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What is a verb

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An Introduction to Verbs

Verbs are one of the parts of speech in the English language. They are used to convey action and state, or to link nouns and pronouns with other parts of the sentence. Verbs show what someone or something does, feels or experiences.

A Verb is a Part of Speech That Shows Action, State, or Relation

A verb is a part of speech that shows action, state, or occurrence. Verbs are also called “doing” words because they show an action being done by someone or something.

The word “is” in the sentence above is also a verb. In other words, you could say “the dog is running.” What this means is that the word “is” describes what the dog does (run).

The following are examples of verbs:

  • Run (action)

  • Jump (action)

  • Berate (state) —>This can be replaced with ‘to berate’ if you want to talk about doing this ‘action’ . To berate means to criticise someone or something severely; scold strongly; take issue with strongly

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The Main Verbs are Called Principal Verbs

The main verbs are called principal verbs. They can be in five different forms:

  • Present tense

  • Past tense

  • Future tense

  • Present perfect tense (e.g., “I have eaten dinner.”)

  • Present participle (e.g., “He is eating dinner.”)

The Principal Parts of a Verb are Used to Build the Principal Tenses

The principal parts of a verb are the infinitive, the past tense and the past participle. The principal parts are used to form the present, past and future tenses.

Infinitives are the basic form of a verb (e.g., “to eat”), as opposed to its conjugated forms (e.g., “eating”). Infinitives can function in many ways: nouns (“I like eating ice cream”), adjectives (“It was an exciting time to be alive”) or adverbs (“She enjoys Italian food”).

A verb’s past tense indicates that something happened in the past; it also functions as an adjective describing something that happened in another time period (“He ate his dinner.”). A verb’s past participle is formed by adding “-d” or “-ed” at the end of its root form; it functions both as an adjective and as an adverb (“He has finished dinner.”).

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs, also called copulative verbs, are those that connect the subject of a sentence with a noun or adjective. They show how someone or something is. For example:

  • The rose smells lovely. (This sentence begins with a linking verb.)

  • This soup tastes delicious! (Again, this is a linking verb.)

  • She looks beautiful today in her new dress.

  • My daughter seems healthy after her fall yesterday and I am thankful for that!

Auxiliary Verbs

You can’t use an auxiliary verb without a main verb. An auxiliary verb usually comes before the main verb, but it can come after it, if you put a helping adverb between them.

Auxiliary Verbs:

  • Can be used to form the continuous tenses: I am eating pizza; He has been working hard all day; We had been thinking about buying that house for years before we finally bought it!

  • Can be used to form the passive voice: The cat was chased by many dogs; I was told that my car needed repairs yesterday, but today I learned otherwise!

  • Can be used to form perfect tenses: “You have taken out your wallet!” said Alice as she pointed at Bob’s pocket. (Perfect = Past tense + Present participle) (Have taken = Past participle of take)

Modal Verbs

Modal verbs are a group of auxiliary verbs that express the speaker’s attitude towards what is said. They appear in the first position of a sentence and can be used to express possibility, necessity, ability, obligation, permission and willingness.

There are eight modal verbs in English: can/could; may/might; will/would; shall/should; must; ought to (informal) should not (informal).

Transitive Verbs

A transitive verb shows an action that passes from the subject to the object. The direct object is the person or thing that receives the action of a transitive verb, and indirect objects are people or things that receive direct objects in addition to other parts of speech. For example:

  • The boy kicked his sister.

In this sentence, “kicked” is a transitive verb because it has both a person performing an action (the boy) and another person receiving an object (his sister). It’s important to note here that we can’t replace “kicked” with “kicked at,” because then our sentence would be grammatically incorrect! You’ll find similar examples below:

  • The teacher gave me my test results back yesterday.

In this case, we have yet another example of a transitive verb – gave – with two people involved: myself as the receiver of something (my results) and someone else giving it to me (my teacher). As mentioned earlier, however, there are also other ways for verbs’ actions to flow besides directly through an agent, such as yourself or someone else; some verbs take one step further into abstraction by showing connections between ideas instead.

Intransitive Verbs

In contrast, intransitive verbs do not require a preposition to complete a sentence. They are also referred to as “unergative” or “one-place” verbs. Intransitive verbs can be used in the present tense and describe actions that have no effect on anything else. Examples include:

  • to run

  • to sleep

  • to jump

Who said the English language was simple?! Be sure to check back regularly for more tips and educational information.

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