Verb, Functions of a Verb, Characteristics of Verbs, Kinds of Verbs, Examples and Exercises

Verb (An action word)
Verbs are used to express who we are and how we feel. A verb is a word that says something about a person or a thing. It indicates an action. It is used to describe such things as actions, happenings, thoughts, feelings, speech, and relationships. It normally follows a noun. A verb is a complex part of speech. It has various forms and functions; verbs in particular forms take on the characteristics of other parts of speech: we call these forms Verbal, and they can be turned into nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. There are various verbal forms: Infinitives, Gerunds, and Participle.
For example
I opened the door. (Action)
It started to rain. (Happening)
I expect you know already. (Thought)
‘No’ answered Ali. (Speech)
Functions of a verb:
A verb shows an action (Except the verb to be).
A verb tells us that some act has been carried out by the subject.
Always forms a tense (past – present – future)
A verb form shows the time of action or state (tense).
A verb form shows duration of action (Aspect).
A verb form shows speaker’s attitude (Mood).
Always has a “subject”.
No sentence is considered complete without a verb.
Sentence cannot be made without a verb.
Verb always comes after the subject in an affirmative sentence.
Verb is used according to the subject. If the subject is singular, verb must be singular. If the subject is plural, verb must also be plural.

Characteristics of Verbs

Verbs are associated with five primary characteristics:
Number, Person, Voice, Mood, and Tense.
These determine what form a verb takes and how it is used in a sentence.
i. Number
The number of verb shows whether one or more than one person or thing is being talked about.
He runs.
They run.
ii. Person
Any of the three kinds of personal pronoun.
The first person (I, we) refers to the person(s) speaking; the second person (you) refers to the person (s) spoken to; the third person (he, she, it, they) refers to the perspn(s) or thing(s) spoken about.
iii. Voice
Voice is that form of verb which shows whether its subject acts or is acted upon.
There are two possible voices:
active and passive.
iv. Mood
In grammar, mood is a form that indicates a speaker’s attitude. It is a state of mind. It is the mental conception of the verb he or she is using.
There are three moods:
indicative, imperative, and subjunctive
v. Tense
Tense is traditionally used to refer to the way verbs change their form to express their meaning. There are three major kinds of tenses:
present, past and future.

