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What are Verbs? Verbs can be divided into three types 1. Action Verbs 2.Verbs of being 3.

Linking Verbs 1.Action Verbs Verbs are doing words. A verb usually expresses an action. Action verbs tell about something a person, animal, force of nature or thing can do or be. Can you cry, march, rinse, or turn? Can the wind blow or a cup fall? These are all actions. Examples: The doctor wrote the prescription. (In this example, the word "wrote" is a verb. It expresses the action 'to write'.) Alison bought a ticket. (The word "bought" is a verb. It expresses the action 'to buy'.) Verbs Express Mental Actions Too Verbs do not necessarily express physical actions like the ones above. They can express mental actions too: think, remember, hope, believe,want,thought, Example: Peter guessed the right number. (The word "guessed" is a verb. It expresses the action 'to guess'.) I thought the same thing. (The word "thought" is a verb. It expresses the action 'to think'.) Action verbs. add allow bake bang call chase damage drop end escape fasten fix gather grab hang hug imagine itch jog jump kick knit land lock march mix name notice obey open pass promise question reach rinse scatter stay talk turn untie use vanish visit walk work yawn yell zip zoom

2.Verbs of Being (express a state of being/existence) A small, but extremely important group of verbs do not express any action at all. The most important verb in this group - arguably of all - is the verb 'to be'. Being Verbs tell about something in a state of being. A noun or pronoun does not always take action. Sometime, it just is. For that purpose, you use a being verb. This is seen in forms like: is, are, was, were, am, will be, been, being

Examples: Bakar is strange(is shows a state of existence) Bakar will always be my friend.(will be shows a state of existence) Bakar has been here for a week(has been shows a state of existence) Bakar was away last week. (was shows a state of existence) Here are the being verbs in all the past, present, and future tenses. Present Tense I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, they are Past Tense I was, you were, he/she/it, was, we were, they were Future Tense I will be, you will be, he/she/it will be, we will be, they will be Present Perfect Tense - I have been, you have been, he/she/it has been, we have been, they have been Past Perfect Tense I had been, you had been, he/she/it had been, we had been, they had been Future Perfect Tense - I will have been, you will have been, he/she/it will have been, we will have been, they will have been 3.Linking Verbs Linking verbs do not show action. Instead, they connect nouns and pronouns to other information in the sentence. Here are an example: My sister is smart. My sister-subject Is-linking verb Smart-complement My sister=smart Try out Jamal became a doctor Most Linking Verbs can also be used as action verbs Action or linking verb? The cake smelled good Rio smelled the cake

Examples of linking verbs am are are being appear be become feel get grow have/has been is lie look might be might have been prove remain seem sit smell sound stay taste turn were

4. Helping Verbs Helping verbs do not stand alone or express action They help action or linking verbs.

Example: Samad love these bananas Add helping verb-will Samad will love these bananas

There are 24 helping verbs be was have should must do am were has would shall did is been had may can does are being could might will having

5.Irregular Verbs The dog wants to bite me. The dog bit me. The dog has bitten me. My arm hurts. I hurt my arm yesterday. I have hurt my arm before. bite/bit/bitten choose/chose/chosen eat/ate/eaten fall/fell/fallen hurt/hurt/hurt go/went/gone lay/laid/laid ring/rang/rung send/sent/sent teach/taught/taught write/wrote/written EXERCISE Identify the verbs 1.Mosquito repellents hide you. The spray blocks the mosquitoes' sensors, so they are unaware of your presence. Hide block are 2. My two sisters sent a card to my aunt and uncle in 1930, and it has only just arrived. A sticker on the card apologised for the delay. I was amazed. Sent has apologised was

3. Our designer told us that the colour blue has a calming effect. It causes the release of calming hormones. Told has causes

