Verb | Definition, Rules and Examples of Verbs in English Grammar

English verbs! What is a verb? Learn verb definition and different types of verbs in English grammar with useful verbs list and examples of verbs. 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. We will also be looking at some example sentences to further gain an understanding on what the verb is used for.

What Is A Verb?

In the most simple terms, a verb is a word which describes an action, often known as a ‘doing’ word. In the English language, the verb is the only kind of word which will change to show whether the past or present is being spoken about. The verb is considered to be the most vital part of any sentence, without it you would be left literally speechless.

A verb is a word or group of words that describes an action, experience or expresses a state of being.

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



Verb examples: Walkisseemrunseeswim, 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,…

Types of Verbs & Verb Examples

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

Irregular Verbs – Irregular Verb Definition

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).

Irregular Verb Examples
  • 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

Modal Verbs – Modal Verb Definition

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

Modal Verb Examples
  • Will
  • Shall
  • Would
  • Should
  • Ought to
  • Must
  • Mustn’t
  • May
  • Might
  • Can
  • Could
  • Have to/ Has to
  • Don’t/ Doesn’t have to

Modal Verb Examples:

Modal Verbs To Express Ability

Learn how to use Modals of Ability in English

  • Be able to
  • Can/Can’t
  • Be able to
  • Could/Couldn’t
  • Managed to
  • Be able to
  • Can/can’t

Modals of Ability Image:

Modals for Asking Permissions

Learn useful Modals for Asking Permissions in English

  • Can
  • Could
  • May
  • Would

Modals for Asking Permissions:

Perfect Infinitive with Modals

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

Learn how to use perfect infinitive with modal verbs in English: must have, can’t have, should have, shouldn’t have, needn’t have, ought to have, may have, might have, could have, would have.

Perfect Infinitive with Modals:

Dynamic Verbs – Dynamic Verb Definition

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.

Dynamic Verb Examples
  • Eat
  • Walk
  • Learn
  • Grow
  • Sleep
  • Talk
  • Write
  • Run
  • Read
  • Go
Stative Verbs – Stative Verb Definition

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.

Stative Verb Examples

Mental State

  • Suppose
  • Recognise
  • Forget
  • Remember
  • Imagine
  • Mean
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Deny
  • Promise
  • Satisfy
  • Realise
  • Appear
  • Astonish


  • Have
  • Own
  • Possess
  • Lack
  • Consist
  • Involve


  • Like
  • Dislike
  • Hate
  • Adore
  • Prefer
  • Care for
  • Mind
  • Want
  • Need
  • Desire

Measure, cost, others

  • Measure
  • Weigh
  • Owe
  • Seem
  • Fit
  • Depend
  • Matter
Auxiliary Verbs

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.
Auxiliary Verb Definition

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.

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

Auxiliary Verb Examples:

Causative Verbs – Causative Verb Definition

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.

Causative Verb Examples
  • 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.
Transitive Verbs

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

  • kick call
  • write story
  • answer questions
Intransitive Verbs

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:

  • run to the shop
  • proceed with the game
  • abide by the rules.
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 Verbs

This is a type of verb which is a “non be” verb and is used to link a subject to a noun, a phrase or an adjective. For example:

  • This looks amazing.
  • The food tastes beautiful.
The Different Forms Of Main Verbs

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.


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

Zero Infinitive in English

Gerunds – What is a Gerund?

Gerunds are verbal 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

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:

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

The Present Participle:

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.


  • 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.


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

Finite and Non-finite Verb Forms

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