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You use your nose when you smell something:


He’s smelling the soup.

This verb can be transitive or intransitive. A transitive verb is followed by an object:

  • She can smell the flowers in the room. (The object in this sentence is "flowers.")
  • I smell pizza.
  • He doesn’t smell anything.
  • As soon as I walked into the house, I smelled something good being made in the kitchen.

An intransitive verb is not followed by an object:

  • These flowers smell good. (The word "good" is an adjective.)
  • This smells bad.
  • The air smells fresh.
  • This meat smells like it’s rotten.

If you use the word "smell" by itself, it usually indicates the presence of an unpleasant odor, so be careful how you use this word:

  • What smells? (The smell is bad. Listen to the intonation of my voice.)
  • What’s that smell?
  • Something smells.
  • Do you smell something?

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This page was first published on December 23, 2011. It was amended on December 27, 2014.



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