List of common Verbs A abide accelerate accept accomplish achieve acquire acted activate adapt add address administer admire admit adopt advise afford agree alert alight allow altered amuse analyze announce annoy answer anticipate apologize appear applaud applied appoint appraise appreciate approve arbitrate argue arise arrange arrest arrive B back bake balance ban bang bare bat bathe battle be beam bear beat become beg begin behave behold belong bend beset bet bid bind bite bleach bleed bless blind blink blot blow blush boast boil bolt bomb book bore borrow bounce bow C calculate call camp care carry carve cast catalog catch cause challenge change charge chart chase cheat check cheer chew choke choose chop claim clap clarify classify clean clear cling clip close clothe coach coil collect color comb come command communicate compare compete D dam damage dance dare deal decay deceive decide decorate define delay delegate delight deliver demonstrate depend describe desert deserve design destroy detail detect determine develop devise diagnose dig direct disagree disappear disapprove disarm discover dislike dispense display disprove dissect distribute dive divert

ascertain ask assemble assess assist assure attach attack attain attempt attend attract audited avoid awake

box brake branch break breathe breed brief bring broadcast bruise brush bubble budget build bump burn burst bury bust buy buzz

compile complain complete compose compute conceive concentrate conceptualize concern conclude conduct confess confront confuse connect conserve consider consist consolidate construct consult contain continue contract control convert coordinate copy correct correlate cost cough counsel count cover crack crash crawl create creep critique cross crush cry cure curl curve cut cycle

divide do double doubt draft drag drain dramatize draw dream dress drink drip drive drop drown drum dry dust dwell

E earn eat edited educate eliminate embarrass employ empty enacted encourage end endure enforce engineer enhance enjoy enlist ensure enter entertain escape establish estimate evaluate examine exceed excite excuse execute exercise exhibit exist expand expect expedite experiment explain explode express extend extract

F face facilitate fade fail fancy fasten fax fear feed feel fence fetch fight file fill film finalize finance find fire fit fix flap flash flee fling float flood flow flower fly fold follow fool forbid force forecast forego foresee foretell forget forgive form formulate forsake frame freeze

G gather gaze generate get give glow glue go govern grab graduate grate grease greet grin grind grip groan grow guarantee guard guess guide

H hammer hand handle handwrite hang happen harass harm hate haunt head heal heap hear heat help hide hit hold hook hop hope hover hug hum hunt hurry hurt hypothesize

frighten fry I identify ignore illustrate imagine implement impress improve improvise include increase induce influence inform initiate inject injure inlay innovate input inspect inspire install institute instruct insure integrate intend intensify interest interfere interlay interpret interrupt interview introduce invent inventory investigate invite irritate itch M J jail jam jog join joke judge juggle jump justify K L label land last laugh launch lay lead lean leap learn leave lecture led lend let level license lick lie lifted light lighten like list listen live load locate lock log long look lose love

keep kept kick kill kiss kneel knit knock knot know

maintain make man manage manipulate manufacture map march mark market marry match mate matter mean measure meddle mediate meet melt melt memorize mend mentor milk mine mislead miss misspell mistake misunderstand mix moan model modify monitor moor motivate mourn move mow muddle mug multiply murder

nail name navigate need negotiate nest nod nominate normalize note notice number

obey object observe obtain occur offend offer officiate open operate order organize oriented originate overcome overdo overdraw overflow overhear overtake overthrow owe own

pack paddle paint park part participate pass paste pat pause pay peck pedal peel peep perceive perfect perform permit persuade phone photograph pick pilot pinch pine pinpoint pioneer place plan plant play plead please plug point poke polish pop possess post pour practice praised pray preach precede predict prefer prepare

prescribe present preserve preset preside press pretend prevent prick print process procure produce profess program progress project promise promote proofread propose protect prove provide publicize pull pump punch puncture punish purchase push put Q qualify question queue quit R race radiate rain raise rank rate reach read realign realize reason receive recognize recommend S sack sail satisfy save saw say scare scatter schedule scold scorch scrape scratch scream T tabulate take talk tame tap target taste teach tear tease telephone tell tempt terrify

reconcile record recruit reduce refer reflect refuse regret regulate rehabilitate reign reinforce reject rejoice relate relax release rely remain remember remind remove render reorganize repair repeat replace reply report represent reproduce request rescue research resolve respond restored restructure retire retrieve return review revise rhyme rid ride ring rinse rise risk

