Verb Definition, Types & Examples - Verb Lesson

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Lesson Overview

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the definition of verbs and distinguish their types.
  2. Identify and correct common errors in subject-verb agreement using practical examples.
  3. Learn about verb conjugation, focusing on ways to conjugate verbs.
  4. Master verb tenses and forms, with exercises on simple, perfect, continuous, and perfect continuous tenses.
  5. Understand and apply modal verbs and phrasal, exploring their functions, types, and rules.

Introduction to Verbs

What is a verb, you ask? Verbs are everywhere in our sentences, and they're essential for expressing what happens in our daily lives. In this course, you'll learn all about verbs, starting from the very basics with what a verb is, to more specific types like action verbs and irregular verbs.

Understanding verbs is like learning to drive-once you know how, you can go anywhere! We'll explore the definition of verbs, why they're important, and how to use them correctly. Whether it's running, jumping, thinking, or just being, verbs help us tell our stories. With each lesson, you'll discover more about different kinds of verbs and how they fit into sentences. You'll see how action verbs bring energy to our conversations and how irregular verbs challenge the rules we learn.

What are Verbs?

Verbs are words that describe what someone or something is doing. They are action parts of a sentence and can also express a state of being.

For example, in the sentences "She runs quickly" and "He is happy," "runs" shows action, and "is" describes a state. Verbs are important because they tell us what happens in a story or conversation. Other examples of verbs include "jump," "think," "play," and "exist," etc.

Take this quiz on Verbs-

What Are The Types of Verbs?

Verbs are versatile and there are various types of verbs. It is important to know the types of verbs to understand them better. Let's learn them one by one -

Action Verbs

Action verbs describe what the subject is actively doing. These verbs illustrate physical or mental actions taken by people, animals, or things. They are dynamic and bring energy to a sentence.

For example:

She sings beautifully.
He thinks deeply about the problem.

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs do not describe actions. Instead, they connect the subject of a sentence to additional information about the subject, often relating to a state of being or condition. These verbs act as a bridge between the subject and its description.

For example:

She is excited about the party.
The soup tastes delicious, thanks to the herbs.

Helping Verbs (Auxiliary Verbs)

Helping verbs, also known as auxiliary verbs, assist the main verb in a sentence by extending its meaning. They can indicate aspects of time and modality, such as ability, possibility, or obligation.

For example:

They will go to the park after lunch.
She can dance very well, impressing everyone.

Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs require an object in the sentence to receive the action of the verb. These verbs are not complete without an object that answers "what?" or "whom?" regarding the verb's action.

For example:

He kicked the ball across the field.
She loves her cat very much.

Intransitive Verbs

In contrast to transitive verbs, intransitive verbs do not require an object to complete their meaning. Their action does not pass onto an object; rather, the verb stands alone.

For example:

He sleeps soundly at night.
The birds sing melodiously in the morning.

Regular vs. Irregular Verbs

Regular verbs follow a predictable pattern when they change from present to past tense, typically by adding -ed at the end.

For example:

He walked to school yesterday.
She played the guitar last night.

Irregular verbs do not follow a regular pattern when changing tenses and can vary greatly in form.

For example:

He went to the store instead of school.
She has eaten the cake that was in the fridge.

Incomplete Verbs

Incomplete verbs are those that require other words to complete their meaning, often needing another verb to flesh out their sense in context. These can sometimes feel like they leave an idea unfinished.

For example:

She is wanting to leave, which is unusual for her. (Using "wants" would be more direct)
He did go to the market, even though it was closed. (Using "went" would typically suffice)

Finite Verbs

Finite verbs are bound by their subjects in terms of number and person, and they reflect tense. These verbs form the core of a predicate in a sentence and are essential for expressing complete thoughts.

For example:

She writes a letter every day.
They are playing soccer in the field.

Infinite Verbs

Infinite verbs (more commonly known as infinitives) are the base form of a verb often preceded by "to." They are not restricted by subject or tense and can act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

For example:

To think differently is important.

