Tyoes of Verbs

Types of Verbs in English with Examples

It would interest you to know that of all the English Parts of Speech, Verb is the most versatile and most dynamic. In some context, we can use it to represent a whole sentence like you have in: Go! Sit! Get out! There are different types of verbs in English and this post specifically examines nine (9) different types you need to know. Some of these nine types also have subtypes. Read on as we look at each type closely!

NOTE: You can watch the stimulating video lecture on the various Types of Verbs on Akademia EduConsult. 

Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs are verbs that indicate the transference of an action from the subject to the object. They are verbs that admit direct objects. Examples include:

  • He killed a goat.
  • We shall conclude the matter.
  • I bought a car.
  • The girl broke a plate.
  • She will tell her life story.

Intransitive Verbs

These are verbs that do not accommodate direct objects. In other words, the action in the sentence rests solely with the subject (performer). Consider these examples:

  • The man died.
  • He laughs at himself. (‘at himself’ is an adverbial, not an object)
  • The door closed
  • The tapper climbed the tree steadily.
  • The baby slept
  • My leg hurts.
  • Rain fell
  • The illness worsened.
  • Time will tell.
  • Things improved in Nigeria.
  • Her tooth aches

Finite Verbs

Finite verbs are verbs that can indicate tense, aspect, agreement and mood. They are verbs whose forms are tied to the subject of the sentence. In other words, they are limited in their manifestations. If the subject of the sentence changes, the finite verbs will necessarily change. Examples include:

  • The man visits us every day.
  • The men visit us every day.
  • She comes home regularly.
  • We come home regularly.

In the examples above, you will observe that once the subject changes the verb form also changes. That is why they are finite verbs.

Non-Finite Verb

Non-Finite verbs are verbs that cannot indicate tense, aspect, agreement and mood. They are verbs whose forms are NOT tied to the subject of the sentence. In other words, they are NOT limited in their manifestations. If the subject of the sentence changes, the non-finite verbs will still retain their forms and will not change. Non-finite usually have three (3) forms of identification. These include:

The progressive (‘ing’) form of the verb

These include verbs such as: going, visiting, playing, coming, dancing, running, sitting, standing, etc. Consider these examples:

  • They are visiting us tomorrow.
  • They were visiting last year when they were arrested.
  • He is visiting the governor as we speak.
  • She should be visiting Canada next year.

Note that the form of the verb ‘visiting’ did not change in all the sentences even when the subjects and the tenses changed.

The perfective (‘ed’/’en’) form of the verb

These include verbs such as: visited, expected, taken, stolen, eaten, shouted, padded, etc. Look at these examples:

  • It has stolen the fish.
  • The cats had stolen the fish.
  • The governor was expected in the morning.
  • The policemen were expected to be available.
  • We/They/You have eaten dinner.
  • She had eaten dinner before she slept.

Note that the forms of the verbs ‘stolen’, ‘expected’ and ‘eaten’ did not change in all the sentences even when the subjects and the tenses changed.

The infinitive (to+verb) form of the verb

The infinitive includes verbs such as: to eat, to sleep, to dance, to stand, to greet, to go, to draw, to pay, to collect, to travel, to sit, etc.

In the examples below, you will observe that the verb in the infinitive form did not change in form even when the subject changed:

  • To play in the rain is what the children want.
  • What she can do is to see the captain
  • To swim in the pool is what she wants.
  • What they can do is to see the minister.
  • To eat lunch is desirable now for him.
  • To go home is what we want.

Dynamic Verbs

Dynamic verbs are verbs that indicate action and verbs that can admit the progressive form.

Five Types of Dynamic Verbs

There are five (5) types of verbs under the Dynamic verb. They are self-explanatory from their names. They are:

  1. Activity Verbs: abandon, ask, buy, call, drink, eat, help, drive, shout, etc.
  2. Process Verbs: change, deteriorate, grow, mature, widen, develop, etc.
  3. Verbs of Bodily sensation: ache, feel, itch, hurt, burn, tingle, shock, etc.
  4. Transitional Event Verbs: arrive, die, fall, land, live, lose, etc.
  5. Momentary Verbs: hit, jump, kick, knock, nod, tap, prod, jab, etc.

Stative/State Verbs

These verbs usually do not admit the progressive form.

Two Types of Stative/State Verbs

There are two (2) types; they are:

  1. Verbs of Inert Perception: abhor adore, astonish, believe, desire, detest, dislike, doubt, guess, hate, imagine, interest, know, love, like, etc.
  2. Relational Verbs: deserve, equal, include, contain, deceive, etc.

Intensive/Equative/Copular/Linking Verbs

These are verbs that link a subject and the complement that are equal to each other. In other words, any verb that links the subject to its complementation or attribute, that is, intensive complementation of the subject can be regarded as intensive, equative, copular or linking verb.

The ‘be’ form of the verb is the most common of this type. When any of them exists alone as a single verb element, the verb is ‘intensive complement’. E. g.

  • She is a prostitute.
  • He is a king.
  • I am the captain.

Equative verbs are also known as ‘linking verbs’, ‘copular verbs’ or ‘intensive verbs’.

Intensive verbs also show current attribute. Examples include: appear, feel, remain, seem, look, taste, smell, become, etc. Examples, as used in sentences, include:

  • He appears nice.
  • The air feels chilly.
  • She remains the leader.
  • They seem friendly.
  • The child looks unkempt.
  • The food tastes good.
  • It smells awful.
  • He became rich.

Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs are verbs that have as their direct objects reflexive pronouns. E. g.

  • He prides himself in his skill as a programmer.
  • She likes herself.
  • They shot themselves in the leg.
  • We sold ourselves into slavery.

Reciprocal Verbs

These are verbs that are used to convey the idea of reciprocity or a two-way relationship between the subject and the object in a sentence. Examples include:

  • He consults his father on every matter.
  • She embraced her husband.
  • I married my friend.
  • She meets her brother every weekend.

Having gone through all these types, let me inform you that there are yet other types of verbs. I explain these other types comprehensively in another post. Read more about regular verbs, irregular verbs and their categories.

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