A verb is a word or group of words that expresses time while showing an action, a condition or the fact that something exists.

Two types of verbs:

  1. ACTION verb—tells what action someone or something is performing

Ex. The boys played cards at lunch. (action the boys did)

The player considered his next move. (mental action of the player)

***The person/thing that performs the action is the subject.

  1. LINKING verb—connects subject with a word generally found near the end of sentence and identifies/renames/describes the subject

Ex. Ronald Reagan was president. (president renames Ronald Reagan)

Justin Verlander is talented. (talented describes Verlander)


The verb BE is the most common linking verb:

am/is/are                                                      am/is/are being

was/were                                                   was/were being

can/may/must be                                       shall/will/might be

could/would/should be

has/have/had been                                    may/might/shall/will have been

could/would/should have been


Verbs that can be either ACTION or LINKING: appear, come, feel, grow, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn

Ex. The mice smell the cheese in the trap. (Action)

The lilacs smell so fragrant. (Linking)

HINT: to determine the function of a verb, insert is/am/are in place of the verb.  If sentence makes sense linking the 2 words, the verb is serving as LV.

Ex. John looks busy. (John is busy) LV

John looks at the book. (John is at the book doesn’t make sense) AV 



TRANSITIVE verb directs its action to the object of the verb

To determine if it’s a transitive verb, ask WHOM/WHAT after the verb

Ex. Sam wrote a letter.

Wrote what? Letter.  This has to be a transitive verb. Letter is the object of the verb.

Ex. The principal questioned the student.

Questioned whom?  Student. This has to be a transitive verb. Student is the object of the verb.

INTRANSITIVE verbs NEVER have objects!

Ex. The birds fly south.

Fly what/whom? NO answer, so it must be an intransitive verb.

Ex. The soldiers fight for their country.

Fight what/whom?  NO answer, so it must be an intransitive verb.


Figure out if the verb is Action or Linking FIRST, then determine if it’s transitive or intransitive

Action verbs can be either transitive or intransitive depending on how they’re used


A verb phrase is a verb with 1, 2 or 3 helping verbs (auxiliary verbs)

Ex. I will be helping the players this afternoon.

Forms of BE are helping verbs.  Other helping verbs are:

do, does, did                          has, have, had                  shall, should      can, could

will, would                           may, might, must

***Verb phrases are often interrupted by other words. Locate the main verb first, and then look for any other helping verbs that precede the main verb.

Ex. My parents will probably not buy me a new phone this month.

Click on the link below for verb practice!



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