Verbs

A verb is a word that conveys ACTION, OCCURRENCE, or STATE OF BEING. Verbs are needed to form complete sentences or questions. In a sentence, a verb works as the main component of the predicate, the part of a sentence that indicates what the subject (person or thing) is or does. The three main types of verbs are action verbs, helping verbs, and linking verbs. Unlike most of the other parts of speech, verbs change their form.

Everything on Verbs

Verbs Tenses show when the action in the sentence takes place
Irregular Verbs are verbs that do not follow the rules for changing tenses
Action Verbs describe something that a person, animal, thing, or force of nature can do
Linking Verbs do not describe an action, but tell about the state or condition of subjects
Helping Verbs are a set of two or three consonant letters that when pronounced, retain their sound

Verbs Tenses

A verb tense shows when the action in the sentence takes place. In English, there are a total of 12 verb tenses, as well as conditional tenses that indicate when an action may or may not happen.

The three main tenses are:

  • Past – an action has already happened
  • Present – an action is currently happening
  • Future – an action will happen at a later time

Verbs are conjugated to communicate details, such as person, number, gender, tense or mood. The following table shows the verb “walk” conjugated to the three main verb forms with the subject being “I”.

Verb Tenses Examples

Past Yesterday, I walked to the park.
Present I walk to the park.
Future Next week, I will walk to the park.

A verb like “walk” is a regular verb because it follows set rules when conjugated (adding -ed to indicate past tense, for example). Irregular verbs, however, are verbs that do not follow the rules for changing tense. For instance,the verb “sing” is an irregular verb. It does not follow the rule for past tense verbs as “sanged,” but rather as the irregular conjugation “sang.”

Irregular Verbs Examples

Verb Past Tense
break broke
buy bought
do did
drive drove
eat ate
feel felt
find found
grow grew
have had
ring rang

Types of Verbs

Not all verbs serve the same function. Verbs fall into three basic categories: action, linking, and helping.

Action Verbs

Action verbs describe something that a person, animal, thing, or force of nature can do. Verbs like run or jump are examples of action verbs.

Action Verbs Examples

K-2 Verbs 3-5 Verbs 6-8 Verbs 9-12 Verbs
eat climb compose negotiate
run grasp emphasize fluctuate
jump borrow interrupt modify
drink laugh persuade extinguish
walk paint investigate thrive
chop observe erupt eavesdrop
sing rescue adjust acquire
act search vibrate abolish
kick travel pursue confiscate
mix celebrate verify plunder

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs do not describe an action, but tell about the state or condition of subjects. They link the subject with either a noun that renames it or an adjective that describes it. For example, the word “am” in the sentence “I am tall” describes the subject. There are some action verbs that function as linking verbs, such as grow. In the sentence “He grows tired,” the verb describes the subject rather than an action, so it works as a linking verb. Below are a list of other linking verbs.

Linking Verbs Examples

Forms of be be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being
Other linking verbs appear, become, feel, grow, look, seem, remain, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn

Helping Verbs

Helping verbs do not express action, and they cannot stand alone in a sentence without another verb present. They are part of verb phrases that “help” the main verb. Helping verbs define the tense (past, present, future) or change the meaning of the main verb. The verb “will” functions as a linking verb in the sentence “He will eat” because it helps the main verb “eat” and indicated a future tense. Some common helping verbs:

Helping Verbs Examples

will must must had
had do shall may
was am did did
have were is does
should has been are
being could might having

The following table shows 50 common English verbs conjugated in the past, present, and future tense using the subject “I.”

Common English Verbs Examples

Verb (base form, infinitive) Past Tense Present Tense Future Tense
to ask asked ask will ask
to be was am will be
to become became become will become
to bring brought bring will bring
to build built build will build
to buy bought buy will buy
to call called call will call
to change changed change will change
to come came come will come
to cut cut cut will cut
to do did do will do
to draw drew draw will draw
to eat ate eat will eat
to fall fell fall will fall
to feel felt feel will feel
to find found find will find
to get got get will get
to give gave give will give
to go went go will go
to have had have will have
to hear heard hear will hear
to help helped help will help
to hope hoped hope will hope
to keep kept keep will keep
to know knew know will know
to learn learned learn will learn
to let let let will let
to live lived live will live
to make made make will make
to move moved move will move
to need needed need will need
to play played play will play
to put put put will put
to read read read will read
to run ran run will run
to say said say will say
to sell sold sell will sell
to show showed show will show
to stop stopped stop will stop
to take took take will take
to talk talked talk will talk
to tell told tell will tell
to think thought think will think
to try tried try will try
to turn turned turn will turn
to use used use will use
to walk walked walk will walk
to want wanted want will want
to work worked work will work
to write wrote write will write