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I love it! I hate you! All about Transitive Verbs...

StartFragmentHere is one of the most common mistakes that my students make:

  • "I love___!"

  • "I don't like ___!"

Can you see what's wrong with these sentences?

The answer is: They don't have Objects.

As you probably know, a Sentence in English looks like the following (and if you want to learn more about the basics of English Sentences, read my last two blogs from August 8 and August 16):


I love you.

However, with some Verbs, we can make a sentence just with:


His cat died.

That's because some Verbs can finish a Sentence. However, other Verbs can't finish a Sentence.

When you're considering English grammar and use, remember that Verbs fall into one of these two categories:

1-- Transitive Verbs, which always need Objects;

2-- and Intransitive Verbs, which don't need Objects.

Because love, like, don't like, hate, and enjoy are Transitive Verbs, you always need to say WHAT you love or WHO you hate. Got it?

  • DON'T say: I like___

  • SAY: I like you. I like ice cream. I like working with my hands.

Another problem that my students have when they talk about what they like or don't like is saying ideas this way:

  • "I love so much soccer!"

  • "I hate very much onions!"

Again, love, like, hate, dislike, and enjoy are Transitive Verbs, so not only do they need Objects, but you CAN'T separate Transitive Verbs and their Objects like in the above sentences.

  • DON'T say: I love so much soccer.

  • SAY: I love soccer so much.

  • DON'T say: I hate very much onions!

  • SAY: I hate onions very much.

How can you know if a Verb is Transitive and needs an Object? Well, it's a bit tricky (Adj = difficult).

However, if you have a good dictionary, when you look up a Verb, it should say "T" (Transitive) or "IT" (Intransitive) next to it. If you don't use a dictionary, use this rule:

If the idea that you want to explain in English can answer the questions "Who?" or "What?", your Verb is Transitive.

Take a look at examples of questions and answers which use Transitive Verbs.

Who do you love? What do you love?

  • I love someone/ something.

  • I love my cat.

  • I love sushi.

  • I love teaching English.

(See? Because it answers the questions "Who?" or "What?"...Love is Transitive!)

Who does he hate? What does he hate?

  • He hates someone/ something.

  • He hates tomatoes.

  • He hates working on Saturdays.

(See? Hate is also Transitive...because it answers the questions "Who?" or "What?")

Who did the criminal kill? Who was killed?

  • A criminal killed a man who lives on my street. (Killed is Transitive because we can answer the question with SOMEONE.)

What did Diego choose?

  • Diego chose a song to play with his band. (Chose is Transitive because we can answer the question with SOMETHING.)

What does Fred eat? What does he eat a lot of?

  • Fred eats a lot of vegetables. (Eats is Transitive because we can answer the question with SOMETHING.)

In general, if you want to say an idea in English, and the Verb you want to say CAN be followed by SOMEONE or SOMETHING, you should just finish the idea immediately by saying WHO or WHAT!

Some of the most common Transitive Verbs are: Love, like, enjoy, dislike, hate, make, build, do, buy, choose/ pick/ select, eat, fix/ repair, tell, learn, teach, use, hurt, hit, kill, steal, borrow, lend, clean, wash, watch. All of these need to be followed by Objects!

Some of the most common Intransitive Verbs are: Laugh, talk, go, walk, run, sneeze, cough, sleep, rise, fall, die, live. These don’t need Objects!

Try it right now! Answer these five questions. Try writing your answers down on a piece of paper and/ or saying them out loud. Please use full sentences!

1 - I love my job a lot. How much do you enjoy your job?

(a little, a lot; if you feel negatively about your job, you should use the NEGATIVE: I don't enjoy it much...OR...I hate it a lot.)

2 - Liver is absolutely my least favorite food. I hate liver with a passion (idiom = completely; energetically; totally.

What food or drink do you hate with a passion?

3 - The last thing I made to eat was chicken curry with rice and a cup of tea.

What was the last thing you made to eat or drink?

4 - I love my husband more than anyone else in the world.

Who do you love more than anyone else in the world?

5 - The last time I went shopping, I bought a new pair of running shoes.

What did you buy the last time you went shopping?

Why is this lesson important? Once you understand the idea of Transitive and Intransitive Verbs, you will not only start sounding more natural in English, but you will also have an easier time using Phrasal Verbs and the Passive form correctly--they are related topics.

I promise you that you can improve your English -- you only need to understand it and practice it!

Have a great weekend. --Susan.



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