How To Identify Verbs? There are many ways to understand verbs. However, I have found using a simple chart (see below) with verb kinds, verb functions and verb voices to be one way to see the bigger picture of how verbs work in sentences.
How To Identify Verbs?
To identify verbs you will need to understand what they are and how they function.
I have divided verbs into kinds, functions and voices so that I can identify verbs and how they work in sentences.
This is a very simplistic approach. Nevertheless, sometimes it helps to keep it super simple (KISS).
Two Kinds of Verbs
1. Actions Verbs are verbs that show action or ownership.
- Bradley walked the dog.
- David has an umbrella with him.
2. Linking verbs are verbs that link the subject to a word that renames the subject. These words are often referred to as predicate nominatives or adjectives.
- Rachel is a girl.
- Rachel looks beautiful.
[NOTE:] I often see charts with ACTION VERBS, LINKING VERBS and HELPING VERBS and this can easily influence people to think that there are three kinds of verbs.
Helping verbs or auxiliary verbs (click on the link above to see all the helping verbs) help the main verbs (which are action verbs) in a sentenced by adding meaning and conveying time.
Here are some examples!
- Bradley will walk the dog tomorrow. (Future Tense)
- Bradley will have walked the dog by the time I return. (Future Perfect Tense)
- Bradley might walk the dog tomorrow. (Expectation)
- Bradley is walking the dog at the moment. (Progressive Form)
- Bradley did walk the dog this morning. (Emphatic Form)
Two Functions of Verbs
1. Transitive verbs are verbs that carry action from a doer to a receiver (usually a direct object).
- Jonathan hits the ball over the fence. (The ball receives the action)
- Rebekah writes letters to her missionary friends. (The letter receives the writing)
2. Intransitive verbs are verbs that do not carry action to a receiver; instead, these verbs complete the action themselves (they have no direct object).
- Rebekah writes beautifully. (no direct object)
- Jenny walked to the store in the rain. (no direct object)
[NOTE:] All linking verbs are intransitive.
- Bec is a leader in her college class. (Links to Predicate Nominative)
- Rachel looks pretty. (Links to Predicate Adjective)
- The music sounds awful. (Links to Predicate Adjective)
- Jonathan became an apprentice builder. (Links to Predicate Nominative)
Two Voices of Verbs
Only transitive verbs have voice. Voice tells whether the subject of the sentence is acting or being acted upon.
1. Active voice tells you if the subject performs the action and the direct object receives the action.
2. Passive voice tells you if the subject receives the action.
- Jenny rode the bike. (Active Voice; Subject = Jenny)
- The bike was ridden by Jenny. (Passive Voice; Subject = bike)
Remember with active voice the subject performs the action and the direct object receives the action.
Remember with passive voice the subject of the sentence receives the action.
- The music team led the worship service. (Active Voice; Subject = team)
- The worship service was led by the music team. (Passive Voice; Subject = service)
[NOTE:] A passive voice verb is always a form of “be” with a past form of an action verb.
Resources For How To Identify 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