Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: verb from The Penguin English Dictionary

a word that characteristically is the grammatical centre of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, e.g. run, give, be, have [Middle English verbe via French from Latin verbum word, verb].


Summary Article: verb
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Grammatical part of speech for what someone or something does, experiences, or is. Verbs are of crucial importance to the construction of the sentence. The rules governing the correct use and spelling of verbs are complex, involving consideration of number, voice, mood, aspect, and tense.

Verbs can be categorized as ‘main’ and auxiliary. A verb may be formed from a noun or an adjective by adding an affix (or prefix).

Sentence analysis involves a detailed study of verb forms, including infinitive, transitive, intransitive, modal, regular, and phrasal verbs.

Some words function as both nouns and verbs (as in walk, run), as both adjectives and verbs (as in clean, ready), and as nouns, adjectives, and verbs (as in fancy). The range and flexibility of English verbs encourages their use in metaphorical expressions and other figures of speech.

Types of verb A transitive verb takes a direct object (‘He saw the house’).

An intransitive verb has no object (‘She laughed’).

An auxiliary or helping verb is used to express tense and/or mood (‘He was seen’; ‘They may come’).

A modal verb or modal auxiliary generally shows only mood; common modals are may/might, will/would, can/could, shall/should, must.

The infinitive of the verb usually includes to (to go, to run, and so on), but may be a bare infinitive (for example, after modals, as in ‘She may go’).

A regular verb forms tenses in the normal way (I walk: I walked: I have walked); irregular verbs do not (swim: swam: swum; put: put: put; and so on). Because of their conventional nature, regular verbs are also known as weak verbs, while some irregular verbs are strong verbs with special vowel changes across tenses, as in swim: swam: swum and ride: rode: ridden.

A phrasal verb is a construction in which a particle attaches to a usually single-syllable verb (for example, put becoming put up, as in ‘He put up some money for the project’, and put up with, as in ‘I can't put up with this nonsense any longer’).

essays

Parts of Speech – Verbs and Adverbs

memjoggers

parts of speech

weblinks

Subject–Verb Agreement

Verbs

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article verb
Philip's Encyclopedia

Linguistic category (part of speech) found in all languages, consisting of words typically denoting an action, an event or a state (for example,...

Full text Article verb
Word Origins

[14 century] Latin verbum originally meant simply ‘word’ (a sense preserved in English verbal [15], verbiage [18], and verbose [17]);...

See more from Credo