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Ditransitive English Verbs

Verbs have traditionally been defined as “action or state of being words.” Main verbs, or principal verbs, fall into five categories in English grammar. Transitive verbs are English verbs that take an object. Ditransitive verbs take two objects: (1) a direct object and an indirect object or (2) a direct object and an object complement. Ditransitive verbs that take a direct object and an object complement are referred to as attributive ditransitive verbs. Ditransitive verbs can occur within passive constructions.

Some common ditransitive English verbs include the following:

  • accord
  • afford
  • allocate
  • allow
  • appoint
  • ask
  • assign
  • assure
  • award
  • bake
  • bet
  • bring
  • build
  • buy
  • call
  • catch
  • cause
  • charge
  • cook
  • cost
  • cut
  • deal
  • deliver
  • deny
  • design
  • do
  • draw
  • drop
  • earn
  • feed
  • find
  • fine
  • forgive
  • get
  • give
  • grant
  • guarantee
  • hand
  • hunt
  • keep
  • leave
  • lend
  • lose
  • make
  • name
  • offer
  • order
  • overpay
  • owe
  • pass
  • pay
  • permit
  • play
  • prescribe
  • profit
  • promise
  • purchase
  • quote
  • read
  • refuse
  • render
  • save
  • sell
  • send
  • serve
  • set
  • show
  • spare
  • supply
  • take
  • teach
  • tell
  • throw
  • win
  • wish
  • write

For example:

  • Can I ask you a question?
  • Please forgive me my rudeness.
  • Santa promised the little girl a wonderful Christmas.
  • The restaurant has refused the obnoxious couple service.
  • We painted the town red! (attributive ditransitive)
  • We wish you a merry Christmas.

Most ditransitive verbs in the English language take a direct object and an indirect object. Attributive ditransitive verbs are a subcategory of ditransitive English verbs that take a direct object and an object complement. Some common attributive ditransitive English verbs include the following:

  • appoint
  • color
  • decorate
  • designate
  • make
  • name
  • paint

For example:

  • The committee appointed my boss the new team leader.
  • My two toddlers colored the walls neon green.
  • The President designated the fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving.
  • Parking in New York City drives me crazy!
  • The collapse of the economy made him unfathomably sad.
  • We are painting the roses red.

Ditransitive 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 ditransitive verbs take objects, ditransitive verbs in active constructions can shift into the passive voice. For example:

  • The doctor prescribed me a new medicine. (ditransitive verb, active voice)
  • I was prescribed a new medicine by the doctor. (ditransitive verb, passive voice)
  • A new medicine was prescribed to me by the doctor. (ditransitive verb, passive voice)
  • She painted the fence white. (ditransitive verb, active voice)
  • The fence was painted white by her. (ditransitive verb, passive voice)

Ditransitive verbs take two objects, either a direct object and an indirect object or a direct object and an object complement. Ditransitive verbs that take a direct object and an object complement are attributive ditransitive verbs. Diransitive 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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