Transitive Verbs 1

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Pattern 3

Sentence Pattern 3

The third sentence pattern has at its heart a verb expressing action (broadly defined). The subject performs this action upon the noun or noun-substitute following the verb. This new sentence element is called a direct object, and the verb that expresses action that can be transferred from a subject to an object is called a transitive verb.

     Beavers build dams.

Other transitive verbs are kiss, surprise, salvage. Many verbs may be either transitive or intransitive. Thus, withdraw is transitive in "She withdrew her hand" but intransitive in "She withdrew" or "She withdrew from the room," for without an object, an action verb becomes intransitive; that is, it happens but not on anything.

Let us summarize Pattern 3 this way: S + Vt + D.O., where "Vt" stands for "transitive verb" and "D.O." stands for "direct object."

One detail to keep in mind when dealing with direct objects is that, like subjects, they are never found within a prepositional phrase. Thus, there is no direct object in this sentence: "The goat ate from a can." We are not told what the goat ate. If we were told, "The goat ate a can," that would be a different story! However, do watch out for adverbs that look like prepositions. They are to be considered practically part of the verb itself, and verbs with adverbs attached can often take direct objects:

     Take off [=remove] your hat.
     Give up [=relinquish] your money.
     Leave out [=omit] the comma.
     Put out [=extinguish] the campfire.
     Make up [=invent] a story.
     Look up [find in a dictionary] the word.

Only the second of the two sentences following has a direct object. The first one ends with a prepositional phrase:

     Dad looked up the chimney.
     Dad looked up "chimney."