What Are Complex Transitive Verbs in English?

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A verb that requires both a direct object and another object or an object complement.

In a complex-transitive construction, the object complement identifies a quality or attribute pertaining to the direct object.

Complex transitive verbs in English include believe, consider, declare, find, judge, keep, label, name, presume, pronounce, prove, rate, and think.

See also:


Examples and Observations:

  • Elena Kagan clerked for Thurgood Marshall and has long considered him a hero.
  • When the Congress unanimously elected George Washington president, he accepted reluctantly.
  • "Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence."
    (Edgar Allan Poe)
  • Her thoughtless remarks made him unhappy.
  • Leprechauns painted the barn green.
  • "We called him Mother Superior on account of the length of his habit."
    (Mark "Rent-boy" Renton, Trainspotting, 1996)
  • Meaning in Transitives and Complex Transitives
    "[M]any of the verbs that appear in complex transitive clauses will also appear in transitive clauses without an object complement; but when they do, there is a change of meaning. Think about the different meanings of the verb in the following pairs of sentences:
    (49a) Transitive: Ahmed found the professor.
    (49b) Complex transitive: Ahmed found the professor marvelous!
    (49c) Transitive: Hojin considered the matter.
    (49d) Complex transitive: Hojin considered the matter a waste of time."
    (Martin J. Endley, Linguistic Perspectives on English Grammar: A Guide for EFL Teachers. IAP, 2010)

  • Active and Passive
    "As is the case with any type of object, the DO [direct object] in complex-transitive complementation can also be passivised. An interesting fact is that the co-reference between the OC [object complement] and the DO survives passivisation.
    59. They made him president.
    60. He was made president.
    Note, however, that it is the direct object and not the object complement that can passivise!
    61. They made him president.
    62. *President was made him."
    (Eva Duran Eppler and Gabriel Ozón, English Words and Sentences: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2013)
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