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What are Verbs?

Verbs are considered to be the most important parts of speech. Without verbs, the meaning of the sentence will not be a complete one. Verbs express the action of the subject through physical, mental and state of being.

Look at these examples:

Paul works for a shipping company. (Physical)

He thinks that he is a very smart guy. (Mental)

The fact seems to be annoying.  (State of being)


Types of Verbs

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Verbs can broadly be divided into three types.

Action Verbs: These verbs denote either physical or mental action. It describes what the subject is doing in the sentence.

Examples:  They are watching a horror movie.

                   The judges considered the victim's guilt as a defensive action.

                   She had submitted the proposal last month.

Being Verbs: These verbs denote the state of being or existence.
                     (Be forms of verb - is, am, are, was, were, have/has/had been, will be)

Examples:  He is a doctor in a city hospital.

                   The guests will be here at any moment.

                   She had been ill for a very long time.

Linking Verbs: These verbs help to connect subject with the complement in the sentence. Hence they are called as linking verbs.
                        (Linking Verbs - appear, seem, remain, become, taste, smell, feel, look, sound, grow, keep, turn, act, wax)

Examples:  She appears to be more silent these days.

                      I felt irritated when they asked me to do their work.

                      The plant grew so tall even without enough sunshine.

Many of the linking verbs can also act as action verbs.

Examples:  The chocolates he bought yesterday taste delicious. (Linking Verb)

                   He tasted several cakes to order a better one for his wedding. (Main Verb)

Moods in Verbs

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The mood of the verb denotes the manner in which the action is intended to be done. Verbs generally have three moods – Indicative, Imperative and Subjunctive.

Indicative Mood: Expresses the facts, reality, assertion, denial or questioning.

            Examples:  The little dot over the letter ‘i’ is called tittle.
                               Do you really want to know the fact?

Imperative Mood: Expresses command, request or advice.

            Examples:  Please leave your footwear outside.
                              Stay where you are.

Subjunctive Mood: Expresses wish, desire, doubt, things contrary to reality.
             Examples:   If I were rich, I would lead a luxurious life.
                                May you have a blissful prosperous life!!

Auxiliary Verbs and Lexical Verbs

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Auxiliary Verbs or Helping verbs always precede the main verb. They help in deciding the tense, mood and voice of the sentence. There are two types of Auxiliary Verbs.

       Inflected Auxiliary Verbs – These are the common auxiliary verbs used in the verb phrase.

                                                   Be – am, is, was, are, were, be, been, being
                                                   Have – have, has, had, having, have/has/had been
                                                   Do – do, does, did

                                Examples:  Students are writing the periodical exams.

                                                   I have a dream of my own.

                                                   The Chairman did not respond to the members’ accusations.

        Modal Auxiliary Verbs – Modals precede both the primary auxiliary verb and the main lexical verb.

                                               (Can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to, need to, be able to)

                                   Examples:  May I come in?

                                                     You must complete this assignment by the end of March.

                                                     They need to know about the existence of foreign objects.

        Lexical Verbs  are the main verbs of the sentence. They are also called as full verbs. All the other verbs other than auxiliary  verbs are main verbs (lexical). It conveys the meaning of the sentence without the dependence of auxiliary  verbs.
                                 Examples:  He trained the dogs very well.

                                                    Alex finished his work before the deadline.

                                                    Susan came to visit her friends last Friday.

Dynamic and Stative Verbs

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Dynamic Verbs are used to denote an action or a process that is physically seen or felt by the subject. These verbs can be used both in the simple and continuous forms.
Examples:  Theodore bought a new Play Station.

                   He evaluates the quality of the product every week.

                   He is acting abnormally these days.

Stative Verbs denotes the state of being or condition that is unchanging. Unlike dynamic verbs they never denote any dynamic action and it cannot be used in the continuous (progressive) forms. 

Examples: I know him better.  (Never as I am knowing him better)

                 The cargo contains many barrels. (Never as The cargo is containing many barrels)

They can be divided in to two types:  Perception or Cognition (state of mind) or Verbs of Relation (relationship between things)

Examples:  She loves classical music. (Perception)

                   He forgives his friend for his crazy behavior. (Perception)

                   I own a new car equipped with all modern technologies. (Relation)

                   He requires a lot of attention. (Relation)

Some of the verbs can be both Stative and Dynamic.

Example:  I think that is a good idea. (Stative)

                 I am thinking about my next vacation. (Dynamic)

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

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Transitive Verbs are always followed by a noun or a noun phrase (here Direct Object) in the sentence. So, transitive verbs always need object in the sentence.

Examples:  The committee proposed the Jury to give the verdict.

                   My friend presented a watch for Christmas.

                   He gave hundred dollars to me.

 A simple way to find out whether the verb is transitive is by converting the active voice of the sentence to its passive form. If there is possibility of inversion, then it is transitive verb.

Examples:  The Jury was proposed by the committee to give the verdict.

                   A watch was presented by my friend for Christmas.

                   Hundred dollars was given to me by him.

Unlike transitive verbs, Intransitive verbs do not need an object. The verb only has a subject or it may be followed by adverbial modifiers.

Examples: The squad arrived.

                  It rained heavily.

                  Susan wept continuously for a long time.

Finite and Non-Finite Verbs

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Finite verbs have a subject and have a present or a past form of verb. It shows Tense (present or past), Voice (active or passive) and Number (singular or plural).

Examples:  She runs a school near her clinic.

                   Alice followed the rabbit till it was no longer seen.

Non-Finite verbs do not have a subject and they don’t indicate any tense or number. The non-finite verb forms are Infinitives, Gerunds and Participles.

Infinitives  – to + base verb  (functions as a noun, adjective or adverb)

                  Examples: They were allowed to talk in the meeting.

                                    He was ready to accept the offer.

Gerunds  – verb + ing    (functions as a noun)
                   Examples: Smoking is injurious to health.

                                     Driving for a long distance is my hobby.

Participle – verb + ing / ed   (functions as adjective)

                   Examples: The flying craft was shot in the mid air.

                                     The haunted house was not sold yet.

Regular and Irregular Verbs

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Regular Verbs (Weak Verbs) follow the pattern of forming the past tense and past participle by adding‘d / -ed’ to the base form of the verb.


        Base Form                   Past                      Past Participle       
 Work  Worked    Worked
 Play  Played  Played
 Talk  Talked  Talked
 Admire  Admired  Admired
 Express  Expressed   Expressed
 Study  Studied  Studied
 Present  Presented  Presented

Irregular verbs (Strong Verbs) do not follow the same principle of adding ‘-ed’ to form past tense or past participle. They are formed irregularly and hence it is simply to be memorized.


        Base Form                   Past                    Past Participle        
 Eat  Ate  Eaten
 Sing  Sang  Sung
 Wear  Wore  Worn
 Drink  Drank  Drunk
 Speak  Spoke  Spoken
 Tell  Told   Told
 Give  Gave  Given

More topics in Verbs
Intransitive Verb Regular Verbs
Irregular Verbs Regular and Irregular Verbs
Action Verbs Finite Verb
Active Voice Passive Voice
Non Finite Verbs Gerunds, Participles and Infinitives
Linking Verbs Auxiliary Verbs
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