Talk:Intransitive verb

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Does a magazine read?[edit]

The article uses the following sentences as examples of ambitransitivity: " A few verbs are of both types at once, like read: compare I read, I read a magazine, and this magazine reads easily." Am I wrong, or is "this magazine reads" incorrect? I had always been told that such things (see also: "the soup that eats like a meal") were bad English. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:43, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

"This magazine reads easily" is fine. Remember that in English there are many collocations (a collocation is something like a phrase used frequently) that don't match up with English's so called 'rules.' For example: "Go to bed" as opposed to "Go to the bed." Since grammar rules are created by looking at many collocations and trying to determine what they have in common, you should trust the collocation before you trust the rule. As an aside, please don't use the term 'bad English.' There is academic English, but there is also any form of English that native speakers use and there is no reason to insult any dialect because it isn't the same as Oxford's, or Harvard's or whatever. There's nothing wrong with "this soup eats like a meal" either. Another example: "this keyboard types fine," "These burgers cook easy." Of course a person is doing the typing, and a person is cooking the burger, not the keyboard or the burger doing it to itself. English is basically crazy. "it types fine" "it cooks well" slightly more colloquial and real versions of the previous examples. Wumborg (talk) 20:45, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Countering Systemic Bias[edit]

This page is written entirely based on English. A lot of things could and should be said about intransitive verbs in many other languages. For example:

See Countering Systemic Bias. --Pablo D. Flores 22:28, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

"run" and "age"[edit]

Can't "age" be used transitively? Don't distillers age the various forms of alcohol?

"Run" isn't a very good example. in the past it probably was, but you can "run a program," in which the program is the direct object (not sure about "run the bases," since it's an idiom, probably still intransitive in the sense of "run [around] the bases."). I'm removing it. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 01:13, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

"To be" is a copular verb and thus probably not a good example either. The problem is that in English many verbs are ambitransitive (both trans and intrans). "Run" is intransitive in most cases, and it can also be correctly described as intransitive in a non-exclusive way. Moreover, it's an interesting example because it's a volitional intransitive verb (unlike "sleep" and "die"). This distinction is significant, if maybe not in English (see Active-stative language). What about "swim"? —Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 17:38, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I knew that it being copular would be a problem, but I couldn't think of an intransitive verb that never is not intransitive at the moment, and I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the sentence by reducing the examples. Swim is a good one, though. Good idea. I'll replace to be with that now. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 18:33, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
The verb "swim" can be either transitive or intransitive. It is misleading to say that swim is an intransitive verb in English, since it is also transitive. Source: Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary. I'm looking for some intransitive-only examples in addition to die and sleep. I'm inclined to remove "swim" from the statement that it is an intranstive verb. Is there a reason for it being there?
Kiwi brad 19:33, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
"Swim" certainly goes under the ambitransitive category. You can swim laps, swim lengths, etc. I think "complain" is a good one, so I'll change it to that. -- 22:51, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Please explain this in a context for spanish. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:36, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Examples in context[edit]

I'd have appreciated some exapmples used in context. The article begins with a definition and some examples: "In grammar, an intransitive verb is a verb that does have a subject and does not have an object. In more technical terms, an intransitive verb has only one argument (its subject), and hence has a valency of one. For example, in English, the verbs die, condescend and swim, are intransitive." But that technical definition did not really help, the examples not in context didn't help, and the rest of the article seemed to address sub-issues rather than the main topic. Can anybody help with this? Please let me know if I have used this page wrongly - I'm new. "Pij" 01:48, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Hmm. It's easy to give lots of examples, but hard to make the examples useful. I'll see what I can do. And yes, that's an appropriate use of this page; thanks. :-) —RuakhTALK 14:19, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
Maybe we could make the proposed examples parallel Transitive verb. Thank you, --LRG 17:51, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

I think a very good example of incorrect intransitive usage is found in many computer manuals today which read, "The xxx screen displays." The word "display" cannot be used in this way and therefore one would need to write, "The xxx screen is displayed'.Digib —Preceding unsigned comment added by Digib (talkcontribs) 09:23, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Is "blew" in "he blew into it" transitive or intransitive? (talk) 22:37, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Intransitive because there's no direct object. But you could say, "He blew air into it." Likewise, "the wind blows" is usually intransitive but you could say "The wind blows cold fresh air/dust into the place." Which just shows that blow is both transitive and intransitive. Sluggoster (talk) 02:19, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Merge with Unaccusative verb and Unergative verb[edit]

See also Talk:Unergative verb#Merge discussion and Talk:Unaccusative verb for reference to previous merging discussions, but please follow up here.

I am against the proposed merge. I don't see why the two articles wouldn't have a standing on their own (especially Unaccusative verb, which is quite detailed). This article should probably mention these two kinds of verbs briefly (as well as be generally expanded and improved, as said in Talk:Intransitive verb#Countering Systemic Bias), but then the relevant articles should be linked as a "for further information". LjL (talk) 17:40, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree with LjL's objections. The term intransitive is very imprecise. In some languages, e.g. Dutch unergatives and ergatives/unaccusatives are quite distinct. However, as far a I can see unaccusative and ergative are synonyms and those two pages od need to be merged. As the term ergative constrasts better with unergative, I would propose to get rid of the unaccusative page in favor of the ergative one.

