Verbs in English language

This course introduces the learner to the verbs of the English language, their usage, forms and  peculiarities.

Verb as a part of speech

What is a verb?

Let's begin the course with the definition of the word "verb" : a verb is a word that expresses an action or a state of being. For example :

  • I read the newspaper
  • He likes ice cream
  • You are a doctor

However, all three words are verbs, they still differ : while "to read" and "to like" express the actions, while the second-person singular of the verb "to be"(are) expresses the state of being. Proceeding from the definition, it's clear that there exist at least two main categories of verbs, and they are called action verbs and linking verbs. But there's one more category - auxiliary verbs. These are the verbs that bear no meaning and help build the analytical forms of other verbs. For example 

  • He will be here in a few minutes
  • I have decided to take a day off

Classification of verbs

English verbs are classified in many ways :

1. Transitive and intransitive verbs : 

  • Transitive verbs are those verbs which require an object to complete their meaning. For example : He's reading a book. What is she reading? - A book, that is the object of the sentence.
  • Intransitive verbs are the verbs which require no object to stay meaningful. For example : The boy fell. One may ask when he fell or where but you may not put the question to the object that's not required by this intransitive verb.

2. Finite and non-finite verbs :

  • Finite verbs are those verbs that depend on the number and person of the subject of the sentence and can be the main verbs of one. For example : I went to the cinema yesterday. The verb "to go" in the tense form is the predicate of the sentence.
  • Non-finite verbs are the three forms of English verb that are not limited by person, tense or number. They are gerund, infinitive and participles. Let's have a look at each form :
  1. Reading is my favourite pastime. The gerund form of the verb "to read" is the subject of the sentence.
  2. He began to speak. The infinitive of the verb "to speak" is a part of the compound verbal predicate of the sentence.
  3. He was taken to the hospital with a broken leg. Participle II of the verb "to break" is the attribute of the sentence.

3. Linking verbs :

        These are the verbs that connect the subject of the sentence with the complement and usually form the compound nominal predicate of the sentence. For example : I am a student. The linking verb to be is a part of the compound nominal predicate.


The three basic forms of English verb

Speaking about the basic forms of English verbs, we distinguish five of them :

  1. The base form of the verb is the so-called "bare infinitive" that means it's the infinitive without particle "to". This form is used to form Present Simple for all the persons except third-person singular, Future Simple, interrogative and negative sentences in Past Simple. For example : . We walk along the seaside every morning. 
  2. The -s form of the verb is the bare infinitive with -s that is the suffix of the third-person singular. This form is used to form Present Simple for the third-person singular. For example : She always learns the rules by heart.
  3. The -ing form of the verb is used to form all the Continuous Tenses for all the persons, gerund, and the present participle. For example : I am writing her a message at the moment.
  4. The past form of the verb is used to form Past Simple tense. For example : He caught the criminal single-handedly.
  5. The past participle of the verb is used to form all the Perfect Tenses and to form the passive voice in all the tenses where it's possible. For example : He had left home long before she returned from her vacation.


  • A verb is a word that expresses an action or a state of being.
  • A verb is a word that identifies a person, animal, etc.

Regular and irregular verbs

The principles of the division of English verbs

When a new learner comes up to this topic, that's considered the most difficult by the beginners, he or she always tries to cram everything without any understanding. On the one hand, it's right because there's no single pattern that one could use to build the past form and the participle II of English verbs. On the other hand, when one scans through just another table he or she finds out that there're some words that form their past forms in a similar way. 

So, let's get to the point. As you might already know, English verbs are divided into two main gropus : regular and irregular verbs. While the irregular ones are difficult and illogical for the beginners, the regular group is much easier because they form their past form in the same way. Always. Let's have a look at the way they form their past forms, for example the word "to look" :

look - looked - looked

As you see, the only thing that's changed is this ending -ed that is added in the past form and the participle II. It's worth mentioning that the majority of English verbs form their past forms this way.

Irregular verbs

As for irregular verbs, they are more difficult for the beginner and they demand that the learner should learn them by heart. Of course, there're some words that have the same patter according to which they form their past forms, for example : 

  • become - became - become
  • come - came - come 
  • run - ran - run

Also, there're some words that do not change both spelling and pronunciation and the words that change one of these aspects. For example :

  • let - let - let
  • read - read - read
  • hit - hit - hit

The other verbs that don't come within any pattern can only be learnt by heart and remembered through constant repetition. I suppose that you might have found a few tables of these verbs so far and the only thing I can do to help you learn them is to offer another one. Have a look at it and try to work this way : every day choose a few words and learn them and gradually you will learn all of them.


  • Irregular verbs always form their past forms by adding the ending -ed
  • Irregular verbs always form their past forms in different way and there's no single rule they comply with


Thanks for using the course!

Well, I hope that during this short course you've learnt something new about English verbs or just recollected the things you already knew. Despite devoting too little time to its creation, I tried to do it as instructive as possible. Thanks for your attention and. I wish you good luck in learning the language!