Exploring English HomeTransitive - Intransitive

This section of Exploring English describes English transitive and intransitive verbs.

A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object to complete its meaning:

The boy threw a rock at the window.

An intransitive verb is a verb that does not require a direct object to complete its meaning:

The boy ran away as fast as he could.

The transitive and intransitive verb forms often vary only slightly, or sometimes not at all, so that writers at all levels must be alert to use the correct form.


I must lie down.


I must lay down my tools.

The difficulty of proper use is complicated by seemingly illogical variations of form in the past tense.


I lay down yesterday for a nap.


I laid down my tools yesterday.

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Last Modified April 08, 2003