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What is a Verb? Types, Uses, Examples

Learning English with The AN and freSy

A verb is an important part of the English language and is classified under the Parts of Speech chapter. It is very important for all students, especially for those who are preparing for competitive exams. More than two questions are asked about this topic in every competitive examination.

A verb is a word that says what happens to somebody or what somebody or something does. Verbs we can modify verbs by using auxiliary verbs or verb phrases to show different conditions, aspects, and moods. Let us see learn about verbs in detail along with various types with definitions and examples of each.

Table of Content

  • What is a Verb?
  • How to Recognize a Verb?
  • How Do You Use a Verb?
  • Types of Verb
  • Verb Forms
  • Use of Verb in Active and Passive Voice
  • Verb Conjugation in English
  • Verbs List
  • FAQs on Verb

What is a Verb?

A verb is a word that tells what the subject is doing in a sentence. It indicates physical or mental actions, states of being, feelings, etc. Every sentence must contain one or more verbs. It expresses an action, occurrence, or state of being. Verb helps us to describe states of being or existence, like “be” or “exist”. Verbs can convey events such as “happen” or “occur”. In developing sentences, verbs need to be appropriate conjugate to match the tenses such as Past Tense, Present Tense, and Future Tense, Numbers such as Singular or Plurals, and persons such as First, Second, and Third of the subject.

Let’s take a few examples of verbs used in sentences:

  • “She sings beautifully.” (The verb “sings” depicts an action.)
  • “The cat is sleeping.” (The verb “is sleeping” portrays a state of being.)
  • “He ran in the marathon.” (The verb “ran” conveys an action.)
  • “I will study for the exam.” (The verb “will study” represents a future action.)
Definition of Verb:

A word or a group of words that describes an action, a state, or an event is called a verb.

Verbs represent a wide range of actions, like “be” or “exist”. Furthermore, verbs can show occurrences or events, such as “happen” or “occur”. It helps to communicate effectively.

How to Recognize a Verb?

A verb is recognized based on the function in a sentence. Look for words describing actions. Note the following characteristics to recognize verb:

  • Change based on tense, person, and number
  • Position within sentences.
  • Usage of modifiers, auxiliary verb, subject-verb agreement, and
  • How verbs help form questions or negatives

How Do You Use a Verb?

Every sentence contains a verb along with a noun or pronoun. A verb is essentially comes into consideration to explain what the noun/pronoun is doing. Understanding how to use verbs correctly is essential for constructing grammatically accurate and meaningful sentences.

The specific usage of verbs depends on the context, intended meaning, and grammatical rules of the language. These are fundamental components of sentences that provides the information about what is happening or being described.

Types of Verb

There are several types of verbs in English. Here are some common types with basic definition and examples:

1) Action Verbs:

This type of verb expresses physical as well as mental actions.

  • Physical action: run, eat, dance
    Example: “She runs every morning.”
  • Mental action: think, believe, understand
    Example: “I believe in myself.”
2) Linking Verbs:

These verbs form a bridge between the subject of a sentence and a noun, pronoun, or adjective that either gives it a new name or describes it.

  • Common linking verbs: be, seem, appear
    Example: “He is a doctor.”
  • Sensory linking verbs: look, taste, feel
    Example: “The flowers smell delightful.”
  • 3) Helping Verbs (Auxiliary Verbs):

    These verbs assist the main verb in a sentence, expressing tense, mood, or voice.

  • Tense auxiliary verbs: have, be, do
    Example: “She has finished her homework.”
  • Modal auxiliary verbs: can, may, must
    Example: “You must study for the test.”
  • 4) Transitive Verbs:

    The meaning of these verbs require a direct object for clarification.

    • Example: “She bought a new book.”
    5) Intransitive Verbs:

    These verbs do not require a direct object to complete their meaning.

    • Example: “The bird flew.”
    6) Regular Verbs:

    These verbs form their past tense and past participle by adding “-ed” or “-d” to the base form.

    • Example: “He walked to the park.”
    7) Irregular Verbs:

    These verbs have irregular forms for their past tense and past participle.

    • Example: “She swam in the pool.”
    8) Phrasal Verbs:

    These are verb phrases that consist of a main verb combined with a preposition or an adverb.

