Verb is the heart of a sentence. So, you should learn what a verb is, their types and behaviour. 

Table of Contents

Definition of Verbs

A verb is the action that we do.

  • David kicks the ball.
  • Kate runs fast.

A verb is also the state of being. 

  • You are right. 
  • She looks tired.

So, what is a verb? 

A verb is a word which denotes an action or state of being. Is the definition clear to you? If not, read the definitions taken from the best selling grammars of the world. 

"A verb is a word or group of words that expresses an action (such as eat), an event (such as happen) or a state (such as exist)". -Oxford Dictionary

"A verb is a word like ask, play, be, can, which can be used with a subject to form the basis of a clause." -Michael Swan

"A verb is a word used for saying something about a person or a thing." -J. C. Nesfield.

"A verb is a word used to say something about some person, place, or thing." -Wren & Martin.


Main verbs can be classified in four different ways. There are: 

  • Auxiliary & Principal
  • Transitive & Intransitive
  • Action & State
  • Finite & Nonfinite

1. Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary verbs do not have meaning. They help the principal verbs in the sentence. There are 24 auxiliary verbs in English. They are: am, is, are, was, were, have, has, had, do, does, did, shall, should, will, would, can, could, may, might, must, dare, need, used to, and ought to.  Among them, first 11 are primary auxiliary, next 9 are modal and last 4 are semi-modal verbs.

2. Principal Verbs

Some verbs have meaning, and they can stand alone. They are called Principal Verbs or Main Verbs or Lexical Verbs [remember the three names].  

  • They play cricket.
  • He became our captain.

3. Transitive Verbs

Some verbs have objects. They are called Transitive verbs. 

  • Cats catch rats.
  • Give me a pen.

Transitive Verbs are divided into three groups.

(i) Mono-transitive 

Some transitive verbs have only one object. They are Mono-transitive. 

  • A man is calling you.
  • I know the man. 

(ii) Di-transitive 

Some transitive verbs have two objects. They are Di-transitive. Of the two objects, one is direct object, and the other is indirect object. 

  • The man showed me a bag. 
  • Give me a pen.

(iii) Ambi-transitive 

Some verbs can function both as transitive and intransitive. They are Ambi-transitive.

  • He reads in class 6. 
  • He reads a book.

4. Intransitive Verbs

Some verbs do not need any object to express meaning. They are called intransitive verbs. Intransitive verbs can be Finite or Non-finite, but they cannot be Passive. All the verbs in English are either Transitive or Intransitive. 

  • She lives in Canada.
  • He reads in class three.
  • I go to college regularly.
  • The dog sleeps.

5. Action verbs

Verbs which denote action are called action verbs. Action verbs can be Transitive, Intransitive, Finite and Non-finite. All the verbs in English are either Action or Stative.

  • Micky kicked the ball.
  • Cats run in the sun.
  • Birds fly in the sky. 
  • Children play all day.

6. State Verbs

Verbs which denote state of being are called state verbs. State verbs can also be Transitive, Intransitive, Finite and Non-finite. All the verbs in English are either Stative or Action.

  • I know the boy.
  • He is my friend.
  • You look tired.
  • They think so.

7. Finite Verbs

Finite verbs are verbs which have tense, and which follow the subject's number and person. Finite verbs act as the root of the sentence. All the verbs in English are either Finite or Non-finite.

  • She lives in Canada.
  • He reads in class three.
  • I go to college regularly.
  • The dog sleeps.

8. Non-finite Verbs

Non-finite verbs are verbs which are not limited by subject and tense. There are three types of non-finite verbs in English: Infinitive, Participle, & Gerund.

  • She went to live in Canada.
  • He likes reading stories.
  • I got my pen broken.
  • They saw the dog sleeping.

9. Linking Verbs

We use subject complements after some verbs. They are called linking verbs. Be verbs are the most common linking verbs although some other verbs can also function as linking verbs. The linking verbs are: be (am, is, are, was, were, be, being & been), become, get, grow, seem, look, feel, etc.