Level 1: Lesson 10

Level 1 is the first workbook in the elementary series. Lesson 10 teaches about verbs. Verbs are words that name actions and states. Most verbs are action verbs.


A Form-Function English Grammar

Level 1

Lesson 10


What is a verb?

Notional grammars define the verb as a word that names an action or state.

Eat, read, run, shout, and write are verbs that name actions. You can eat. You can read. You can run. You can shout. You can write. Most verbs are action verbs. Action verbs tell what someone or something does. Be, become, and seem are verbs that name states. State of being verbs tell what someone or something is rather than what something or someone does.

What makes a verb a verb? First, verbs are open class words, which is a fancy way of saying you can easily create a new verb in the language. For example, drink has been in the language since the Old English period. Chillax, which is a blend of chill and relax, was first recorded as a new English verb in the 1990s.

Verbs are also lexical class words, which is a fancy way of saying most verbs are easy to define. For example, drink means to consume a liquid. Chillax means to calm down and hang out.

Most verbs are also easy to picture or act out, which indicates that verbs are lexical words. For example, these images show dance, sleep, think, and touch, all of which are verbs. Dance, sleep, think, and touch are also all action verbs. Action verbs answer the question, “What does someone or something do?”

Look at the sentence The girls dance on the stage. The word dance is a verb. You can ask, “What do the girls do?” The answer is dance. Dance is an action verb that tells what the girls do.

Now look at the sentence A boy sleeps on a chair. The word sleeps is a verb. You can ask, “What does the boy do?” The answer is sleeps. Sleeps is an action verb that tells what the boy does.

Now look at the sentences Those kittens seem friendly and My grandma is a nurse. The words seem and is are verbs. You can ask, “What are those kittens? What is my grandma?” The answers are seem friendly and is a nurse. The state of being verbs seem and is tell what those kittens and my grandma are. Be is a very common verb. Be (and its forms am, is, are, was, and were) is a state of being verb.

In addition to naming actions and states, verbs can also show tense. Tense tells when an action or state happened. English has two tenses: the present tense and the past tense. The present tense can tell what is happening now. The past tense tells what happened before now.

One test for finding verbs is that most verbs have present and past forms. For example, look at the sentences Now the chef cooks some food and Yesterday the chef cooked some food. The words cooks and cooked are verbs. In the first sentence, the verb cooks is in the present tense. What is the chef doing now? The chef cooks some food. In the second sentence, the verb cooked is in the past tense. What did the chef do before now? The chef cooked some food.

Now look at the following list of words. Apple, ride, pick, the, marker, paint. Which words can be verbs?

Put each word in the following sentences as a test: Now I (present tense). Yesterday I (past tense).

Now I apple. Yesterday I appled. No. Now I ride. Yesterday I rode. Yes. Now I pick. Yesterday I picked. Yes. Now I the. Yesterday I theed. No. Now I marker. Yesterday I markered. No. Now I paint. Yesterday I painted. Yes.

The words ride, pick, and paint can be verbs. Ride, pick, and paint have present and past tense forms. All three words also tell what someone or something does, so ride, pick, and paint are also action verbs.

So, what is a verb?

Verbs are words that name actions and states. Most verbs have present and past forms.

Now practice your knowledge of verbs by completing the exercises in Lesson 10 of A Form-Function English Grammar: Level 1, pages 40 through 43.

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