Do the action of the verb ‘thought.’ Both

Do you think that a verb is just a verb? Check out this lesson to learn about the differences among action verbs, linking verbs, and auxiliary/helping verbs.

What is a Verb?

When you head to the movie theater to catch an action movie, you expect a lot of stuff to happen, like cars chasing each other, action heroes leaping off buildings, and things exploding. In other words, you’re in the mood for a lot of exciting verbs.

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So, what is a verb? That’s an easy one, right? A verb is a word that expresses an action or occurrence.It’s true that that’s the core of it, but it does get a bit more complicated than that, and there are a few more definitions and rules that you’ll need to be acquainted with as you work toward achieving your ultimate goal of becoming a verb master. There are a few different types of verbs and a few things to keep in mind about each type.

Action Verbs

Action verbs are what we most commonly think of when we think about verbs (and particularly when we think about action movies). An action verb is a word that expresses an action that the subject of a sentence does, did in the past, or will do in the future. Note that the subject of a sentence is a noun or pronoun that the sentence is about. The subject usually, though not always, performs the action of the verb.

Remember that every sentence must have both a subject and a verb to be complete.Examples of action verbs are:runjumpgothinkdolivestudyNote that action verbs include not just verbs that are truly action-packed. They include words like ‘think’ and ‘decide’ and other actions that aren’t actually visible. For example, in the sentence, Miriam leapt over the couch, the subject ‘Miriam’ is performing the action of the verb ‘leapt.

‘ In the sentence, Miriam thought about what she had done, the subject ‘Miriam’ is performing the action of the verb ‘thought.’ Both sentences contain action verbs, even though one action is a bit more perceptible – and exciting – than the other.

Linking Verbs

A linking verb is quite different from an action verb in that it doesn’t actually express action. Instead, it connects a subject to the other words in a sentence that describe it or that provide additional information.

Here are some examples of common linking verbs:appearbe (including am, is, are, was, and were)becomefeelgetlookseemsmellsoundtasteLinking verbs quite literally do what the name suggests: They link the subject of a sentence to additional words that tell more about the subject. Here are some examples of linking verbs at work:The kids appear excited about the holidays.My sister is nervous.I feel sick.

Dinner smells delicious.Even though these linking verbs aren’t showing big, kinetic actions and movements, they are nonetheless verbs. They’re not the kind of verbs that drive big-budget action movies, but rather movies that are maybe a little less exciting and that feature a lot of sitting around, talking, and emoting.

Auxiliary Verbs

There’s one more type of verb that we’ll cover in this lesson. A lot of verbs in sentences are comprised of more than one word. An auxiliary verb, also referred to as a helping verb, is one that is the part of a verb phrase that helps the main verb. As part of a verb phrase, a helping verb might show when an action occurs or whether the action is required.

Let’s look at a few examples to get a sense of just what auxiliary, or helping verbs, do.Examples of auxiliary, or helping verbs, include forms of the verbs:bedohaveAs well as verbs like:canmaymustshouldwillHere are some example sentences that include an auxiliary verb as part of a verb phrase:I may go to the doctor this afternoon.Julia has left for school already.The students must complete their work today.You should have gotten in the other line.

Lesson Summary

A verb is a word that expresses an action or occurrence. We focused on three types of verbs in this lesson:

  1. An action verb is a word that expresses an action that the subject of a sentence does, did in the past, or will do in the future.

    (Note that the subject of a sentence is a noun or pronoun that the sentence is about. The subject usually, though not always, performs the action of the verb.) Remember that every sentence must have both a subject and a verb to be complete.

  2. A linking verb is quite different from an action verb in that it doesn’t actually express action.

    Instead, it connects a subject to the other words in a sentence that describe it or that provide additional information.

  3. An auxiliary verb, also referred to as a helping verb, is one that is the part of a verb phrase that helps the main verb. As part of a verb phrase, a helping verb might show when an action occurs or whether the action is required.

Learning Outcomes

When you’ve finished with this lesson, you could be able to:

  • Differentiate between action, linking and auxiliary verbs
  • Write examples of action, linking and auxiliary verbs
  • Use action, linking and auxiliary verbs in sentences
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