Some verbs take their object directly, some don't. For example:

you bounce into a programmer's cubicle with a huge grin on your face

the word "bounce" here cannot have its object, so we have to use "into" to help it with its object.

Is there a formal name for this grammar phenomenon, then I can search Wikipedia for it to learn more about it.

closed as off-topic by RegDwigнt Feb 10 '14 at 22:37

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  • The term (in)transitive can be found in plain text right in the dictionary entry for bounce (or for any other verb, for that matter). See e.g. Wiktionary, Merriam-Webster. And of course it is also easily to be found in the Wikipedia article on verbs. – RegDwigнt Feb 10 '14 at 22:39
  • I've just read wikipedia's definition of "intransitive verbs. For wikipedia "to speak" is an intransitive verb in "He spoke softly". – rogermue Feb 10 '14 at 22:58
  • My definition of "intransitive" is a verb that has no object or a prep-object. But to say a verb + adv is intransitive is confusion of terms, even if Wiktionary, Meriam-Webster and Wikipedia say so. I would not take these three sources as very competent in grammar things. You find a lot of statements in all three sources which are very dubious. Even such renowned dictionaries as Webster have there deficiences. – rogermue Feb 10 '14 at 23:10

A verb which can take a direct object is called a transitive verb. One which can't is called an intransitive verb.


"He bounced into the cubicle" or "He jumped into the water" The question is whether "into the cubicle" or "into the water" is an object or not. You have verbs of movement (to bounce, to jump) + a complement. The question-word for this complement is where-to. So these parts are adverbial complements of the sentence, and no objects. At least, that's the way I see it.

In en.wikipedia you will find an article about adverbial. But I would say it is a poor article. And the article does not treat one weak point of English grammar terminology. There are word classes such as noun, verb, adjective, adverb and so on. An adverb can consist of a single word or of several words, then I call it an adverb group. The English term is "adverb phrase" (phrase is a very vague term). Beside word classes there are parts of a sentence: subject, verbal part, object, adverbial (complement). English grammar terminology often does not clearly distinguish between word classes and parts of a sentence. In English grammars "adverbial" can be a single adverb, an adverb group (these two are word classes) and a part of a sentence. This imprecise use of grammar terms is not appropriate to make things clear. Actually such a terminology is botchwork.

  • yes, I was wrong, thank you. Maybe, How diff object and complement is my question then to ask. – lovespring Feb 10 '14 at 22:49

Spot on Barrie. It's called transitivity. You can also have what are called di-transitive verbs, which can take more than one object. E.g. I gave the book (direct object) to her (indirect object).

  • 1
    The more specific term is 'valency'. – Barrie England Feb 10 '14 at 21:32

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