Non-finite Verbs

Non-finite verbs, including infinitives, gerunds, and participles, do not function as the main verb of a sentence and do not change according to the subject or tense. They can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs, providing additional detail to sentences.

For example:

Swimming is fun. (Gerund acting as subject)
Written by her, the letter was lovely. (Participle providing additional detail)

Take this quiz on Verbs-

What Are The Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement means the verb must match the subject in number (singular or plural) and person (first, second, or third). This is key to making sentences sound correct.

Singular subjects need singular verbs; plural subjects need plural verbs.

For example:

The dog barks.
The dogs bark.

When subjects are joined by 'and,' use a plural verb.

For example:

John and Mary are going to school.
The cat and the dog are playing.

When subjects are connected by 'or' or 'nor,' the verb agrees with the closest subject.

For example:

Neither the teacher nor the students are ready.
Either my brother or my parents are coming to the meeting.

Singular indefinite pronouns (anyone, everyone, someone) take singular verbs.

For example:

Everyone is invited to the party.
Someone has left their bag.

Plural indefinite pronouns (several, few, both) take plural verbs.

For example:

Several of the members were late.
Few realize the importance of this decision.

Don't get confused by words that come between the subject and verb; the verb agrees with the main subject.

For example:

The boy, along with his friends, is at the park.
The girl, as well as her siblings, was at the party.

With collective nouns (group, team, committee), use a singular verb if the group acts as one unit.

For example:

The team is winning the game.
The group meets every Thursday.

Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods of time when considered as a unit.

For example:

Fifty dollars is too much to pay.
Two weeks is not enough for a proper vacation.

In sentences beginning with 'there is' or 'there are,' the verb agrees with the noun that follows.

For example:

There is a problem with the details.
There are many problems with the details.

Titles of books, movies, and other works are singular and take a singular verb.

For example:

The Chronicles of Narnia is a bestselling series.
Peanuts is a well-known comic strip.

When using expressions like 'as well as,' 'along with,' or 'in addition to,' the verb agrees with the first noun.

For example:

The manager, as well as his assistants, is expected to attend.
The car, along with the bikes, is available for use.

Take this quiz on Subject-Verb Agreement-

What is Verb Conjugation?

Verb conjugation refers to how a verb changes to show different things like time (tense), who is doing the action (person), and how many are involved (number). It also changes to express the attitude of the speaker (mood). This changing of verbs helps communicate complete ideas about actions and states of being.

How to Conjugate a Verb?

Understanding how to conjugate verbs according to person, number, mood, and tense is crucial for forming correct sentences and expressing clear and precise ideas in both spoken and written English.

Verb Conjugation According to Person

Verbs change based on who is performing the action. This involves adjusting the verb to align with the subject, who could be I, you, he, she, it, we, or they.

For example:

I walk to school.
He walks to school.

Verb Conjugation According to Number

Conjugation also changes with the number of subjects, distinguishing between singular and plural.

For example:

The cat runs through the yard. (singular)
The cats run through the yard. (plural)

Verb Conjugation According to Mood

The mood of the verb shows the speaker's attitude towards the action. Common moods include indicative, subjunctive, conditional, and imperative.

The indicative mood is used for stating facts or asking questions. It is the most common mood for verbs.

For example:

She studies hard. (indicative)

The subjunctive mood is used to express wishes, hypotheses, or conditions that are not real. It often follows words like 'suggest' or 'recommend.'

For example:

I wish I were taller. (wish)

The conditional mood is used to speak about actions that might happen, depending on other conditions.

For example:

I would go to the park if it were sunny. (dependent on weather)

The imperative mood is used for giving orders or making requests. It usually doesn't state the subject as it is often directed towards the listener.

For example:

Sit down, please. (request)

Verb Conjugation According to Tense

Verbs are altered to express when an action occurs-past, present, or future.

For example:

She walks to school. (present)
She walked to school yesterday. (past)

Take this quiz on Verbs-

What are Verb Tenses and Forms?

