Subsections in this lesson are:


 A verb is a word or more than one word (verb phrase) that is used to express an action or a state of being of the subject. The verb is an essential element in the construction of a sentence as almost every sentence has a verb. Without a verb, a sentence is left incomplete.

Most sentences consist of a noun as the subject and a predicate. The predicate typically includes one or more verbs. The verb follows the subject, to which it must match in number, even if there are words intervening between them (see Lesson 8 - Subject-Verb Agreement). The verb in turn is followed by an object or a complement.

A verb takes the infinitive form which includes the word to (to paint, to walk) or a conjugated regular form (paint/paints, walk/walked) that is used in accordance with a grammatical classification such as person, tense or voice. The conjugated irregular verb form introduces a change in its spelling (go/went/gone), or a change in its ending (hide/hid/hidden). Such modification of a verb to express a different grammatical category is also called inflection.

A verb that is used in a sentence is usually an action verb or a linking verb. An action verb describes the physical or mental action of the subject. A linking verb links the subject to the rest of the sentence that provides information about the subject. 


A verb can be just a word.


  • She greets me.
  • They left early.



A verb can be more than one word.


  • He is washing his car..
  • You have broken my window..



An action verb takes an object.


  • Lee drives a car. (Subject: Lee / Object: car)
  • Someone has eaten my pizza. (Subject: someone / Object: pizza)



A verb may not have an object.


  • The sun shines.
  • It is raining..



A verb connects the subject to a complement. The complement or subject complement can be a noun or an adjective. 


  • They are my brothers. (Subject: they / Complement: brothers)
  • She is beautiful. (Subject: she / Complement: beautiful)



Position of verbs


A verb usually follows the subject.



  • She smiles.
  • The clown rides on a circus horse.



A word (intervening word) may come between the subject and the verb. It doesn’t affect anything. The usual grammatical rules still apply: the subject and verb must agree with one another in number (singular or plural).  If a subject is singular, its verb must also be singular; if a subject is plural, its verb must also be plural. The intervening words are in bold in these examples.



  • I accidentally knocked my head on the bookshelf.
  • She never talks about God.



A word may come between the verbs that make up a verb phrase. The verb phrase is in bold as shown here. 



  • She had recently come out of a prison.
  • Her cottage was partially hidden behind some trees.



A verb may come before the subject.


If the word here or there begins a sentence, a verb will come before the subject.



  • Here comes the king. 
    (The subject king comes after the verb comes.)
  • There was an eagle perched on his right shoulder.  
    (The subject eagle comes after the verb was.)  



If a sentence begins with a phrase (underlined), the subject typically follows the verb.



  • Across the mountain and through the narrow valley was a dried-up stream. 
    (The subject stream comes after the verb was.)
  • Waving to passing trains is his hobby 
    (The subject eagle comes after the verb was.)  



Sometimes a sentence can be reversed without affecting its meaning if the subject and its object are the same.



  • That monkey was the one that snatched her bag. 
    The one that snatched her bag was that monkey.
  • My uncle is the village’s only professional wrestler.  
    The village’s only professional wrestler is my uncle.  



In most questions, the verb comes before the subject.



  • Is she ready to go? 
    (The subject she comes after the auxiliary verb is.)
  • Do you want to come along?  
    (The subject you comes after the helping verb do.)