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Monotransitive English Verbs

Notional grammars describe verbs as “action or state of being words.” Main verbs, or principal verbs, fall into five categories in English grammar. Monotransitive verbs are a subcategory of transitive verbs that take only one object: a direct object.

Some common monotransitive English verbs include the following:

  • accomplish
  • achieve
  • address
  • begin
  • bother
  • continue
  • create
  • damage
  • end
  • favor
  • fear
  • finish
  • hate
  • like
  • loathe
  • love
  • maintain
  • prefer
  • start

For example:

  • She has accomplished her dreams.
  • The President will address the students at noon.
  • My dog fears thunderstorms and whistles.
  • The referee ended the game due to the weather.
  • He finally finished his thesis.
  • Maintain a safe following distance on the interstate.

Many English phrasal verbs are monotransitive. (Some phrasal verbs are also intransitive.) Phrasal verbs are a common English verb form that consist of a verb followed by a p-word that functions as a particle. For example:

  • The doctors must attend to the sickest patients first.
  • The leaders should do away with the conservative dress code.
  • The store has jacked up all its prices.
  • My neighbors noses around my business a lot.
  • I saved on my grocery bill with coupons.
  • My son yanked his hat off.

Monotransitive verbs can occur within passive constructions. The English language has two grammatical voices: active and passive. The active voice allows speakers to form sentences in which the grammatical subject performs the action of or acts upon the verb functioning as the predicate. The passive voice allows speakers to form sentences in which a direct or indirect object moves into the subject position. Because monotransitive verbs take direct objects, monotransitive verbs in active constructions can shift into the passive voice. For example:

  • I read the speech. (monotransitive verb, active voice)
  • The speech was read by me. (monotransitive verb, passive voice)
  • The dog ate some kibble. (monotransitive verb, active voice)
  • Some kibble was eaten by the dog. (monotransitive verb, passive voice)
  • The crazy lady yammered on about the price of gas. (monotransitive verb, active voice)
  • The price of gas was yammered on about by the crazy lady. (monotransitive verb, passive voice)

Monotransitive verbs are transitive verbs that take only a direct object. Monotransitive verbs can occur within passive constructions.

References

Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kilby, David. 1984. Descriptive syntax and the English verb. Dover, New Hampshire: Croom Helm.
Leech, Geoffrey N. 2004. Meaning and the English verb. Harlow, English: Pearson Longman.

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