What does "takes a direct object" mean?

I'm trying to lock down my understanding of the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs using the rule the book gives. So far I've just been memorizing which verbs are paired with and that's not the best way to do it. I have three different textbooks for Italian, but none of them explain it in a way that I can seem to understand.

Transitive verbs "take a direct object" while intransitive verbs don't. But what exactly does "taking" mean? Is that when you attach a direct object pronoun to the end of the verb, and if so, how does that work with all the ones that must go in front of the verb. Is that "taking" too? How would I identify a verb that takes a d/o?

What is an example of a verb that does not, or cannot, "take" a direct object pronoun? I'm really confused over this rule!

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  • 1 decade ago
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    Basically when you look at a sentence and the verb is followed by a direct object without which the sentence would be incomplete it means the verb is transitive

    E.g.: She lifted the bag ("bag" is the direct object of "lifted")

    You can check by asking the following question: "She liften what?" - "She lifted the bag" OR

    E.g.: I punished you ("you" is the direct object of "punished")

    Ask: "I punished whom?" - "I punished you"

    An intransitive verb, as you know, can't take (or be followed by) a direct object.

    E.g.: The sound of the choir carried through the cathedral ("carried" is intransitive and takes no direct object. The prepositional phrase "through the cathedral" acts as an adverb describing where the sound carried)

    You can't ask "the sound of the choir carried what?" and get your answer from the given sentence.

    E.g.: The train from London arrived four hours late ("arrived" takes no direct object and is therefore intransitive, and the noun phrase "four hours late" acts as an adverb describing when the train arrived.

    Again you can't ask: "The train from London arrived what?/who?/whom?"

    Hope this makes things a bit easier for you to digest. Good luck!

    Source(s): Used to be top of my class in English Grammar.
  • 1 decade ago

    It just means the verb can be performed onto an object. Verbs like eat, borrow, open, drive, read, etc. are transitive because these are things you can do to something else. That's what it means by taking a direct object. Verbs like fall, go, or die are intransitive because they can't take a direct object. You can drive a car or you can read a book, but you can't fall something and you can't go it either. That's essentially the difference.

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