1. What is an action verb?
An action verb, as you may have guessed, is a verb that expresses an action. Any verb that describes what someone or something does is an action verb.
An action verb can be physical or mental.
Joey plays soccer.
- In this sentence, the action verb is “plays.”
- This verb describes what Joey does physically.
Bianca thinks about being a famous singer one day.
- In this example, the action verb is “thinks.”
- Although thinking is a mental activity, it is still an action that Bianca completes.
2. Examples of Action Verbs
Yesterday, we went to a restaurant after our game.
- The subject of this sentence is “we,” and the action verb is “went.”
- The base verb “go” is irregular in the past tense, so we use “went” instead of “goed.”
- Going to the restaurant is an action that was completed by the people described in the sentence.
Bailey plays basketball every day.
- The subject of this sentence is “Bailey” (third person singular), and the action verb is “plays.”
- “Play” is a regular verb, so we simply add “s” to the end of the base verb in a present tense sentence with a third person singular subject.
- “Plays” is a physical action that Bailey completes.
You sing very well.
- The subject in this sentence is the second person “you,” and the action verb is “sing.”
- “Sing” is regular in the present tense, so we simply use the base verb.
- However, it is irregular in the past tense. If we wanted to write the past tense version of this sentence, we would write, “You sang.”
- Singing is a physical action that we can complete.
John thought that the movie was terrible last night.
- The subject of this example is “John” (third person singular) and the action verb is “thought.”
- In the past tense, the verb “think” is irregular. Instead of writing, “thinked,” we must write “thought.”
- Thinking is a mental activity, but it is still something that we can do.
3. Types of Action Verbs
a. Regular verbs in the present tense
Regular verbs all follow the same pattern. When a verb is in the present tense (happening right now):
- The first person uses the base verb, or the plain version of the verb as it would appear in the dictionary (run, jump, sing, play, laugh, smile).
- The second person also uses the base form of the verb.
- Third person singular uses the base verb with an “s” added to the end (runs, jumps, sings, plays, laughs, smiles).
- Third person plural is also the base form of the verb.
I run very fast.
- The subject of this sentence is the first-person “I.”
- For this reason, we use the base verb “run.”
- “Run” is an action verb. It’s something we can do.
You drink a lot of soda.
- The subject of this sentence is the second-person “you.”
- Second person also uses the base verb, so in this case the correct verb is “drink.”
- “Drink” is an action verb.
Rolando feels sad today.
- The subject of this sentence is Rolando, so the sentence is in third person singular.
- For third person verbs, you use the base verb + the letter “s.” In this case, the correct verb is “feels.”
- Although feeling sad is not something you physically do, it is an emotional/mental action, making “feels” an action verb.
Brian and Gabriella eat pizza together every Friday.
- The subject of this sentence is Brian and Gabriella, so this is an example of third person plural.
- Here, we again use the base form of the verb. In this case, the correct verb is “eat.”
- “Eat” is an action verb, because it’s something we can do.
b. Regular verbs in the past tense
In the past tense (something that happened previously), regular verbs for first, second, and third person (singular and plural) follow the same pattern. You simply add “ed” to the base verb.
- I laughed.
- We laughed.
- You laughed.
- He laughed.
- She laughed.
- They laughed.
c. Irregular Verbs
Some verbs are not regular verbs, and they are called irregular verbs. Irregular verbs don’t follow the typical pattern, so you have to either memorize or look up how to correctly use them.
One common irregular action verb is “go.” In the present tense, “go” is fairly regular:
- I go.
- They go.
In the past tense, “go” is a bit different:
- I went.
- You went.
- They wen
If “go” were a regular verb, we would say “I goed.” However, this is not correct.
Another irregular action verb is “drink.” We saw in a previous example that “drink” is regular in the present tense.
In the past tense, however, we do NOT say “I drinked.” You must say:
- I drank.
- You drank.
- He drank.
- They drank.
Similarly, “feel” is regular in the present tense, but becomes “felt” in the past tense. We never say, “You feeled” something. “Eat,” too, is regular in the present tense, but in the past tense we say “ate” instead of “eated.”
Whether an action verb is regular or irregular, past tense or present tense, it should describe a physical or mental action that someone or something completes.