ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

TEFL / ESL – What is a Verb?

Updated on December 9, 2013

What are Verbs?

Verbs are words that are used to convey actions, states of being or relationships in the English language. They are one of the Parts of Speech and usually tell us what is going on in a sentence.

This article outlines the different types of verbs, shows how to recognise them and explains their functions. As there are many ways to categorise verbs I will firstly outline Main Verbs, Auxiliary Verbs and Modal Verbs and then move unto other areas of distinction.

Main Verbs, Auxiliary Verbs and Modal Verbs


Main Verbs – These verbs can stand alone and the meaning is easily understood.

Examples: I see her, He filmed the Cuban dawn, It comes with a warranty.

Auxiliary Verbs – These are helping verbs and should not try to be understood on their own. The verb To Be, To Do and To Have allows us to change the tense of the verb, to make negatives and to ask questions. We don’t use them in the affirmative of the Present Simple or the Past Simple.

Examples: They are going to Belgium, I didn’t see him yesterday, Have you eaten here before?

Modal Verbs – These belong to the auxiliary verb category. They are used to express permission, obligation, possibility, logical deduction, requests, advice, suggestions, invitation and offers.

They are not used on their own and precede the main verb without using To – I must visit Granpa. However, there are a number of differences; you do not modify the 3rd person with s/ies/es, e.g. They can hear you. There is no past tense except for the modal verb Can.

Examples: Can, Should, May, Might, Could, Would, Will, Shall

There are other modal verbs called ‘semi-modals’ which do not follow the rules outlined above. They are as follows: Need To, Have To, Ought To, To Be Able


This list gives an even greater distinction of the types of verbs -

  • Regular verbs
  • Irregular verbs
  • Base form of a verb
  • Infinitive form of a verb
  • Present participle
  • Past participle
  • Action verbs
  • Stative verbs
  • Transitive verbs
  • Intransitive verbs
  • Linking verbs
  • Phrasal verbs

Regular verbs – In the past simple these verbs are formed by adding d or ed.

Examples: Arrived, Joined, Organised and Bathed.

Irregular verbs – Have different past simple and past participle forms.

Examples: Put, Ate, Had and Come.

Base form verbs – Are the verbs you will find the dictionaries and do not have to preceding them.

Examples: Take, Smell, Arrange and Pick.

Infinitive – Form of the verb with to.

Examples: To See, To Hear, To Run and To Fly.

Present participle – The form of the verb with ing attached to the end.

Examples: Sleeping, Crying, Feeling and Screaming.

Past participle – Used to form tenses such as the present perfect or the passive and are used after verbs have and be. Regular verbs end in ed.

Examples: Been, Gone, Walked and Played.


Action – These verbs can be used with the continuous and the simple tenses and describe actions and events. Also known as Dynamic Verbs.

Examples: Shout, Jump, Fall and Speak.

Stative – Expresses a state or condition. They are not normally used with continuous tenses and they are associated with feelings, emotions, thinking, opinions and verbs that describe senses (Note that some verbs can be both action and stative verbs e.g. She’s having a shower, I have a red car).

Examples: Prefer, Like, Understand and Know.

Transitive – Need to be followed by an object – a noun, pronoun or a noun phrase.

Examples: They named her Cindy, She broke a window, He gave her a flower, I’m watching this movie.

Intransitive – Does not need to be followed by an object.

Examples: She screamed like crazy, They sang, Yesterday we ate well, You slept.

Linking – Needs to be followed by an adjective or a phrase with an adjective in it. These verbs do not express action. To differentiate between action verbs and linking verbs try substituting the linking verb with the verb To Be or an equals sign, e.g. I am hungry/I was hungry/I = hungry

Examples: Be, Seem, Become. Verbs that are sometimes used as linking verbs depending on their function: Grow, Appear, Smell.

Multiword – Combines a main verb and a particle. These can be phrasal verbs or prepositional verbs.

Examples: She put off the wedding date, They drove away at high speed.

© 2013 Muttface


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)