What Is a Verb and Its Types, Forms, and Tenses?

What is a verb? Verbs are an integral part of our daily lives, from the everyday activities we carry out to the more business-oriented tasks and responsibilities which form a regular occurrence. In their most basic form, verbs provide us with a way of communicating our actions and needs; for example, speaking, reading, and writing are methods of communication. Find out what a verb is, its different forms, types, and more in this article.

What Is a Verb?

So, if you are asked, “what is a verb?” What would be your answer? A verb is a part of speech that expresses action, occurrence, or state of being. 

Verbs can take various forms depending on their purpose. In some sentences, verbs indicate what the nouns are doing or being. Additionally, verbs can have tenses that help identify when something takes place. You can also add prefixes and suffixes to verbs to create different meanings.

Expert Tip: When using verbs in writing, you should ensure that it “agrees” with the subject. For instance, if you use a singular verb, you should have a singular subject. This rule is called subject-verb agreement. 

Verb Types

Ai Verbtypes

Verbs are one of the main parts of speech in English, used widely in writing or communication. Different types of verbs play different roles.

Intransitive Verbs

These verbs do not require a direct object for their completion. They require only the subject to act and do not indicate any movement from one point to another. You may use them to describe states or conditions, such as “to feel.” Intransitive verbs cannot have an object follow them.

Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs show a direct relationship between two components. Examples include action words such as “give,” “take,” “send,” etc. In addition, these verbs imply some movement and transfer of information or action from the subject to the verb’s object. 

A key attribute of transitive verbs is that they must always have an object attached. Without them, their sentences will sound incomplete. Consequently, you can use them to create smoother transitions from one paragraph to another.

Linking Verbs

A linking verb ties together a subject and its predicate. It expresses existence, identity, location, or a state of being. Some linking verbs you may want to use are “am,” “is,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “would be,” and other variations of those words. Other forms of linking verbs often come in as action or sense verbs.

Action Verbs

Action verbs or physical action verbs indicate a sense of purpose and energy, allowing you to convey that something is taking place. For example, organizing, reviewing, or evaluating. You can even use them to highlight accomplishments. Finally, they provide specificity as it relates to time frames or deadlines.

Helping Verbs

table showing helping verbs

Helping verbs support the principal verb to express tense and mood. You may also use them to denote other grammatical functions, such as negation or emphasis. Common auxiliary verbs include ‘be,’ ‘do,’ and ‘have.’ They will show whether an action is happening now, has finished, will take place in the future, or is hypothetical. You can incorporate them when using modal verbs such as can, must, and should. You may use them with the main verbs to illustrate the activity happening within a sentence.

For example: 

  • I can go outside. “Can” indicates possibility rather than certainty.

Stative Verbs

table showing different types of stative verbs

Stative verbs such as “be,” “possess,” and “seem” describe a state of being rather than an action. They denote states that usually cannot change over time. Because of their formality, you can use them in business and professional writing contexts.

Modal Verbs

Picture showing different modal verbs

Modal verbs indicate the speaker’s attitude toward the action being expressed. They modify other verbs to express probability, obligation, permission, willingness, and ability. You can also use them to change the form of other verbs to represent various tenses. 

Modal verbs also express nuances such as possibility or certainty, ensuring that conversations remain respectful.

Phrasal Verbs

table showing different phrasal verbs.

Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and one or two particles. These particles can be prepositions, adverbs, or adverbial particles. In addition, they alter the verb’s meaning in a way that single words cannot. Some commonly used phrasal verbs such as “look into” (investigate), “call off” (cancel), and “carry out” (execute).

Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs do not form the past tense or the -ed form of the verb by simply adding -d or -ed to the end of it. Most irregular verbs follow no particular pattern when conjugated and must be memorized.

Verb Forms

table showing verb tenses.

Verb forms are verb conjugations that indicate the number, person, gender, tense, aspect, mood, and voice of a particular action or state. Depending on the language and grammar, verb forms may be complex and vary greatly.

Expert Tip: When changing the verb form, it is called a verb conjugation.


