Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs: Italian grammar lesson 169


Dive into the world of Italian verbs with our guide! Learn the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, discover how to spot them, and master the art of using them correctly in sentences.

  • Transitive Verbs: These verbs demand a direct object. Ask “Chi?” or “Che cosa?” to find it. If there’s an answer, you’ve got a transitive verb on your hands!
  • Intransitive Verbs: These guys are the lone wolves of verbs; they don’t need a direct object to make sense. They might roll with an indirect object, but that’s their own business.
  • Direct vs. Indirect: Direct objects get the action straight from the verb. Indirect objects? They’re just bystanders, often clued in by prepositions like “a” or “in”.
  • Passive Voice Test: Want to spot a transitive verb? Try the passive voice makeover. If the object can strut its stuff as the subject, you’ve got a transitive verb in the spotlight.
  • Examples Are Key: Get your hands dirty with examples. They’re like the gym for your Italian verb muscles – the more you work with them, the stronger your skills will get.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep playing detective with those verbs, and you’ll be a pro in no time! 😉🇮🇹

My thoughts

Transitive verbs in Italian

Transitive verbs are all verbs that take a direct object. This means that their action “transits” onto something else.

A direct object answers the questions: CHI? (who?) CHE COSA? (what?)

Look at the example below:

Leonardo suona la chitarra.

Leonardo plays the guitar.

In this case, the action of suonare has a direct object (che cosa? – what?): la chitarra (the guitar).

Here is another example with the question, “Chi?”

Ho chiamato (chi?) Paolo.

I called (who?) Paolo.

Intransitive verbs in Italian

Intransitive verbs, on the other hand, do not need a direct object, as the action “stays” on the subject. It can, however, have indirect objects.

These, however, never answer the questions Chi? Che cosa? as direct objects do.

Have a look at the examples below:

Davide è andato in Francia.

Davide went to France.

Here, the action of andare only concerns the subject, Davide. It has no direct object. However, it has an indirect object that answers the question, Dove? (Where?) in Francia (to France).

Ha parlato con Francesco.

She/he spoke with Francesco.

This is another example of an intransitive verb, as the question it answers is Con chi? (With whom?).

Marco è uscito.

Marco went out.

In this case, the verb uscire has no object and is therefore intransitive.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Transitive vs. Intransitive: How to recognize them

As we’ve seen, transitive verbs always need a direct object (chi? che cosa?), while intransitive verbs can have either no object or an indirect object (con chi? dove? come?).

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Another way to recognize a transitive verb is to transform the sentence into a passive form, with the object becoming the subject. If you can do it, then the verb used is transitive.

Leonardo suona la chitarra.

Leonardo plays the guitar.


La chitarra è suonata da Leonardo.

The guitar is played by Leonardo.

Nina cucina la pasta.

Nina cooks pasta.


La pasta è cucinata da Nina.

The pasta is cooked by Nina.

If you try doing this with an intransitive verb, you’ll realize it isn’t possible, as they do not have a direct object that can be transformed into a subject!

What is the difference between intransitive and transitive verbs in Italian?

Transitive verbs require a direct object in order to complete their meaning; this direct object can be a noun, pronoun or phrase that indicates the person, thing or concept affected by the action of the verb. On the other hand, intransitive verbs may have no object or an indirect object.

What is an example of a transitive verb in Italian?

In school, we learn a classic example: "io mangio la mela" (I eat the apple). In this sentence, io serves as the subject of the verb, mangio is the transitive verb, and la mela is the direct object.

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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