screw scribble scrub seal search secure see seek select sell send sense separate serve service set settle sew shade shake shape share shave shear shed shelter shine shiver shock shoe shoot shop show shrink shrug shut sigh sign signal simplify sin sing sink sip sit sketch ski skip slap slay

test thank thaw think thrive throw thrust tick tickle tie time tip tire touch tour tow trace trade train transcribe transfer transform translate transport trap travel tread treat tremble trick trip trot trouble troubleshoot trust try tug tumble turn tutor twist type

rob rock roll rot rub ruin rule run rush

sleep slide sling slink slip slit slow smash smell smile smite smoke snatch sneak sneeze sniff snore snow soak solve soothe soothsay sort sound sow spare spark sparkle speak specify speed spell spend spill spin spit split spoil spot spray spread spring sprout squash squeak squeal squeeze stain stamp stand

stare start stay steal steer step stick stimulate sting stink stir stitch stop store strap streamline strengthen stretch stride strike string strip strive stroke structure study stuff sublet subtract succeed suck suffer suggest suit summarize supervise supply support suppose surprise surround suspect suspend swear sweat sweep swell swim swing switch

symbolize synthesize systemize

U undergo understand undertake undress unfasten unify unite unlock unpack untidy update upgrade uphold upset use utilize

V vanish verbalize verify vex visit

W wail wait wake walk wander want warm warn wash waste watch water wave wear weave wed weep weigh welcome wend wet whine whip whirl whisper whistle win wind wink wipe wish withdraw withhold withstand wobble wonder work worry wrap wreck wrestle wriggle

X-Y-Z x-ray

yawn yell

zip zoom

wring write


The Base Form

Here are some examples of verbs in sentences:
[1] She travels to work by train [2] David sings in the choir [3] We walked five miles to a garage [4] I cooked a meal for the family

Notice that in [1] and [2], the verbs have an -s ending, while in [3] and [4], they have an -ed ending. These endings are known as INFLECTIONS, and they are added to the BASE FORM of the verb. In [1], for instance, the -s inflection is added to the base form travel.

Certain endings are characteristic of the base forms of verbs:

Ending -ate -ify

Base Form concentrate, demonstrate, illustrate clarify, dignify, magnify

-ise/-ize baptize, conceptualize, realise

Past and Present Forms

When we refer to a verb in general terms, we usually cite its base form, as in "the verb travel", "the verb sing". We then add inflections to the base form as required.

Base Form + Inflection [1] She [2] David [3] We [4] I travel sing walk cook + + + + s s ed ed to work by train in the choir five miles to a garage a meal for the whole family

These inflections indicate TENSE. The -s inflection indicates the PRESENT TENSE, and the -ed inflection indicates the PAST TENSE. Verb endings also indicate PERSON. Recall that when we looked at nouns and pronouns, we saw that there are three persons, each with a singular and a plural form. These are shown in the table below.

Person 1st Person I

Singular we


2nd person you


3rd Person he/she/John/the dog they/the dogs

In sentence [1], She travels to work by train, we have a third person singular pronoun she, and the present tense ending -s. However, if we replace she with a plural pronoun, then the verb will change:
[1] She travels to work by train [1a] They travel to work by train

The verb travel in [1a] is still in the present tense, but it has changed because the pronoun in front of it has changed. This correspondence between the pronoun (or noun) and the verb is called AGREEMENT or CONCORD. Agreement applies only to verbs in the present tense. In the past tense, there is no distinction between verb forms: she travelled/they travelled.

The Infinitive Form

The INFINITIVE form of a verb is the form which follows to:

to ask to believe to cry to go

to protect to sing to talk to wish

This form is indistinguishable from the base form. Indeed, many people cite this form when they identify a verb, as in "This is the verb to be", although to is not part of the verb. Infinitives with to are referred to specifically as TO-INFINITIVES, in order to distinguish them from BARE INFINITIVES, in which to is absent:


Bare infinitive

Help me to open the gate Help me open the gate

More Verb Forms: -ing and -ed

So far we have looked at three verb forms: the present form, the past form, and the infinitive/base form. Verbs have two further forms which we will look at now.
[1] The old lady is writing a play [2] The film was produced in Hollywood

The verb form writing in [1] is known as the -ing form, or the -ING PARTICIPLE form. In [2], the verb form produced is called the -ed form, or -ED PARTICIPLE form.

