Verbe transitif

French Transitive Verb

transitive verb is a verb that requires one or more objects (i.e. the action of the verb affects or is destined to something/someone) to complete its meaning.

Examples:    

Nous avons une voiture.   (We have a car.)

Le chat boit du lait.  (The cat drinks milk.)

Il a écrit une lettre et un poème.  (He wrote a letter and a poem.)

Je me moque de mon frère.   (I mock my brother.)

 

In French, transitive verbs can be divided into three categories:

(1) Les verbes transitifs directs

Direct transitive verbs in French are verbs that require specifically a direct object (i.e. not introduced by a preposition):

  • Le garçon achète une balle.   (He buys what? a ball)
  • Je vois ma fille.  (I see whom? my daughter)
     

(2) Les verbes transitifs indirects

Indirect transitive verbs in French are verbs that require specifically an indirect object (i.e. introduced by a preposition: à, de, etc.):

  • Paul parle à son cousin.   (Paul talks to whom? to his cousin)
  • Elle se souvient de Théo.   (She remembers Theo.)  

Note that verb transitivity is not necessarily the same in French and English!

For example, the verb se souvenir de (to remember) is an indirect transitive verb in French (se souvenir de quelqu'un) whereas it is a direct transitive verb in English (to remember someone).
 

(3) Les verbes ditransitifs

Ditransitive verbs that are both directly and indirectly transitive.

Verbs like montrer (to show), donner (to give) and écrire (to write) can be followed both by something they affect AND a recipient/target of the action.

  • Je montre le cahier à mon père.   (I show the book to my dad. / I show my dad the book.)
  • Il donne un billet à Patrice.   (He's giving a note to Patrice. / He's giving Patrice a note.) 
  • Nous écrivons une lettre à nos parents.   (We're writing a letter to our parents. / We're writing our parents a letter.)

Note that in English the position of the objects can be swapped and, when the indirect object comes first, the preposition can be omitted. This is not the case in French.

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