Types of Verbs

This article focuses on types of verbs, and explains it with the help of examples in order to provide you with an easy and reliable information of various types of verbs.

English language has various types of verbs. Besides the main categories of verbs like mental verbs, physical verbs and state of being verbs, English has many other types of verbs which are used for specific functions in a sentence. Following are the types of verbs based on their various functions:

Action Verbs

Action verbs depict some particular actions. These are usually used to show actions or to discuss somebody doing specific action. One thing to remember here is the nature of the action—it does not necessarily needs to be a physical action. For example:


Look at the following examples with the Action verbs written in bold:

John runs faster than Sam.

Why don’t you do it the other way?

I was thinking about visiting my friend’s house when he showed up.

She listens to music while she drives on a long route.

Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs are those actions verbs that denote activities that are doable and that influence somebody else or something else other than the doer. These are usually direct objects, nouns, or pronouns that receive the effect of the verb. Yet some transitive verbs may take an indirect object as take, make, show etc. In a sentence containing an transitive verb, something else or someone else is the receiver of the action expressed by the verb. For example: Respect, Tolerate, Love, Maintain, Believe etc.

Look at the following examples with the Transitive verbs written in bold for ease of identification:

Jenny kicked the ball.

The transitive verb is kicked. Jenny is the subject, because it is Jenny who is doing the kicking, and the ball is the direct object, because it the ball that is being kicked. Following are some more examples:

The boxers punch each other heavily.

The kid ate all the cookies.

My father sold the old house.

In addition, below are some examples of the verbs used with both direct and indirect objects:

My mom baked us a cake.

In this sentence, a cake is the direct object while us is the indirect object.

My boss wrote them an invitation letter last week.

In this sentence, an invitation letter is the direct object while them is the indirect object.

Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verbs are those action verbs that denote the doable or achievable activities. They are different from the transitive verbs as they do not take direct object. For example: laugh, play, walk, run, cough, jump, go etc.

Look at the following examples with Intransitive verbs written in bold:

Marlow travelled to the Congo.

Here travelled is the Intransitive verb, and Marlow is the subject. If you pay your attentions you will see that Marlow is doing the action of travelling, but Congo is not receiving the action of the verb travelling. Thus Congo is not a direct object. Some more examples of Intransitive verbs are as follows:

Most people sneeze in the morning due to cold weather.

The supervisor arrived at the department.

The injured bird sat away from the others.

One more thing to note here:

There are some verbs that have both the usages. You can use them both as transitive and intransitive. And that depends on whether it is followed by a direct object or not. Notice the following sentence:

Jane eats before she leaves for the office.

It shows that the verb eats can be both transitive and intransitive according to the context and situation.  

If the sentence reads: Jane eats bread before she leaves for the office, then the verb eats would be transitive as there is a direct object—bread.

Here are some more examples of such types of verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive: leave, stop, start, live, change etc.

Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary verbs—also known as helping verbs—are used alongside a main verb to specify the tense of the verb, or to form an interrogative (question) or negative. Auxiliary verbs, commonly, include might, will, have. These verbs give a twist to the main verb for specific contextual function, like enabling the reader or listener understands when the action actually took place.  Here are some examples of auxiliary verbs: should, would, can, do, did, may, could etc.

Look at the following examples with the state of being verbs written in bold:

I will visit the department after the meeting.

The auxiliary verb will tells that the action preformed the main verb visit is going to take place in the future—after the meeting is over. If you remove the auxiliary will, you get the sentence like this:

I visit the department after the meeting.

In that case, the time frame for the action is lost. It has no definite time frame to be performed. Thus the sentence suggests that visiting the department after the meeting is just something the subject I usually does.

Below are some more examples:

The peacock may dance in the afternoon.

The top management did consider William’s emotional state.

Jenny has spoken her final words.

Moreover, you can sometimes use the auxiliary verb just before the pronoun to make a question:

Might the peacock dance in the afternoon?

Did the top management consider William’s emotional state?

Has Jenny spoken her final words?

