The English language functions through the use of various parts of speech. This list includes nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. But what are verbs? Are those essential to writing?
The short answer is, yes, verbs are a crucial part of speech that you cannot ignore in writing.
Just like you add sugar to cookies and expect them to turn out sweet and delicious, verbs are a vital ingredient to writing.
There are many kinds of verbs, and it is essential to understand the key differences to become a more persuasive writer. This guide will outline all of the different types of verbs, and also provide a list of commonly used verbs to help jumpstart your writing.
What are Verbs?
Verbs are parts of speech that demonstrate action in writing. In short, verbs keep the text moving.
Verbs fall into two different categories: action and non-action.
Action verbs, aka dynamic verbs, describe an action. Whether it is physical or mental, these verbs add movement to writing. An action verb explains what the subject (or person) in the sentence is doing (or has done).
There are many action verbs in the English language (what can we say, we’re busy people!). Action verbs are not limited to what people are doing, but can also include what animals and objects are doing (for example, the computer turned on).
Here is a list of commonly used actions verbs:
Transitive verbs are action verbs that have a noun attached to it. For example, read + book or dance + off would be examples of transitive verbs. Intransitive verbs are action verbs that cannot connect directly to a noun. They need the help of a preposition to work.Action verbs fall into two different subcategories transitive and intransitive verbs.
Quick English Lesson! Remember, a preposition is a word that describes interacting with something. I always remembered a preposition was any word that you could do to a box (i.e., through the box, over the box, in the box, etc.).
Intransitive verbs include sat out of the game, hit over the fence, etc.
Non-action verbs do not relate to actions (duh). These words, instead, represent a state of being, need, opinion, sense, or preference.
This includes “be” verbs (such as am, are, was, were, is, etc.). Non-action words also include the five senses.
Here are some examples of non-action verbs:
Non-action verbs have two subcategories: to be verbs and linking verbs.
The to be verb is the most irregular verb in the English language. It is a linking verb to show the existence or condition of the subject.
The easiest way to determine if you need to use a to be verb is to invert the sentence. For example, “Are you the funniest person in the class? I am” demonstrates the need for a to be verb (I am the funniest person in class).
The forms of the verb to be in English are as follows:
|Present||am, is, are|
The final type of non-action verbs is linking verbs. Linking verbs are the verbs that link the subject to more information about the subject. They are non-action words but still connect with the rest of the sentence.
Here is a list of the most common linking verbs (that are always linking verbs):
- all forms of to be (am, is, are, was, were, has been, are being, might be, etc.)
- to become
- to seem
A Note About Auxiliary Verbs
There is one final, random type of verb that is called an auxiliary verb. The auxiliary verb, aka helping verb hooks up with main verbs to show different tenses and conditions.
Auxiliary verbs are especially helpful when the verb tense changes in a sentence, “When I arrived at the restaurant, he had not ordered yet.”
How are Verbs Used to Improve Writing?
Is a verb so important that using them effectively actually improves writing? Yes! When you understand verbs, you can tighten up your writing to have the most significant impact in the fewest words. Here are a few tips on how to use verbs to improve writing:
Lose the Adverbs
Whenever possible, replace an adverb with a verb. Remember, adverbs are verbs that end in -ly. Adverbs can make your writing seem softer when it should be more direct. For example, “I passionately pursued a degree in accounting” isn’t as strong as, “I pursued a degree in accounting.”
At some point in my education, I came to learn that the extra words that we use in writing to make it sound fluffier and better are called “snow.” Snow is all about volume, and it’s measured in inches and feet, there are millions of little snowflakes that make up a snowstorm. But, what good is snow on a 75º day? None, it melts off, and you’re left with the bare bones of the land around you.
Snow in writing is similar. It can take away from the intended meaning while appearing pretty on the outside. You lose sight of the intended message with fancy to be verbs.
When reviewing your writing, look for places that you can eliminate “is,” “was,” “are,” and “were” to make your copy more direct.
How Can I Become a Better Writer?
The English language is a complex little beast. You can see it everywhere from how certain letters change the phonetic sound of the word, to when you can use passive voice, and even when you should capitalize letters.
Thinking about ways to help your child become a stronger writer can be intimidating. There are millions of resources available, but unfortunately, they’re not always guaranteed to help improve the understanding of the content that is required to become a strong writer.
ArgoPrep has created a fool-proof system guaranteed to drive results. From understanding the grammar and mechanics of the English language to selecting the correct usage from a list, your child will begin to understand the rules of the English language more clearly.
Plus, they will be getting highly applicable (and engaging) practice that will help them improve their scores on standardized tests like the ACT.
Run, spring, and act now! (all action verbs!) and grab a workbook today!
Confession time! I am of the lucky generation that thrived on after-school specials and high-quality t.v. That was always better with some Dunkeroos and a Skip-it! Break.
I’m a child of the ’90s, okay!? In addition to big hair, bright prints, and cellphones in bags, the ’90s also provided kids with the easiest way to remember verbs. The Verb campaign was geared towards getting kids up and moving, but for me, it offered the easiest way to remember what verbs function in language was.
It’s true! Even well into my adulthood, “Verbs! It’s what you do” is the simplest and most straightforward definition I can depend on.