This article is all about verbs with examples. We will learn about the different types of verbs that we have in English. We will start with state and action verbs, and then we’ll look at main and helping verbs, and then we’ll turn to regular and irregular verbs, and finally, we’ll discuss transitive and intransitive verbs with examples.
what is a verb?
A verb is just a word that shows an action or a state – state means a situation. And actually, those are the two types of verbs – we call them state verbs and action verbs. Sometimes they’re called stative and dynamic verbs but the meaning is the same.
State and Action Verbs with examples
what’s the difference between state and action verbs?
The difference is that action verbs express physical activities or processes. For example verbs like kick, shout, run, climb, stand, sit, grow – all of these show us physical activities or processes. But a state verb is a verb that expresses a situation – for example, verbs like be, have, think, like and own are all state verbs. Now when I say “I have a large family” – here I’m using the state verb ‘have‘. That means I’m not talking about doing any physical action. I’m just telling you about a situation – in this case about my family. Or if I said “Julia likes chocolate ice cream.” Is Julia doing any action in that sentence? No, that sentence just gives you some information about Julia. We’re still using a verb “like” but it’s a state verb
Why is this difference important?
There’s an important rule in English that you should know and that rule is state verbs cannot be used in -ing (continuous) forms. When you want to use a continuous form, you can only do that with action verbs. Let’s look at a couple of examples. Now we can say “The children are playing in the park” or “Who’s shouting?” Both of these sentences are correct because the verbs play and shout are physical actions, so we can use -ing forms. But we cannot say “I’m having a large family.” or “Julia is liking chocolate ice cream.” Both of those sentences are wrong. Don’t make that mistake, and remember no continuous forms with state verbs.
Main and Helping Verbs with examples
Let’s now move on and talk about main and helping verbs. These are sometimes called auxiliary verbs as well. When a verb is used in a sentence, it can be used in two ways, it can either be used as the main verb of the sentence or it can be a helping verb (that is it can help the main verb). The most important helping verbs are be, do and have.
Let’s look at some examples with these: “Luciano is working now.” In this sentence there are two verbs ‘Is’ and ‘working’. Which is the main verb? The main verb is ‘working’ because that shows the action that is happening. So what about ‘is’? What is it doing? ‘Is’ is a helping verb that shows the tense of sentence. We know that Luciano is working now because we said ‘is’. If I said “Luciano was working”, you know I’m talking about the past. So that helping verb is showing the tense, and that’s one of the things that helping verbs can do.
They can also help us to form negative sentences. For example “Luciano isn’t working now” or questions – “Is Luciano working now?” In all of these sentences, the helping verb is ‘be’ or ‘to be’. We’re saying ‘is’ but that’s just a form of the verb ‘to be’ – we say I am, you are, he is, she is, etc.
Do and have as helping verb
The verbs ‘do’ and ‘have’ can also be helping verbs. For example, “I don’t play golf every weekend” – so ‘don’t’ is ‘do not’ That’s the negative form of the verb ‘do’ and it helps me to make a negative sentence, or my friends could ask “Do you play golf every weekend? ” That’s a question.
Let’s look at an example with the verb ‘have’ “We have visited the UK four times” here we know that the main verb is ‘visited’ but what is the purpose of using ‘have’ in this sentence? Now if I told you “We visited the UK last year” – in that sentence, I’m talking about one single experience that is my visit last year. But when I say “We have visited the UK four times” then I’m not talking about any single experience but I’m talking about life experience – that is in our lives we have visited the UK four times. That’s what the verb ‘have’ helps us to do in this sentence.
But take a look at this next sentence – “We have a car.” Now both of these sentences use the verb ‘have’ but do you notice a difference between them? The difference is that the first sentence uses ‘have’ as a helping verb but the second sentence uses ‘have’ as the main verb. You might be thinking how is that possible? Because ‘have’ is a helping verb right? True but in some cases ‘be’, ‘do’ and ‘have’ can be used as main verbs. Now in this sentence ‘have’ is used to mean ‘own’ – “We own a car” is what I’m saying. So in that way in some cases, these can be used as main verbs but most of the time they’re used as helping verbs.
