A Quick Guide to Mastering English Verbs | Useful Verb Examples

Last Updated on December 22, 2023

What is a verb? Learn different types of verbs in English grammar with useful verbs list and examples. The verb is a very essential type of word in any language and in English, this is no different. You must have a verb in order to create a sentence and so understanding their function is vital to being able to speak the language. In this article, we are going to be looking at what a verb is and how it is used. Additionally, we’ll provide you with a selection of verb exercises for practice to enhance your comprehension of verb usage.

What Is A Verb?

Verbs, in theory, are pretty straightforward. But, not everybody would be able to provide a definition, even if they know how to use them within a sentence. There’s also a tendency amongst people to stick to certain verbs that they know, and pushing themselves to use new ones becomes a bit of a challenge. In the interest of giving you some variety, we’ll take a look at what exactly a verb is, we’ll use some examples for you to see how they function as part of a sentence, and we’ll provide you with some lists of verbs by different categories so you can find some that might help you mix things up a little in your writing.

A verb is a word that shows action, occurrence, or a state of being. When written with the particle ‘to’ the verb is in its infinitive form. This is where you would write it like this:

  • To bake
  • To clean
  • To cook
  • To sing

There are many more verbs of course, but the above list shows you what a verb looks like in its infinitive form, making it slightly easier for you to identify whether or not a word in a sentence is a verb. Remember, a verb should show that something is happening, because an action is taking place in some way or another. Many people when first learning about verbs simply refer to them as ‘doing words’, because they always show that something has been done, is being done, or will be done in the future (depending on the tense that you are writing in).

Verbs are the main part of a sentence and one of the nine parts of speech in English.

Verb Examples in Different Tenses

Let’s look at the examples of the verbs above in a sentence so you can see how they might work. We’ll show them in different tenses too so you can see how they would need to be changed slightly to make sense.

Verb Examples in the Simple Tenses

  • I bake everyday – here the sentence works as a simple present tense sentence. Let’s change it to past.
  • I baked everyday – changing it to past simple tense means we say ‘baked’ not ‘bake’. This shows that ‘I’ used to bake everyday, but don’t any longer.
  • I will bake everyday – again, changing to the future means you need the word ‘will’ between the subject ‘I’ and the verb ‘bake’. There are other tenses that aren’t simple, but we couldn’t possibly explain each one thoroughly here, but take a look at some more examples below and notice the changes that have been made for yourself. We’ll provide a brief explanation to help you slightly.

Examples of Verbs in the Continuous Tenses

Throughout each of these next three sections, the past tense version will be written on top, the middle will be present tense, and the future tense will be at the bottom. So that in this case, the top one is written in the past continuous tense, the middle in the present continuous tense, and the third in the future continuous tense. It will follow the same pattern in the following two sections, but continuous will be replaced with ‘perfect’ and ‘perfect continuous’ respectively.

The easiest way to remember continuous tense, is that it’s referring to a verb that was happening over time, is still happening now, or will be happening in the future. Take a look at the examples below and see how the sentences change to show what is happening and how the verb looks different from its infinitive form:

  • I was cleaning when you arrived.
  • I am cleaning right now.
  • I will be cleaning when you get here.

Verb Examples in the Perfect Tenses

The best way to remember the perfect tense, is that it is referring to something that was completed, has just been completed, or will be completed in the future. Again notice how the verb looks different this time compared to its infinitive form, and how the surrounding words are different to accommodate the tense:

  • I had cooked everything when you arrived.
  • I have cooked everything.
  • I will have cooked everything when you arrive.

Verbs Examples in the Perfect Continuous Tenses

The simplest way to remember the perfect continuous tense is that it’s the previous two combined. So, it refers to something that was happening but has recently been completed, something that is happening now but will soon stop, and something that will happen and then be completed. Take a look below:

  • I had been singing for an hour when you arrived.
  • I have been singing for an hour.
  • I will have been singing for an hour when you arrive.

