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Types of Verbs

Sep 6, 2022

A verb is a word in a sentence that tells the subject what it does, connects the subject to another word that describes it or joins with another verb. 

The three main categories of verbs:  

  • Auxiliary Verbs 
  • Infinitives 
  • Participles 

Auxiliary Verbs, also called helping verbs, help the main verb in a sentence. 

The three primary auxiliary verbs – be, have, and do. 

  • “I am working on my assignment.” (Present continuous tense) 
  • “She does not teach here anymore.” (Negative sentence) 
  • Have you seen my wallet?” (Question) 

Modal auxiliary verbs (also known as modal verbs) are used to express modality, defined as likelihood, possibility, ability, permission, future intention or obligation. 


These are – will, would, can, could, shall, should, may, might, and must.   

They are distinguished by their inability to conjugate into different forms and by the fact that they are only followed by a verb that is in its base form. 

  • “I will be there by evening.” (Future intention) 
  • “She can type very well.” (ability) 
  • May I be excused from the event?” (permission) 
  • “We must finish this tonight.” (obligation) 

An infinitive, when used in its full form (to + base form of the verb), can function as an adjective, noun, or adverb in the sentence. 

  • To run is often tiresome.” 

Gerunds are verbs with the suffix “-ing” that function as nouns in a sentence. Gerunds are always non-finite because they lack the grammatical function of a verb. 

  • Seeing the hills for the first time is incredible.” 
  • Reading books is often very enjoyable.” 

Present participles have the same form as gerunds, ending in “-ing.” 

  • “My daughter is watching me work.”  
  • “The bike sat rusting in the garage for over a year.” 

To create non-continuous perfect verb tenses, past participle forms of the verbs are used. 

It is important to note that finite past participles and non-finite past tense verbs often end in “-d” or “-ed.”  

If the word directly describes the action of a subject, then it is a finite verb. However, if the word is being used as an adjective or requires another verb to be complete, it is a non-finite verb. 

  •  “I had already walked for many miles 
  • “Those clothes are washed.” 

Finite verbs are verbs that indicate grammatical tense, and have subjects, person, and number.   

  • “I swim every day.” 
  • “She reads many books.” 
  • “He talked for several hours 
  • “They went to the mall today.” 
  • “The outfielder leaped for the baseball.” 

Non-finite verbs are verbs that do not have subjects or tenses that they correspond to. Instead, these verbs are usually gerunds, infinitives, or participles. 

  •  “We are learning about French Revolution in school.” 

A transitive verb describes an action that is taking place in relation to something or someone known as the verb’s direct object. 

In contrast, an intransitive verb describes an action that does not occur to something or someone. 

  • “I’m still cooking, so I’m going to be a little late.” (intransitive) 
  • “I’m still cooking dinner, so I’m going to be a little late.” (transitive) 
  • “I’ve been exercising every day this month.” (intransitive) 
  • “I’ve been exercising my arms every day this month.” (transitive) 

Regular verbs have both past simple tense and past participle forms formed by adding “-d” or “-ed” to the end of the word. 

Irregular verbs, by definition, lack spelling rules that we can use to generate the past simple tense and past participles. 

  • “I walk around the beach every evening.” (Base form) 
  • “I walked around the beach in the morning.” (Past simple tense) 
  • “I have walked around the park once this afternoon.” (Past participle) 
  • “I am excited that classes are starting.” (Base form) 
  • “I was sad to leave my parents, though.” (Past simple tense) 
  • “I have been making a lot of new friends of late.” (Past participle) 


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