Overview of Verbs

What is a Verb?

A Verb is a word that tells or asserts something about a person or thing.

  • What a person or thing is:
    The dog is dead.
    Steel is strong.
    I feel happy.

  • What a person or thing does:
    Tom laughs.
    Lightening strikes.

  • What is done to a person or thing:
    Tom was punished.
    The water was spilled.

We can also say that Verb is a word that shows:

  • an action/event/process or
  • a state.

A Verb can be one word or more than one word.

She learnt her lesson.

She is learning her lesson.

She has learnt her lesson.

She has been learning her lesson for an hour.

She will have been learning her lesson for an hour.

Types of Verbs

Though there are various classifications of verbs, here we will cover the most common one - Action verbs Vs. State verbs.

Action/Dynamic Verbs

Action verbs show physical activities, processes or physical conditions.

run, sit, walk, climb, talk, shout, ache, itch

You should walk in a straight line.

Julia told me an interesting story.

Kindly sit here.

State/Stative Verbs

State verbs express states or conditions which are relatively static. They show a situation.

be, have, own, like, sad, appear, belong, seem, love

He appears devastated.

I have a beautiful house.

I feel sad today.

Verbs and Continuous tenses

State Verbs cannot be used in Continuous tenses (–ing forms).

I am having a bike. I have a bike.

He is having a huge fan base. He has a huge fan base.

Annie is liking the movie. Annie likes the movie.

They are seeming tired. They seem tired.

Only Action Verbs can be used in Continuous tenses.

Children are playing in the park.

Why are you yelling at me?

However, in some cases we can use State verbs in -ing form (i.e. in Continuous tenses). Let us have a look at these exceptions.

State verbs in the continuous form (Exceptions)

Exception 1

When state verbs refer to temporary action or an action in progress at a certain moment

I’m having second thoughts about joining this company.

Tom is appearing in this play this evening.

You’re looking great in those trousers.

Exception 2

When state verbs have an active meaning.

Do you have a bike? (own)
The delegates are having lunch at the moment. (process - eating)

This milk tastes sour. (has a sour taste)
I was just tasting the wine. (process - testing)

I feel that you are wrong. (think)
How have you been feeling? (asking about physical state)

This coconut weighs 1 kg. (its weight is 1 kg)
He is weighing the coconut. (process - measuring its weight)

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