Likewise, you use auxiliary verbs to make negative statements with certain words of negation like never and not. The usual pattern is that in such cases, these words of negation split the auxiliary verb and the main verb by coming in between them:

The peacock may never dance in the afternoon again.

The top management did not consider William’s emotional state.

Jenny has not spoken her final words.

Stative Verb

Stative verbs show a state rather than an action. They characteristically express emotions, thoughts, relationships, measurements, states of being, sense. The biggest clue to identify a stative verb is the fact that they show things that are not actions. They only express a state of being: A state of believing or disbelieving, a state of doubting or trusting, a state of wanting etc. Such states of being are always temporary rather that permanent.

Look at the following examples with the stative verbs written in bold:

The examiner disagrees with my textual analysis.

Here, the verb ‘disagree’ is a stative verb, because it points to the doctor’s state of being—his disagreement.

The researcher doubts the validity of this argument.

We believe the researcher is justified in his opinion.

He wanted a review of the thesis by another examiner.

Modal Verbs

Modal verbs also known as Modals are the auxiliary verbs which are used to depict possibilities, abilities, obligations, and permissions. For example: Can, Must, May, Would, Should.

Look at the following examples with the modal verbs written in bold:

He can finish his task easily before the lunch break.

Here the auxiliary verb can is showing an ability, suggesting that finishing his task before the lunch break is a skill the subject possesses.

Remember! In the case of should and must in the examples below, the modal verbs are showing obligations, whereas would and may are expressing possibilities and probabilities.

I should leave for the office.

They must not delay.

The penal would not recommend his name for appointment.

I may be late tomorrow.

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are never in the form of single words; rather they are combination of words that are used in combination to give a different meaning to an original meaning. In other word such types of words give meaning other than the one given by the original verb in isolation.

There are various examples of phrasal verbs in English language, some of which express colloquial meanings. For example: hand in, make up, point out, bring up, look forward to, etc.  Every time the verb gains the additional word/words, it takes on a different meaning. For example,  make without the use of up expresses that something is being made, produced, or created, whereas the verb make up suggests that there are some fabrications to the story in the form of lies or some other fantastical and unreal elements attached to it. likewise, make out may mean either to grasp or see something difficult, to deal with a situation in a successful way, or to kiss passionately. For example: Run out, Make out, Go all out, Hand out, Face up, Bring out, Think through, etc.

Look at the following examples with the Phrasal Verbs written in bold:

I look forward to the alumni reunion next week.

The verb look has taken on forward to to become a phrasal verb suggesting to be excited about or eagerly waiting for someone or something.

The lawyer brought up the same argument again and again.

Sally handed in the wallet to its owner.

You make up stories all the time.

The examiner accurately pointed out all the minor and major mistakes in his dissertation.

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs are the types of verbs that do not follow the regular patterns of spelling in their past simple and past participle versions. English language has a lot of irregular verbs—hundreds of them. The most commonly used irregular verbs are: make, go, say, take, see, know, and come.

Some More Examples of irregular verbs

Eat, Bring, Think, Bear, Hold, Buy, Catch, Paid, Lay, Drive, Redo, Feel.
Look at the following examples with the irregular verbs written in bold:

I take my wallet when I go to the shop (Present Tense)

I took my wallet when went to the shop (Past Tense)

Jane makes a lot of fun in our friends group (Present Tense)

Jane made a lot of fun in our friends group (Past Tense)

Marlow sees a beautiful painting hanging on a wall supposedly drawn by Kurtz. (Present Tense)

Marlow saw a beautiful painting hanging on a wall supposedly drawn by Kurtz. (Past Tense)

We come to the swimming pool along with our friends (Present Tense)

We came to the swimming pool along with our friends. (Past Tense)

Please note that the auxiliaries ‘do’ and ‘have’ are also irregular verbs.

We do believe in the validity of the claim.

She does often.

The students have done their homework correctly.

I do my home assignments on weekend.

I have question regarding the topic in hand.

Boss has pleasant look.

They have no resources left.

The man has a devious attitude.

We have had a bad cold thrice this winter.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. zunara fatima

    this article is so helpful

  2. Shaher bano Mehmood

    Best article for who want to learn types of verbs

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