What are verbs?

June 1, 2010pdf

Read the following sentences:

  • Mother cooks dinner.
  • Children play in the park.
  • Barking dogs seldom bite.

In the sentences given above, the words in bold text are used to say something about a person or a thing. They say what a person or a thing does. These words are called verbs. Now read the following sentences.

  • We have two hands and two legs.
  • She is a good girl.

Here the verbs have and is show what a person has or is. These words are also called verbs. Thus we have seen that a verb is a word which shows what a person or a thing is, has or does. The verb may also express what happens or is done to the person or thing.

The thief was beaten. (Here the verb was beaten shows what happens to the thief.)

A verb may consist of more than one word. Some verbs may consist of as many as four words.

  • It is raining.
  • It has been raining.
  • It rains.

Transitive and intransitive verbs

Verbs that take an object are called transitive verbs.

  • She heard a noise. (subject – she, verb – heard, object – a noise)
  • He saw a pigeon. (Subject – he, verb – saw, object – a pigeon)
  • The girlĀ  plucked the flower. (Subject – the girl, verb – plucked, object – the flower)
  • The master beat the dog. (subject – the master, verb – beat, object – the dog)

Some verbs do not take an object after them. These are called intransitive verbs. Examples are: smile, sit, sleep, cry, laugh, dance etc.

  • The baby smiled. (Here the verb smiled is intransitive because it has no object.)
  • The child cried. (Here the verb cried is intransitive because it has no object.)
  • He sat on the bed. (Here the verb sat is intransitive because it has no object.)

Note that most verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively.

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