i have problem to determine if the word bake is transitive or intransitive verb from the Phrase "Samantha can bake at any time of the day." i am reading from a book called English grammar understanding the basic it say

Action verbs that act upon something are called transitive verbs. Action verbs that do not act upon something are called intransitive verbs.

If a verb (in any of its forms) can be put in one of the following slots, it is transitive: (a) What did you_____? (b) Who did you______ ? If a verb cannot be put in one of these slots, it is intransitive.

If a verb (in one of its forms) can be put in one of the following slots, it is transitive: (a) He _____ something. (b) He____ someone.

If a verb (in one of its forms) can be put in the following slot, it is intransitive: He____

by following the grammar i can say "he bake something" or "what did you bake" it look transitive for me

  • 1
    Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. Bake is one of those. "I am baking a cake." "The cake is baking in the oven right now."
    – Robusto
    Jul 26, 2015 at 11:42

3 Answers 3


"Bake" is an agentive ambitransitive, a verb that can be either transitive or intransitive. English has many of these. "Eat" is another example:

Joe eats. Joe eats apples.

In the sentence about Samantha, "bake" is intransitive. There is no object. The sentence doesn't tell us what Samantha is baking, just that she bakes.


The idea of transitiveness is a subset of the technical definition of verb-valency in linguistics.

When we delve on the subject of verb-valency, we should no longer use the term "transitive verb". We should walk on a higher plane, with more grandiose pedestals and say "transitive usage of a subject of a verb". Alternatively, "transitive dependencies of a verb." A similar topic of concern is found in transitive dependencies and valencies of a database/information entity.

What qualifies as subjects worthy of transitive action of a verb might still be in trivial dispute.

  • He came eating.
    Is eating qualified to be the transitive-subject of come?

  • He came yesterday.
    Why would adverbial use of yesterday not qualify as valency of a verb??

  • She gave me.
    And yet me qualifies as valency?

  • He came groaning.
    Why wouldn't groaning increment the valency of came?

  • She gave a cake.

AFAIAC, all subjects above qualify as transitive-subjects of its verb, not intervened or mediated by any preposition. Some people may disagree with me, limiting themselves to the initial thesis on linguistic valency-of-verbs. Perhaps, I am contorting the intents of that thesis. Perhaps, current people indulgent in that thesis attempt to concoct an algorithm to restrict the term valency, without considering the mathematical implications of such restrictions.

  1. Valency 0:

    • Giving is such a blessing.
  2. Valency 1: One action-subject to the verb in a phrase.

    • Giving presents is a blessing.
    • He bakes.
      The perpetrator is the sole subject of the verb.
  3. Valency 2: Two action-subjects per verb. Valencies 1 & 2:

    • Giving me(v1) presents(v2) is his delight.
    • He(v1) bakes cakes(v2).
    • He(v1) baked yesterday(v2).
    • He(v1) baked laughing(v2).
  4. Valency 3:

    • He(v1) giving me(v3) presents(v3) is his delight.
    • He(v1) bakes me(v2) cakes(v3).
    • He(v1) baked cakes(v2) groaning(v3).
  5. Valency 4:

    • He(v1) giving me(v3) a kiss(v3) yesterday(v4) was amusing.
  6. Valency 5:

    • I am amused when he(v1) gave me(v3) a kiss(v3) groaning(v4) yesterday(v5).

Test of valency: A subject increases the valency of a verb, when that subject can be used with the verb independent of any other valency candidates.

  • he(v1) gave me(v3) a kiss(v3) groaning(v4) yesterday(v5).
  • he gave
  • gave me
  • Q: When did he give you a kiss?
    A: He gave yesterday.
  • Q: How did he give you a kiss?
    A: He gave groaning.
  • He gave a kiss

It is transitive. There is an implied object.

The intransitive verb is also "to bake" but this is not it.


The cakes are baking in the oven. (Intransitive - no object)

Samantha is baking in the kitchen. (Transitive - implied object)

  • but the book say it is Intransitive
    – Skube
    Jul 26, 2015 at 11:34
  • Samantha is baking in the sun. She should put her bikini back on, and bask in the bikini. Jul 26, 2015 at 12:58
  • @BrianHitchcock - Thanks. Yes, I was aware of that meaning and of course it would be intransitive. The context tells us which. Jul 26, 2015 at 14:38
  • @Skube - Then the book is wrong. Jul 26, 2015 at 14:39

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