Learn to Write English Clearly and Correctly   

Set 3 - Lesson 7 

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Lesson 7, N+IV Sentences - I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream:

This sentence pattern consists of a Subject Noun and an Intransitive Verb.  We have explained Subject Nouns in other lessons, but have only touched on Intransitive Verbs.  The name itself means it cannot carry action across the sentence from the Subject to an Object.  That means that the action stops with the verb.  Examples: I sleep.  We think.  My mother wonders.  My father relaxes.  The subject performs the action and generally is the only one affected by it. 

BUT, most sentences with Intransitive Verbs contain other words in addition to the subject and the verb.  These extra words will either describe the subject more fully or tell when, where, why or how the action took place.  Look at the following example.

These additional words certainly tell us more about John's singing, but they do not change the fact that the original, basic sentence is John sings.  Here are some more examples.

These examples include some verbs that can be both Intransitive and Transitive, depending on how they are used and what other elements are in the sentence.  Notice the differences.

With each of the Intransitive sentences, if we ask , "We swim what?  Authors write what?  Pythons swallow what?",   there is no answer within the sentenceWith the other sentences, if we ask, "We swim what?"  the answer is right there - laps.  "Authors write what?  novels.  Pythons swallow what?  their prey."  That is the way you determine if a verb is transitive or intransitive.  A sentence with a transitive verb will provide an answer to the what/whom question, while a sentence with an intransitive verb can only answer "where?" or "when?" or "Why?" or "How?".

Exercise A: Put an X on the line after the verbs that are or can be Intransitive.  Use the What/When question to figure them out.

1. The cat yawned ___________ 6. My mother bakes _______________
2. We eat ____________ 7. I like ____________________)
3. The men carried ____________ 8. Boys can run ____________________
4. The actress cries ______________ 9. Apple trees grow __________________
5. Michael was sleeping ________________ The child broke ____________________

Exercise B: Below are ten words or phrases that answer the questions "When?, Where? Why? or How?" 

1. in the tree 2. quietly 3. very quickly 4. behind the barn 5. after his nap
6. on the park bench 7. every morning 8. late Saturday night 9. ferociously 10. into the river

Use these words or phrases to complete those sentences in Exercise A that have Intransitive Verbs.  Write the complete sentences on the lines below.  With the words or phrases that are left over, add your own subjects and verbs and write the complete sentences on the remaining lines below.  You should have ten complete sentences when you are finished.

1. ___________________________________________________________________

2. ___________________________________________________________________

3. ___________________________________________________________________

4. ____________________________________________________________________

5. ____________________________________________________________________

6.  ____________________________________________________________________

7. _____________________________________________________________________

8. _____________________________________________________________________

9. _____________________________________________________________________

10. ____________________________________________________________________


Examination:  The following ten sentences contain Transitive verbs, with an Object to receive the action.  Rewrite each sentence using the same subject and verb while dropping the object of the verb, the receiver, and replacing it with words that answer Where? When? Why? or How?.

Examples:  Martin sang a love song.  (he sang what? a love song)  change it to Martin sang in the shower. (Martin sang where? in the shower.)

1. Frederick was running a good race.


2. The elephant eats leaves and grass.


3. The actress cried real tears.


4. Most professors teach a few classes.


5. The athlete swam several laps.


6. We roasted a large turkey.


7. Captain Harris flies a jet plane.


8. Alice is driving a new car.


9. Henry washes the dishes.



10. I speak French.



-The End-

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