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What are Verbs their Definition Types and Examples

What is Verb and Its Importance

Verbs along with nouns cover major portion of every language. Almost every sentence needs one or more than one verbs to show tense, mood, aspect and different grammatical forms. Verb has different roles in sentence construction like verb is necessary to form a predicate, to show mood of sentence, to describe voice and tense of a sentence, to form clauses etc.

Definition of Verb

A verb is a word or group of words which shows an action, happening or a state of being. Verb of a sentence tells about the doer (subject) and receiver (object) of the sentence.


eat, play, write, be, was etc

Functions, Characteristics and Place of a Verb in a Sentence

Every subject must take a verb and it is fundamental component of a sentence. A verb is usually placed after helping verb, linking verb or modal verb in a sentence and sometimes its place varies through out a sentence. A verb has following characteristics

  • Mood
  • Forms
  • Aspect
  • Voice

Kinds of Verb

Different Commonly known kinds of verb are

  • Action/Full/Physical Verb and Non-action verb
  • Mental Verb
  • Regular or Weak Verb
  • Irregular or Strong Verb
  • Finite Verbs
  • Non-finite Verb
  • Transitive Verb
  • Intransitive Verb
  • Helping Verb
    • Auxiliary Verb
    • Modal Verb
  • Stative/Being or Non-continuous Verb
  • Ergative Verb
  • Phrasal Verb

Action Verb

Action verb sometimes also called Dynamic verb or Full verb shows an action whether it is mental or physical. Action verb describes the action of the subject that what it is doing or what it has done. More than one action verb can be used in one sentence. Remember that some people consider a verb action verb only when it shows a physical action, it is a wrong concept a verb will be considered action verb when it shows action whether it is physical or mental.


Eat, play, write etc

Non-action verb

Non action verbs are verbs which do not state an action (whether physical or mental) rather represent a state of being, opinion and possession only. Only to be, is, am, are, was, were, been and sometimes has, have and had are non action or actionless verb. There is an ambiguity about non action verbs, mostly people represent verbs which show desire, opinion, sense, emotions etc as non action verbs but in depth analysis of these verbs show they are action verbs. there is action in them, it is true their action is not physical but mental or non-continuous. For example 'Jimmy is thinking to take exercise.' here 'thinking' is a verb an acvtivity Jimmy is doing although it is mental activity not physical still Jimmy is performing an action. In the sentence 'Jimmy is a doctor.' is a verb which is not performing any action at all, just presenting the state of being. So 'is' is completely non-action verb which is just showing the state of being. Note that at the same time to be and to have are also used as stative and auxiliary verbs.


Is, am, are, be etc

Mental Verb

Mental verbs show an action which refers to mental activity or intellectual process. Mental verbs are mainly related to actions such as discovering, understanding, deciding, reflecting, planning, thinking etc. Actually mental verbs deal with logic and thought where actions are concepts. Some poeple consider mental verbs non-action verbs but there is a big difference in both of them. Every mental verb must have an action but its action is always abstract not concrete. On the other hand non-action verbs do not have an action.


Like, feel, hate, love, realize, decide etc

Regular or Weak Verb

Regular or Weak verbs are formed with typical and established pattern of conjugation i-e by adding suffixes like d, ed, ied at the end of base form or present infinitive of a verb. Majority of the verbs belong to the regular verbs form group and they are easy to learn and undertsand.

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Irregular or Strong Verb

Irregular or strong verbs have special set of rules to form past tense form. They do not take d, ed or ied rather they change their entire form and transformed into a complete or partial new word.

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Finite Verb

A finite verb is a verb that has a subject, shows the tense (present, past, future), voice (active, passive), mood, aspect of sentence along with number (singular, plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) of the subject.

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Non-finite Verb

A Non-finite verb is a verb that does not have a subject, and does not show the tense (present, past, future), voice (active, passive), mood, aspect of sentence along with number (singular, plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) of the subject.

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Transitive Verb

Transitive verb is a verb which transfers its action to someone or something usually an object. A general concept of transitive verb is a verb which takes an object but there can be a transitive verb without taking an object. Transition of a verb does not require an object of verb it requires a forward shift of action towards object. A verb without an object still can be a transitive verb if it transfers its action, it is not necessary the receiver of the action is present or not. Verbs in the bold are transitive in the following examples


  • John writes a letter.
  • He Kicks the ball.
  • I am violating the rules.  

Intransitive Verb

Intransitive verb is a verb which shifts its action back on someone or something usually a subject. A general concept of intransitive verb is a verb which does not take an object. Intransitive verb does not have anything to do with the presence or absence of object, its transition does not require an absence of object of verb it requires a backward shift of action towards subject. A verb without an object does not mean it is an intransitive verb, it is not necessary the receiver of the action is present or not. Verbs in the bold are intransitive in the following examples


  • John sings.
  • He goes to school.
  • The sun is rising from the East.  