Verb examples: Walkisseem, runseeswim, stand, go, have, get, promise, invite, listen, sing, sit, …

  • He speaks English
  • I don’t know how to spell the word
  • She studies hard

There are many different types of verbs in English grammar: irregular verb, modal verb, dynamic verb, stative verb, auxiliary verb, causative verb,…

Verb Rules

Important Verb Rules

There are many rules surrounding the use of verbs in the English language, let’s take a look at the most important ones.

  • When talking in the third person, the verb requires an -es or -s form, for example, he uses the bathroom.
  • If the verb and the subject have a long phrase between them, the verb has to agree with the original subject and not that of the phrase. For example, The sweets which he gave to his wife were very tasty.
  • If the subject is preceded by the phrase ‘one of’, the following verb should be singular. For example, One of the children is crying.
  • If two nouns are within a sentence and refer to the same thing or person, the following verb should be singular. For example, The doctor and the nurse are working in the hospital.
  • If there are two nouns which are synonymous within a sentence, they should be followed with a singular verb. For example, His power and might is huge.
  • Plural nouns on their own will use a plural verb, for example His shoes are too big. I However, if the plural noun is preceded by the words ‘a pair of’ then a singular verb is required. For example pairs of shoes is quite expensive.
  • If the noun is uncountable then a singular verb should always follow it, for example The poetry that he writes is very romantic.
  • When a collective noun is referring to a single entity, it should use a singular verb, for example The military is very strict. However, if it is being used to refer to an individual then a plural verb should be used, for example The military are requesting new members.

Subject Verb Agreement Rules

10 subject verb agreement rules in English grammar:

  • The subject and verb must agree in number. A singular subject takes a singular verb, whereas a plural subject takes a plural verb.
  • The subject is separated from the verb by “with”, “as well as”, “together with”, “along with”. These words and phrases are not part of the subject. The verb agrees with the subject.
  • Two subjects joined by “and” are plural.
  • Two subjects joined by “or/not”, “either…or/neither…nor”, “not only…but also” take the verb that agrees with the subject closest to it.
  • With collective nouns, the verb might be singular or plural (UK), depending on meaning.
  • In sentences beginning with “here” or “there“, the true subject follows the verb.
  • The verb is singular if the subject is a singular indefinite pronoun. The verb is plural if the subject is a plural indefinite pronoun. And, some indefinite pronouns (some, any, all, most) may be either singular or plural, depending upon their use in a sentence.
  • Use a singular verb for expressions of measurement, time. money and weight when the amount is considered one unit.
  • Plural form subjects with a singular meaning take a singular verb.
  • Titles of single entities are always singular.

10 Subject Verb Agreement Rules in English

subject verb agreementPin

Different Types of Verbs with Examples

Now that we’ve taken a look at verbs, useful verb grammar rules, and all the possible tenses that you can write them in for you to think about, we’re going to provide you with some examples of verbs to help you vary your grammar and vocabulary a little bit.

Learn examples of different types of verbs in English with useful grammar rules.

Irregular Verbs Examples

Irregular verbs are common verbs in English that do not follow the simple system of adding “d” or “ed” to the end of the word to form the past tense (the past simple and/or the past participle).

