English Grammar: Verbs

English Grammar: Verbs

Lets learn about using a verb in English!

This is a part of a basic series on English grammar. You can find the other posts below:

Verbs are the action of the sentence. In other words, verbs are the “what is happening?” of the sentence. There are three main types of verbs:

  1. Action verbs
  2. Linking verbs
  3. Helping verbs

Action verbs is the primary type of verb. Action verbs are what the subject is specifically and physically doing. Example are in bold:

  • James jumps.
  • I run.
  • The dog eats.

There are two kinds of action verbs: transitive verbs and intransitive verbs. Transitive verbs give the relationship between the subject of the sentence and the object of the sentence (learn more about subjects and objects in The Parts of Speech and the Sentence (Part 1) and The Parts of Speech and the Sentence (Part 2)). Examples of transitive verbs are in bold:

  • James runs home.
  • I throw a ball.
  • The dog eats food.

The second type of action verb is the intransitive verb. An intransitive verb does not have an object and normally demonstrates how a verb is done. Examples of intransitive verbs in bold:

  • James runs quickly.
  • I throw softly.
  • The dog eats loudly.

You will notice that there is no difference between how these transitive verbs and intransitive verbs are written. You will also notice that the intransitive verbs are all followed by words ending in -ly (quickly, softly, loudly). These words are adverbs. They will be discussed in the post on adverbs.

The linking verb connects the subject of the sentence to another noun or adjective. These are words like is, am, becomes, feels, looks. Examples are in bold:

  • I am tired.
  • She looks pretty.
  • James becomes a man.

In the sentence we have a third part (tired, pretty, a man). It looks like it is the object of the sentence, but it is not. This is called the subject complement. An object is what the verb is being done to. A subject complement is a description of the subject. For example, an adjective cannot be an object, but an adjective can be a subject complement.

The last type of verb we will be looking at is the helping verb. A helping verb is a verb that is always accompanied by another verb, normally right after the helping verb. The helping verbs are normally similar words to linking verbs with a few more (is, am, will, could, might). Examples are in bold:

  • I could go home.
  • She is running fast.
  • James will wash the dishes.
  • Erica might walk home.

Do you notice the verbs after the helping verbs? In the examples above, they are go, running, wash. These verbs together (could go, is running, will wash) is called a verb phrase.

Now that we understand how to use a verb in English, we will be taking a look at adjectives. Continue here:

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