Action verb masterclass

This post helps us understand what an action verb is, how it looks like, and different types of action verbs in English.

What is an action verb in English?

An action verb is a main verb that refers to an action that the subject performs. One has to use ones body in performing an action. The amount of efforts in performing an action might vary from verbs to verbs. It is also known as a dynamic verb.

action verbs infographic
action verbs infographic

Here are some of the most common action verbs in English:

  • Talk
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Eat
  • Cut
  • Drink
  • Hug
  • Kiss
  • Sit
  • Dance
  • Sing
  • Fight
  • Slap
  • Ride
  • Write
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Teach
  • Throw
  • Scratch
  • Open
  • Close
  • Mop
  • Clean
  • Wait
  • Smile
  • Laugh
  • Cry
  • Talk
  • Cook
  • Peel
  • Mash
  • Give
  • Take

There are thousands of action verbs in English, but these are some of the most common action verbs everyone performs in their life. All action verbs have 4 forms they are used in: Base form, Past form, Past Participle form, and Present participle form.

Action verbBase formPast formPast participlePresent participle form
A list of action verbs in English
  • Are you laughing at me?

Laughing is an action verb here, in a progressive form. The action uses a specific part of the body: mouth. The action is happening in the present as the verb phrase is in the Present Continuous tense.

  • I exercise everyday in the morning.

Exercise is an action verb here. We need to move and twist our body in different ways to exercise. The verb is in the Simple Present tense, meaning the action happens everyday.

  • The teacher slapped Rohan in the seminar hall.

The teacher performed the action of slapping. We use our hand for this action. The verb is in the Simple Past tense, which means the action happened at a certain time in the past.

  • I have cut all the vegetables.

Cut is the action verb here. We need a knife or something sharper like a knife to cut something or someone. The verb phrase is in the Present Perfect tense here.

  • I was not singing at the function.

Sing is the action verb here. It is an action that involves your mouth. The verb phrase refers to the Past Continuous tense, and it refers to the non-continuation of the action in the past.

More examples:

  • I have invited her to the party.
  • What are you watching?
  • We have prepared a special dish for you.
  • The management will take a strict action against you.
  • Why are you shouting at me?
  • We boarded the train at 9 pm.
  • Could you please give this paper to Jon?
  • Can I have what he is having?
  • You cooked amazingly well today.
  • They will beat you easily.
  • The people from the HR department wrote the boss a letter in which they complained about the ways they have been treated lately.
  • Would you work with me?
  • I don’t party after 8 pm.
  • Don’t touch anyone’s bag on the train.
  • You are swinging my hand like it is a baseball bat.
  • Because of being sick, Jon could not come to the office.
  • I don’t want to smell what you are eating.
  • Jon scared the kids who were playing in the park.
  • Some students are waiting for you at the cafe.

Some verbs can act as both a stative verb and action verb

Here are the verbs that can be both stative verbs and action verbs:

  1. Smell
  2. Taste
  3. See
  4. Have
  5. Think
  6. Look
  7. Weigh
  8. Measure
  9. Be
  10. Feel
  11. Appear
Meaning = the condition of something in terms of its smell

• The fish smells awful.
(In other words, the fish is awful in terms of its smell.)
• You smell nice.
(The smell coming from you is nice.)
Meaning = the action of using your nose

• He smells the fish before packing them.
• Can you smell the cake and tell me if it’s still edible?
Meaning = the quality of taste of something

• The food tastes delicious.
(In other words, the food is delicious.)
• The fish you cooked last night tasted terrible.

Meaning = to eat something to find out its taste

• Let him taste the food.
• The chef is tasting the food.
Meaning = To perceive through your eyes

• Can you see me?
(You see objects without trying to look at them. So, there is no dynamic action here.)
• I don’t see any problem in this report.

Meaning = to check or date a person

• The doctor is seeing someone right now. (checking)
• She is seeing someone these days. (dating)
• You should see a doctor now. (get checked up by a doctor)
Meaning = to possess or own

• Jon has a ship.
• I don’t have much time.

