Verb | What Is Verb, All About Verb

Verb | What Is Verb, All About Verb

September 6, 2017 2 By admin


Origin of The Word
There are two popular beliefs about the origin of the word.

1. The word verb originates from late Middle English or Old French word verbe.
2. The other opinion about its origin is the Latin word called ‘verbum’, which itself means ‘word’.

Both of the above to hypothesises are considered true, yet the origin from the word ‘verbum’ is more popular and widely believed.

Verb is one of the eight parts of the speech.

1. Nouns
2. Pronouns
3. Verbs
4. Adjectives
5. Adverbs
6. Conjunctions
7. Prepositions
8. Interjections


Following are the most accepted definitions of the verbs worldwide.

“Verb is a part of speech, that in syntax conveys an action, an occurrence, or a state of being (be, exist, stand).” — Wikipedia

“Verb is a word to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, or happen”. — Oxford

“A word that characteristically is the grammatical centre of a predicate and expresses and act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various language is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterising quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb.” — Merriam Dictionary

In a nutshell, verb is a type of word that is used to describe the action or state of existence.
In texts/sentences where the verb is used, it often describes about its primary argument (the subject) in person, number or gender.


The total number of arguments taken by a verb is called its valency.
‘Valency Arguments’ is defined as the number of arguments controlled by a verbal predicate.

The following classification has been made on the valencies and they have been explained in terms of valencies, subjects, and objects.

1. Avalent: A type of verb with the valency zero. The verb lacks both the subject and the object. As the definition suggests, sentences don’t exist with zero valency.

However, the existence of avalent sentences are found in some languages.

2. Monovalent: This kinds of verbs only have a subject, hence their valency is 1 (Intransitive)

i. It goes.
ii. She eats.
iii. They fight.

3. Divalent: Divalent or Transitive verbs have a valency of 2. It means, they have a subject as well as a direct object.
i. Hero fought villains.
ii. She sings songs.

4. Trivalent: Ditransitive verbs (Trivalent) has a valency of 3, they are the verbs that has a subject, object, and an indirect object.
i. They gave her the credit.
ii. He rewarded them with a medal.


1. Intransitive Verbs
An intransitive verb is one which does not have and do not need a direct object. They can either end the sentence or can be followed by an adverb.

i. The toddler was crying.
ii. They talked for hours.
iii. She laughed weirdly.

In the above three examples, non of the sentences has any direct object.

2. Transitive Verbs

A transitive verb is one that is used with an object: a noun, phrase, or pronoun that refers to the person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb.

1. They respect their country.
2. I admire your courage.
3. I love animals.

Here, in the second example, ‘courage’ was admired by the speaker. Hence, ‘courage’ is the object and the verb with it is a transitive verb.

3. Ditransitive Verbs

These verbs are also known as Vg verbs (g stands for give). They precede either two noun phrases or a noun phrase and then a prepositional phrase often led by to or for.

“The boy gave his friend high five”.
Here, the word ‘gave’ is representing a ditransitive verb.

4. Double Transitive Verbs
A double transitive verb, sometimes also called doubly transitive verb is a transitive verb that takes both direct as well as an indirect object.

1. Teenagers perceive the elders quickly.
In this E.g., the word ‘perceive’ is an example of double transitive verb.

Linking Verbs
Linking verbs are those that must be followed by a noun or adjective, either in a single word or a phrase; it can’t be followed by an adverb. Linking verbs are also known as copular verbs.

1. John looked happy.

The common E.g.s of linking verbs are be, appear, look, remain, become, and seem.

Differences between Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs:

There may exist confusions between transitive and intransitive verbs for sure.
To sort out such confusions, follow the following measure:

First of all, try to figure out what is receiving the action (or state) of the verb.
If the recipient of the action of the verb is a noun, then the verb is transitive.

On the other hand, if there is no answer to the question, it means that the sentence is lacking a direct object and the there is ‘nothing’ as recipient of the verb. Hence, the verb is intransitive.

Examples to illustrate the difference:
1. He gave her a gift.
2. He laughed.

Clearly, the action of ‘laughing’ cannot have a recipient, which means it is an intransitive verb.
Similarly, the action of ‘giving’ is received by ‘a gift’, hence the verb is transitive in this case.


Aspects indicate the occurrence of actions by taking the help of time. There are four main kinds of aspects that have been divided further to subdivisions.

1. Perfective Aspect
Perfective aspect is an aspect in which the action is viewed by its completion.
i. He saw them running.
ii. I saw the car.

2. Imperfective Aspect
Imperfective Aspect has been divided among two parts.

i. Habitual Aspect: The aspects that represent a habit or an action being made on some regular intervals.
E.g.: My grandfather used to go to the park everyday

ii. Continuous Aspect: Continuous Aspects are those that represents actions occurring without any interval or a period. They have been divide further into two parts.

i. Progressive Aspect: The continuity propagates without lag.
E.g.: The train is running.

ii. Stative Aspect: The situation comes to rest and is not evolving.
E.g.: He knows English.

