English Grammar: Quick Guide to the Most Common Types of Verbs

Learning English is challenging for new speakers. There are many grammar rules that you need to learn to communicate well. And probably the most important one are verbs!


What Are Verbs?

Verbs are a type of word that describes an action. It gives life to sentences. It explains what the subject is doing to bring more meaning to a sentence. And all sentences have one.

Actually, even one-word sentences you hear in movies like “Run!” or “Dive!” have a verb. It goes to show that it’s one of the essential components of a sentence. And it’s crucial to master the basics of verbs to be adept in English.

Like many grammar components, verbs are quite tricky. Here is a quick guide to the most common types of verbs in the English language.


Transitive Verbs

The most basic type of verbs is called transitive and intransitive verbs. The word itself is quite daunting. But worry not, it’s simple. It just tells if you if a verb needs an “object” to make sense.

In simple terms, transitive verbs are connected with a noun (object) it pertains to. For example,

“Annie, please bring the ball.”

In this example, you can see that the verb “bring” is related to the noun “ball.” What would Annie need to bring? The answer is “the ball.” And if you take out the object, the sentence wouldn’t make sense.

“Annie, please bring.”

If you check the sentence above, the sentence seems incomplete because the verb doesn’t relate to anything. What would Annie need to bring? We don’t know. The sentence has an incomplete thought. Here are more examples of transitive verbs on sentences:

  • “Maynard is playing the piano.”
  • “Vivian is driving the car.”
  • “The youth seeks compassion from the organization leaders.”


Intransitive Verbs 

On the other hand, verbs that don’t need an object to stand-alone are called intransitive verbs. For example:

“Kate just arrived at the airport.”

As you can see above, the verb “arrived” don’t need any noun to stand alone. If we dissect the sentence even further:

“Kat just arrived.”

Even if you take out the prepositional phrase “from the airport,” the sentence still makes sense. Here are more examples:

  • “The dog sits on the front porch waiting for his master.”
  • “Billy went to the grocery to buy some food.”
  • “The kids jumped above the fence.”


Some Verbs Can Be Used as a Transitive or Intransitive Verb

Here comes the confusion. Some verbs can be used as a transitive or intransitive verb. Like what we discussed earlier, you just need to check if there is an object that the verb relates to. For example:

  • “Tony ate on the sofa.”
  • “Tony ate Pecan pie on the sofa.”

Can you spot the difference in the two sentences? In the first one, no noun describes the action. Tony just “ate” on the sofa. In the second sentence, Tony “ate” what? He ate “Pecan Pie.” So again, you just need to find the object to check if it’s a transitive or intransitive verb.


Linking Verbs

Here is another confusing aspect. Not all verbs relate to action. Sometimes, verbs are used to help link the subject to a word phrase, or clause that describes the subject. These are called linking verbs. And the description is called a subject complement.

The most common linking verbs are To-be verbs. Examples are: is, was, am, were, has been, being, etc.”

Examples of other linking verbs are: appear, feel, become, get, look, grow, remain, smell, sound, taste, etc.

Take note; linking verbs also require an object to relate to. Here are some examples.

  • “I am a student.”
  • “Johnny appears stressed from the exam.”
  • “The teachers remained calm in the situation.”


Auxiliary or Helping Verbs

The last main type of verb is called auxiliary or helping verbs. These are verbs that aren’t stand-alone but are used to “help” other verbs express more meaning like conveying tenses, timeliness, emphasis, sentence voice, and modality.

Some auxiliary verbs are: be, do, have, will, shall, would, should, can, could, may, might, must, ought, etc. Here are some examples.

“I do not know you.”

In this sentence above, “do not” is used to modify the word “know” to convey the negative meaning of the sentence. Without the auxiliary verbs, you can’t negate the sentence.

“They have been running all day.”

In the example above, “have been” is used to modify “running” to express the verb in its present perfect progressive tense. It shows that they have been running since the start of the day until now. Without the auxiliary verb, it wouldn’t convey the meaning of the sentence well.



Now, you’re one step closer to mastering English grammar. If you want to learn more, you can check out LingualBox for affordable 1-on-1 sessions with certified English tutors. Learn from the best for as low as $2 per session regardless of your current skill level.

With that, let’s literally take action and use verbs well in our English conversations!


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Miko Eclipse is a digital nomad writer who travels the world while working online! He likes to meet new people, experience the culture, and gobble on the best food the country has to offer. English is his 2nd language for travel. And it can be yours as well by reading our weekly updates on our blog!