Modals Verbs with examples
Another type of helping verb is modals. Modals are these words – can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should and must. I’m sure you know these words and I’m sure you use these a lot too. Modals help us to express mood in a sentence. What is the mood? In grammar, mood means the attitude of the speaker – that is the feeling I want to convey to you. For example, if I said, “The Patriots might win the super bowl this year.” If you don’t know what that means the Super Bowl is an American football tournament in the US and the New England Patriots are a team – so I’m making a prediction about
the future and I’m using modal verb ‘might’ to do that. Try to read that sentence without ‘might’ – “The Patriots win the super bowl this year.” It sounds like I’m 100% sure. But that’s not what I want to say – I want to say that I maybe 70% sure. So I’m using ‘might’. So ‘might’ adds that mood to the sentence – that I’m talking about possibility in the future.
‘Modals’ can also express ability, like “My sister can play the guitar.” In that sentence ‘play’ is the main verb and ‘can’ shows ability. Or if I said “You mustn’t smoke here” – what’s the mood I’m trying to convey? I’m using the modal verb ‘must’ in the negative “must not” to show that you don’t have permission. So in that way modals help us to express mood in a sentence.
Regular and Irregular Verbs with examples
Let’s now talk about regular and irregular verbs. To understand these you need to know that in English only verbs can have tenses. Of course you know about past tense, present tense and future tense but to make tenses, we change the forms of verbs. Do you know how many forms of verbs are in English? There are five forms – we call these the infinitive or the base form, the present tense form, the past tense form, the past participle form (this form is used in some tenses and it’s also used in conditionals, and in the passive voice, so it’s an important form) and the -ing or the continuous form.
Regular Verbs with example
Let’s take the example of a regular verb ‘to cook’ – its present tense forms are ‘cook’ and ‘cooks’ that’s because we say I, you, we, they cook but he, she or it cooks. The past tense form is ‘cooked’, the past participle form is also ‘cooked’ and the -ing form is ‘cooking’. We say that this is a regular verb because both the past tense form and the past participle forms are just -ed endings – cooked.
Irregular Verbs with example
You cannot do that with an irregular verb like the verb ‘to go’ – the present tense forms are ‘go’ and ‘goes’ but the past tense form is not “goed” – it’s ‘went’. The past participle form is ‘gone’. Or take the verb ‘to be’ It has three present tense forms – ‘am’, ‘is’ and ‘are’. (e.g ‘I am’, ‘you are’ ‘he is’, ‘she is’). And two past tense forms – ‘was’ and ‘were’ and the past participle form is ‘been’.
So you might be thinking – how can I guess the past and past participle forms of irregular verbs?
Well the answer is you cannot and that’s what it means when we say that a verb is irregular – there’s no rule for making the two past and past participle forms. You just have to learn them through experience. So it’s a good idea for you to go to your dictionary or to your course book and try to learn as many irregular verbs as you can.
Transitive and Intransitive Verbs with examples
Transitive verbs with examples
A transitive verb is just a verb that takes an object. What do I mean by an object? In grammar, the object of a verb is a noun that is, a person, place, animal or thing that receives the action of the verb. And a transitive verb always takes an object. OK I know you might be feeling really confused now – what does all this mean? So I’ll show you a couple of examples to help you understand this concept.
Now if I said “Duncan kicked” – does that sound a little wrong? Because you might ask me Duncan kicked what? and I would have to say something like oh sorry “Duncan kicked the ball” for example. ‘The ball’ is the object of the verb ‘kick’ because ‘the ball’ receives the ‘kick’ and the verb ‘kick’ is a transitive verb – it always needs an object. Some other common are transitive verbs are hit, give, carry, climb, make, kiss and take. With all of these, if you ask the questions who or what you will get an answer. Duncan kicked what? The ball. “I made a cake.” I made what? A cake. “She kissed Pablo.” She kissed who? Pablo. So that’s how you know that these are all transitive verbs.
Intransitive Verbs with examples
That’s a verb that does not take an object. For example, verbs like live, die, laugh, cry, run, sleep, sit, stand are all intransitive verbs. They don’t take objects. For example “The old man laughed loudly.” Notice that in this sentence there is no object. We’re saying the old man laughed but then ‘loudly’ is not a person or thing receiving the action – that’s just an adverb that gives us information about ‘laughed’. So if you ask the questions ‘The old man laughed who” or “The old man laughed what?” – you will get no answer. That’s how you know that that verb is intransitive.
The most common mistake is that we often leave out the object with a transitive verb. For example, we say “The thief climbed and then escaped.” Can you identify the error in that sentence? Well, the mistake is that the verb ‘climb’ is a transitive verb and you need to say climbed what? You need to say an object. Now in your mind, you might have a picture of a thief climbing over a wall and then running away but you need to say that. You need to say “The thief climbed over the wall and then escaped.” So don’t make that mistake of leaving out the object after a transitive verb