3. Perfect Aspect
A perfect aspect indicates the existence of an action from before the present time, or always.

i. The robbers ran away.
ii. He has went there and still there.
In the above two examples, the act of running away was done in the past time. Hence, they are perfect aspects.

4. Discontinuous Past
This aspect combines elements of a past event and the implication that the state resulting from it was later reversed.
i. I had gone to the party.


Following is the list of auxiliary verbs and their uses.

1. Can (Obligation)
E.g.: I can help you.

2. Can (Ability)
E.g.: I can fight to the enemies.

3. Could (Politeness)
E.g.: Could you please open the door.
4. Could (Past)
E.g.: He could have waited.

5. Shall (prediction or probability)
E.g.: You shall fail the examination.

6. Should (Willingness, necessity, advice)
E.g.: He should go.

7. Should (Possibility)
E.g.: That should help.

8. Will (Epistemic)
E.g.: I will eat the fruits.

9. Will (Future Tense)
E.g.: The sun will rise tomorrow at 7 AM.

10. Will (Habitually aspected)
E.g.: My grandfather will go to the park tomorrow evening.

11. Would (Epistemic)
E.g.: No one would forget that.

12. Would (Future in past)
E.g.: You would do that again after the last year.

13. Would (Habitually aspected)
E.g.: Back then, we would play in the nearby park.

14. May (Permission)
E.g.: May I use the restroom?

15. May (Possibility)
E.g.: The teacher may come.

16. Might (Epistemic)
E.g.: You might take the test.

17. Must (Necessity)
E.g.: You must not go near the river bank.

18. Must (Possibility of occurrence)
E.g.: You must have failed the examination.

19. Dare (Deontic)
E.g.: I dare not climb the tree.

20. Do (emphasis)
E.g.: You do the required.

21. Do (Question)
E.g.: Do you go to the market?

22. Need (Requirement)
E.g.: You don not need to know.

23. Ought (Swear)
E.g.: I ought to score a century in cricket.

24. Have (Perfect aspect)
E.g.: They have understood.

25. Be (Copula)
E.g.: I am the dean.

26. Be (Passive Voice)
 E.g.: The tree was cut.

27. Be (Progressive Aspect)
E.g.: The train is running.

Please note that the verb ‘Be’ sometimes act as a helping verb and can be manifested in eight ways:
i. Be
ii. Is
iii. Am
iv. Are
v. Was
vi. Were
vii. Been
viii. Being

Similarly, the verb ‘do’ serves as a helping verb in many cases and has the following manifestations:
i. Do
ii. Does
iii. Did

Also, the word ‘have’ is a type of helping verb (in some or many cases) and following are the manifestations of ‘have’:

i. Have
ii. Has
iii. Had


Modality tells us about the attitude, behaviour, or opinion of the speaker towards the action or state given by a verb.
There are nine kinds of modal verbs:

1. Can
2. Could
3. Shall
4. Should
5. Will
6. Would
7. May
8. Might
9. Must

The following many examples illustrate and explain about the modal verbs.

“He should go” — Willingness
“She must go” — Determination

“He can go” — Permission

“He could go” — Politeness

“You must come” — Necessity

The modality gives an impression about the situation of the action occurring on the basis of the behaviour or attitude of the speaker.

There are many verbs that do not show any kind of modality. Such verbs are known as modal verbs.

1. Have you seen him?
2. They are sleeping.

‘Have’ in the first e.g. and ‘is’ are non-modal verbs.


There are two kinds of voices.
Voices gives us an idea about the relationship between the subject and the occurrence of the action.

1. Active Voice: The action is performed by the subject.
E.g.: The gas pushes down the piston.

2. Passive Voice: The action is being performed on the subject.
E.g.: The piston was pushed down by the gas.


Finite Verbs : Can serve as a root of an independent clause. It has a subject.
They represent a number, person or a tense.
E.g.: You will have to study well.
Here, have is the finite verb.

Nonfinite Verbs: Can not serve as a root of an independent clause.
They don’t represent a particular thing.
E.g.: What did you want?
‘Did’ is working as a nonfinite verb in this example.


Any verb whose conjugation follows a particular pattern/gesture is called a regular verb.

The inflicted parts, or say the manifestation of regular verbs can be made by the endings —s. —ing, —d/ed. This is one of the many patterns. Verbs following this patterns are the few examples of regular verbs.

—s transformation
1. take: takes
2. seem: goes
3. crack: cracks
4. boil: boils
5. run: runs

— es transformation
1. go: goes
2. do: does

—ys transformation
1. enjoy: enjoys
2. play : plays

And the verb not following any kind of patterns of the language, is known as irregular verb.
For example, ‘hit’. The word ‘hit’ does not follow any pattern, rather its inflections are the word itself.

Hence, it is am irregular verb.
Other examples of irregular verbs include: have, go, etc.