    • Example:“They turned off the lights.”
    9) Modal Verbs:

    These verbs express possibility, necessity, ability, or permission.

    • Example:“You should go to bed early.”

    Verb Forms

    There are various forms of verbs depending on the action performed by the subject. Here in this article, we will discuss various verb forms.

    There are mainly 6 forms of Verbs

    1. Root Verb or Present Form of Verb
    2. Simple Present form of a Verb (First Form)
    3. Simple Past form of a Verb (Second Form)
    4. Past Participle form of a Verb (Third Form)
    5. Present Participle and Gerund form of a Verb
    6. Infinitive form of a Verb
    Root Verb

    It is the original form of the verb. Some examples of root verbs are given below.

    Examples: Eat, play, sing, read, write, buy, swim, sit, shift etc.
    Simple Present (First Form of a Verb)

    When the subject is in the third person singular, we observe a specific verb form used in the simple present tense. Third-person singular pronouns are “he, she, and it.” It can be formed just by adding an ‘s’ to the root verb.

    Examples:
    • He plays badminton.
    • Rabindranath Tagore writes poems.
    Simple Past (Second Form of a Verb)

    There are a few rules to writing a verb in the form of a simple past.

    1. some verbs can be made just by adding ‘ed’ to the root verb.
    2. some verbs can be formed by changing the spelling of the root verbs.
    Examples:
    • Ask = Asked
    • Play = played
    • Laugh = laughed
    • Select = selected
    • Buy = bought
    • See = saw
    • Go = went
    • Do = did
    • Find = found
    Past Participle form of a Verb (Third Form)

    It is used to denote the perfect tense in a sentence. It has no one rule to write a verb in past participle form.

    1. some verbs can be made just by adding ‘ed’ to the root verb.
    2. some verbs can be formed by changing the spelling of the root verbs.
    Examples:
    • Ask = Asked
    • Play = played
    • Laugh = laughed
    • Select = selected
    • Write = written
    • See = seen
    • Go = gone
    • The police searched the hotel.
    • Rabindranath Tagore had written many books.
    Present Participle and a Gerund form of a Verb

    Both the Gerund and Present Participle form of a Verb is formed just by adding ‘ing’ to the root verb. But a Present Participle acts like a verb and as an adjective while Gerund works like a noun. The gerund can serve as a verb used alongside an auxiliary.

    Examples:
    • He is eating rice.
    • They will be coming next month.
    • Smoking is a bad habit. ( Gerund )
    Infinitive form of a Verb

    It can be formed by adding the preposition ‘to’ just before the root verb.

    Examples:
    • The doctor is going to talk to the patient.
    • I like to read storybooks in my free time.
    • Here ‘to talk’ and ‘to read’ are the Infinitive.

    Categories of Verbs

    Verbs are divided into categories based on their behavior in context. These categories are:

    Verbs: Regular and Irregular
    1. Regular Verbs: They can change forms to indicate past actions or ongoing actions. Typically, the past form adds “ed” to the root verb.
    2. Irregular Verbs: These verbs don’t follow the “ed” rule and have unique forms. Learning them is essential.
    Examples
    • Dileep searched for his white shirt but didn’t find it. (Regular verb: “searched”)
    • Did you find the book you were looking for? (Continuous form: “looking”)

    In contrast, some verbs like “read” and “found” have unique past forms.

    Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

    Verbs can be classified as transitive, intransitive, or ditransitive based on how they interact with objects.

    1. Transitive Verbs: These verbs take a direct object (e.g., “gave” in “Vincent gave chocolates”) or both direct and indirect objects (ditransitive).
    2. Intransitive Verbs: These verbs don’t take any object (e.g., “ran” in “The little girl ran”).
    Examples
    • Vincent gave chocolates to his brother. (Transitive)
    • Francey walked to school. (Intransitive)
    • My mom cleaned the house. (Transitive)
    • Seena did not like the movie. (Transitive)

    Transitive verbs have objects, intransitive verbs do not, and ditransitive verbs have both a direct and an indirect object.

    Use of Verb in Active and Passive Voice

    A verb may tell us about what a person or thing does.