  • Fall – fell – fallen
  • Feed – fed – fed
  • Feel – felt – felt
  • Fight – fought – fought
  • Find – found – found
  • Fly – flew – flown
  • Forbid – forbade – forbidden
  • Forget – forgot – forgotten
  • Forgive – forgave – forgiven
  • Freeze – froze – frozen
  • Get – got – got
  • Give – gave – given
  • Go – went – gone
  • Grind – ground – ground
  • Grow – grew – grown
  • Hang – hung – hung
  • Have – had – had
  • Hear – heard – heard
  • Hide – hid – hidden
  • Hit – hit – hit
  • Hold – held – held
  • Hurt – hurt – hurt
  • Keep – kept – kept
  • Kneel – knelt – knelt
  • Know – knew – known
  • Lay – laid – laid
  • Lead – led – led
  • Lean – leant/ leaned – leant/ leaned
  • Learn – learnt/ learned – learnt/ learned
  • Leave – left – left
  • Lent – lent – lent
  • Lie (in bed) – lay – lain
  • Lie (not to tell the truth) – lied – lied
  • Light – lit/ lighted – lit/ lighted
  • Lose – lost – lost
  • Make – made – made
  • Mean – meant – meant
  • Meet – met – met
  • Overtake – overtook – overtaken
  • Pay – paid – paid
  • Put – put – put
  • Read – read – read
  • Ride – rode – ridden
  • Ring – rang – rung
  • Rise – rose – risen
  • Run – ran – run
  • Saw – sawed – sawn/ sawed
  • Say – said – said
  • See – sawed – seen
  • Sell – sold – sold
  • Send – sent – sent
  • Set – set – set
  • Sew – sewed – sewn/ sewed
  • Shake – shook – shaken
  • Shed – shed – shed
  • Shine – shone – shone
  • Shoot – shot – shot
  • Show – showed – shown
  • Shrink – shrank – shrunk
  • Shut – shut – shut
  • Sing – sang – sung
  • Sink – sank – sunk
  • Sit – sat – sat
  • Sleep – slept – slept
  • Slide – slid – slid
  • Smell – smelt – smelt
  • Sow – sowed – sown/ sowed
  • Speak – spoke – spoken
  • Spell – spelt/ spelled    spelt/ spelled
  • Spend – spent – spent
  • Spill – spilt/ spilled – spilt/ spilled
  • Spit – spat – spat
  • Spread – spread – spread
  • Stand – stood – stood
  • Steal – stole – stolen
  • Stick – stuck – stuck
  • Sting – stung – stung
  • Stink – stank – stunk
  • Strike – struck – struck
  • Swear – swore – sworn
  • Sweep – swept – swept
  • Swell – swelled – swollen/ swelled
  • Swim – swam – swum
  • Swing – swung – swung

Common Irregular Verbs List in English

irregular verbs Pin

Modal Verbs Examples

Modal verbs are a small class of auxiliary verbs used to express possibility, obligation, advice, permission, and ability,…

  • Can: I can speak Spanish fluently.
  • Could: Could you pass me the salt, please?
  • May: May I borrow your pencil?
  • Might: It might rain later, so bring an umbrella.
  • Must: I must finish this project by tomorrow.
  • Shall: Shall we go for a walk after dinner?
  • Should: You should eat more vegetables for better health.
  • Will: I will help you with your homework.

 

Modal Verb Examples

modal verbsPin

Modal Verbs To Express Ability

  • Be able to: She was able to complete the marathon in just under four hours.
  • Managed to: He managed to fix the broken printer just in time for the meeting.
  • Can: I can play the guitar.
  • Could: She could swim when she was just five years old.

Modals for Asking Permissions

  • Can: Can I borrow your pen, please?
  • Could: Could I use your bathroom, please?
  • May: May I leave the room for a moment?
  • Might: Might I ask you a question?
  • Would: Would it be possible for me to leave work early today?
  • Shall: Shall I open the window?

Perfect Infinitive with Modals

The structure “have + past participle” is called a perfect infinitive.

  • Could have: She could have finished the project on time if she had worked harder.
  • Should have: He should have arrived at the meeting earlier.
  • Might have: They might have missed the train if they hadn’t run to the station.
  • Must have: He must have forgotten his keys at home.
  • Would have: If she had known it was going to rain, she would have brought an umbrella.

Dynamic Verbs Examples

dynamic verb is a verb that shows continued or progressive action on the part of the subject. This is the opposite of a stative verb.

  • Run: She runs in the park every morning.
  • Dance: They danced all night at the party.
  • Sing: He sings beautifully in the choir.
  • Jump: The children jumped over the puddle.
  • Climb: They climbed to the top of the mountain.
  • Laugh: She laughed at the funny joke.
  • Play: The kids played with their toys in the room.
  • Swim: He swam across the lake to reach the other side.
  • Fly: The birds flew in the sky.
  • Read: She reads novels before going to bed every night.

Stative Verbs Examples

Stative verbs are verbs that express a state rather than an action. They usually relate to thoughts, emotions, relationships, senses, states of being and measurements.

