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.
A verb can be more than one word.
An action verb takes an object.
A verb may not have an object.
A verb connects the subject to a complement. The complement or subject complement can be a noun or an adjective.
Position of verbs
A verb usually follows the subject.
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.
A word may come between the verbs that make up a verb phrase. The verb phrase is in bold as shown here.
A verb may come before the subject.
If the word here or there begins a sentence, a verb will come before the subject.
If a sentence begins with a phrase (underlined), the subject typically follows the verb.
Sometimes a sentence can be reversed without affecting its meaning if the subject and its object are the same.
In most questions, the verb comes before the subject.