Is “Is” a Verb?

“Is is a verb?” is a question  that may remind you of the famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet “To be or not to be.” Because, in this case, “be” is a verb. And therefore, yes, the word “is” is a verb. In the next paragraphs to follow, you may have an understanding of why we came to that answer.

What Is a Verb?

To keep it simple, a verb is an action word used in a sentence. Actions can involve nouns to describe what is happening. Such as:

  • Lisa jumps on the trampoline.
  • He ran through the field.
  • She shops at the grocery store.

There are different types of verbs. Let’s take a look at the following sentences: 

  • Verbs can even be stand-alone sentences like “Drive!” or “Smile!” this is called an intransitive verb.
  • Transitive verbs can be expressions that affect someone or something else, like “push” or “embrace.”
  • Modal verbs are used to express abilities like “can,” “must,” “should,” etc.
  • Stative verbs can be a state of emotion like “doubt” or “believe.”

Fun Fact: Using the correct verb form or type of verb with your subject is called subject-verb agreement. 

So, Is the Word “Is” a Verb

Yes, the word “is” is indeed a verb. Some people mistake it as another part of speech because it doesn’t perform any action. Instead, it functions as a linking verb and an auxiliary verb. Moreover, the word “is” is the state of being a verb, meaning it is the third-person singular present or singular form of “to be,” the most common verb you use in writing or speaking the English language. 

You’ll find the word “is” used with singular subject pronouns and non-countable nouns or collective nouns. 

Let’s look at “is” in all its forms:

  • I am. First-person, singular present.
  • You are. Second-person, singular present.
  • She is. Third-person, singular present.

These are all examples of the verb “be,” and we can look at it the same way when we describe an action.

  • I sang the song
  • You sang the song
  • She sang the song

Can be compared to:

  • I am (singing)
  • You are (singing)
  • She is (singing)

You may be thinking that “is” isn’t directly a verb. And yes, because it doesn’t necessarily follow the same rules as other verbs and doesn’t describe actions. The next section may convince you that “is” is a verb.

Linking Verb

A linking verb can is when you connect a subject to its complement or description. 

An example of a linking verb is “The water looks blue.” But if you replace “look” with “is” then it would be “The water is blue.” Therefore, “is” is linking the noun to the “complement.”

More examples include:

  • George is sick
  • He is twelve years old. 
  • He is very good. 
  • The car is bright red. 
  • My cat is a tabby. 

Helping Verb

As mentioned earlier, you can also use the word “is” as a helping verb or also known as an auxiliary verb. When you make “is” a helping verb, you are connecting it to an action in a sentence.

For instance, if you combine it with a present participle of the main verb (a suffixed form with -ing ending), you create a present these or present progressive tense statement.  

  •  He is running late.
  • Jane is playing with her friends. 
  • The cat is playing with her kittens. 
  • He is traveling to school. 
  • She is dancing. 

Fun Fact: If the main verb and helping verb work together, you will call it a “verb phrase.”

Other Words in Question

WordYes/NoExplanation
Is will a verb?Yes“Will” is essentially a modal verb that can also be used as a helping verb, like “Babies will cry.”
Is look a verb?Yes“Look” can be used as a verb, such as “Let’s look over there!”
Is am a verb? Yes“Am” is part of “is” and “be” which are used in a singular present tense that is also a linking verb or a helping verb.
Is had a verb?Yes“Had” is a verb and can be used as a helping verb such as, “She had brought the cake to the party.”
Is eat a verb?Yes“Eat” is a verb because it indicates an action like, “I eat an apple every day.”
Is need a verb? Yes“Need” can be a stative verb because it expresses emotion rather than an action, such as, “We need water to survive.”
Is did a verb? Yes“Did” is the past tense of “do” and can be used as an action verb like “She did well on the exam.”
Is it a verb?NoNo, “it” is a pronoun that can be used as a subject, “It is wonderful.”
Is would a verb?Yes“Would” is a modal verb and can be used in this type of sentence, “We would if you instruct as.”
Is could a verb?Yes“Could” is a modal verb that can be used, like, “Could you bring the umbrella?”
Is his a verb?No“His” is a pronoun. Here it is in a sentence, “He was minding his own business.”

Final Thoughts

As you have read through all the explanations and examples, we hope you are convinced that the word “is” is a verb. There are many uses for “is,” whether it’s a linking verb or a helping verb. 

Just a reminder, “is” can be used in many tenses and can describe actions, adjectives, and nouns. Keep this in mind as you form your sentences as it “is.” If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.


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