The word "smell" is associated with the functioning of a nose:


In these sentences and questions, "smell" is a transitive verb (an object follows the verb).

  • Isabela smelled gas in her apartment, so she left the building and called the building manager.
  • Don can’t smell anything because he has a cold.
  • The dog is smelling something.
  • Do you smell that? What is that?
  • You should smell these flowers.
  • I smell pizza.

In these sentences, "smell" is an intransitive verb (no object):

  • The carpet smells bad.
  • These peaches smell fresh.
  • The meat smelled rotten, so I threw it away.
  • It smells like something is burning.
  • You smell good.

Be careful when you use the word "smell." In these sentences and questions, the smell is probably a bad odor. (Intonation is important in this instance.)

  • What’s that smell? (This question uses "smell" as a noun.)
  • Something smells.
  • This meat smells. Throw it out.
  • He smells.

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This page was first published on September 21, 2012. It was updated on April 27, 2016.