  • Love: I love chocolate cake.
  • Believe: He believes in hard work and perseverance.
  • Hate: She hates spiders.
  • Know: They know the answer to the question.
  • Like: I like playing tennis.
  • Dislike: She dislikes rainy days.
  • Remember: He remembers his childhood very well.
  • Understand: She understands the instructions clearly.
  • Want: He wants a new car.
  • Need: She needs a cup of coffee in the morning.

Auxiliary Verbs Examples

We briefly mentioned the auxiliary verb when discussing the verb to be, however other verbs can function as auxiliary verbs and this means that they cannot create a sentence alone but requires the use of another verb and can help it to demonstrate various conditions, states or tenses. Let’s look at some examples of this.

  • When I got there, she had finished the lesson.
  • After he arrived home, we had eaten dinner.

An auxiliary verb is a verb that adds functional or grammatical meaning to the clause in which it appears, such as to express tense, aspect, modality, voice, emphasis, etc. An auxiliary verb is most generally understood as a verb that “helps” another verb by adding grammatical information to it.

  • Do: I do not feel like going out tonight.
  • Have: I have just received his reply.
  • Be: A model railway mart will beheld on Friday.
  • Will: He will not play volleyball.

Causative Verbs Examples

Causative verbs are verbs that show the reason that something happened. They do not indicate something the subject did for themselves, but something the subject got someone or something else to do for them.

  • Have: had the mechanic check the brakes.
  • Get: I couldn’t get the engine to start.
  • Make: I like him because he makes me laugh.
  • Let: If you accept, please let me know.

let make have getPinCausative Verb Examples

Transitive Verb Examples

A transitive verb is one which has the ability to have a noun directly attached to it. Examples of this might be:

  • Eat: She ate the sandwich.
  • Write: He wrote a letter to his friend.
  • Throw: They threw the ball to each other.
  • Buy: She bought a new dress for the party.
  • Kick: He kicked the ball towards the goal.
  • Paint: She painted the picture with watercolors.
  • Cook: He cooked dinner for his family.
  • Clean: She cleaned the room thoroughly.
  • Open: He opened the window to let in fresh air.
  • Fix: She fixed the broken vase with glue

Intransitive Verb Examples

This type of verb cannot have a noun directly attached to it and requires the use of a preposition in order to help it function. Examples of intransitive verbs might be:

  • Sleep: She sleeps soundly at night.
  • Laugh: They laughed at the funny joke.
  • Run: He ran to catch the bus.
  • Fall: The leaves fell from the trees in autumn.
  • Dance: She danced gracefully to the music.
  • Sing: He sang beautifully in the choir.
  • Swim: They swam in the pool for hours.
  • Jump: The rabbit jumped over the fence.
  • Shiver: She shivered in the cold wind.
  • Smile: He smiled at the children playing in the park

No Action To Be

A no action to be verb means that the verb is not directly referencing an action. The verb to be can function as both an auxiliary verb as well as a main verb. When it is being used as a main verb it will join a subject to an adjective for example She is small. It might also join a subject to another noun, for example James is King.

However, when to be functions as an auxiliary verb it will form the progressive tense. An example of this would be;

  • The book is read by the teacher.
  • He is watching the TV.

Linking Verb Examples

This is a type of verb used to link a subject to a noun, a phrase, or an adjective. For example:

  • Seem: He seems tired after a long day at work.
  • Become: She became a successful businesswoman.
  • Look: He looks happy today.
  • Feel: She felt nervous before the presentation.
  • Sound: The music sounds beautiful.
  • Smell: The flowers smell sweet.
  • Taste: The soup tastes delicious.
  • Grow: The plants grow in the garden.
  • Remain: The problem remained unsolved

Examples of Different Verb Forms

When we are dealing with main verbs, there are different forms in which they can come. We are now going to take a look at each of these forms in a little more detail.

Infinitives

The infinitive form of a verb is that state in which it is originally found. In English, this is often with the word ‘to’ in front of the verb, for example to run, to see, to have, to live.

What is a To-Infinitive?

to-infinitive is a verbal consisting of to + a verb, and it acts like a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence.

