Grammar Guide for Verbs

Verbs are at the heart of every sentence. In combination with nouns, they determine the different kinds of sentences - statements, questions, commands, and exclamations. The verb has grammatical properties of person and number, similar to nouns. This enables subject-verb agreement. Verbs also have grammatical properties that are not shared with any of part of speech. They express tense, voice, mood, and aspect.

VERB: a word that expresses an action or a state of being.

  • Action: walk, take, eat
  • State of being: am, is, are, was, were, will be


Verbs are classified by the kind of compliment they have. Because these types may cross over each other, a verb can belong to more than on type.

1. Predicating Verb: Actions, mental actions, and non-action verbs that are not linking verbs.

  • I wrote a list of things to buy.
  • The dog barked loudly.
  • I remember our old neighborhood.
  • She needs help with the laundry.
  • We have a new sofa.

2. Linking Verb: a verb that connects the subject with a noun or adjective. Usually this is a 'to be' verb or a verb describing the senses.

  • We are students.
  • She appears confused. 
  • The pizza tastes salty.  
Linking Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

    3. Transitive Verb: a verb that needs a direct object.

    • He threw a ball.
    • We bought pizza.
    • She gave the girl a present.
    Transitive Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

      4. Intransitive Verb: a verb that does not need an object.

      • They were laughing.
      • The dog jumped high.
      • He always runs in the morning.

      Intransitive Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

      Note: Some verbs are only transitive or intransitive, while other verbs are both.

      5. Reflexive Verb: requires one a pronoun compound with -self as its object.

      • She expresses herself through music.
      • He made it by himself.
      • (You) Decide for yourselves.

      6. Helping (Auxiliary) Verb: comes before the main verb and indicates tense, aspect, and or conditions. The first helping verb agrees with the subject in number. Be, have, and do verbs are common helping verbs. Will is used for the future tense and modals indicate other conditions. There are 23 helping verbs: am, is, are, was, were, being, been, be, have, has, had, do, does, did, can, could, will, would, shall, should, may, might, and must.

      • Be verb: She is playing outside.
      • Have verb: He has been reading for three hours.
      • Do verb: Does she feel well?
      • Will: It will be hot tomorrow.
      • Modal verb: I can drive a car.

      Helping Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

      Helping or Linking Verb Classroom Poster/Chart

        NOTE - BE Verbs, HAVE verbs, and DO verbs are also main verbs. They can be used alone and with auxiliary verbs.

        • Be Verb: He was a soccer player. I have been worried all day.
        • Have Verb: She has a bike. We are having a good time.
        • Do verb: They did their homework. I will do the dishes.

          7. Modal Verb: a subset of helping verbs that indicates conditions such as request, permission, ability, advice, obligation, and possibility. Modals do not show tense or agreement. There are nine modal verbs: can, could, will, would, shall, should, may, might, and must.

          • He will go the hospital.
          • May I go to Kay's house?
          • I must do my homework.

          Modal Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

          Types of Modal Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

          8. Semi-Modal Verb: are used to indicate conditions similar to modal verbs, but may also act a main verbs. These often are combined with 'to'. 

          • I would not dare to do that.
          • He needs to go home.
          • You ought to see a doctor.
          • They used to live next door to us.
          • She is going to text the directions.
          • We have to go now.
          Semi-Modal Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart


              9. Main Verb: indicates the action or state of being. It is can be used alone or may come after a helping verb in a statement.

              • We play soccer. They are playing outside.
              • I saw a yellow bird. Have you seen the yellow bird?
              • I have a pen. Do you have a pen? 
              • We go to the store on Saturday. We will go in five minutes.

              10. Regular Verb: a regular verb forms its past tense and past participle by adding the suffix -ed.

              • Base / Past / Past Participle
              • live, lived, have lived
              • laugh, laughed, have laughed
              • watch, watched, have watched

                A. Pronunciation of the Suffix -ed: has three different sounds. The final sound determines the sound of the suffix. This is challenging because verbs may end with a silent e.

                • Verbs that end with the /d/ or /t/ sounds add an unstressed syllable to the word pronounced /id/.
                  • add-ed, start-ed
                •  Verbs that end with voiceless consonant sounds add /t/ to the verb.
                  • cooked, helped, missed, fixed, watched
                • Verbs that end with the voiced consonants and vowels add /d/ to the verb.
                  • bagged, changed, filed, stayed
                Regular Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

                  11. Irregular Verb: an irregular verb does not form its past tense and past participle with the suffix -ed. These are taught using nine patterns.

