Headword
Transitive and intransitive verbs (Transitive und intransitive Verben)
Level
[C]
Language
German
Topic
Grammar
Definition
As in English, transitive verbs are followed by an object, e.g. Er verkauft das Auto (He is selling the car). Intransitive verbs are not followed by objects. They can either be used on their own or with an adverb, e.g. er lacht (he laughs), sie wartet immer (she is still waiting), ich reise viel (I travel a lot).
Notes
1. German-English dictionaries generally indicate clearly whether a verb is transitive (vt) or intransitive (vi) or both (vti). This distinction is very useful whenever accuracy and an awareness of how the language works are required. Transitivity has repercussions in particular for the choice of auxiliary when forming the perfect tense of verbs. Transitive verbs use haben to form the perfect, e.g. ich habe das Auto gefahren (I drove the car), but when the verb is used intransitively, sein is used: ich bin nach Glasgow gefahren (I drove to Glasgow).

2. Pronominal or reflexive verbs are transitive as the person is doing the action to himself. The reflexive pronoun is often omitted in English but cannot be omitted in German, e.g. I washed (= I washed myself), ich habe mich gewaschen.
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Concept
Categorisation
See also
Object, Primary auxiliary verb, Verb

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