They express an action or a state that is either happening in the present, has recently happened, or will happen soon. Present verbs come in many forms, including the simple present simple, present continuous/progressive, and present perfect.

The simple present tense verb expresses habitual or repeated events and does not indicate when the action happens, like other verb tenses. The present continuous/progressive tense conveys actions that are taking place right now – mainly emphasizing the continuation of an ongoing action. 

Lastly, the present perfect verb signals an event started in the past but influences how we feel now – linking past experiences to their current effects. 

All three forms of present verbs have unique purposes that should be leveraged depending on the circumstances to properly communicate with one’s audience.


Past verb forms are a vital component of the English language and are used to refer to actions that have occurred in the past. Depending on their base form, they can be conjugated into regular or irregular forms. 

Regular forms follow a predictable pattern to indicate simple past tense (e.g., talk > talked). In contrast, irregular forms must be memorized as they do not conform to any underlying rule or pattern (e.g., write > wrote). 

Expert Tip: The importance of mastering and properly recognizing and using past verb forms cannot be understated – proper grammar is vital for successful communication between speakers of all levels, both professionally and personally.

Present Participle

Present participle verb forms express an ongoing action or state and typically include ‘-ing’ at the end of the verb. Professional writing often utilizes present participle verbs to create more vivid and accurate descriptions emphasizing events’ dynamic nature. It can also create smoother transitions between ideas or sentences in a long-form document by linking them with this versatile part of speech. 

Using present participle verbs correctly can also strengthen a professional’s authority, conferring a sense of confidence in their assertions and level of knowledge.

Past Participle

Past participle verb forms express an action that has already been completed. For example, “to have written” or “to have done” indicate that a task was completed in the past. These verb forms are frequently used when constructing the perfect tenses of English, such as using the present perfect tense (as in “I have written”) or the past perfect tense (as in “I had written”). In addition, certain irregular verbs will use unique past participle verb forms instead of adding “-ed,” as with regular verbs; for instance, “eaten,” not “eaten,” is the past participle form of “to eat.” To ensure proper usage, it is crucial to become familiar with all common past participle verb forms.

Verb Voice

Verb voice is a grammatical feature that refers to whether the subject of a sentence performs or receives the action expressed by the verb. This can be either active (whereby the subject performs the action) or passive (in which case, the subject receives or is affected by it). 

In certain situations, changing the verb voice can help clarify and make sentences sound more professional. For example, rather than saying, “the form was filled out incorrectly,” it might be better to say, “John filled out the form incorrectly.” 

Expert Tip: Understanding, identifying, and properly using verb voices are essential for effective communication in casual and professional contexts.

Active Voice

picture showing an active voice sentence structure with an example

Active voice is a writing style where the subject of a sentence acts. This differs from passive voice, where the subject receives the action. With active voice, verbs usually appear in their infinitive form, and the sentence structure tends to be more concise and direct. 

Expert Tip: Using active voice creates a more readable and engaging piece that professional writers should strive for when composing any content. 

By avoiding passive phrasing, sentences become shorter and more understandable while making points clearer, thus improving clarity. Active voice can also strengthen message delivery and reader comprehension within professional writing pieces.

Passive Voice

picture showing an passive voice sentence structure with an example

Passive voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb, as opposed to being the one acting. You can use passive verbs to effectively direct attention away from the subject and onto other elements of a sentence and add emphasis to certain parts of a statement.

Expert Tip: Passive voice in formal writing allows for more objectivity than active voice. However, this tool must be applied judiciously, as overuse may contribute to unclear writing or make your point challenging to comprehend.

Verb Mood

ohoto showing the different types of verb mood with examples.

Verb mood is a grammatical feature of a language that can express a person’s attitude, such as potential, intention, wish, or demand. It indicates the subject’s attitude toward the sentence’s action. There are three main verb moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. 

The indicative form expresses facts, certainty, or opinion; the imperative form expresses requests or commands; the subjunctive form expresses doubt or necessity.

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