Verb tenses and forms show when an action or a state of being happens- past, present, or future. They also express how the action relates to the flow of time, such as whether it is ongoing or completed. Understanding these forms helps us clearly communicate the timing and nature of actions.

Simple Tenses

Simple tenses describe actions or states without specifically stating if the action is ongoing or completed.

Past Simple: Used for actions completed in the past.

For example:

He walked to school yesterday.
They played soccer last weekend.

Present Simple: Used for habitual actions or general truths.

For example:

She walks to school.
Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.

Future Simple: Used for actions that will happen in the future.

For example:

I will go to the store tomorrow.
She will celebrate her birthday next week.

Perfect Tenses

Perfect tenses describe actions that are viewed in relation to their time of occurrence, often focusing on completion.

Past Perfect: Used for actions completed before another past action.

For example:

He had left when I arrived.
They had finished the game before it rained.

Present Perfect: Used for actions that occurred at an unspecified time before now.

For example:

She has visited Paris.
I have eaten already.

Future Perfect: Used for actions that will be completed before a specified future time.

For example:

By next year, I will have graduated.
She will have completed the project by tomorrow.

Continuous Tenses

Continuous tenses indicate ongoing actions or states.

Past Continuous: Used for actions that were ongoing in the past.

For example:

He was walking when I saw him.
They were watching TV all evening.

Present Continuous: Used for actions happening right now or around the present time.

For example:

She is studying for her exams.
I am reading a book.

Future Continuous: Used for actions that will be ongoing at a future time.

For example:

I will be sleeping when you arrive.
She will be working at that time tomorrow.

Perfect Continuous Tenses

Perfect continuous tenses emphasize the duration of an ongoing action that began in the past and continues into the present or future.

Past Perfect Continuous: Used for actions that were ongoing before another action in the past.

For example:

He had been waiting for two hours when the bus finally arrived.
They had been playing soccer for an hour before it started to rain.

Present Perfect Continuous: Used for actions that began in the past and continue to the present.

For example:

She has been studying for three hours.
They have been arguing since morning.

Future Perfect Continuous: Used for actions that will be ongoing until a specified time in the future.

For example:

I will have been working here for five years by the end of this year.
She will have been living in London for a decade by 2025.

This table demonstrates how the verb "walks" changes across different tenses, helping to convey when the action happens and its nature.

SimpleHe walked to school.He walks to school.He will walk to school.
PerfectHe had walked to school.He has walked to school.He will have walked to school.
ContinuousHe was walking to school.He is walking to school.He will be walking to school.
Perfect ContinuousHe had been walking to school.He has been walking to school.He will have been walking to school.

Take this Quiz on Verbs-

What are Modal Verbs?

Modal verbs are special verbs used in English to express necessity, possibility, permission, or ability. They are used with other verbs to give more meaning to the main verb. Common modal verbs include can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must, and ought to.

What are the Functions of Modal Verbs?

Understanding modal verbs and their functions enhances your ability to express mood, manners, probability, and obligations in both spoken and written English.

Asking Permission

Modal verbs are often used to ask for permission politely like using ‘may', ‘can', and ‘could'.

For example:

May I leave the room?

Giving Permission

They can also express giving permission like using ‘may', and ‘can'.

For example:

You can go after you finish your work.


Modal verbs can express prohibition or tell someone they are not allowed to do something like using ‘must not', and ‘cannot'.

For example:
You must not enter the restricted area.

Making Requests

Modal verbs help in making polite requests like using ‘can', ‘could', and ‘will'.

For example:

Could you help me with this?

Offering Suggestions

They are used for suggesting actions to someone like using ‘should', ‘could', and ‘might'.

For example:

You should try the new restaurant.

Expressing Ability

Modal verbs can describe someone's ability to do something like using ‘can' and ‘could'.

For example:

She can speak three languages.

Expressing Possibility

They help in expressing things that may happen like using ‘may', ‘might', and ‘could'.

For example:

It might rain today.

Expressing Certainty

Modal verbs can declare something that is sure or certain like using ‘will', and ‘must'.