Kinds of Verbs

Verbs can be divided into two categories.
1. Main verbs
2. Auxiliary Verbs

1. Main verbs

Main verbs are verbs that describe what the subject of the sentence is doing. They show the main action or state of being. A main verb has the meaning in word itself. Main verbs can occur without auxiliary verb. These types verbs carry a great deal of information in a sentence and can convey emotion and a sense of purpose. They also tell when something takes place.
Watch, clean, see, run, speak, divide collect, copy, etc.
Main verbs are of following kinds.
I. Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
II. Regular and Irregular verbs
III. Finite and Non-finite verbs
IV. Linking verbs
I. Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
i. Transitive Verbs
Transitive Verbs tell us what the subject (agent) does to something else (object). The Verb which denotes that the action does not stop with subject but passes from the subject to the object is called transitive verb. Transitive verb when express an action that is directed towards anything or person, we say it needs an object. That is, these verbs carry the action of a subject and apply it to an object.
He reads a book.
They eat bread.
I want to play football.
ii. Intransitive Verbs
Intransitive means “not passing over”. Transitive verbs are verbs which tell us an action which does not passes over to an object. In other words, transitive verbs do not need an object to complete their sense.
They dance.
He runs.
II. Regular and Irregular verbs
i. Regular verbs
Regular verbs form their past and past-participle by adding “-d” or “-ed” to the base form of the verbs. Regular verbs appear in four forms, each playing a different role in the clause.
Present form
The base form (sometimes called the infinitive form) Called the first form.
Past form
The -ed form, made by adding “-d” or “-ed” to the base. This ending is found in the past form. (Called the second form)
Past Participle
The -ed participle form would have been called the past participle in traditional grammar. (Called the third form)
-ing form
The -ing form, or -ing participle, made by adding “-ing” to the base form. (Called the -ing form)
Irregular verbs
Irregular verbs form their past and past-participle in four different ways.
All alike: cut-cut-cut.
Change in middle: Become-became-become.
Change once: bring-brought-brought.
Change twice: go-went-gone.
III. Finite and Non-finite verbs
Finite means limited. Verbs which are limited in their number and person by their subject are called Finite. Verbs which are not limited in their number and person by the subject are non-finites (infinites). Infinites do not express tense of the verb. They simply name the action. Non-finite verbs are not affected by tense changes. In other words the verbs which have the past or the present form are called Finite Verbs. Verbs in any other form (infinitive, -ing, or, ed) are called Non-finite Verbs. This means that verbs with tense are Finite, and verbs without tense are Non-finite. Another, more useful term for non-finite verb is Verbal.
He runs. (present, finite)
John plays the piano. (present, finite)
He spoke English. (past, finite)
Children love to sing. (infinitive, nonfinite)
Running fast is a good exercise. (-ing form, nonfinite)
Leave immediately when you are asked. (-ed form, nonfinite)
IV. Linking verbs
A linking verb indicates the relationship between the subject and rest of the sentence. They explain the link between the subject and its complement. A linking verb (such as “be” or “become”) connects a subject with the adjective or noun that describes it (called the comlement). A linking verb is followed by a word or a group of words that indicates, describes or classifies the subject. Linking Verb is also called a copula , which take a complement or an adjective rather than an object.
The most common linking verb is “to be” such as: is, are, was or were.
Some other linking verbs are:
appear, feel, remain, sound, become, grow, seem, stay, continue, look, smell, taste, etc.
He became angry.
She looks beautiful.
He seems unhappy.

2. Helping Verbs / Auxiliary Verbs:

Sometimes, the main verb needs the help of another verb to make its meaning clear. Such verbs are called Auxiliary Verbs / Helping Verbs. Helping verbs help the main verb to form its tense, voice, or mood. Helping verbs always come before a main verb.
Helping verbs are of following kinds.
i. Primary Auxiliary Verbs
ii. Modal Auxiliary Verbs
I. Primary Auxiliary Verbs
is, am, are, was, were, has, have, had, Do, does, did
The primary auxiliaries are be, have and do. They are different from each other and form other auxiliaries. The verb be, have and do can be used as main verbs or as the helping/auxiliary verbs.
i. The verb “be” is used as a helping verb to make continuous tenses.
He is playing football. (is – helping verb, playing – main verb)
The verb “be” is used as the main verb to state what someone or something is like or that something or someone exists.
He is a good player.
ii. The verb “have” is used as a helping verb to make perfect tenses.
I have completed my work. (have – helping verb, completed – main verb)
When the verb “have” is used as main verb it shows possession.
I have a book.
iii. The verb “do” is used as a helping verb to ask questions, make negatives and to make emphasis.
Do you go to school? (do – helping verb, go – main verb)
Why Does he play? (Auxiliary)
I do my work. (Lexical/main verb)
II. Modal Auxiliary Verbs
Shall, should, will, would, can, could, may, might, must, ought to, used to, need, dare, etc.
Modal verbs come before the main verb and express doubt, probablity, obligation, ability, necessity, intention, permission, or opinions. Modal verbs are followed by the main verb without to. The exceptions are, “ought to” and “used to”.
We should help the poor. (Obligation)
It may be right. (Probability)
I can play football. (Ability)
You must work hard to get the job. (necessity)
When we need to decide a modal auxiliary verb, context is extremely important. The difference between two following sentences is critical.
a. They may pluck the flowers.
b. They can pluck the flowers.
“May” tells that plucking the flowers is a possibility;
“Can” tells that they have the physical ability to pluck the flowers.

One thought on “Verb, Functions of a Verb, Characteristics of Verbs, Kinds of Verbs, Examples and Exercises