What is a Verb?

A verb is a word that shows action or being. Whatever you are doing can be expressed by a verb.
A sentence can have only one word as long as that word is a verb. Play! Stop! Run!

Verbs can be classified according to whether they are action verbs, linking verbs or helping verbs.

Lists of 2209 English Verbs
Verbs starting with: a b c d e f g h i j k l
Verbs starting with: m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

English Verb Tenses here.

Verb Forms

Infinitive Simple
Regular Verbs
to enjoy enjoy(s) enjoyed enjoyed enjoying
to help help(s) helped helped helping
to answer answer(s) answered answered answering
Irregular Verbs
to drive drive(s) drove driven driving
to spend spend(s) spent spent spending
  • The Infinitive form is the verb in its basic form. It is the version of the verb which appears in the dictionary.
  • The Simple Present (present simple or present) is used for the present tense.
  • The Simple Past (past simple or past) is used for the past tense.
  • The Past Participle is the form of a verb, usually ending in -ed. It's used to form perfect and passive tenses. Sometimes it can function as adjectives.
  • The Present Participle is the form of a verb, always ending in -ing. It's most commonly used to form continuous verb tenses, or it can function as adjectives or nouns. When present participle is used as noun, it is called Gerund

Irregular Verbs

Most English verbs are regular. Regular verbs just add –d or –ed when they change principal parts from the present to simple past and to the past participle.

Irregular Verbs form their past tenses and past participles in unpredictable ways. There are some patterns among them (blow-blew, know-knew,...), (spring-sprang, drink-drank,...) but it is not always easy to apply these paterns. The only way to learn irregular verbs is to memorize them.

Irregular Verbs List List of 168 Irregular English Verbs

Irregular Verbs Spelling Test Type the proper forms for the given irregular verb.

Action Verbs

Action verbs(or dynamic verbs) are words that express action.

Examples of action verbs: listen, drive, read, smile, study, jump, run, take, sing

There are two types of action verbs: transitive and intransitive.

Transitive Verbs

A transitive verb expresses an action and is followed by an object that receives the action of the verb.

In the following examples, transitive verbs are shown in color and direct objects of these verbs are underlined.
  • I washed (what?) the car yesterday.
  • I took (whom?) my sister to the movie.
  • John studies (what?) English.

Intransitive Verbs

An intransitive verb expresses an action but is not followed by an object. Applying (what?) or (whom?) test to an intransitive verb shows immediately that an object cannot follow.

  • Tom’s grades improved (what? whom?) with the help of a tutor.
  • The child cried (what? whom?) loudly.
  • The mother sang (what? whom?) to her children.
  • My package arrived (what? whom?) just on time.

Sample list of common intransitive verbs: appear, arrive, collide, disappear, emerge, laugh, occur, remain, rise, sleep, vanish

Many verbs can be both Transitive and Intransitive.

studies, sang and arrived as intransitive verbs
  • John studies hard.
  • The mother sang to her children.
  • My package arrived just on time.
studies and sang as transitive verbs
  • John studies (what?) English.
  • The mother sang (what?) the song to her children.
  • My package arrived what? whom?
    - Verb arrived can't take a direct object so this verb is intransitive only.

Practice. Transitive vs Intransitive Verbs - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify whether the verb acts as Transitive or Intransitive.

Non-Action Verbs

Non-action verbs(or stative verbs) are words that express possession, state, sense, desire or emotions.

Examples of non-action verbs: seem, want, love, like, need, own, know, fear

The one thing to remember is that non-action verbs are not usually used in continuous tenses.

It would be incorrect to say
  • I will be needing a car.
  • I am having a car.
  • I was wanting a car.
The correct way, of course, is
  • I will need a car.
  • I have a car.
  • I wanted a car.

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs do not show action. They link or establish a relationship between the subject and its subject complement.

List of linking verbs: become, seem and all form of the verb be like am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been, etc.

In the following examples, subject complements are underlined and linking verbs are shown in color.
  • She was angry.
  • My friend is a teacher.
  • Mike became the president of the company.
  • He seems nervous.

Other common linking verbs include: appear, feel, get, go, grow, look, prove, remain, smell, sound, taste, turn but note that these verbs may also act as action verbs.

In the following examples, verbs feel and taste are functioning as linking verbs.
  • I feel nervous.
  • That pie tastes delicious.
In the following examples, verbs feel and taste are functioning as action verbs.
  • I feel pain from the injury.
  • Taste the pie and tell me if you like it.

To determine whether a verb is a linking verb substitute am, is, or are for the verb. If it fits – the substituted verb is a linking verb.

In the following examples, verb feel is substituted with am and sentence makes sense so the verb feel acts as linking verb.
  • I feel nervous. - I am nervous.
In the following examples, verb feel is substituted with am and sentence makes no sense so the verb feel acts here as action verb.
  • I feel pain from the injury. - I am pain from the injury.

Practice. Linking vs Action Verbs - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify whether the verb acts as Linking or Action.

Helping (Auxiliary) Verbs

A Verb Phrase consists of a main (non-auxiliary) verb and can have up to three helping (auxiliary) verbs. The main verb is always the last verb in the phrase.

A Main Verb expresses the main action or state of being in the sentence.

  • I drive my car every day.
  • English verbs are simple.

A Helping Verb is used with main verb to express tenses, aspect, modality, emphasis, etc. or to form a negative or question.

In the following examples main verbs are underlined and helping verbs are shown in color

  • I am learning Spanish Grammar.
  • I should have known the answer to that question.
  • Marsha will have been studying English for more than a year by the time she leaves for US.
  • Peter would try that.
  • Does Nancy visit her sister?
  • They couldn’t dance very well.
  • I will not do that.

List of Auxiliary Verbs

  • Be - am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been
  • Do - do, does, did
  • Have - have, has, had, having
  • Modal Verbs - shall, will, may, must, might, can, could, would, should

Note that verbs to be, to do and to have can be main and helping verb in the same sentence.

  • I am late.
    - am here as the main verb
  • I am driving a car.
    - am here as a helping verb
  • I am being late again.
    - am - helping verb, being – main verb

Practice. Helping Verbs - Definitions, More Examples and Tips, Quiz. Identify helping verbs by clicking on it.