English Grammar Review
Verbs and Verbals

Types of Verbs

English grammar is mostly about verbs. It's easy to be clear about things (nouns): we name them and describe them. But being clear about actions and associations required centuries of developing rules for assembling verbs.

The traditional structure of a sentence is a subject followed by a predicate. The core of the subject is a noun; the core of the predicate is a verb. The predicate usually consists of a verb followed by a complement, something that completes the description of what is going on.

{ subject } { predicate }


There are two main kinds of verbs, action and linking.

Action verbs

With an action verb, the subject acts upon the complement:

Armand sells pastry in Paris.

The complement of an action verb can have a direct object or an indirect object or both:

She gave money.

  [money = direct object]

She gave me money.

  [me = indirect object]

To verify a word is an indirect object, rewrite the sentence with a prepositional phrase introduced by to or for:

She gave money to me.

Linking verbs

With a linking verb, the subject is linked with the complement. This linking can be equating or describing:

Adrienne is the supervisor. [equating]

Adrienne is very smart. [describing]

When a sentence with a linking verb has a mismatch in number (singular/plural) between the subject and the complement, choose the linking verb that matches the number of the subject.

Umbrellas is the only product they make.

Umbrellas are the only product they make.

One item to track are travel expenses.

One item to track is travel expenses.

Verb Phrases

Verbs have many forms and often consist of more than one word. When multiple words are combined to construct a verb, they can be called a verb phrase.

He accepted it.
He is accepting it.
It has been accepted.
It will have been accepted.

The verb is accept. The other words in the verb phrases are called auxiliary verbs or helping verbs.

Note: When you write a sentence with multiple verb phrases, and they share a common helping verb, it's often okay to abbreviate the second verb phrase by not repeating that second helping verb.

Lyon will receive our bid and will respond to it.

Lyon will receive our bid and respond to it.
[also okay]

The same concept applies for multiple infinitive verbs (to be forms).

Ask Yvonne to copy the invoice, to return the original, and to send the copy to accounts payable.

Ask Yvonne to copy the invoice, return the original, and send the copy to accounts payable.
[also okay]

Lesson: Types of Verbs
Module: Verbs and Verbals
Course: English Grammar Review