I face this problem a lot. I want to use a verb, e.g. 寻找 = "to search" (but it could be any other verb), and want to know if it's a transitive and/or intransitive verb in Chinese (i.e., whether or not it take an object); it could be either. For 寻找 we might say:

我在寻找你 (transitive)
我在寻找 (intransitive)

And Baidu suggests they're both okay, and thus 寻找 is both transitive and intransitive.

But it seems like this should be possible to determine through a dictionary or in some other way, and not by constructing sentences ans searching for them in Baidu.

Question: How do I determine whether a Chinese verb is transitive and/or intransitive?

In English, it'll be in dictionaries, e.g., seek. The same is not always true for Chinese, e.g., Bing, Baidu.

  • Do you have any idea that some word are only intransitive?
    – 000
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 8:29
  • Sorry wrong question. Do you have any idea that some "Chinese" word are only intransitive?
    – 000
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 8:32
  • grow: 成長, run(water): 流動
    – Agrit
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


I am not a linguist so I cannot give you a definitive answer, but the concept of "transitive/intransitive" is not native to Chinese language.

I think most of the verbs you encounter can take an object.

Even adjectives used as verbs can take an object. There are 使动,意动,为动, that make them so.




Whether there is a, nominal at least, object, is determined not only by the verb, but also by the whole sentence even the context.

And the absence of an object, however, doesn't imply that the verb is intransitive, either. It can be omitted.






You can see, 找 does take an object, but we do not need to mention it every time.

Another case is 隐含被动(implied passive), where nominal subject is actually the object of the verb.





Finally, there are verbs that indeed take no object. You can distinguish them easily by the meanings of them: if some action semantically needs no target, it doesn't take objects.



If a verb can either take an object or not, it means differently in the two cases.



  • 夐无人烟 = 杳无人烟 (?)
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 9:32
  • @Becky李蓓 Arharh it's the same thing 夐 and 杳 both mean 远 Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 9:38
  • @Becky李蓓 I use 夐 just because when I wrote that sentence, I recalled 《吊古战场文》:平沙无垠,夐不见人... Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 9:41

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