Many so-called -ed participle forms do not end in -ed at all:

The film was written by John Brown The film was bought by a British company The film was made in Hollywood

All of these forms are called -ed participle forms, despite their various endings. The term "-ed participle form" is simply a cover term for all of these forms.

The -ed participle form should not be confused with the -ed inflection which is used to indicate the past tense of many verbs. We have now looked at all five verb forms. By way of summary, let us bring them together and see how they look for different verbs. For convenience, we will illustrate only the third person singular forms (the forms which agree with he/she/it) of each verb. Notice that some verbs have irregular past forms and -ed forms.

Base/Infinitive Form

Present Tense Form

Past Tense Form

-ing Form

-ed Form


he cooks

he cooked

he is cooking he is walking he is taking he is bringing he is being

he has cooked he has walked he has taken he has brought he has been


he walks

he walked


he takes

he took


he brings

he brought


he is

he was

Finite and Nonfinite Verbs

Verbs which have the past or the present form are called FINITE verbs. Verbs in any other form (infinitive, -ing, or -ed) are called NONFINITE verbs. This means that verbs with tense are finite, and verbs without tense are nonfinite. The distinction between finite and nonfinite verbs is a very important one in grammar, since it affects how verbs behave in sentences. Here are some examples of each type:


Finite or Nonfinite? Finite

David plays the piano My sister spoke French on holiday It took courage to continue after the accident




NONE -- the verb has Nonfinite the infinitive form NONE -- the verb has Nonfinite the -ing form NONE -- the verb has Nonfinite the -ed form

Leaving home can be very traumatic

Leave immediately when you are asked to do so

Auxiliary Verbs
In the examples of -ing and -ed forms which we looked at, you may have noticed that in each case two verbs appeared:

[1] The old lady is writing a play [2] The film was produced in Hollywood

Writing and produced each has another verb before it. These other verbs (is and was) are known as AUXILIARY VERBS, while writing and produced are known as MAIN VERBS or LEXICAL VERBS. In fact, all the verbs we have looked at on the previous pages have been main verbs.

Auxiliary verbs are sometimes called HELPING VERBS. This is because they may be said to "help" the main verb which comes after them. For example, in The old lady is writing a play, the auxiliary is helps the main verb writing by specifying that the action it denotes is still in progress.

Auxiliary Verb Types

In this section we will give a brief account of of each type of auxiliary verb in English. There are five types in total:

Passive be

This is used to form passive constructions, eg.

The film was produced in Hollywood

It has a corresponding present form:

The film is produced in Hollywood

We will return to passives later, when we look at voice.

Progressive be As the name suggests, the progressive expresses action in progress:
The old lady is writing a play

It also has a past form:

The old lady was writing a play

Perfective have

The perfective auxiliary expresses an action accomplished in the past but retaining current relevance:
She has broken her leg (Compare: She broke her leg)

Together with the progressive auxiliary, the perfective auxiliary encodes aspect, which we will look at later.
Modal can/could may/might shall/should will/would must Dummy Do Modals express permission, ability, obligation, or prediction:
You can have a sweet if you like He may arrive early Paul will be a footballer some day I really should leave now

This subclass contains only the verb do. It is used to form questions:
Do you like cheese?

to form negative statements:

I do not like cheese

and in giving orders:

Do not eat the cheese

Finally, dummy do can be used for emphasis:

I do like cheese

An important difference between auxiliary verbs and main verbs is that auxiliaries never occur alone in a sentence. For instance, we cannot remove the main verb from a sentence, leaving only the auxiliary:

I would like a new job

~*I would a new job

You should buy a new car ~*You should a new car She must be crazy ~*She must crazy

Auxiliaries always occur with a main verb. On the other hand, main verbs can occur without an auxiliary.

