Verbs Lesson

What is a verb? A verb is the action or movement in a sentence. It moves the sentence forward. Let's have a closer look on how to identify them, and get to know their various forms.

Identifying Verbs

Every sentence must contain a verb. It either expresses what the subject does or links the subject to other descriptive words. You cannot have a complete sentence without having both a subject and a verb. If you are having trouble finding the verb try to isolate the subject. The verb will show action or help to modify the noun that it is referring to.

There are several basic types of verbs: Action, compound, helping, and linking.

Action Verbs

They describe the action that the subject performs. These are the most basic form of verbs that you will encounter and they are usually the easiest to pick out and isolate in a sentence. Remember, find the subject and see what action it is doing.

For example:

"The artists painted a beautiful picture for the art show."

In this sentence, "painted" is the action that the artists did, so "painted" is the verb and "Artists" is the subject.

More examples:

"Dad crossed the street at the red light."
"The baby cried until he was fed."
"My friend down the street sings at the talent show all the time."

Now you try it. Click on the verbs in each of the following sentences (Correct answers will turn green):

1. "The sun rises in the sky"
2. "My newborn son fussed all night long."
3. "The dog across the street barked at the cat."
4. "I walked five miles today!"
5. "Because of the rain, the roof leaks."
6. "The car sped down the highway."
7. "He raced through the red light on the way to the hospital."
8. "Billy lives down the street with his grandma."
9. "Susie, who is in my science class, drives a convertible to the college every day."
10. "Please give me the key."

Compound verbs

A compound verb is formed when a subject does more than one action. A series of actions can be performed by the same subject. This creates a compound verb. As before, find your subject and then look for all of the actions.

"The contestants raced, climbed, and fought their way to victory."

“Contestants” is the subject and “raced” “climbed” and “fought” are the verbs. Raced, climbed and fought are the actions that the contestants did.

"Sarah sews, bakes, and cleans for the entire family."
"Dad goes to work, comes home, and plays with the family.
"He screamed and cried while his mother was away."

Now you try it. Click the compound verbs in each of the following sentences:

1. "Mary cooked and baked all day."
2. "I tossed and turned all night long."
3. "My favorite hobbies are cooking, painting, writing, and acting."
4. "Dad washes and waxes the car every Sunday."
5. "The poor dog wagged his tail and barked."
6. "I left the food on the counter and forgot to put it away."
7. "We ran to the house then raced back to the store."
8. "Mom washes, cooks, and cleans the house."

Linking Verbs

A linking verb describes a state of being rather than an action. Instead of it being a visual motion or movement it is more of an abstract motivation or state of being. Common linking verbs include: is, are, was, were, be, seems, sounds, looks, and have.

"That student is a hard worker."

"Student" is the subject and "is" describes the student’s state of being. "Is" shows the relationship between the student and the rest of the sentence.

"My brother seems a little distracted today."
"Aunt Paula sounds amazing when she sings."
"The boys are over to play."

Now you try it. Click the linking verbs in each of the following sentences:

1. "Those computers are broken."
2. "That dog is just an ugly old mutt."
3. "This new song by Linkin Park sounds amazing"
4. "Mary seems kind of sad today."
5. "Uncle Tom looks great in his suit."
6. "He was my best friend until recently."
7. "All of this is your fault."
8. "We have another copy of the movie for you."
9. "She was my neighbor until a few weeks ago."
10. "That cat has a fancy bed to sleep in."

Helping Verbs

A helping verb combines with the main verb to indicate tense or structure. It adds a further and stronger connection between the subject and the verb. It helps to make the action clearer and stronger and also helps to denote time frame and spatial relationships.

"Some songs have been banned from the radio station play lists."

“Songs” is the subject of this sentence. “Banned” is the simple verb. The helping verbs are “have been”. Helping verbs give time, spatial, and relationship terms to the subject and the verb.

"We are going to the store later today."
"James could have passed his test."
"She seems to be looking right at us."

Now you try it. Click the helping verbs in each of the following sentences:

1. "I am studying English this semester."
2. "We may go to the park later."
3. "He might have passed that class."
4. "She can help us with the assignment."
5. "Jane has been practicing all day."
6. "Dad may have hit the water pipe in the yard."
7. "The cat will have been stuck for several hours by now."
8. "Billy might have been chosen for the team."
9. "We will be studying for the test tomorrow."
10. "I may see a movie tonight."


A sentence must have a subject and a verb.
The subject tells “who” or “what” the sentence is about.
The verb gives action and movement to the sentence.
To help with finding the verbs first locate the subject of the sentence.

The cat sat in the grass.

Cat is the subject. Sat is the verb.