3 Action-Packed Types of Verbs

Verbs do a lot of things. There are 3 types of verbs: verbs of being, linking verbs, and action verbs. Most verbs are either action or linking verbs, depending how they’re used in a sentence.

Verbs of Being

Verbs of being demonstrate a state of existence. Yes, your yoga teacher was right: you can just be. The major verbs of being are to be and its various forms. Present tense verbs of being (like am, is, and are) indicate a current state. For example, “I am the sheriff,” indicates with am that the speaker is currently the sheriff.

Past tense verbs of being (like was and were) indicate a previous state of existence, while future tense verbs (like will be) indicate a future state.

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs get their name from the way they link the subject of a sentence to its complement. A complement is a word or a group of words that describe the subject of a sentence. For example, “The pizza tastes great.” The verb tastes is a linking verb. It links the subject (pizza) with an adjective (great) that describes it. The same verb could function as an action verb in a case like “John tastes the pizza.” This is because in this sentence, pizza is the direct object instead of the subject.

Action Verbs

Any verb that demonstrates an action is an action verb. These are the types of verbs you tend to hear the most about. Physical actions, like running, and mental actions, like thinking, both qualify as action verbs. You can see some examples of action verbs in this quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. / O, that I were a glove upon that hand / That I might touch that cheek!” Since the words see, leans, and touch all describe actions, they’re all action verbs.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

If the verb is followed by a direct object, then the verb is transitive. A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action in the verb. An example of a transitive verb in the previous Romeo and Juliet quote is “That I might touch that cheek!” The direct object of the sentence is cheek because it receives the action of the verb touch. So touch is a transitive action verb.

Verbs that lack direct objects are intransitive, as in the sentence “John drives.” To make the verb transitive, you could add a direct object like his car to the end of the sentence (“John drives his car”). The action verb can be followed by an adjective, adverb, or prepositional phrase and still be intransitive as long there’s no direct object. For example, drives is intransitive in both “John drives slowly,” and “John drives for two hours.”

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