Verbs are words that name an action or describe a state of being. Verbs are important, because there’s no way to have a sentence without them.
Every sentence must have two parts: a subject and a predicate. A subject tells who or what the sentence is about. The subject is a noun or a pronoun. A predicate tells what the subject is or does. The verb is found in the predicate.
Transitive and intransitive verbs
A verb which has an object is called a transitive verb. To determine if a verb is transitive, ask yourself, “Whom?” or “What?” after the verb. If you can find an answer in the sentence, the verb is transitive.
- John likes mangoes. (John likes – what? Mangoes.)
- I know Peter well. (I know – whom? Peter.)
Sometimes a transitive verb may have two objects – a direct object and an indirect object. The answer to ‘whom?’ or ‘what?’ is the direct object and the answer to ‘to whom?’ or ‘for whom?’ is the indirect object.
Peter gave the beggar a coin.
Peter gave – what? A coin. (direct object)
– to whom? The beggar (indirect object)
Usually the indirect object, if it is short, comes before the direct object.
A verb which has no object is called an intransitive verb.
- The old man sat in a corner.
The old man sat – whom? what?
The questions are absurd. Sat has no object.
Many verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively, i.e., with an object or without an object.
- Boil some water. (Transitive)
- The water is boiling. (Intransitive)
- Please ring the bell. (Transitive)
- The bell rang loudly. (Intransitive)
- You must always speak the truth. (Transitive)
- He spoke for more than an hour. (Intransitive)
Verbs of incomplete predication
Look at the following sentences:
- He writes.
- He looks upset.
The sentence He writes makes complete sense. But if you say, He looks the sense is incomplete. You have to supply a word like upset (or tired, sad, happy, cheerful etc.) to make the sense complete. Looks is therefore a verb of incomplete predication. The word upset which completes the meaning of the sentence is called the complement of the verb.
Other examples of verbs of incomplete predication are: is, am, are, was, were, turn, grow, appear, look, taste etc.
- The sky grew dark.
- The milk turned sour.
- The fished tasted awful.
- She is intelligent.
- He seems upset.