Grammar Lesson: The Verb: The Fourth Part of Speech

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Apr 24, 2014

The verb, the fourth of the eight parts of speech, is an action word. Since all good writing starts with strong verbs, this part of speech is very important.

The three basic types of verbs are the following:

Note: To tell the difference between an action verb and a linking verb, substitute a form of the verb be. If the new sentence seems logical, the verb that you replaced is probably a linking verb.

  • The action verb tells what action the sentence's subject (or doer) performs, is performing, has performed, or will perform.
    • Our lawyer speaks frequently with her clients.
    • This lawyer has spoken with some clients this week.
    • These attorneys will be speaking soon.
  • The linking verb connects (or links) a subject (or doer) to a noun, pronoun, or adjective in the sentence. The words that follow a linking verb answer the question "What?"
    • Common linking verbs are am, is, are, was, be, being, appear, grow, seem, smell, stay, taste, turn, sound, remain, look, feel, and become.
    • These chickens are hungry.
    • Selena is the club president.
    • Sylvia sounded the alarm. (action verb)
    • Sylvia sounded nervous. (linking verb)
  • The helping verb assists the main verb in a sentence. One or more helping verbs can assist the main verb. If a sentence is a question, answer the question, and the helping verb will precede the main verb.
    • This mechanic will repair the auto this morning.
    • These mechanics will be inspecting the auto this afternoon.
    • Has the mechanic spoken with you yet?


Is it an action, linking, or helping verb?

Indicate the action verbs by writing A on the line before the sentence. Do the same for the linking verbs (L) and the helping verbs (H). There are at least three examples of each of these verbs within these fifteen sentences.

  1. Last night's audience members seemed more enthusiastic than tonight's audience members.
  2. Warren is going to ask his sister for some advice.
  3. Can you remember your teacher's first name?
  4. This talented surfer rode the wave all the way to the shore.
  5. Since Vicki had not eaten much today, her dinner tasted especially delicious.
  6. The doctor examined each patient twice.
  7. Hustle to first base, Charles!
  8. My niece quickly grew bored with the dull cartoon.
  9. Much of the required information will be reviewed during the three-week course.
  10. Listen to exactly what the director is telling you.
  11. Hear what I have to say.
  12. This is the correct answer.
  13. Greta felt tired after the grueling boot camp exercises.
  14. Each of these fifteen doctors was interviewed by the county health officials.
  15. Will you be able to help me move these books today?


Sentences 4, 6, 7, 10, and 11 include action verbs.

Sentences 1, 5, 8, 12, and 13 include linking verbs.

Sentences 2, 3, 9, 14, and 15 include helping verbs.

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