I stumbled across are a weird collection of verbs that are specific in usage that MUST have a categorization but I don’t know what it is. When students first learn parts of speech they learn that verbs are “things you can do!” or “action words!”. These verbs however have no active form.

For example:

Throb: Something can throb, but I can’t throb something.
Itch: Something can itch, but I can’t itch something.

It’s more than just a passive verb – because the active form of the verb doesn’t exist. Does anyone know what this is called? Can anyone think of more examples?

2 thoughts on “Verbs?

  • 11/18/2015 at 12:13 pm

    Are you talking about transitivity? Intransitive verbs can’t take a direct object– “go” is a typical example. “Throb” and “itch” are also intransitive in most senses. Generally Joe can’t “go a book”. That makes no sense, because “go” is intransitive and “a book” is a direct object.

    Contrast with transitive verb “give”. Joe can give a book. No problem.

    Both throb and itch can be “active” in the usual grammatical sense (as in, not passive). As in “My knee throbs when it rains”. Fine active sentence with throb as the verb.

    • 11/18/2015 at 12:22 pm

      YES! HA HA HA! Perfect!

      Intransitive Verbs!!! Fantastic! And I appreciate the clarification on passive and active. I couldn’t find a better way to phrase it. But you nailed it.

      Also fun fact: This is one of those things that’s really hard to Google. You can’t just type in “Words that you can’t do but can do.” When you do this, google has no idea what’s going on.


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