Types of Verbs


Verbs are words that indicate actions or certain states of being. There are several types of verbs- main verbs, auxiliary verbs, auxiliary modal verbs, linking verbs, and phrasal verbs.

Main Verbs

Main verbs show physical or mental action in a sentence.

Martin goes to the gym everyday to exercise.

Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary verbs are used with the main verb to indicate the tense of the main verb, or to form
questions or negatives. The most common auxiliary verbs are:

‘to be’ verbs (is, am, are, was, were)

have               has                  do                    does

The children are playing in the back yard.
XXX(play is the main verb, are is the auxiliary verb)

Chris has forgotten her keys.
XXX(forgotten is the main verb,  has  is the  auxiliary verb)

Do you like mangoes?
XXX(like the main verb, do is the auxiliary verb )

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Modal auxiliary verbs are auxiliary verbs used with the main verb to express degrees of possibility or necessity.

 will                  shall                may                might
can                  could              must               ought to
should            would              need                         

I can fly to Paris tomorrow.
XXX(Can is the modal verb and fly is the main verb)

When Charles was younger he could hold his breat unterwater for 4 minutes.
XXX(Could is the modal verb and hold is the main verb)

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs do not express action, but rather are used to indicate states of being. They connect the subject of the verb to additional information (usually a noun or an adjective) about the subject by describing or renaming it. The most common linking vers are the ‘to be’ verbs. Look at the examples below and how the words are linked to the action verb.

Nelson is a world class athlete.
XXX(‘Is’ connects the subject, Nelson, additional information about him- that he is an athlete)

The student seemed confused by the teacher’s explanation.
XXX(‘Seemed’ connects the subject, student, with something said about him- that he is confused)

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are verbs combined with a preposition (or adverb) that creates a new meaning to the phrase. Phrasal verbs must be viewed as a single unit of meaning.

My friend said that he would hook up with me later. (Hook up means to meet)

In addition, all verbs are classified as being transitive or intransitive.

Transitive verbs are verbs that have a direct object.

Many people do not trust politicians.
(Politicains’ is the direct object of the verb trust.)

Intransitive verbs are verbs do not have a direct object.

My sister fell out of a tree when she was young.
(the verb ‘fell’ does not have an object)


For more information about the different types of verbs take a look at

The Basics of English Grammar


Other links for Types of Verbs
XX Linking Verbs
XX Auxiliary Verbs
XX Main Verbs

An explanation of the different types of verbs- www.understandinggrammar.com