We use the infinitive:

  • To indicate the purpose of an action
  • As subject of the sentence
  • As direct object of the sentence
  • As subject complement
  • As an adjective
  • As an adverb
  • After adjective
  • After object that is noun or pronoun referring to a person
  • Used with question word

Verbs Followed by Infinitives

List of commonly used Verbs Followed by Infinitives

  • Attempt
  • Ask
  • Arrange
  • Beg
  • Begin
  • Care
  • Choose
  • Claim
  • Consent
  • Continue
  • Dare
  • Decide
  • Demand
  • Deserve
  • Dislike
  • Expect
  • Fail
  • Forget
  • Get
  • Hesitate
  • Hope
  • Hurry
  • Intend
  • Learn
  • Like
  • Love
  • Manage
  • Mean
  • Neglect
  • Need
  • Offer
  • Plan
  • Prefer
  • Prepare
  • Pretend
  • Proceed
  • Promise
  • Propose
  • Refuse
  • Remember
  • Seem
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Struggle
  • Swear
  • Threaten
  • Try

Zero Infinitive

We use the Zero Infinitive when:

  • After modal auxiliary verbs
  • After the object after certain verbs, such as hear, see, make, let
  • After verbal idioms would rather and had better
  • Used with WHY

Gerunds

What is a Gerund?

Gerunds are verbals that function as nouns and have an –ing ending.

The gerund form of verbs is used as follows:

  • Used as subject of a sentence
  • Used as direct object of a sentence
  • Used as a subject complement
  • Used as an object of a preposition
  • Used after certain expressions

Verbs Followed by Gerunds

A useful list of Verbs Followed by Gerunds in English.

  • Admit
  • Advise
  • Anticipate
  • Acknowledge
  • Appreciate
  • Avoid
  • Bear
  • Begin
  • Complete
  • Consider
  • Defer
  • Delay
  • Deny
  • Discuss
  • Dislike
  • Enjoy
  • Entail
  • Finish
  • Forget
  • Hate
  • Intend
  • Involve
  • Justify
  • Keep
  • Like
  • Love
  • Mention
  • Mind
  • Miss
  • Postpone
  • Practice
  • Prefer
  • Quit
  • Recall
  • Recollect
  • Recommend
  • Regret
  • Resent
  • Resist
  • Risk
  • Sanction
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Suggest
  • Tolerate
  • Try

List of Common Verbs Followed by Gerunds

verbs followed by gerunds 1Pin verbs followed by gerunds 2Pinverbs followed by gerunds 3Pin

Present and Past Participles

What is a Participle?

A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed. They function as adjectives, thus participles modify nouns or pronouns.

Types of Participles

There are two participles in the English language: the present and past participle.

Present Participle

This is a very simple concept as to create the present participle one must simply add the letters -ing to the verb stem. This shows that something is happening right now. For example I am leaving the house or The cat is lying on the rug.

Past Participle

Similarly to the present participle, the past participle shows time, in this case that something has already happened-or has happened in the past. In order to create the past participle, one must add the letters -ed to the verb stem. For example the sentence I decide what happens would become I decided what happens.

Despite the addition of -ed being the regular form of past participle, there are some irregular verbs which do not follow this pattern. Some examples of this are as follows:

  • to show – shown
  • to see – seen
  • to built – built
  • to feel – felt

Finite and Non-finite Verbs

Another word for the finite form is the conjugated form. This happens when the verb is being used within a sentence. By conjugating the verb you are allowing it to demonstrate tense, number, mood and person. An example of this might be the sentence ‘he won the tournament.’ The conjugated verb here shows us that this is a past tense sentence in the third person singular. Learn Finite and Non-Finite Verb Forms in English.

Finite Verb Forms

A finite verb is controlled by the number of the subject. If the subject is singular, the verb is singular. If the subject is plural, the verb is plural.

Examples:

  • They are studying reproduction in shellfish.
  • sing with the university chorus.

Non-finite Verb Forms

A non-finite verb is not controlled by the number, person and tense of the subject.

Examples:

  • I don’ t want to go home in the dark.
  • She put a blanket over the sleeping child.

Common Verb Examples in Sentences

Learn an extensive list of commonly used verbs in English.