Jcwf (talk) 19:37, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Have removed tag, consensus is against.Comhreir (talk) 02:32, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I hadn't noticed that the original merge proposal had been expanded into a three-way merge (which I would have voted against). But I am still in favor of merging Unaccusative verb and Unergative verb, so I have retagged those articles and if anyone has comments, please follow up at Talk:Unergative verb#Merge discussion. CapnPrep (talk) 03:13, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Hopefully, they will merge with a large split in between them also merges save space on wikipedia, this will stop all the redirects so, objections are ok but you need to see the whole point.Defector1234 (talk) 01:55, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Valency bullcrap[edit]

I removed some valency bullcrap from the lede; there's probably more in the rest of the article. Valency is only indirectly related to transitivity, and in languages that don't require subjects, there tend to be both 1-argument transitive verbs and 0-argument intransitive verbs. E.g. Finnish has sataa 'rain', which is normally used with 0 arguments or with a direct object as the only argument. brtkrbzhnv 22:56, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, I added some information about valency back to the introduction before reading the talk page. The current article jumps from an elementary education level to "valency changing operations" without any explanation for a non-expert. However, I think that I do not contradict the spirit of your edit in that I do not explicitly say what valency counts, only that there is a related concept of valency. It occurs to me as a non-expert, there could exist a language with 1, 0, or 2+ subjects. TelecomNut (talk) 02:39, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Better example?[edit]

The article says near the top:

<quote>Transitive verbs include to see and to give.</quote>

But those two examples are verbs that can be used intransitively, and with fairly trivial examples. To wit: "I see." and "Give generously to the Wikipedia foundation."

Better examples would be verbs that at the very least had far more esoteric intransitive constructions, or better, none at all. I will admit, however, that at the moment, it's hard to think of really good ones.

Nsayer (talk) 22:53, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Intransitive verb "sleep"[edit]

In this sentence "I slept on couch that night" the verb "to sleep" is transitive or intransitive?
Ivan.milicic3510 (talk) 08:01, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

This is still intransitive because "on (the) couch" would be a prepositional phrase and not an object. Joeystanley (talk) 16:25, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Error in example[edit]

The so called ungrammatical example "Mary was hugged by her daughter" is clearly correct and is actually using the agent "by" as is said to be correct. I think the example should be "Mary was hugged her daughter" as the ungrammatical passive of "Her daughter hugged Mary" or "Mary hugged her daughter".

Yup, I got confused by this example too. Though English isn't my first language - that's why I ended up on the talk page. (talk) 12:04, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
I've corrected this -- the "by" was originally omitted, but an anon editor added it back in. Presumably he or she was skimming the article and thought to be helpful by correcting an obvious mistake.Eniagrom (talk) 12:47, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

This definition is unclear[edit]

I just read this, and still have no idea really what an instransitive verb is. You give "examples", but you don't show the examples within a sentence. Then you start talking about "valency is related" - I don't care what is related, I want to know the definition of an intransitive verb, and a few examples of sentences showing how they are used. You can go off on tangents about "valency" or 100 other languages, but please provide a clear definition and examples FIRST.

I didn't ask to know what "valency-changing operations" are, I didn't ask to know what "ambitransitivity" is, or to find out what "Unaccusative and unergative verbs" are, or to find out what "cognate objects" are, or to see people show off how many obscure related topics they happen to know about: You spend 99% of the article on all these tangents, and how Dutch and Japanese have some other related structure, etc. I came here for one thing: the definition of intransitive verb, and some examples used in a sentence so I can understand how they're used, and that is the one thing you DON'T provide in this rambling, incoherent article. In other words, users come to this page asking for "A", and you provide them with "B", "C", "D", "E", "F", "G", "H", and "Q", but not "A".

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:00, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Hi there. I apologize for the technical nature article. I haven't been involved in the content of this article, but after reading through it I understand your concern. I've added a "this article is too technical" tag at the top and I've given several examples, in English, that will hopefully get most readers to understand what an intransitive verb is. Thanks for bringing this up. If you have any more concerns about this or related pages, feel free to leave me a message. Joeystanley (talk) 16:16, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

I confirm that the article is confusing to someone not familiar with language structure. In particular the introduction starts by saying "an intransitive verb does not allow an object", which is straight away confusing since there are clearly "objects" in the examples shown, using the dictionary definition of an "object". It requires some more study to find "subject"/"object" structure used in grammar. Even then, it is not really clear why the distinction is made; to an outside it is not that object does not exist, but rather the subject and object are the same. Ultimately it is not really clear why we need the term "intransitive" in the first place; the term itself implies there is something special about an intransitive verb, but I am still in the dark about what that is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:29, 2 December 2015 (UTC)

Just now realized that the term is best figured out by first considering what a transitive verb, which I guess is verb that provides a action based link between a subject and object; an intransitive verb does not provide such a link. Whether they are subjects or objects is irrelevant, the key point than an intransitive verb is not used to provide a link. So instead of saying "an intransitive verb does not allow an object", it would be better to say that "An intransitive verb is a verb that is not used to link a subject and an object. In contrast, a transitive verb provides an action based link btween a subject and an object"


Based on reader concerns on this talk page, both recent and not-so-recent, I've gone ahead and written up some examples kind of off the top of my head. I'm a linguistics grad student and study this kind of thing a lot, so I think (and hope) they illustrative the idea well. Feel free to alter them or whatever—I just wanted to make sure that the topic of ambitransitive verbs was covered, since that seems to be an issue among people learning about this topic. Joeystanley (talk) 16:38, 1 May 2014 (UTC)