    In active voice, the subject does the action with the help of a verb. This focuses on the doer of the action.

    Example:
    “John wrote the letter.” (In this sentence, “wrote” is the verb in active voice, and the subject “John” is performing the action of writing the letter.)

    In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon with the help of a verb. This generally indicates the doer of the

    Example:
    “The letter was written by John.” (In this sentence, “was written” is the verb in the passive voice. The subject “The letter” is the recipient of the action, and “by John” indicates the doer of the action.)

    Verb Conjugation in English

    It is a process in which a verb can change its form according to person, number, tense, mood, etc. It can be changed by changing the spelling of root words, usage of auxiliary verbs, etc.

    In 3rd person singular number, the verb takes an ‘s’. To convert root verbs into past and past participles you have to add ‘ed’, and ‘d’ root verbs. Here we discuss the various changes in the conjugation of verbs according to person, number, and tense.

    1. I like butterflies. [ 1st person singular number]
    2. They like butterflies. [3rd person plural number]
    3. She likes butterflies. [ 3rd person singular number]
    4. I do. [ Simple present ]
    5. I am doing. [ Present continuous]
    6. I have done. [Present perfect]
    7. I have been doing. [ Present perfect continuous]
    8. I did. [ Simple past]
    9. I was doing. [ Past continuous]
    10. I had done. [ Past perfect]
    11. I had been doing. [ Past perfect continuous]
    12. I will do that. [ Simple future]
    13. I will be doing that. [ Future continuous]

    Verbs List

    Here is a small list of verbs that are used in day to day life. These provide an idea of the various actions, processes, and states they can express:

    1. Run
    2. Jump
    3. Write
    4. Read
    5. Sing
    6. Dance
    7. Eat
    8. Sleep
    9. Think
    10. Talk
    11. Laugh
    12. Cry
    13. Swim
    14. Drive
    15. Fly

    FAQs on Verb

    A verb is a word that tells what the subject is doing in a sentence. It indicates physical or mental actions, states of being, feelings, etc. Every sentence must contain one or more verbs.

    A word or a group of words that describes an action, a state or an event is called a verb. A verb is a word that says what happens to somebody or what somebody or something does.

    There are several types of verbs. These are – Auxiliary verbs, principal verbs, finite verbs, non-finite verbs, transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, modal verbs, etc.

    Gerunds are verb forms ending in “-ing” that function as nouns in sentences. They represent actions or activities. Here are some examples of gerunds:

    1. Swimming is my favorite sport.
    2. I enjoy reading novels.
    3. Singing brings her joy.
    4. Running requires endurance.
    5. Cooking is a useful skill.
    6. His hobby is painting landscapes.
    7. We appreciate your helping us.
    8. Traveling broadens one’s horizons.
    9. The team practiced shooting baskets.
    10. Her talent is dancing.

    In these examples, the gerunds “swimming,” “reading,” “singing,” and so on, act as nouns, representing activities or actions.

    1. Break up: End a relationship. Example: They broke up last month.
    2. Look after: Take care of someone or something. Example: Look after the kids for me.
    3. Turn on: Activate a device. Example: Turn on the lights, please.
    4. Give up: Quit or stop something. Example: She gave up smoking.
    5. Run out of: Deplete a supply. Example: We ran out of milk.
    6. Take off: Depart, like a plane. Example: The plane takes off soon.
    7. Call off: Cancel plans or an event. Example: They called off the meeting.
    8. Get over: Recover from an illness or setback. Example: She got over the breakup.
    9. Look up: Search for information. Example: Look up word definitions.
    10. Put off: Postpone or delay something. Example: They put off the project.

    English grammar includes tenses that show when actions happen:

    1. Simple Present: Habitual actions.
    2. Present Continuous: Actions now or soon.
    3. Present Perfect: Past actions with present relevance.
    4. Simple Past: Completed past actions.
    5. Past Continuous: Ongoing past actions.
    6. Past Perfect: Past actions before another past point.
    7. Simple Future: Future actions.
    8. Future Continuous: Ongoing future actions.
    9. Future Perfect: Completion before a future point.
    10. Present Perfect Continuous: Ongoing past actions into the present.
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