For example:

It must be here somewhere.

Expressing Necessity

Modal verbs can show something is necessary like using ‘must', and ‘have to'.

For example:

You must wear a seatbelt.

Making Predictions

They can be used to predict the likely occurrence of future events like using ‘will', and ‘shall'.

For example:

He will probably arrive late.

Expressing Obligation

Modal verbs are used to express a duty or obligation like using ‘should', and ‘ought to'.

For example:
You should apologize to her.

Expressing Lack of Necessity

They can indicate that something is unnecessary like using ‘don't have to', and ‘need not'.

For example:

You don't have to come early tomorrow.

What are the Rules of Modal Verbs?

There are a few rules that one should keep in mind while using Modal Verbs.

Modal verbs do not change form.

Modal verbs remain the same regardless of the subject. This means they do not add 's' for the third person singular like other verbs.

For example:

She can swim.
He can swim.

Modal verbs are used with the base form of the main verb

They are always followed by another verb in its base form without 'to', except for 'ought to'.

For example:

She must go now.

Modal verbs do not use 'to' before the main verb.

Except for 'ought to', modal verbs are followed directly by the base form of the verb without 'to'.

For example:

You should see this movie.

Modal verbs do not add 'd' or 'ed' endings.

They do not have past forms and are used as is for all tenses.

For example:

He might help us tomorrow.

Questions with modal verbs do not require an auxiliary verb.

When forming questions, the modal verb is simply moved before the subject.

For example:

Can you help me?

Modal verbs do not have non-finite forms.

They do not have forms like ing or ed, which means you cannot say "caning" or "musted".

For example:

I must study tonight.

Negative forms of modal verbs are made by adding 'not'.

To make a modal verb negative, just add 'not' right after it.

For example:

She cannot come to the party.

Modal verbs are used without auxiliary verbs in negative sentences or questions.

Unlike regular verbs, modals require no additional auxiliary verbs in questions or negatives.

For example:

Shouldn't we leave now?

'Have to' is similar to a modal but follows the rules for auxiliary verbs in negative forms and questions.

While 'have to' expresses necessity like a modal, it behaves like a regular verb when making questions or negatives.

For example:

Do you have to work late?

Some modals have multiple meanings based on context.

Modal verbs like 'can' or 'must' can express different ideas like ability or obligation depending on the sentence.

For example:

Can you swim? vs. Can you please be quiet?

What are Phrasal Verbs? 

Phrasal verbs are phrases that consist of a verb plus a preposition or an adverb (or both) that changes the meaning of the original verb. They are very common in everyday English and often cannot be understood based on the meanings of their individual parts.

What are the Types of Phrasal Verbs?

Understanding phrasal verbs and how they function in sentences allows for more natural and fluent English expression.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

These phrasal verbs do not require an object. The meaning is complete with just the verb and the particle.

For example:

She woke up late.

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

These require an object to complete their meaning. The action of the verb is done to someone or something.

For example:

I turned off the light.

Separable Phrasal Verbs

With these verbs, the object can come either between the verb and the particle or after the particle. They allow flexibility in sentence structure.

For example:

She took off her coat. or She took her coat off.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

In these, the verb and the particle cannot be separated, and the object must follow the whole phrasal verb.

For example:

I ran into an old friend.

Three-Word Phrasal Verbs

These verbs include a verb plus two particles. They are fixed and cannot be separated by other words.

For example:

He caught up with the news.

Exercise 1: Identify the Type of Verb used in each Sentence

The cat sleeps on the warm windowsill all day.

  • Sleeps is an action verb.

They have been practicing for three hours straight.

  • Have been practicing is a verb phrase consisting of an auxiliary verb (have) and a present participle (practicing), making it a progressive aspect.

Can you help me with my homework?

  • Can help is a modal verb (can) combined with an action verb (help).

She must finish her assignment before the deadline.

  • Must finish is a modal verb (must) combined with an action verb (finish).

We were laughing at the joke for minutes.

