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Verbs are words that describe an action (doing something), state (being something), or event (something happens). Some verbs work with other verbs, for example, when you ask questions or make the sentence negative.
The verb does a lot of work in the sentence. It tells you who or what is doing something. It also tells you when, and some verbs tell you how or give you more information about the action, state, or event.
Types of Verbs
There are many types of verbs in English. In this lesson, we will examine only a few.
Action verbs express physical or mental actions. The subject “does" something.
Examples of action verbs
Stative verbs express a condition or state. Stative verbs describe qualities, opinions, beliefs, and emotions.
Here are a few examples of stative verbs:
Examples of stative verbs
Linking verbs simply link or connect two ideas as in A = B. For example when you say, “John is a doctor,” you use the linking verb be to link the idea of “John” to the idea of “a doctor:” [John] = [a doctor].
Examples of linking verbs
Important note. Some verbs can be used as an action verb or as a linking verb. For example, the verb look is an action verb in “He looked at me" (he did something), but it is a linking verb in “He looks tired” (he = tired).
Modal verbs give more information to the verb. They add information to the main verb—for example, ability, possibility, obligation, etcetera.
Auxiliary or Helping Verbs
Auxiliary (or helping) verbs work with other verbs to create grammatical sentences. For example, if you say, “John speaks English,” you use the auxiliary verb “does” to ask the question, “Does John speak English?” You also use the auxiliary to answer the question, “Yes, he does.”
Sometimes modal verbs are called helping verbs because you put the helping verb or the modal verb in front of the subject to ask questions or to give short answers. You may see different definitions in different textbooks.
Phrasal verbs have a main verb and one or more particles (a preposition or adverb) that changes the meaning of the main verb. Sometimes the meaning of the phrasal verb is similar to the main verb, but other times it can be very different. For example,
- The verb “look” in “Look at me please” changes its meaning when you say, “to look up a word in the dictionary,” but the meanings are related.
- The verb “take” in “She takes her brother to school every day” changes the meaning completely when you say, “She takes off her shoes when she gets home.”
Here are a few examples of verbs and phrasal verbs:
Examples of verbs and phrasal verbs
- Bring: Bring about, bring along, bring back, bring out
- Call: Call back, call in, call off, call out, call up, call upon
- Come: Come along, come in, come on, come up with
- Get: Get along, get away, get into, get over
- Go: Go after, go ahead, go off, go over, go through, go with
- Hold: Hold back, hold down, hold out, hold up
- Look: Look after, look for, look forward to, look into, look out
- Put: Put away, put down, put forward, put through, put up
- Run: Run away, run down, run out, run over
- Take: Take apart, take down, take in, take on
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