Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

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In this lesson you'll learn about transitive and intransitive verbs in the English language, using the verbs sit, set, lie, lay, rise, and raise as examples.

Introduction

There are a some pairs of closely related verbs in English that tend to cause confusion. This lesson will try and and help reduce that confusion. This lesson covers transitive and intransitive verbs, as well as the verbs sit, set, lie, lay, rise and raise.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Verbs that have an object are called transitive verbs. In the sentence "I wash the dishes", "I" is the subject, and "the dishes" is the object. Since "the dishes" is the object of the verb "wash", "wash" is a transitive verb. Verbs that do not have an object, are called intransitive verbs. In the sentences "I sleep" and "I sleep on the sofa", sleep is an intransitive verb.

Sit and Set

Sit is an intransitive verb and means "be seated" or "be situated," for example:

The cabin sits beside the beach.
He sat down on the blanket.
I have sat at that table before.

Sit

The verb sit is irregular.

Present participle: sitting

Past Participle: sat

Present Tense Past Tense
I sit I sat
he sits he sat
she sits she sat
it sits it sat
we sit we sat
you sit you sat
they sit they sat

Set

The verb set means to cause to sit. For example:

She set the cup on the table.
I already set the table.
I have set the table many times before.

The verb set is also irregular.

Present participle: setting

Past Participle: set

Present Tense Past Tense
I set I set
he sets he set
she sets she set
it sets it set
we set we set
you set you set
they set they set

Lie and Lay

Lie

The verb lie is actually two different verbs, which used to be pronounced differently. Over time the pronunciation changed so that they now sound the same in the present tense. One version means "tell a fib", the other means "recline", "spread out", or "be placed".

Lie meaning to tell a fib is a regular verb, except for the present participle.

Present participle: lying

Past Participle: lied

Present Tense Past Tense
I lie I lied
he lies he lied
she lies she lied
it lies it lied
we lie we lied
you lie you lied
they lie they lied

The verb lie meaning to recline is irregular.

Present participle: lying

Past Participle: lain

Present Tense Past Tense
I lie I lay
he lies he lay
she lies she lay
it lies it lay
we lie we lay
you lie you lay
they lie they lay

Some examples of the verb lie are:

He lied to me.
They have lied too many times.
Lie down on the sofa.
She lay on the beach yesterday afternoon.
She got a sunburn from lying on the beach for an hour.
She lies on the beach every Monday morning.
We have lain on that beach so many times this summer.

Lay

The verb lay means "to cause to lie". The past tense of lie and the present tense of lay are the same which can cause confusion.

Present participle: laying

Past Participle: laid

Present Tense Past Tense
I lay I laid
he lays he laid
she lays she laid
it lays it laid
we lay we laid
you lay you laid
they lay they laid

The following are some examples of the verb lay:

Lay the book on the desk.
He laid the money on the table and walked away.
She laid the newspapers all over the table.

Rise and Raise

Rise

The verb rise means "go up" or "stand up". Rise is an irregular verb.

Present participle: rising

Past Participle: risen

Present Tense Past Tense
I rise I rose
she rises she rose
he rises he rose
it rises it rose
we rise we rose
you rise you rose
they rise they rose

The following are some examples of the verb rise:

Rise up.
Hot air rises.
The balloon slowly rose up into the air.

Raise

the verb raise means to cause to rise. It can also mean to bring up children or other animals.

Present participle: raising

Past Participle: raised

Present Tense Past Tense
I raise I raised
she raises she raised
he raises he raised
it raises it raised
we raise we raised
you raise you raised
they raise they raised

The following are some examples of the verb raise:

He raised the volume of the stereo.
She raises the cup off of the table.

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