  • Do: I don’t know.
  • Doubt: I doubt if it’ll snow.
  • Drag: I had to drag him out of bed.
  • Drive: He drives a truck.
  • Drop: I dropped my sandwich.
  • Dry: Raisins are dried grapes.
  • Earn: He earns three times more than me.
  • Eat:  You can’t eat your cake and have it.
  • Encourage: John encouraged Mary to learn how to speak French.
  • Engage: We used to be engaged.
  • Enter: He entered the room.
  • Establish: The school was established in 1650.
  • Examine: The doctor examined the patients.
  • Experiment: They’re experimenting with a new car.
  • Explore: He explored the Amazon jungle.
  • Extend: We extended a hearty welcome to them.
  • Fly: Tom wishes he could fly.
  • Fold: Tom and Mary folded up the flag.
  • Follow: We must follow the rules of the game.
  • Forbid: I forbid you to smoke.
  • Fry: She fried fish in salad oil.
  • Generate: This machine generates electricity.
  • Get: We’ve got to get the economy under control or it will literally eat us up.
  • Give:  The waiter gives me the menu.
  • Grow: Apples grow on trees.
  • Hang: Don’t you hang up on me.
  • Happen: You made it happen.
  • Hesitate: I hesitate to spend so much money on clothes.
  • Hide: I’m hiding from Tim.
  • Hug: I really need a hug.
  • Hurry: It had to hurry to find a home because I was already on to something else.
  • Hurt: I hurt my elbow.
  • Identify: She identified him as the murderer.
  • Improve: I need to improve my French.
  • Include: Tom’s lunch includes a sandwich and an apple.
  • Incorporate: Her business was incorporated.
  • Indicate: The arrow indicates the way to go.
  • Involve: This procedure involves testing each sample twice.
  • Iron: I iron my clothes almost every day.
  • Jog: I make it a rule to jog every morning.
  • Jump:  Can you jump over the river?
  • Kiss: Did you kiss anybody?
  • Kneel:  Do not run, stand, kneel or spin in the slide.
  • Laugh: Tom is laughing.
  • Lay: He laid on his back.
  • Learn: Children learn to creep ere they can go.
  • Leave: Leave me alone!
  • Lift:  He couldn’t lift the table and no more could I.

English Verbs!!! What is a verb? Learn verb definition and different types of verbs in English with useful verbs list. Learn verb examples and grammar rules with ESL printable worksheets.Pin English Verbs!!! What is a verb? Learn verb definition and different types of verbs in English with useful verbs list. Learn verb examples and grammar rules with ESL printable worksheets.Pin English Verbs!!! What is a verb? Learn verb definition and different types of verbs in English with useful verbs list. Learn verb examples and grammar rules with ESL printable worksheets.Pin English Verbs!!! What is a verb? Learn verb definition and different types of verbs in English with useful verbs list. Learn verb examples and grammar rules with ESL printable worksheets.Pin

What is a verb? Learn verb definition and different types of verbs in English

Conclusion

The verb is an integral part of the English language and there are many rules surrounding its use. In this article, we have learned the various types of verbs as well as how to use them by following some simple grammatical rules.

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45 thoughts on “A Quick Guide to Mastering English Verbs | Useful Verb Examples”

    • Yes, the verb in the sentence “Grampa’s very interesting stories were heartily enjoyed” is “were.” It is the past tense form of the verb “to be” and it functions as the linking verb that connects the subject “Grampa’s very interesting stories” to the predicate adjective “heartily enjoyed.”

      Reply
    • Yes, that’s correct! In the sentence ‘Grampa’s very interesting stories were heartily enjoyed,’ the verb is ‘were.’ Well done for identifying it!

      Reply
    • Plural nouns on their own will use a plural verb, for example His shoes are too big. I However, if the plural noun is preceded by the words ‘a pair of’ then a singular verb is required. For example pairs of shoes is quite expensive.

    A pairs of shoes is quite expensive.
    or A pair please?

    Reply
    • If two nouns are within a sentence and refer to the same thing or person, the following verb should be singular. For example, The doctor and the nurse are working in the hospital.

    Do you mean plural?

    Reply

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