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The Verb


The Verb 

The Verb


A verb expresses action or a state of being.

Main Verbs and Helping Verbs 

A main verb and one or more helping verbs (also called auxiliary verbs) make up a verb phrase.

Daniel has played. [Has is the helping verb; played is the main verb.] 

Simon will be going. [Will and be are the helping verbs; going is the main verb.] 

Lynn should have been working. [Should, have, and been are the helping verbs; working is the main verb.]

Common Helping Verbs

Forms of Be

am been was are being were be is

Forms of Have

had has have

Forms of Do

do does did


can might should could must will may shall would


A modal (or modal auxillary) is a helping verb that is joined with a main verb to express an attitude such as necessity or possibility.

We must win this game to reach the playoffs. [necessity] 

Mr. Garza said that if we work hard enough on the play we are writing, we may get to perform it for the whole school. [possibility]

A helping verb may be separated from the main verb. 

Have you seen Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead? 

You should not miss it.

Action Verbs 

An action verb expresses either physical or mental activity. 


speak sleep carry throw


think imagine dream know

The horse galloped across the field. 
The Colorado River runs through the Grand Canyon. 
If the ball touched the line, the umpire made the right call. 
Do you ever wonder what dogs dream?

Linking Verbs 

A linking verb connects the subject to a word or word group that identifies or describes the subject. Such a word or word group is called a subject complement.

Wovoka was an influential Paiute prophet. [The subject complement prophet identifies the subject Wovoka.] 

Marcy looks serious. [The subject complement serious describes the subject Marcy.] 

Computers were once so large that they could fill a room but are now small enough, in some cases, to fit in a pocket. [The subject complements large and small describe the subject Computers.]

Common Linking Verbs

Forms of Be

am / be / will be / had been / is / can be / could be / shall have been / are / may be / should be / will have been / was / might be / would be / could have been / were / must be / has been / should have been / being / shall be / have been / would have been


appear grow seem stay become look smell taste feel remain sound turn

Some of the verbs listed as Others in the chart above can be used as either linking verbs or action verbs, depending on the context of the sentence.

LINKING The alarm sounded shrill. 
ACTION I sounded the alarm.


The forms of be are not always used as linking verbs. That is, they are sometimes used as state-of-being verbs but are not used to connect subjects to subject complements. In such cases, words that tell where or when are generally used to complete the meanings of the verb forms.

You should have been here yesterday. [Here tells where, and yesterday tells when.]

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs 

A transitive verb has an object—a word or word group that tells who or what receives the action of the verb.

The rain lashed the windows. [The object windows receives the action of the verb lashed.] 

We closed and bolted the shutters. [The object shutters receives the action of the verbs closed and bolted.]

An intransitive verb does not have an object. 

The rain fell

My cousin arrived yesterday.

Many English verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on how they are used.

TRANSITIVE The chorus sang patriotic songs. [The object songs receives the action of the verb sang.] 

INTRANSITIVE The chorus sang beautifully. [no object]

Like a one-word verb, a verb phrase may be classified as action or linking and as transitive or intransitive.

The actors are practicing their lines. [action, transitive] 

The director is meeting with the stage crew. [action, intransitive] 

Preparation for the opening night has been hectic! [linking, intransitive]


While action verbs may be transitive or intransitive, linking verbs and state-of-being verbs are always intransitive.

The Verb Worksheet

Identify the verbs and verb phrases in the following sentences. Then, classify each verb or verb phrase as linking or action, and as transitive or intransitive.

1. When will Halley’s Comet next appear? 
2. A creosote bush in the Mojave Desert has lived for approximately twelve thousand years. 
3. How many decimal places of pi can you name? 
4. What is the purpose of the Electoral College? 
5. You can remove chewing gum from clothing more easily if you first harden it with ice. 
6. Mark Twain used a typewriter when he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. 
7. You should be more careful, young man! 
8. In 1997, Tiger Woods became the youngest winner of the Masters Tournament. 
9. Have you been listening to the Shostakovich CD that I lent you? 
10. The first Super Bowl was in 1967; the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35 to 10.

Download The Verb Worksheet in PDF for Free : The Verb

Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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