I like my new job I bought a new car She sings like a bird

In some sentences, it may appear that an auxiliary does occur alone. This is especially true in responses to questions:

Q. Can you sing? A. Yes, I can

Here the auxiliary can does not really occur without a main verb, since the main verb -- sing -- is in the question. The response is understood to mean:

Yes, I can sing

This is known as ellipsis -- the main verb has been ellipted from the response. Auxiliaries often appear in a shortened or contracted form, especially in informal contexts. For instance, auxiliary have is often shortened to 've:

I have won the lottery

~I've won the lottery

These shortened forms are called enclitic forms. Sometimes different auxiliaries have the same enclitic forms, so you should distinguish carefully between them:

I'd like a new job ( = modal auxiliary would) We'd already spent the money by then ( = perfective auxiliary had) He's been in there for ages ( = perfective auxiliary has) She's eating her lunch ( = progressive auxiliary is)

The following exercise concentrates on three of the most important auxiliaries -- be, have, and do.

The NICE Properties of Auxiliaries

The so-called NICE properties of auxiliaries serve to distinguish them from main verbs. NICE is an acronym for:

Negation Inversion

Auxiliaries take not or n't to form the negative, eg. cannot, don't, wouldn't Auxiliaries invert with what precedes them when we form questions:
[I will] see you soon ~[Will I] see you soon?


Auxiliaries may occur "stranded" where a main verb has been omitted:
John never sings, but Mary does


Auxiliaries can be used for emphasis:

I do like cheese

Main verbs do not exhibit these properties. For instance, when we form a question using a main verb, we cannot invert:

[John sings] in the choir ~*[Sings John] in the choir?

Instead, we have to use the auxiliary verb do:

[John sings] in the choir ~[Does John sing] in the choir?

Among the auxiliary verbs, we distinguish a large number of multi-word verbs, which are called SEMI-AUXILIARIES. These are two-or three-word combinations, and they include the following:

get to happen to have to mean to

seem to tend to turn out to used to

be about to be going to be likely to be supposed to

Like other auxiliaries, the semi-auxiliaries occur before main verbs:

The film is about to start I'm going to interview the Lord Mayor I have to leave early today You are supposed to sign both forms I used to live in that house

Some of these combinations may, of course, occur in other contexts in which they are not semi-auxiliaries. For example:

I'm going to London

Here, the combination is not a semi-auxiliary, since it does not occur with a main verb. In this sentence, going is a main verb. Notice that it could be replaced by another main verb such as travel (I'm travelling to London). The word 'm is the contracted form of am, the progressive auxiliary, and to, as we'll see later, is a preposition.

Tense and Aspect

TENSE refers to the absolute location of an event or action in time, either the present or the past. It is marked by an inflection of the verb:
David walks to school (present tense) David walked to school (past tense)

Reference to other times -- the future, for instance -- can be made in a number of ways, by using the modal auxiliary will, or the semiauxiliary be going to:
David will walk to school tomorrow David is going to walk to school tomorrow.

Since the expression of future time does not involve any inflecton of the verb, we do not refer to a "future tense". Strictly speaking, there are only two tenses in English: present and past. ASPECT refers to how an event or action is to be viewed with respect to time, rather than to its actual location in time. We can illustrate this using the following examples:
[1] David fell in love on his eighteenth birthday [2] David has fallen in love [3] David is falling in love

In [1], the verb fell tells us that David fell in love in the past, and specifically on his eighteenth birthday. This is a simple past tense verb. In [2] also, the action took place in the past, but it is implied that it took place quite recently. Furthermore, it is implied that is still relevant at the time of speaking -- David has fallen in love, and that's why he's behaving strangely. It is worth noting that we cannot say *David has fallen in love on his eighteenth birthday. The auxiliary has here encodes what is known as PERFECTIVE ASPECT, and the auxiliary itself is known as the PERFECTIVE AUXILIARY.

