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|Written by Miss Smartypants|
|Monday, 16 November 2009 00:00|
Dear Miss Smartypants,
I just got an essay back from my English teacher. She circled "yen" (I used it as a synonym for "yearn") and wrote iv (intransitive verb) in the margins. What the eff is she on about? What's the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs? How do I use them?
Verb the Adjective Noun
Dear Conjugate This,
In technical terms, a transitive verb takes a direct object and an intransitive verb does not. Try thinking about it this way: a transitive verb needs you to explain it and an intransitive verb speaks for itself. For example, you wrote, "She circled 'yen'." Circle is a transitive verb, meaning that it would have been incorrect usage for you to write the sentence, "She circled." The action has to be applied somewhere or else it's just hanging out there with no information to go on. What did she circle? Did she circle the wagons? Who knows?
Yen and yearn, however, are intransitive verbs, so they can stand on their own with their subjects. You yen. You yearn. You live. You learn.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, like when a sentence gives away context. If you, say, were playing baseball and got a hit (transitive verb), we'd assume that you meant you hit a baseball. Verbs can also be transitive and intransitive so that can make things tricky.
Overall, you can beg forgiveness for your error, but you can't yen it. You can, however, yen for it.