A transitive verb is a verb that takes a direct object.
A direct object is the noun or pronoun that directly receives the action of the verb.
Dantethrew the ball. (He took the ball and threw it. Ball is the direct object.)
First find the subject and verb. Then ask yourself, "The subject verbed what?" putting the subject and verb into the question.
"Dante threw what?" (Answer: the ball = the direct object.)
An intransitive verb is a verb that does not take a direct object.
Christopher Columbussailed across the Atlantic.
Sometimes what looks like a direct object is really an adverbial noun. If the answer to "what?" is a where, how, or when, it's an adverbial noun.
Christopher Columbussailed the Atlantic. (He sailed a ship across the Atlantic. Atlantic is where he sailed.) Wehiked five miles along the mountain ridge. (We hiked the trail for five miles. Five miles is how long we hiked, not what we hiked.)
The same verb can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on how it is being used.
Jeromeran the marathon. (Jerome took the marathon and ran it.) Jeromeran around the track. (around the track just tells where he ran.)
Practice What You've Learned
Use the toolbar above to mark up the sentence. Underline the subject once, the verb twice, and circle the direct object.
Identify each verb as transitive or intransitive.
We built a fire in the fire pit. transitive/intransitive
We drove around the block. transitive/intransitive
My father forgot the cooler of food. transitive/intransitive
Those motorcycles drive very fast. transitive/intransitive
The mirror fell off the wall. transitive/intransitive
The castle stood on the hilltop for centuries. transitive/intransitive
The dentist fixed Max's broken tooth. transitive/intransitive
The treasure chest was filled with gold and gems. transitive/intransitive
The electricity went out during the storm. transitive/intransitive