Verb | Definition, Types of Verbs with Useful Examples

Verbs are an integral component in the constitution of the English language and are among the first things learners are taught in English lessons. Verbs are essential in that a sentence can’t be deemed complete without containing at least one. Sometimes, a verb is dubbed the heart of the sentence because a sentence would lose its core meaning without it.

In this article, you will learn what a verb is, the basic form of verbs, different types of verbs, and finally, the list of verbs. Additionally, this will help you use verbs correctly in your writing and speech and improve your vocabulary.

What Is a Verb?

A verb is a word or group of words that describe an action in its various forms. A verb can be further defined as a set of words that expound three core things, namely, physical and mental actions and the state of being. To clearly understand the two definitions, let’s look at an example.

  • Jane jumped through the window.

Jane is the noun, and jumped explains the action she took.

  • The bus overturned at the main bridge on the way to town.

In this example, the bus is the noun, and overturned describes the physical action.

Basic Form of Verbs

Verbs are classified into six basic forms: base form, infinitive, past tense, past participle, present participle, and gerund. Let’s look at examples to help you grasp what each of them entails.

  • Students meet in the dining hall. (Basic form)
  • Tell them not to sing. (Infinitive)
  • They watched a movie yesterday. (Past tense)
  • I have eaten a sausage. (Past participle)
  • I saw them studying with him today. (Present participle)
  • Kayaking is the best water sporting workout. (Gerund)

Different Type of Verbs

Verbs are grouped into three main categories, namely, action, modal, and auxiliary. Let’s look at each of them in detail.

Action Verbs

As the name implies, action verbs are verbs that express an action done by someone or something. These verbs are further categorized into two, transitive and intransitive.

Transitive verbs

This verb usually precedes a noun that is being acted upon, referred to as a direct object.

  • She patted her dog’s tail.

In this example, “patted” is the verb, and the noun that is being acted upon is “her dog’s tail,” which is the direct object of the action verb.

Intransitive verbs

An intransitive verb has no direct object, and it precedes an adverb or adverb phrase.

  • Jason walks swiftly away.

In this example, “runs” is the verb, and “swiftly away” is the phrase that expounds about the verb; however, the action is not directed to any object.

Modal verbs

These types of verbs help us comprehend entirely pertaining to the verb in question. They give us a clue about the likelihood of something occurring (can, should) or time (was, did). The incorporation of a modal or helping verb in a sentence creates a verb phrase.

  • Joyce is (helping verb) drafting (main action verb) her biography.
  • Her experience might (helping verb) be (main verb) traumatizing for some of her buddies.

Some of the words that act as helping or modal verbs include: should, would, could, can, will, must, ought to, may, shall, etc.

Auxiliary Verbs

Also known as linking verbs, auxiliary verbs join a sentence subject to a noun or adjective that gives more information about the subject. The noun or adjective on which a subject is connected is known as a subject complement.

  • My son is a university lecturer.
  • We are your new helpers.

The most typical connecting verb is the different forms of “to be” (am, is was, are, were, etc.)

“To seem” and “to become” are normally auxiliary verbs. However, some verbs can act as linking or action verbs on various circumstances. They include: to smell, to remain, to continue, to stay, to turn, to grow, to taste, to grow, etc.

Verb Definition | Infographic

What Is a Verb?

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