How can an intransitive verb have 'objects' and 'complements'?



[Source:] The following description of predicates comes from
The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (examples our own):

With an intransitive verb, objects and complements are included in the predicate.
(The glacier is melting.)
With a transitive verb, objects and object complements are said to be part of the predicate.
(The slow moving glacier wiped out an entire forest. It gave the villagers a lot of problems.)
With a linking verb, the subject is connected to a subject complement.
(The mayor doesn't feel good.)

By definition, intransitive verbs lack a direct object, but because indirect object => direct object, they lack an indirect object too. So what does the above mean by objects and complements ?


Posted 2015-02-03T22:17:11.673

Reputation: 8 167

4I really have no idea what that paragraph is trying to say. I can only assume that they made some mistake in transcribing it . . . – ruakh – 2015-04-19T02:06:24.643

Don't "included in the predicate" and "said to be part of the predicate" mean the same thing? I agree with @ruakh, there's something not quite right about that paragraph, although snailboat is also right that normally intransitive verbs can sometimes be used transitively. – DCShannon – 2015-07-11T00:45:29.680

I strongly recommend focusing on grammar terminology when you are at higher levels so when you ask a question others can figure out what you're asking. Also grammarians have different ideas about calling different parts in a sentence. You can even see this in dictionaries when they try to assign a part of speech to a word e.g. all is also considered to be an adjective in Merriam Webster while in LDOCE it's definitely not classified as an adjectives. Anyway I hope you can get your answer here. – – Yuri – 2016-03-29T11:43:41.587

The problem is solved! Instead of complements, perhaps an intransitive verb can take Complementizers! link

– P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-06-30T02:52:26.847

No, intransitive verbs (sometimes) take complements. – snailplane – 2016-12-08T21:44:39.847

You can learn about intransitive verbs that take complements here:

– Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-02-03T22:49:22.647

Intransitive verbs don't have objects. But many verbs that are normally used intransitively can also be used transitively: "He died a painful death." – snailplane – 2015-02-04T04:08:19.620



The initial page actually has anchor links for each word, making it easy to see what the web page is trying to convey.

With an intransitive verb, objects and complements are included in the predicate. (The glacier is melting.)

The objects word links to the Direct and Indirect Objects and thus refers to either or both direct objects and indirect objects. This is further a nod to both intransitive verbs, which don't require either, and ditransitive verbs, which can take both at once.

The complements word links to the Complements section and thus refers to words or phrases that complete the sense of a subject, object, or verb.

So, let's bring that back to the sentence and its accompanying example:

  • Not only is the glacier the subject in action (the glacier melts), but also receives said action (the glacier is being melted as a result of its melting).
  • The word melting is a complement that completes the sense of the verb is here, and thus is a verb complement.

In your defense, the page isn't terribly well organized and, as Yuri points out in her comment, suffers from inconsistent nomenclature. I'm pretty sure that you're neither the first nor the last person to be confused by that web page (yeah, it was confusing me for a while too).


Posted 2015-02-03T22:17:11.673

Reputation: 2 600