Verbs can be modified or they can be clarified to a extent by words called modifiers. The most common modifiers are adverbs.
However, it is not mandatory to add a a modifier with a verb to address the sentence but it is desirable to add a modifier with a verb.

The train was running speedily.
She smiled weirdly.
The child greeted them happily.
The man asked for the cheque angrily.
He walked slowly.

In the above five examples, it is indeed already known that the train was running, but the modifier ‘speedily’ was added to clarify that the run was prompt and quick.

Similarly, smiling was clarified by the modifier ‘weirdly’.
Likewise, words ‘happily’, ‘angrily’, and ‘slowly’ are working as a modifier in their respective sentences.


Tense expresses the time of the occurrence of verb. In English, there can be three tenses:

1. Past
2. Present
3. Future

Certain changes are made to the verb to represent the change in tense or the course of action.

She eats the fish. —————— She ate the fish.
I can swim promptly. ————— I could swim promptly.
Do you live in San Jose? ——— Did you live in San Jose?

Here, the words ‘ate’, ‘could’, ‘did’ were introduced in the places of ‘eat’, ‘swim’, ‘do’ to express the time of the occurrence of the action or state.

Quite a few times, verbs are followed by a complement.
Following are the examples illustrating the usage of complements.

1. She looks good.
2. I became the Director.

In the above two examples, the words ‘good’ and ‘Director’ are representing complements while the verbs are being represented by the words ‘look’ and ‘became’.
Complements, as stated above are linking verbs.


1. Differences between Verbs and Nouns.

There are certain words that might create a confusion between nouns and verbs.
“Running is good for health”
Here, the word ‘Running’ looks like a noun as well as the a verb.

To avoid such confusions, following measures can be taken:

i. Try modifying the word with a modifier.
“Running regularly is good for health”

We know that a noun cannot be modified by an adverb. Since, the word ‘running’ was modified, it is a verb in the sentence.

ii. In many cases, the same word can act as a noun as well as a verb, depending upon the sentence it is used in.
“Your drawing is adorable”

Here, one may get confused with the word ‘drawing’. To check this, we can use the method of singularity and plurality. A verb can never be ‘made’ singular or plural.

So, by changing the above sentence to its plural form, we get:
“Your drawings are adorable”
Hence, the word ‘drawing’, here is a noun. (Since the number didn’t remain constant).

In the sentence, “Drawing is a productive hobby”, the ‘word’ drawing is acting as a verb as the plural form of the sentence “Drawings are productive hobbies” does not make any sense.

iii. Spotting a difference between a verb and a noun is also done by the use of complements.
As mentioned above, verbs can take complements. But, noun cannot take a complement.

“Building a house is a tough job”.

To avoid any confusions with the word ‘building’, we can use a complement. Here, the word ‘building’ took ‘house’ as a object in the sentence. Hence, it cannot be a noun.
Similarly, in the following sentence, we can see that the word ‘building’ cannot take any object or complement.
“This is a huge building”
Adding an object or a complement makes the sentence meaningless, hence it cannot be a verb and is a noun indeed.2. Differences between verbs and adjectives
Like in the case with nouns, adjectives also, quite a many times create confusions.
“The match was exciting”.
In the above sentence, the word ‘exciting’ can be a confusion between verbs and adjectives. To avoid such confusions, we add words like ‘very’. The verbs can only be modified by the adverbs and ‘very’ is not an adverb.
“The match was very exciting”
Here, by adding the modifier ‘very’, the sentence has been modified. Hence, we now know that the ‘exciting’ is not a verb in this sentence.Special Mention:
Sometimes, we can check by changing the words ‘be’ to its manifested forms. For e.g., if be can be changed to ‘am’, ‘were’, ‘seem’ in the sentence, the word is a verb.3. Differences between verbs and prepositions:
Prepositions, may share the same shape like a verb for quite a few times.For e.g.:
i. According to James, the car was without a number plate.
ii. I was accompanied by many employees, including the leader himself.
iii. Given, the constraints you have provided, we can’t do the work.

In the above three examples, the words ‘According’, ‘including’, and ‘given’ are indeed creating a confusion between verbs and prepositions.
To check for such confusions, there is a basic principle:

Prepositions does not have and cannot have a subject while verbs can take a direct or an indirect subject.

Hence, the words used in the above three examples are verbs as ‘James’, ‘leader’, ‘constraints’ are serving as a proper object in their respective sentences.


The verbs are the words (one of the eight parts of speech) that describe/represent/express an occurrence of an action, or existence of a state.
There are various kinds or verbs based on different kinds of classifications.
When the basis of classification of verbs is ‘valency’, the types of verbs can be explained in the terms of valency arguments.
Valency is the total number of arguments taken by a verb.
The verbs can be also explained in the terms of direct/indirect object, and subject.
Intransitive, Transitive, Ditransitive, Double Transitive. The intransitive verbs are monovalent, the transitive verbs are divalent and the ditransitive verbs are trivalent.