According to my non-native intuition, some Russian verbs like несу, передаю, etc. cannot be used with a direct object.

-Что вы делаете?
-Мы несем ему книги.

-Что вы делаете?
*-Мы несем.

The first statement is good, but the bare мы несем is not (in my mind, at least). In other words, it seems to me that the verb нести requires an explicit direct object.

Is this true? Are there dictionaries that identify these types of verbs?

  • Russian Wiktionary indicates that нести is transitive: ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8 I think it identifies this characteristic for other verbs as well.
    – Artemix
    Jan 31, 2017 at 20:17
  • "Мы несем" it's okay, but such short answer sounds a bit rude. Like you don't really want to answer. But even in this case usually better to add something like "Мы несём, твою мать!" ("твою мать" means something like "god damn!" here)
    – S Panfilov
    Feb 2, 2017 at 6:32
  • 3
    It can sound perfectly polite in proper context: - Когда принесёте книги? - Уже несём! The problem is that it only happens in incomplete sentences, where the direct object is imaginary or referred to previously.
    – Alex_ander
    Feb 2, 2017 at 8:20
  • @SergeyPanfilov "Мы несем" implies an object, more exactly a reference to an object previously discussed.
    – bipll
    Feb 3, 2017 at 22:09

4 Answers 4


Well, to be strict, no, it's not the case. Consider following phrase:

 - Чего это ты делаешь?
 - Да вот, видишь, несу.

See what happens here, person A sees that person B is doing something and asking what exactly. Person B is answering assuming that, while he is answering, person A can get the rest from the context.

I guess way too often it will be indeed clarified (несу книги, тащу мешок etc.) but it's not completely ungrammatical.

  • "Да вот, видишь, несу." - there is no such sentence.
    – user31264
    Feb 1, 2017 at 14:31
  • @user31264 why? Feb 2, 2017 at 9:55
  • Why do you think there is one?
    – user31264
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:45
  • 1
    @user31264 - You can't know which sentences exist and which don't, because you can't know every situation in the Universe that can happen. You should understand that «Да вот, видишь, несу.» is not a sentence (предложение), it's an utterance (высказывание), and utterances refer to a particular situation. It's your fault if you can't imagine a situation in which that utterance would make sense and be pretty grammatical. Also, Russian sentences aren't linear, but utterances are. And utterances can well be ungrammatical, but still make sense in the situation they are meant to be used in.
    – Yellow Sky
    Feb 4, 2017 at 13:00
  • @YellowSky - I have feelings/intuition. You may say that my feelings are not a proof, but they are supported by the dictionary which declares that this verb is transitive. If you say that such sentence exists, your claim not supported at all, except by the reference to your intuition.
    – user31264
    Feb 4, 2017 at 13:13

Any transitive verb can be used without an object in a certain situation when you just don't name the object,but have it in mind. Consider the following situation.

Вы пьёте чай? Что,всё ещё пьёте?

  • Of course, as in English, most verbs can be used either transitively or intransitively. I thin OP is asking about verbs which must be transitive. Feb 1, 2017 at 11:49

You seem to be asking two separate questions here.

Are there Russian verbs that cannot be used intransitively? - Yes, plenty. Надевать, снимать, изучать, ощупывать are just a few examples.

Is there a transitive verb that cannot be used without an object? - Most likely, no. I am struggling to think of one. It seems as if one can always come up with a context where the transitive verb's object will be physically missing but undoubtedly implied.

  • Sometimes transitive verbs might be used intransitively especially for humorous purpose. Like "Oни символизируют." Or like English "Anonymous delivers" parsed along "subject, action" pattern instead of "what kind, objects".
    – Arioch
    Nov 21, 2017 at 16:42
  • 1
    "Отец, слышишь, рубит, а я отвожу"
    – Alexander
    Nov 21, 2017 at 18:01

Russian has transitive verbs, as many other languages, and, as many other languages, they can sometimes anyway happen without the object. Take есть (eat). It is transitive by nature, but you can say "Я ем" and be perfectly grammatical (pretty much as in English). So it's not the case. I can't comment, but the example with несу is highly contextual. Verbs нести, класть/положить and so on will normally require direct object. By "normally" here I understand "always, unless highly specific situational context". To check you can go to gramota.ru, put the verb and see what type of verb is it (transitive or not) by proposed objects in the article. Although it won't say if it's 100% obligatory (also, I imagine, dictionaries don't cover the specific cases as the one with несу) http://gramota.ru/slovari/dic/?word=%D0%B1%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%8C&all=x But this (together with the exmaples) will allow you to at least orient in Russian verbs. I hope =)

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