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A verb is a word that expresses an action, an occurrence, or a state of being.

Example of verbs expressing an action: jump, swim, jog, think

Example of verbs expressing an occurrence: become, happen, drop, decide

Example of verbs expressing a state of being: be, seem, am, was

Action verbs can describe mental as well as physical actions. The verb think from above, for example, describes a mental action, one that cannot be seen. Additional examples of action verbs that describe unseen mental actions include understand, welcome, enjoy, relish, ponder, consider, and deliberate.

Action verbs are divided into two groups, depending on how they function within a sentence. The division is based on whether they can stand alone or require a direct object.

Transitive verbs require a direct object.

Intransitive verbs do not require a direct object.



My son ate the slice of chocolate cake I was saving for my midnight snack.

My sister baked me another cake.


My unsympathetic husband shrugged.

When they heard about it, my friends laughed .

Worst of all, even the baby giggled.

Many verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on their function within the sentence. To check whether a verb requires an object, try to complete the sentence by asking "what?" or "whom?" The verb is transitive if your question was answered by the sentence. Consult a dictionary to check specific words.



José eats dinner every night at 5:45.


José eats at regular times.

Verbs that describe an occurrence or a state of being are called linking verbs.
Linking verbs connect parts of a sentence.
The most common linking verbs are forms of the verb to be. A number of other linking verbs are also commonly used.


To be:

Am, are, is
Was, were, am being,
Are being, is being, was being
Can be, could be, may be,
Might be, must be, shall be,
Have been, might have been, may have been

Other verbs:
look, appear, become, stay, grow, taste, happen, seem, sound, smell, remain, feel.


The milk smelled sour.

The supports looked fragile.

The actor seemed nervous when the play began.

The verb to be, in common with the other words on the list, does not always function as a linking verb. To determine whether the word is functioning as a linking verb or as an action verb, examine its role within the sentence.


Linking Verb:

The child grew tired by the end of the evening.

Action Verb:

The child grew three inches last year.

The predicate nominative is the noun or pronoun after a linking verb that renames the subject. As a general rule, the linking verb (to be) functions as an equals sign: the words on both sides must be in the same form.


We all assumed that it was he.

I am waiting for mother to call. Is that she?

There is a third kind of verb whose function is to connect individual verbs into verb phrases.
Helping verbs combine verbs to form verb phrases.
In addition to forms of to be, a number of other words can function as helping verbs. These include do, does, did, has, had, have, would, will, shall, should, must, might, may, could, can. Helping verbs are also known as auxiliary verbs.


Helping Verbs:

Did you complete the project on time?

May has seen the program before.

Have you ever eaten in that restaurant?

Helping Verbs Forming Verb Phrases:

They might have considered my feelings in the matter.

When will they be completing their chores?

The machine operator should not have been working when he was so fatigued.

Sample Usage

As mentioned above.

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