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Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Verbs are one of the most basic, common parts of speech and describe what is happening in a sentence. Commonly used types of verbs include action verbs, linking verbs and helping verbs. Action verbs are physical and mental actions. Linking verbs links the subject to a description and helping verbs work with other verbs to communicate tense.

Now let's talk about verbs and essentially verbs are what's happening. You've got three different types of verbs, you've got action verbs, linking verbs and helping verbs. So action verbs are probably the most common verbs that you know. They include physical and mental actions things like run, jump, leap, think, decide to, even those mental actions where you are not physically doing anything still count as an action verb. Sometimes though you have linking verbs and the key to a linking verb is that it links the subject of a sentence to a description. So something like the word 'tastes great', so taste is our linking verb there because it's not actually something that somebody is doing or "is pretty". It's a state of being verb, so those are your linking verbs.
And then finally the third type are your helping verbs and they are really easy to remember because helping verbs are always going to go along with other verbs that means they are going to be part of a verb phrase. They work with other verbs to communicate tense. So for instance, if you have the verb phrase "will get", "will" is your helping verb that is letting us know when the 'getting' is happening. "Did have" "did" is letting us know when the 'have' was happening, so those are your helping verbs.
Alright let's take a look at some tricks that will help you be able to identify these verbs. The first thing that you want to do is make sure you check your 'to be' verbs okay. To be verbs are never action verbs, so that's one thing you can eliminate and then you've got an easy way of checking what kind of verb they are. If you've got a to be verb and it's followed by a modifier or some sort of description, you know it's a linking verb. If you've got a to be verb and it's followed by some other verb form whether it's an "ing" or a past tense, you know it's a helping verb, it's working with something else to help it out.
So we've got a paragraph over here. Let's take a look at it and see if as we go, we can identify the verbs that are here. So we've got "I must go back to that pizza place." Well I know "go" is an action verb but "must" is also telling me when that's going to happen. So we've got " Must go back to that pizza place." "The pizza was delicious" and I can see this "was" is followed by a description. It's a 'to be' verb, I know this is a linking verb here. Alright "The pizza we had was topped with cheese". So first we have the pizza that is something that we did and then this is also describing it. So we've got another verb "was" "it was topped with cheese, sausage, pepperoni" and that sounds really good "and it was covered" alright? So we've got "was" over here as our helping verb that is telling us when covered happens, so that's an action. "In black olives! They are my favorite!" We've got another linking verb here that is linking 'they' to being my favorite. And then we have one up here I just spotted that we missed "was topped" and remember if we look at to be verb and we see that it's got a form of the verb, even if it's past tense after it, we know that's a helping verb. So there's some little tips and tricks with identifying verbs in your sentences and this will help you when it comes to sentence verb agreement and all sorts of other things in your writing.