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Five Kinds of Verbs - An Overview

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, “All fine prose is based on the verbs carrying the sentence.”

Let’s look back and make certain we all understand the five kinds of verbs. Broadly, we have two groups of main verbs, action and no-action, which further break down into four types of main verbs.

Action Verbs

1. Transitive verbs are those action verbs that can have a noun attached directly to them, as in write book, hit ball, or answer questions.

2. Intransitive verbs are those action verbs that cannot attach directly to a noun; they need the help of a preposition, as in walk to the store, comply with the regulations, proceed with the inquiry.

No-Action Verbs

3. The verb to be can serve either as a main verb or as an auxiliary verb. When it acts as a main verb, it typically couples a grammatical subject with an adjective (predicate adjective), as in John is big or The sunset is beautiful. Or it couples a grammatical subject with another noun (predicate noun), as in Mary is president or War is hell.

Or it might couple a grammatical subject with a phrase, as in

The book is on the table


He is from the South.

When it acts as an auxiliary verb, the verb to be forms the progressive tense, as in We are studying grammar, or the passive voice, as in The ball was hit by John.

4. Linking verbs are non-be verbs that link a grammatical subject to an adjective (Watermelon tastes good), to a noun (She seems an honest woman), or to a phrase (He looks out of sorts).

Those are the four types of main verbs: (1) action transitive, (2) action intransitive, (3) no‑action to be, and (4) no‑action linking.

5. The fifth kind of verb is not a main verb, but an (5) auxiliary verb, also called a helping verb. It does not form a sentence all by itself. Instead, it hooks up with a main verb and helps it show various tenses or conditions or states, as in By the time I arrived, he had completed the assignment.

Now it’s time to take a look at the various forms of a verb, particularly its infinitive, finite, and two participial forms.

Hard Copy

You may download our entire discussion of the Parts of Speech. Simply download the Grammar eBook Understanding the Parts of Speech.


Previous: Auxiliary Verbs - Called “Helping Verbs”

Next: Four Principal Parts or Forms of Verbs

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  • Sankarachari Kalikota
    Sankarachari Kalikota
    Even a pioneer also to a professional teacherjust like me.
    LikeReply 13 years ago
  • Tichum Lee
    Tichum Lee
    Very helpful.
    LikeReply4 years ago
  • Micky A Praize
    Micky A Praize
    Nice one
    LikeReply4 years ago
  • Ibrar Mehmood
    Ibrar Mehmood
    LikeReply4 years ago
  • Gian Rahman
    Gian Rahman
    LikeReply4 years ago
  • Hamilton Vega
    Hamilton Vega
    hola seño como se acer el deber
    LikeReply4 years ago
  • Moazzem Hossain
    Moazzem Hossain
    LikeReply 15 years ago
  • Rinki Kumari Rinki Kumari
    Rinki Kumari Rinki Kumari
    LikeReply 25 years ago
  • Farman Ullah Khan
    Farman Ullah Khan
    Hi Reneo...
    let you know
    Positive Senctance; A sentence simply declares/asserts or expressess something about some one or something then it can be called Positive senctence... hopefully you would better understand from the example give below;
    He goes to school.
    they worked hard.
    she plays guitar every morning.
    they wrote me a letter.
    Negative sentances: when we find some negation in a sentence it is called negetive sentances such as;
    I don't work hard.
    she does not go to school.
    He did not play well.
    Interrogative Sentances: those sentances which ask question or seek information are called interrogative sentances such as;
    who is that boy?
    Where do you live?
    which one is your sister?
    Is it raining?
    Are you crying?
    LikeReply 15 years ago
  • Reneo Cetak
    Reneo Cetak
    I hope that you could help me. I find a difficulty when I like to categorize these groups of sentences or words. Would please help me to give category names of them.
    Group I
    Positive Sentence, Negative Sentence, Interrogative Sentence
    Group II
    Simple Sentence, Compound Sentence, Complex Sentence
    Group III
    First Person, Second Person, Third Person

    I'm glad to wait for your help. Thank you.
    LikeReply 16 years ago
  • Bhasha Asia
    Bhasha Asia
    How about do/does? Do they have special category as well or they are just normal action verbs ?
    LikeReply6 years ago
    • Muhammad Ibrahim
      Muhammad Ibrahim
      LikeReply5 years ago
  • Prota Mwenye G Zake
    Prota Mwenye G Zake
    LikeReply 16 years ago
    • STANDS4
      Thanks Prota!
      LikeReply6 years ago
  • Zahoor Mahsud
    Zahoor Mahsud
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Rashid Ali Jatoi
    Rashid Ali Jatoi
    well information of basic grammar for new learner
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Allen T Manyumbu
    Allen T Manyumbu
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Ram Cel Lasconia
    Ram Cel Lasconia
    LikeReply 16 years ago
  • Tayyab Suleman
    Tayyab Suleman
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Kernel Kernel
    Kernel Kernel
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • John Caballero Salanio Gutual
    John Caballero Salanio Gutual
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Habbtyl Kheir Abdallah Mohamed
    Habbtyl Kheir Abdallah Mohamed
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Barid Bhowmick
    Barid Bhowmick
    LikeReply6 years ago
  • Katherine Joy C. Berano
    Katherine Joy C. Berano
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Karylle Cassandra Co
    Karylle Cassandra Co

    LikeReply 17 years ago
  • Earl Priela
    Earl Priela
    nice one
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Medan Condes
    Medan Condes
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Adonis Moyo
    Adonis Moyo
    This is a well simplified version of types of verbs which I hope every college student or pupil will understand. Good work.
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Chaman Malik
    Chaman Malik
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Rahul Yadav
    Rahul Yadav
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Rufino Escobar Balisi
    Rufino Escobar Balisi
    pretty good
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Jeyalizabeth
    being inadequate
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Subhash Vaartha
    Subhash Vaartha
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • JOHN
    very good..
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Dela Fuente Miguel
    Dela Fuente Miguel
    pogi talga ako
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Adrian Nadrasam Notna
    Adrian Nadrasam Notna
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Tajuddin Sahak
    Tajuddin Sahak
    Not bad
    LikeReply7 years ago
  • Samuel Telan Medrano
    Samuel Telan Medrano
    LikeReply 17 years ago
  • Roberto Bautista Tarrayo
    Roberto Bautista Tarrayo
    LikeReply 17 years ago
  • Russel R. David
    Russel R. David
    wala naman yung sagot
    LikeReply 17 years ago
  • CriseLda Relii
    CriseLda Relii
    Nice :)
    LikeReply 17 years ago
  • James Rusty Jalmasco
    James Rusty Jalmasco
    d wow
    LikeReply 18 years ago
  • Jay-r Precilda
    Jay-r Precilda
    LikeReply 18 years ago
  • Angelo Derama
    Angelo Derama
    gwapo sya?
    LikeReply8 years ago


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