English verbs provide a basic understanding of how verbs are used in sentences.
Verbs – How Verbs are Used in Sentences
Verbs are either action or state-of-being words.
1. Action Verbs
Action verbs are doing words and they show action. Some action verbs are active (run, jump, eat, throw) and others are less active (sleep, die, sit, stand).
- John ran to school.
- Rachel gave the letter to the postman.
2. State-of-Being Verbs or Linking Verbs
State-of-being verbs show state of being or link two nouns together when they refer to each other in the same sentence.
- English is an easy subject.
- Jack was the president.
State-of-being verbs: am, is, are, was, were.
3. Helping Verbs or Verb Phrases
When two or more verbs are together, this is a verb phrase. A verb phrase is made up of a helping verb and a main verb.
- Dad is helping Rachel with her school work.
- Is Jonathan working hard?
Some helping verbs: am, is, are, was, were.
Other helping verbs:
- be, being, been
- has, have, had
- may, might, must
- do, did, does
- can, could
- will, would
- shall, should
Sometimes the helping verb is separated from the main verb. Usually, this happens in a question or when not is used.
Click here, for a list of helping verbs.
4. Some Tips Relating To State-of-Being Verbs
Sometimes more than one verb shows state-of-being.
They usually are associated with be and they have no action.
- will be
- have been
- has been
- can be
- is being
- will have been
- may be
The helping verb is usually a state-of-being verb but the main verb can be either an action verb or state-of-being verb.
- Becky has been diligent in her school work.
- Jonathan will help his dad mow the lawn.
When AND is in a sentence, you may find a second main verb.
- Do be patient and wait your turn!
Resources For English Verbs
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy
Plain English Handbook by J. Martyn Walsh and Anna Kathleen Walsh
The Only Grammar Book by Susan Thurman
Mastering English Grammar by S.H. Burton