Ergative verb

A verb used both transitively and intransitively is called ergative verb. In such a construction same noun phrase can serve as a subject when the verb is intransitive and as a direct object when verb is transitive. Stop and ring are used as ergative verbs in the following examples.


  • The driver stopped the bus.
  • The bus stopped.
  • The peon rings the bell.
  • The bell rings.

Ditransitive verb

A verb that can have both direct and indirect objects at the same time is called ditransitive verb. For example 'My father gave me a gift.' here verb gave is taking both direct (me) and indirect (a gift) objects.


Give, take, write etc

Helping Verb

Helping verb is used with main verb to show tense, voice, mood, aspect, emphasis, negation, interrogation etc of a sentence or a clause in which it occurs. As its name suggests it helps main verb to add functionality and grammatical sense in a sentence. They are also needed to add details to verb and to complete the grammatical structure of the sentence. There are two types of helping verbs.

  • Auxiliary verb
  • Modal verb
Auxiliary Verb

Auxiliary verb often adds tense, voice, aspect, modality to the main verb.The term auxiliary verbs are often confused with helping verbs, actually they are one branch of helping verbs.


  • to be - is, am, are, was, were, be, been
  • to have - has, have, had
  • to do - do, does, did

Modal verb shows modality like ability, obligation, possibility, necessity, likelihood, permission, request, order, advice and suggestion in a sentence. They are another branch of helping verbs along with auxiliary verbs. Unlike auxiliary verb, modal verb always takes a main verb to complete the sentence.


  • Can, could - Permission, ability
  • May, might - Possibility request, prayer, motive
  • Should - Obligation
  • Must - Obligation, certainty
  • Ought - Moral duty, advice

Stative/Being or Non-continuous Verb

Stative verbs are verbs which describe states of being, thoughts, emotions, relationships, senses and measurements rather than actions. These verbs are only used in simple and perfect tenses, in continuous i.e progressive tense they are not compatible. They can be contrasted with action verbs which have physical action like run, eat etc but they are similar to those action verbs which have mental action related to the mental process like think, feel etc.


  • State of being - Is, am, are
  • Thoughts and opinions - Agree, imagine, know
  • Emotions and feelings - love, hate, wish
  • Senses and perception - sound, seem, taste
  • Possession and measurement - to have, weigh, own

Phrasal Verb

Phrasal verbs are verbs consisting of a verb and another particle generally an adverb or a preposition or combination of both. With the addition of a particle like preposition or adverb they change their meaning drastically that is why they are difficult to learn. For example look (lexical verb means to see), look in (phrasal verb means to interrogate) , look down upon (phrasal verb means to have hate).


Go through, look after, set in etc

Basic Forms of Verb

Every verb whether it is action, non-action, transitive, intransitive etc has three basic forms along with progressive and third person singular S form. Base forms (eat), third person singular S form (eats) and past tense forms (ate) are finite verb forms mean they show tense, voice, aspect, mood, modality etc of a sentence. On the other hand infinitive form (to eat), progressive form (eating) and past participle forms (eaten) are non-finite verb forms which mean they do not show tense, voice, aspect, mood, modality etc of a sentence.


  • Base form or present - eat, play, write
  • Past form - ate, played, wrote
  • Past participle - eaten, played, written
  • Progressive form - eating, playing, writing
  • Third person singular S - eats, plays, writes
Moods of Verb

Grammatical mood is such an aspect, attitude or tone of verb which shows what verb is indicating or expressing like a fact, universal truth, question, affirmation, negation, condition, wish, possibility etc. Lexical meaning of mood is 'feelings' but grammatical mood shows attitude or tone of verb, basically it shows intention of writer or speaker. There are different types of moods mentioned below.


  • Indicative mood - Fact, universal truth
  • Imperative mood - Advice, request, order
  • Subjunctive mood - Wish, desire, hypothetical
  • interrogative mood - Question
  • conditional mood - If/then construction
Aspects of Verb

The aspect of verb tells presence or life of a verb. It determines action of verb is a state, fact, a progressive action, a completed action or a completed action with progression. There are four aspects of a verb mentioned below. Aspect is one of the most important concepts if one wants to learn english tense because aspect along with the tenses gives us a complete sense of a sentence. Tenses tell us present, past, future and aspect tells us simple, continuous, perfect or perfect continuous state of a sentence.


  • Simple Aspect
  • Progressive aspect
  • Perfect aspect
  • Perfect progressive
Voice of Verb

When the subject is active or doer of a verb, the verb is said to be in active voice and when the subject is passive, receiver or undergoer of an action, the verb is said to be passive voice. Voice of a verb describes a relationship between action of a verb and participants of a sentence (subject, object). Sometimes When subject is the doer and receiver of the verb is said to be in the middle voice. For example 'The sun is rising.' here sun is doer (rising) and sun itself is rising (receiver) so rise is middle verb.


  • Active voice
  • Passive voice
  • Middle voice/ Diathesis