Meaning = to eat, take, or taste

• You can have (eat) my lunch.
• What are you having (drinking)?

Meaning = to talk about your opinion

• I think he should try teaching.
• We don’t think this plan is going to work out.

Meaning = to have/process something in your mind

• I was thinking about our conversation.
• I thought about your proposal a lot last night.

Meaning = to appear

• You look dapper in the suit.
• She looked tired in the class.

Meaning = to direct your eyes in a direction deliberately and notice something/someone

• They are looking at you.
• Why did you look at my sister angrily?
Meaning = the weight possessed by something/someone

• My phone weighs 200 grams.
(My phone is 200 grams in weight)
• You weigh higher than me.

Meaning = to measure the weight

• The conductor is weighing the goods. (measuring the weight)
• Let’s weigh all the items we got.
Meaning = the measurement of an object

• The TV screen measures 42 inches.
• The wall measures 12 feet vertically.

Meaning = to measure something

• We can’t measure the statue without permission.
• They are measuring the length of the house.
Meaning = a state of being

• My friends are supportive.
• He is a doctor.

Meaning = a deliberate action to be in a state

• He is being sarcastic.
• You are being mean to me now.
Meaning = to have an opinion

• I feel we are smart enough to pass the test. (I am of this opinion)
• We feel that you are making a mistake here.

Meaning = to experience a feeling or emotion (through touching generally)

• I am feeling something hot in my pocket.
Feel the quality of the glass before buying it.
Meaning = to make people believe something to be true

• He appears to be a talented teacher.
• It appears that you didn’t enjoy the match.

Meaning = to show up, come

• Conor is appearing in the next show.
• Did Dhoni’s wife appear at the match?
difference between an action verb and stative verb
Action verbs vs stative verb in English
Action verbs vs stative verb in English

An action verbs is either transitive or intransitive

If a verb is transitive, it has an object. All action verbs are either transitive or intransitive. A transitive verb is an action verb that is acted upon an object: a person or thing. The object of a transitive verb comes right after it. On the other hand, an intransitive verb does not have an object; it is not acted upon an object directly.

Examples of action verbs (transitive):

  • Simran is drinking milk. (drinking what = milk (object))
  • Don’t touch my hand. (touch what = my hand (object))
  • Jon and I cleaned the table properly. (cleaned what = the table))

The verbs highlighted are transitive. They take a direct object. You drink something. You touch something or someone. You clean something. A transitive verb is incomplete without its object. Can you just touch? You need something to touch, don’t you? Similarly, you drink something. The meaning of the verb completes when the object it acts upon is mentioned in the sentence.

Examples of action verbs (intransitive):

  • I slept early last night.
  • Why were you crying at the party?
  • Don’t laugh at me.

These verbs can’t be acted upon an object. You can’t sleep someone or something, can you? Similarly, you can’t cry someone or something. Intransitive verbs are not directly followed by an object. It can be followed by a preposition and the object of the preposition.

All action verbs are either regular and irregular

Regular verbs are action verbs or stative verbs that end in a certain pattern; they generally end with ed, and ied when used in the past form and past participle form.

Action verbs (regular)Base form (singular/plural)Past form (V2) Past participle (V3)
a list of some regular verbs

Irregular verbs are action verbs or stative verbs that don’t end in a certain pattern.

Action verbs (irregular)Base form (singular/plural)Past form (V2)Past participle (V3)
a list of irregular verbs

Now, we know everything about an action verb, and how and when to use it in a sentence. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

For one-on-one classes, contact me at [email protected].

Related lessons:

We, now, know what an action verb in English is, how it looks like, how to identify it, and how to use it correctly in a sentence. Feel free to share your doubt, question, and feedback in the comment section. Also, share the post with others to help them.

Contact at [email protected] for one-on-one classes.

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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