  • Were laughing is a verb in the past progressive tense, where "were" is the auxiliary verb and "laughing" is the present participle.

The flowers have bloomed beautifully this spring.

  • Have bloomed is a present perfect tense verb phrase, using "have" as the auxiliary verb and "bloomed" as the main verb.

It might rain later today.

  • Might rain is a modal verb (might) combined with an action verb (rain).

Everyone is waiting for the concert to start.

  • Is waiting is a verb in the present progressive tense, combining the auxiliary verb "is" with the present participle "waiting."

She has always enjoyed painting and drawing.

  • Has enjoyed is a present perfect tense verb phrase, using "has" as the auxiliary verb and "enjoyed" as the main verb.

They are to meet the new coach at noon.

  • Are to meet consists of an auxiliary verb "are" and an infinitive "to meet," indicating a future arrangement.

Exercise 2: Use the correct Verb Tense in the Following Sentences

She __________ (go) to the store yesterday.

  • went

Tomorrow, I __________ (finish) all my assignments.

  • will finish

Every morning, she __________ (drink) a cup of green tea.

  • drinks

Last year, they __________ (travel) to Japan.

  • traveled

Right now, he __________ (write) an email to his boss.

  • is writing

By next week, she __________ (complete) the project.

  • will have completed

He __________ (study) French before he moved to Paris.

  • had studied

As we speak, they __________ (plan) a surprise party for her.

  • are planning

She __________ (watch) the show when I called her.

  • was watching

By the time we arrive, the movie __________ (start).

  • will have started

Exercise 3: Identify the Incorrect Subject-Verb Agreement in the Following Sentences

  • Corrected Form: The list of items is on the table.

Everybody in the office like the new coffee machine.

  • Corrected Form: Everybody in the office likes the new coffee machine.

Either the plates or the serving bowl need to be on that shelf.

  • Corrected Form: Either the plates or the serving bowl needs to be on that shelf.

The committee have decided to postpone the meeting.

  • Corrected Form: The committee has decided to postpone the meeting.

The teacher, along with her students, have gone on a field trip.

  • Corrected Form: The teacher, along with her students, has gone on a field trip.

There is many reasons we should not proceed.

  • Corrected Form: There are many reasons we should not proceed.

Neither the manager nor his assistants was at the conference.

  • Corrected Form: Neither the manager nor his assistants were at the conference.

A group of students are planning the event.

  • Corrected Form: A group of students is planning the event.

Each of the players have a doctor's appointment.

  • Corrected Form: Each of the players has a doctor's appointment.

The news from the countries in turmoil were alarming.

  • Corrected Form: The news from the countries in turmoil was alarming.

Exercise 4: Identify the Type of Modal Verbs in Sentences

She can play the piano beautifully.

  • Can is a modal verb of ability.

You must submit the application by Friday.

  • Must is a modal verb of obligation.

They might go to the concert if they get tickets.

  • Might is a modal verb of possibility.

You should see the doctor if the pain continues.

  • Should is a modal verb of advice.

He could have won the race if he hadn't fallen.

  • Could have is a modal verb used to express past possibility.

Would you help me move this table?

  • Would is a modal verb used for polite requests.

She may arrive late due to the traffic.

  • May is a modal verb of possibility.

You shall leave at once!

  • Shall is a modal verb of strong suggestion or determination.

They will be moving to New York next month.

  • Will is a modal verb of future intention.

He mustn't touch anything until the police arrive.

  • Mustn't is a modal verb of prohibition.

Congratulations on completing your journey through the wonderful world of verbs! You've learned so much about what a verb is and why verbs are so important in our sentences. We started with the basics of the verb definition. We explored all sorts of verbs, including irregular verbs, which don't follow the usual rules of changing tense. Understanding these has helped you see how dynamic and varied English can be. Remember, every sentence needs a verb to express an action, occurrence, or state of being. So, keep practicing what you've learned about verbs to make your communication clear and effective. Well done on expanding your language skills, and keep using those verbs to tell your stories and share your ideas!

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