which work in the same way, look here.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have understood, sir. Thank you very much. can you give me the list of different types of sentences with transitive verb ? Now, I know two types of sentences, one is any 'direct object' after verb and another is 'that clause' after verb. I want a comprehensive list so that I can make sentences by reading dictionary.

Hello Rahul Paul,

For this kind of information, I'd suggest you consult a more comprehensive resource. Our main purpose here is to help users learn by using our site. We're happy to help out with other short, specific queries, but providing comprehensive lists of forms or other lengthy explanation is something we simply don't have the time to do.

You might want to take a look at the wikipedia entry on transitive verbs or the Word Atlas of Language Structures. They are not designed for learners, and I'm not sure they will have what you're looking for, but they're good places to start.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team