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English for parenting: transitive and intransitive verbs

verbs-1Today’s post focuses on the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs when talking about newborns and parenting. To help you remember their meanings, I’m going to include some possible collocations. It’s a good habit when learning new words to always write down a few collocations, in this way your vocabulary will broaden quickly and soon you’ll find yourself using these new terms when speaking or writing.

TRANSITIVE VERBS

A verb is transitive when it’s followed by an object. For example, “to raise” is transitive and indeed in the context of parenting a common collocation is “to raise children“. In this instance, the word children is the object.  “To raise” is not an intransitive verb because “someone can’t raise” but “he or she can raise something”: you can raise your hand / taxes / money / an issue etc.

In the following text I have bolded some transitive verbs related to parenting (together with some common collocations):

Babies cry to let you know that they need something: you might need to change their nappy, and so wipe their bottom etc, or you might need to feed them (they often suck their fingers when they’re hungry), they might just want you to cuddle them (= to hold them in your arms, maybe while singing a lullaby) or maybe you haven’t winded them properly. To settle your baby, especially if you notice that they are rubbing their eyes,  you might try swaddling him or her (=to wrap them very tightly in a blanket) and gently rock them in your arms until they fall asleep. Sometimes they cry just because they’re either too hot or cold, in which case you’ll need to undress them or add another layer.

INTRANSITIVE VERBS

And now let’s turn to intransitive verbs such as “to grow up“. Intransitive verbs are not followed by any object. Indeed we say that “someone grows up” but you can’t say that “someone grows up someone else”. Here are a few examples that should help you understand the difference between to raise and to grow up:

I grew up in London.
She lost her parents when she was two, so her grandparents raised her.
He was raised in France.
He grew up to be an important writer.

Now let’s have a look at some intransitive verbs about parenting and newborns:
When a baby fusses, fidgets or cries a lot, it might be a sign that he’s hungry. After your baby feeds, he should settle / calm down.
It’s not uncommon for babies to doze off during a feed.
You should always try to make your baby burp after a feed.
Babies tend to wriggle a lot when you change them.

Can you now guess why some of the above verbs are green? Yes, precisely because they can be either transitive or intransitive depending on their usage. Use a dictionary to check whether a verb is transitive, intransitive or both to make sure you’re using them correctly.

Hope this helps! 🙂
Talk soon,
Deb

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English for parenting: newborns and baby stuff

This post is a sequel to Medical English: English for pregnancy and it’s going to be full of vocabulary related to newborns and parenting. So if you’ve just become a parent, like me, I hope you’ll find it useful and, by the way, congratulations!

FURNITURE

Towards the end of the pregnancy, a woman goes through a period called ‘nesting‘ when she starts buying some nursery furniture: a moses basket for when the baby is really small, a cot for later on, a cot top changer for changing his or her nappies and a baby bath where to wash her little one.

CLOTHING

In terms of clothing, a newborn will need a few bodysuits, or vests, babygrows (British English) or onesises (American English) which are the all-in-ones with legs, some hats and mittens.0610-newborn-photographer

GOING OUT WITH YOUR BABY

To take your little one out, you’ll need a pram for when they’re small and need to lie down, a car seat for later on or whenever you want to take them in the car and eventually a pushchair (also called buggy). You can buy these three pieces together and it’s called travel system.

When your baby can hold his or her head up, you might consider getting a baby carrier or sling.

When going out, you’ll also need to take with you a changing bag where you’ll keep some nappies, some baby wipes and a travel changing mat.

FEEDING YOUR BABY

Nursing bras and pads are essential for breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding can be painful at the beginning as it’s not always easy to latch on the baby. If you decide to bottlefeed instead of breastfeeding, you’ll also need a pump to pump out your milk, a few feeding bottles and a bottle steriliser. Unless you opt for the formula (in this case you buy the milk). In any case, it’s always handy when feeding your baby to have a muslin square within easy reach for when you’ll need to wind him or her(=to get him or her to burp) or a newborn bib.

Sorry the baby is crying and I need to go 🙂
Talk soon,
Deb