Summary of Verbs
Verbs fulfill five functions in our language. In their conjugated form, they enable us to form clauses, either as complete sentences or as dependent clauses. They also appear as infinitives (to verbs), as present participles (‑ing verbs), and as past participles (ordinarily ‑ed verbs). In these three forms, they appear as phrases. And, in their ‑ing and ‑ed forms, they can appear as single-word adjectives.
We can use two of the verbal phrases (to phrase, ‑ing phrase) as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. We can use the third verbal phrase (the ‑ed phrase) as an adjective. In short, verbs can perform the roles of all major parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
In fact, you can write a sentence consisting only of verbs:
To win will be thrilling.
The infinitive phrase to win acts as a noun (as the subject of the sentence). The verb will be serves as the verb. The -ing verb thrilling acts as the predicate adjective.
With so much versatility inherent in the verb form, one would think that writers would favor verb-based writing. The good writers do just that: They fashion their styles around the verb. But soft, fluffy writers shy away from verbs. Instead, they prefer the noun form.
We’ll explore this tension in our language (nouns vs. verbs) in the Grammar eBook Developing a Powerful Writing Style.
You may download our entire discussion of the Parts of Speech. Simply download the Grammar eBook Understanding the Parts of Speech.
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