Action Verbs

Jump! Shout! Run! Action verbs, also known as dynamic verbs, are words that are action-packed. In a sentence, action verbs contain important information. They express a physical action performed by the subject, like singing or dancing. Action verbs are not to be confused with state verbs, or stative verbs. These verbs refer to a state of being or feeling, such as knowing or remembering. Some verbs can function either as an action or state verb depending on the context. (For example, the verb “to see” can describe an action, “I see you,” or describe a mental state, “I see what you’re saying”). To determine whether or not a word is an action verb, consider if it is something a person, animal, or thing can do. The following table shows the difference between an action verb and state verb.

Action Verbs

Action Verb vs. State Verb Example

Action Verb She kicks the ball.
State Verb He remembered his keys.

An action verb can function as a transitive verb or an intransitive verb. Transitive verbs require a direct object, something or someone, to receive the action of the verb. When using transitive verbs, one answers the question “to what” or “to whom” For example, in the sentence “She paints the picture,” “paints” is the transitive verb and “picture” is the direct object. The question “What does she paint?” can be answered by the direct object, “the picture.” Intransitive verbs, however, do not have a direct object, such as the sentence “She paints.”

Transitive Verb vs. Intransitive Verb Example

Transitive Verb He writes a poem.
Intransitive Verb He writes.

Teachers should display action verb word lists in their classroom to help students build complete sentences and expand vocabulary word knowledge. A list of common action verbs are featured below to supplement an action verb lesson. VocabularySpellingCity offers importable action verb word lists to use during whole group or small group instruction as well as independent student practice.