How Verbs Work
A verb conveys action by a noun (person, animal, place, thing, or idea). These actions can be tangible (write, eat, sleep), intangible (become, occur, happen), or in a state of being (be, seem, been). There are three main types of verbs: action verb, linking verb, and helping verb.
Action verbs show tangible, intangible, or state-of-being action.
- The bear foraged through the trash in search of food.
bear (noun); foraged (verb; tangible action)
- Kittens become cats in about a year.
kittens (noun); become (verb;intangible action)
- The hikers seem unsure of which path to take.
hikers (noun); seem (verb; state-of-being action)
Linking verbs link a subject to additional information. Many linking verbs are forms of the be verb: am, is, are, was, and were.
- I am craving chocolate ice cream!
- The road is icy and slick, so be careful.
- My pets are loving animals.
- The dog was happy to see her owner.
- We were planning to visit Brooklyn this weekend, but our flight got cancelled.
Helping verbs consist of two or more words. They change the form of a main verb to add context. Common helping verbs: am, is, are, was, were, being, been, will, has, have, had, have, shall, should, and would.
- Sentence without helping verb: Jessie speaks Spanish.
(A stated fact; no other detail.)
- Sentence with helping verb: Jessie is speaking Spanish.
(The helping verb adds the present tense to the main verb).
Some verbs can be used either as a helping verb or a linking verb.
- The doctor was treating patients all morning.
(The verb was is helping the main verb treating by adding the past tense.)
- The doctor was exhausted from treating patients all morning.
(The verb was is linking the descriptor exhausted to the subject).