Action verbs, also called dynamic verbs, express an action whether it be physical or mental. An action verb explains what the subject of the sentence is doing or has done. Looking at examples helps make it clear the function of action verbs in sentences and what purpose they serve.
Common Action Verbs
There are endless action verbs used in the English language. An action verb can express something that a person, animal or even object can do. To determine if a word is an action verb, look at the sentence and ask yourself if the word is describing something someone can do or something someone can be or feel. If it is something they can do, then it is an action verb (if it is something they can be or feel, it is a non-action, or stative, verb).
Below is a list of commonly used action verbs:
Examples of Action Verbs in Sentences
The following are examples of how action verbs are used in sentences, keep in mind that you can use more than one action verb in a sentence. The action verb is underlined in each sentence. Remember that action verbs don't have to describe movement; the action can be mental.
- Anthony is throwing the football.
- She accepted the job offer.
- He thought about his stupid mistake in the test.
- John visited his friend for a while and then went home.
- The dog ran across the yard.
- She left in a hurry.
- She yelled when she hit her toe.
- The cat sat by the window.
- I will learn to play the guitar this year.
- He hit a home run at the last game.
- In the summer, we will swim in our pool.
- Will you help me with the laundry?
- He rode his new bike around the block for hours.
- The horse trotted along the trail.
- We ate dinner then walked around the park.
- Did you fix the mistake in your homework?
- She waited for her friend at the mall.
- She lay down on the couch and slept there all night.
- Close the door!
- The bird sings a cheery song every morning.
- The teacher reads a book to her students then asks them questions about the story.
- The roof on the house leaks.
- The lightning struck the tree.
- They bought a new house.
Action Verb Tenses
What separates action verbs from non-action verbs (stative verbs) is that they can be used in continuous tenses, meaning they have a present, past and future tense. The following are examples:
Action verb: eat
Present: I eat when I am hungry.
Past: She ate dinner last night at six.
Future: We will eat lunch tomorrow at noon.
Action verb: swim
Present: We swim when it is hot outside.
Past: Last week, we swam in the pool.
Future: We will be swimming at the lake next month.
Action verb: sleep
Present: The baby sleeps in the nursery.
Past: She slept all night.
Future: We will be sleeping in tents at summer camp.
Action verb: play
Present: The kids play basketball at recess.
Past: We played the last game on Monday.
Future: The girls will be playing at the park this weekend.
The Importance of Action Verbs
Action verbs are used to deliver important information in a sentence, and add impact and purpose. These verbs play an vital role in grammar and signals to the reader what action the subject is performing in the sentence. Now that you’re familiar with action verbs you can practice further with YourDictionary’s action verb worksheets.
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Action Verb Examples
By YourDictionaryAction verbs, also called dynamic verbs, express an action whether it be physical or mental. An action verb explains what the subject of the sentence is doing or has done. Looking at examples helps make it clear the function of action verbs in sentences and what purpose they serve.
Verbs have traditionally been defined as words that show action or state of being.
Verbs can also sometimes be recognized by their position in a sentence.
In the following two sentence frames, only a verb can be put into the empty slot.
NOUN __________ THERE ________ NOUN
Often, prefixes and suffixes (affixes) will signify that a word is a verb. For example, the suffixes-ify, -ize, -ate, or -en usually signify that a word is a verb, as in typify, characterize, irrigate, and sweeten. Prefixes such as be-, de-, or en- may signify that a word is a verb, as in bestow,dethrone, and encourage.
These affixes, often inconsistent from verb to verb, are called derivational affixes. Added to a word, they either change the word's part of speech
or change the word's meaning
The base form of a verb is derived from the verbÂ’s infinitive: to + verb
Four suffixes consistently added to a verbÂ’s base create all forms of a verb used in all tenses:
1. -s creates 3rd person singular / present tense (He talks.)
2. -ing creates the present participle / used with be (He is talking.)
3. -ed creates the simple past (He talked.)
4. -en creates the past participle / used with have (He has talked.)
The -en verb ending used with a form of to have as an auxiliary is generally written -ed, as in has talked.
Unlike the derivational affixes, these inflectional suffixes are consistently used with all verbs, even though their form may look different from verb to verb.
Because many verbs in English are irregular; as result, their Â–ed and/or Â–en endings may not follow any obvious pattern.
Smith writes short stories at home. (-s ending)
Smith is writing short stories at home. (-ing ending)
Smith wrote short stories at home. (-ed ending)
Smith has writtenshort stories at home. (-en ending)
Jones buys a newspaper each day. (-s ending)
Jones is buying a newspaper today. (-ing ending)
Jones bought a newspaper yesterday. (-ed ending)
Jones has bought newspapers every day. (-en ending)
Students go to the library often. (-s ending)
Students are going to the library often. (-ing ending)
Students went to the library often. (-ed ending)
Students have gone to the library often. (-en ending)
The majority of verbs are regular and consistently use -ed and -en to form their simple past tense and past participles. (e.g. talked, has talked)
Many verbs are irregular, however, and follow no consistent pattern in creating their -ed and/or -enforms. A list of the major irregular verbs is shown below.
Past (-ed form)
Past Participle (-en form)
awakened OR awoke
dived OR dove
got OR gotten
shrank OR shrunk
shrunk OR shrunken
sank OR sunk
sprang OR sprung
stank OR stunk
woke OR waked
woken OR waked
A verb phrase is defined as the main verb together with all its auxiliaries (helping verbs).
Auxiliary verbs always precede the main verb.
There are two types of auxiliary verbs:
1. Inflected auxiliary verbs:
2. Modal auxiliaries (considered more fully under (auxiliary verbs)