In [3], the action of falling in love is still in progress -- David is falling in love at the time of speaking. For this reason, we call it PROGRESSIVE ASPECT, and the auxiliary is called the PROGRESSIVE AUXILIARY. Aspect always includes tense. In [2] and [3] above, the aspectual auxiliaries are in the present tense, but they could also be in the past tense:
David had fallen in love -- Perfective Aspect, Past Tense David was falling in love -- Progressive Aspect, Past Tense

The perfective auxiliary is always followed by a main verb in the -ed form, while the progressive auxiliary is followed by a main verb in the -ing form. We exemplify these points in the table below:

Perfective Aspect Progressive Aspect Present Tense Past Tense has fallen had fallen is falling was falling

While aspect always includes tense, tense can occur without aspect (David falls in love, David fell in love). Voice
There are two voices in English, the active voice and the passive voice:

Active Voice [1] Paul congratulated David

Passive Voice [2] David was congratulated by Paul

Passive constructions are formed using the PASSIVE AUXILIARY be, and the main verb has an -ed inflection. In active constructions, there is no passive auxiliary, though other auxiliaries may occur:

Paul is congratulating David Paul will congratulate David Paul has congratulated David

All of these examples are active constructions, since they contain no passive auxiliary. Notice that in the first example (Paul is congratulating David), the auxiliary is the progressive auxiliary, not the passive auxiliary. We know this because the main verb congratulate has an -ing inflection, not an -ed inflection. In the passive construction in [2], we refer to Paul as the AGENT. This is the one who performs the action of congratulating David. Sometimes no agent is specified:
David was congratulated

We refer to this as an AGENTLESS PASSIVE

Verb Types
So, you now know the answer to the question, "What is a verb?" (It's a word that expresses action or a state of being!) You also know that there are three categories of verbs (action verbs, linking verbs, and helping verbs). For the next little while, we are going to focus on main verbs. So, forget about those poor little helping verbs for a bit, and let's turn our attention to action verbs and linking verbs. These two main types of verbs can act in four different ways.

Transitive Active Action Verb John kicked Jen.

Intransitive Complete Action Verb Jen cried.

Transitive Passive Action Verb John was kicked.

Intransitive Linking Linking Verb Jen felt happy.

Intransitive Linking
Linking verbs differ from the three other verb types because they are the only verb type that does not express any action. What do linking verbs do? It's pretty simple. Linking verbs link. They will always link the subject of a sentence to either a noun (which renames the subject) or an adjective (which describes the subject). Nouns that rename the subject are called predicate nouns. Adjectives that describe the subject are called predicate adjectives. It may help you to think of linking verbs as an equal sign between the subject and a predicate noun or a predicate adjective. Example:

I am a teacher.

I = teacher

The soup is salty.

soup = salty

Am is linking the subject I with the predicate noun teacher. Is is linking the subject soup with the predicate adjective salty.

Transitive Active
These action verbs transfer their action to a receiver. That means that something or someone is always being acted upon. In our example sentence, Jen is receiving the action kicked - even though she probably doesn't want to be receiving it. The receiver of the action is called the direct object. In our example sentence, Jen is the direct object. Every single transitive active sentence must have a direct object, and the direct object always receives the action.

Transitive Passive
These action verbs also transfer their action to a receiver. Only the receiver of the action is always the subject. Check out the example. Who is receiving the action? John is. John is the subject of the sentence, and he is receiving the action was kicked. The subject always receives the action in a transitive passive sentence.

Notice that we may not actually know who initiated the action. (Who kicked John?) Sometimes we find this out in a prepositional phrase, such as: John was kicked by Jen. But, it doesn't change anything. The subject is still receiving the action.

Intransitive Complete
Again, these are action verbs. Unlike the two verb types above that transfer their action, this type does not. Since it does not transfer action, there can be no receiver of any action.

What is a verb? Here are a few more example sentences.

Transitive Active Cats drink milk. Clocks make noise. I lost my ticket.

Intransitive Complete Cats drink. Clocks tick. Buses move.

Transitive Passive Milk was drunk. The clocks were wound. My ticket was lost.

Intransitive Linking Milk tastes delicious. Clocks are helpful. I am the bus driver!