                  • Base / Past / Past Participle: 
                  • am / is / are, was / were, been
                  • Pattern 1: cut, cut, have cut
                  • Pattern 2: tell, told, have told
                  • Pattern 3: think, thought, have thought
                  • Pattern 4: leave, left, have left
                  • Pattern 5: stand, stood, have stood
                  • Pattern 6: begin, began, have begun
                  • Pattern 7: know, knew, have known
                  • Pattern 8: eat, ate, have eaten
                  • Pattern 9: go, went gone

                  Irregular Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

                  Irregular Verb Patterns Classroom Poster/Chart

                      12. Phrasal Verb: a two-word or three-word verb that means something different than its parts. There are three ways to form phrasal verbs and three grammatical forms: separable, transitive, and intransitive. Phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning and grammatical form.

                      • back up = reverse                       Please back up your car.
                      • check out = borrow or examine  Check out my new computer.
                      • Verb + adverb: get up = stand
                      • Verb + preposition: get to = perform a task
                      • Verb + preposition + adverb: get way with = elude punishment
                      • Separable: Turn on the TV. Turn it on.
                      • Inseparable: They get on the bus every day.
                      • Intransitive: She came over to study.

                      Phrasal Verbs-Separable Classroom Poster/Chart

                      Phrasal Verbs - Inseparable Classroom Poster/Chart

                      Phrasal Verbs - Intransitive Classroom Poster/Chart

                      VERB TENSES

                      1. Tense: refers to the time of the action. English has two tenses, the present and past tense. The future tense is indicated by adding "will" before the verb.

                      Many grammar books in the U.S. use three tenses, whereas grammar books for teaching English as a foreign language use a six tense model. These include the past perfect, past, present perfect, present, future perfect, and future tense.

                      • Past: He walked home.
                      • Present: He walks home.
                      • Future: He will walk home.
                      • Past Perfect: I had walked to school. I had been walking.
                      • Past: I walked to school. I was walking to school.
                      • Present Perfect: I have walked to school for 2 years. I have been walking to school. 
                      • Present: I walk to school. I am walking to school. 
                      • Future Perfect: I will have walked. I will have been walking.
                      • Future: I will walk to school. I will be walking
                      2. Aspect: expresses a conditions. English has four aspect, simple, continuous / progressive, perfect and perfect continuous.
                      • Simple (verb): I walk to school. I walked to school. 
                      • Continuous (be + present participle): I am walking to school.
                      • Perfect (have + past participle): I have walked to school.
                      • Perfect continuous (have been + present participle): I have been walking to school for five years.

                      3. English Tenses: Many grammar curricula say that English has 12 tenses, while many EFL curricula list 16 tenses.

                      • Present Simple: I walk.
                      • Present Continuous: I am walking.
                      • Present Perfect: I have walked.
                      • Present Perfect Continuous: I have been walking.
                      • Past Simple: I walked.
                      • Past Continuous: I was walking.
                      • Past Perfect: I had walked.
                      • Past Perfect Continuous: I had been walking.
                      • Future Simple: I will walk.
                      • Future Continuous: I will be walking.
                      • Future Perfect: I will have walked.
                      • Future Perfect Continuous:  I will have been walking.

                      Simple Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

                      Continuous Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

                      Perfect Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart

                      Perfect Continuous Verbs Classroom Poster/Chart


                        A verbal is a verb form that acts as a different part of speech. Gerunds act as nouns; participles  act as adjectives; and infinites act as several parts of speech.

                        1. Gerund: a present participle (verb + ing) that is used as a noun.

                        • Subject: Skiing is a winter sport.
                        • Subject Complement: My favorite sport is biking.
                        • Direct Object: I like knitting.
                        • Object of a Preposition: I am afraid of flying.
                        Gerunds Classroom Poster/Chart

                          2. Infinitive: a verb preceded by "to". These can be used as adjective, adverb, subject, direct object, and subject complement.

                          • Adjective: I chose a landscape to paint.
                          • Adverb: We went there to see a show.
                          • Subject: To change can be difficult.
                          • Direct Object:  I want to go home.
                          • Subject Complement: My dream is to be a pilot.
                          Infinitives Classroom Poster/Chart

                             3. Participle (Participial Adjective): a verb form that is used as an adjective. It can be the present participle (verb + ing) or past participle (verb= ed) form. It modifies a noun or pronoun.  

                            • Is there a swimming pool in this school?
                            • They were very tired.
                            • He fixed the broken clock.

                            Participles Classroom Poster/Chart

                            Verbal Classroom Poster/Chart