Complex Transitive Verbs

There are five basic types of verbs: intransitive, linking, mono-transitive, di-transitive and complex-transitive verbs. In this lesson, we'll discuss the last.

Complex Transitive Verbs in English Grammar

What Are Complex Transitive Verbs?

A complex transitive verb (also known as an attributive ditransitive verb or a resultative verb) is a verb that needs both a direct object and an object complement.

Complex transitive verbs may have two objects, but they function differently.

They called him Robinson Crusoe.

The object in this sentence is 'him'. 'Robinson Crusoe is the object complement.

Object Complements

The object complements (also known as the object predicate or the object predicative) are parts of the predicate that come after a direct object and complement the direct object by describing it. They can be:

I will make her happy.

I will make her a movie star.

I will make her mine.

I chose her for captain.

I found her sleeping on the couch.

Childhood experiences make us who we are.

I consider him to be a gentleman.

Put the turkey in the oven.

make is a complex transitive verb


Only adverbs of place can be placed directly after the direct object of a transitive verb. You are not allowed to use adverbs of time or frequency or manner as an object complement. Check out the examples:

✗We found him amusingly.

✗We understand our child always.

Common Complex Transitive Verbs

Common complex transitive verbs in English are:

  • make
  • call
  • find
  • turn into
  • keep
  • believe
  • prove
  • consider
  • think

That mean comment made her sad.

I consider you my best friend.


Many complex transitive verbs can also be used as transitive verbs without an object complement. It's important to note that they may have a different meaning when used transitively compared to their complex transitive form.

I found Tina.

I found Tina fascinating.

Passive Voice

The direct object of complex-transitive verbs can be transformed into the passive voice. Note that it is the direct object and not the object complement that allows the sentence to be changed into a passive construction.

They made him a star.

He was made a star. (Not 'A star was made him.')

Ditransitive vs. Complex Transitive Verbs

In order to know the difference between a ditransitive verb and a complex transitive verb, you need to pay attention to the noun phrases that occur after the transitive verbs:

I consider Jake my best friend.

Answer this question: Do Jake and 'my best friend' refer to the same person?

If the noun phrases following the verb refer to the same person/thing, the main verb is a complex transitive verb.

I made Jake a sandwich.

Answer this question: Do Jake and 'dinner' refer to the same person?

If the noun phrases following the verb do not refer to the same person/thing, the main verb is ditransitive verb.


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