Action Verbs,
The Direct Object & Indirect Object

Action verbs show action. Crazy, huh? :)

8 parts of speech

Do you remember that a verb is a word that tells us what the subject is or does?

Well, these verbs are the ones that tell us what the subject does.

Out of the four different types of verbs, three of them show action!

    1. Intransitive Complete

    2. Transitive Active

    3. Transitive Passive

Only one of these types of action verbs can take a direct object and an indirect object. Do you know which one?

(By the way, the fourth kind of verb is a linking verb. Linking verbs do not show action. You'll learn more about linking verbs soon.)

Don't fret. I'll teach you!

Action Verbs

Before we launch into the three types of action verbs, I want to tell you a little bit about what an action is.

Hey! Stop rolling your eyes.

I know it sounds obvious. You hear action and you think jump, hop, bike, swim, cook, and you are right, BUT...

You need to know that these guys can show both physical action AND mental action.

Words like dream, think, love, and hate are also action verbs.

These verbs tell us about actions that we cannot see, but they are still action verbs.

Action Verb # 1 Intransitive Complete

Vocabulary time! Let's look at the word intransitive.

How are your Latin skills?

Mine aren't very good either, but I DO know what the Latin prefix in- means. Do you?

It means not. Now we know that in means not.

Are you familiar with the rest of the word?

How about trans or transit.

The transit system is something that carries people from one place to another, right?

Well, if you put all of my above rambling together, you'll find that it's very logical that an intransitive complete verb does not transfer action to anyone or anything.

It does express action, but it doesn't pass that action onto anyone or anything. (That's the job of the the next two types of action verbs.)

Here are some examples of intransitive complete verbs.

Notice that the subjects of the sentences are performing the action, and the sentence is complete without transferring the action to anyone or anything.

I sat and read.

The students laughed.

Action Verb # 2 Transitive Active

Okay, now that you are vocabulary savvy, what do you think a transitive active verb does?

Transitive means that this verb transfers its action to someone or something.

Let's look at some examples.

I read the newspaper.

My grandmother baked a cake.

Direct Object

Remember how we said that transitive active verbs transfer their action to someone or something?

Direct objects are that someone or something.

Direct objects are nouns or pronouns that receive the action of the verb.

They answer the questions What? and Whom? about the verb.

I read the newspaper.

What did I read? I read the newspaper. Newspaper is the direct object.

My grandmother baked a cake.

What did my grandmother bake? She baked a cake. Cake is the direct object.

Jessica kicked her brother.

Whom did Jessica kick? She kicked her brother. Brother is the direct object.

In those sentences, newspaper, cake, and Jessica's poor brother are all receiving the action of the verb. This means that they are all direct objects.

You will only find direct objects after transitive active verbs.

Indirect Object

The plot thickens!

Sometimes transitive active verbs that have a direct object also have an indirect object.

The indirect object tells us For whom? or For what? about the direct object. Indirect objects receive the direct object.

My grandmother baked me a cake.

The cake is for whom? The cake is for me. Me is receiving the direct object (the cake). It is the indirect object.

I gave the dog a bone.

The bone is for whom? The bone is for the dog. Dog is receiving the direct object (the bone). It is the indirect object.

Action Verb # 3 Transitive Passive

In the two sentence types above, the subject was performing the action.

My grandmother was baking, Jessica was kicking...

When you have a transitive passive sentence, guess what?

The action is still being transfered to someone or something. (After all, it has the word transitive in the title.)

But, this time, the subject receives the action!

In transitive active sentences, the direct object was receiving the action.

Check out these transitive passive sentences.

Notice that the subject is the one receiving the action of the verb.

The cake was baked by my grandmother.

A bone was given to the dog.

Jessica's brother was kicked.

Now, cake, bone, and brother are still receiving the action, but they are also the subject of the sentence.

There are only certain times when you should use this kind of verb. You can learn more about when to use the passive voice or the active voice by clicking on that handy link right there and reading more about it!

Finished Action Verbs?
Go Back to Correct Grammar

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