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Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs require two participants: the agent and the patient. 'Trans' means 'across': the action passes from the agent (the doer of the action) to the patient (the 'done-to' or receiver of the action).

For example:
Kei te patu te tama i te taramu.
The boy is hitting the drum.
In the example the agent of the action is ‘te tama’ (the boy) and the patient of the action is ‘te taramu’ (the drum).

Note that it makes little sense to say ‘The boy is hitting.’ In English or Māori you are left asking ‘Hitting what?’, therefore it is an incomplete sentence and needs a patient to complete it. This is characteristic of transitive verbs. ‘Hitting what?’ ‘Hitting the drum - the boy is hitting the drum.’

Transitive verbs can be used in the following ways:
  • Active: I patu te tama i te taramu. (The boy hit the drum.)
  • Passive: I patua te taramu e te tama. (The drum was hit by the boy.)
  • The Agent Emphatic: Nā te tama te taramu i patu. (It was the boy that hit the drum.)
In commands, transitive verbs take the passive form.