Understanding Types of Verbs in The English Grammar

The component of speech (or word class), known as a verbs, express an action, a happening, or a state of being. Typically, verbs and verb phrases serve as predicates. Verbs may show variations of tense, mood, aspect, number, person, and voice.

Lexical verbs, sometimes known as primary verbs since they don’t rely on other verbs, and auxiliary verbs are the two basic categories of verbs (also called helping verbs). Many verb types have opposites, such as lexical and auxiliary verbs.

Lexical vs. Auxiliary

Lexical verbs, also known as complete verbs, communicate a sentence’s semantic (or lexical) meaning. Examples include: It rained yesterday night; I ran quickly and consumed the whole hamburger.

Lexical verbs make up the vast bulk of verbs in English. Contrarily, an auxiliary verb controls the tenor or mood of another verb in a sentence, as in the example: “It will rain tonight.”

By indicating the future in this statement, the verb will aid the verb rain. The auxiliary verbs in English are:

  • Is, am, are, were, and are.
  • Been, being, was.
  • Has; Has; Had.
  • Will, shall, should, would; Do; Does; Did; Can; Could.
  • Can, could, and must.

Stative vs. Dynamic

A dynamic verb, like in “I purchased a new guitar,” is often used to denote an activity, process, or experience instead of a condition.

Another name for it is an action or event verb. Three main categories of dynamic verbs exist:

  • Accomplishment verbs describe actions with a logical conclusion.
  • Achievement verbs describe immediate actions.
  • Activity verbs describe actions that may go indefinitely.

A stative verb, such as “be,” “have,” “know,” “like,” “own,” “appear,” “prefer,” “understand,” “belong,” “doubt,” and “detest,” defines a state, circumstance, or condition, as in the sentences “Now I own a Gibson Explorer” and “We are what we think we are.”

Instead of describing an action or process, a stative verb mainly describes a condition or circumstance. It might be a physical, mental, or emotional state of being. The conditions might endure for a very long time or an unlimited amount of time without altering. State verbs and static verbs are other names for these terms.

Finite vs. Non-finite

She walked to school is an example of a finite verb that communicates tense and may appear by itself in the primary phrase.

A finite verb is tense-marked and agrees with a subject. If a sentence contains one verb, it is a finite verb. A finite verb, in other words, may stand alone in a phrase.

Conversely, non-finite verbs lack a tense marker and do not indicate agreement with a subject. The phrase “while going to school, she noticed a blue jay” is an example of a non-finite verb (an infinitive or participle) that lacks a difference in tense and may only appear alone in a dependent phrase or sentence.

Finite and non-finite verbs vary primarily because the former may serve as the root of an independent clause or complete sentence, while the latter cannot. For example, the guy dashes into the supermarket to buy a gallon of milk.

Because it agrees with the subject (man) and indicates the tense, the word “dashes” is a finite verb (present tense). Because it doesn’t indicate the tense or agree with the subject, the verb “buy” is a non-finite verb. Instead, it relies on the primary (finite) verb “dashes” and is an infinitive.

Regular vs. Irregular

A regular verb develops its verb tenses by adding one of the universally recognized standardized suffixes, mainly the past tense and past participle. Contrary to irregular verbs, which must be conjugated according to specific rules, regular verbs are formed by adding -d, -ed, -ing, or -s to their primary form.

Regular verbs make up the majority of the English verbs. The essential components of regular verbs are as follows:

  1. The -s form is used in the present tense, third person singular, as in walks.
  2. The -ed form is used in past verb tenses and past participles, such as walking.
  3. The -ing form is used with verbs in present and continuous tenses, such as walking.

Regular verbs always operate the same and are predictable, irrespective of the speaker. An irregular verb does not follow the standard rules for verb forms. If a verb in the past tense and past participle forms does not contain the typical -ed ending (such as requested or concluded), it is considered irregular in English.

Transitive vs. Intransitive

A transitive verb requires an object, which may be either direct or indirect:

  • She trades in seashells.
  • An intransitive verb does not take the direct object.
  • She sat there still.

Because many verbs may serve both transitive and intransitive purposes, this distinction can be complicated. Rihanna crushes my heart; for example, she sometimes takes a direct item and other times does not (When I hear your name, my heart breaks).

Phrasal vs. Prepositional

A prepositional adverb, also known as an adverbial particle, is combined with a verb (often one of action or movement) to form a composite verb known as a phrasal verb. The terms “two-part verbs” (take off and leave out) and “three-part verbs” are occasionally used to refer to phrasal verbs (look up to and down on).

There are hundreds of phrasal verbs in English, many of which have several meanings (such as rip off, run out [of], and pull through). Phrasal verbs, both in their richness and productivity, are “one of the most distinguishing elements of present-day casual English,” according to linguist Angela Downing in “English Grammar: A University Course” idioms often include phrasal verbs.

On the other hand, a prepositional verb is an idiomatic word that joins a verb with a preposition to create a new one with a unique meaning. Prepositional verbs include care for, yearn for, apply for, approve of, add to, resort to, result in, count on, and deal with.

Prepositional verbs are transitive because they often have a noun or pronoun after the preposition.

Other Types of Verbs

Since verbs in English describe every activity or signify all states of being, it is not unexpected that more verb forms are significant to understand.

Catenative: A chain or sequence of verbs may be created by combining catenative verbs. Ask, keep, promise, help, desire, and seem are a few examples.

Causative: A causative verb denotes that something or someone causes something to occur or contributes to its occurrence. Causative verbs, often called causal or just causatives, include make, cause, allow, help, have, enable, retain, hold, let, force, and need.

Compound: A compound verb comprises two or more words that serve the same purpose as one verb. Verb compounds are often written as one word (housesit) or two words connected by a hyphen (water-proof).

Copular: A copular verb is a particular linking verb that connects a sentence’s or clause’s subject to the clause’s subject complement. Jane is my buddy, and Jane is friendly; for instance, both use the word is as a copular verb.

Iterative: An iterative verb, such as “Philip was kicking his sister,” denotes that an action is (or was) repeated.

Linking: A verb that connects the subject of a sentence to a word or phrase that expresses anything about the subject is known as a linking verb. Examples of such verbs include forms of the verbs be and seem. For instance, it serves as a connecting verb in the statement: The boss is unhappy.

Mental-state: A mental-state verb has a meaning that is connected to comprehension, research, planning, or decision-making. Verbs denoting mental states describe cognitive states often inaccessible to external assessment. For instance, all of Tom’s co-workers know his teaching abilities.

Performative: The kind of speech act done, such as promise, invite, apologize, anticipate, vow, request, warn, demand, and prohibit, is conveyed by a performative verb. It is sometimes referred to as a performative utterance or a speech-act verb.

Prepositional: An idiomatic word known as a prepositional verb combines a verb and a preposition to create a new verb with a unique meaning. Care for, yearn for, apply for, approve of, add to, resort to, result in, depend on, and deal with are a few examples.

Reporting: To show that speech is being cited or paraphrased, a reporting verb (say, tell, believe, reply, respond, or question) is employed, as in the sentence: I strongly suggest you obtain a better lawyer. It is also known as a verb of communication.

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