A verb is a word which can assert something (usually an action) concerning a person, place or thing.
Most verbs express action. Some, however, merely express state or condition. Thus….
1. We jumped for joy.
2. Rabbits burrow into the sides of hills.
3. While memory lasts, I can never forget you.
4. This mountain belongs to the Appalachian range.
A verb-phrase is a group of words that is used as a verb.
1. The leaves are turning.
2. The money has been found.
Certain verbs, when used to make verb-phrases, are called auxiliary (that is, “aiding") verbs, because they help other verbs to express action or state of some particular kind.
The auxiliary verbs are….is (are, was, were, etc.), may, can, must, might, shall, will, could, would, should, have, had, do, did.
1. I am writing.
2. We must go.
3. You will fall.
4. He has forgotten me.
5. We had failed.
6. I do see him.
The auxiliary verb may be separated from the rest of the verb-phrase by other words.
1. I have always liked him.
2. I shall soon send for you.
3. Robert was completely bewildered.
4. He has hardly ever spoken to me.
Verbs are either transitive or intransitive.
Some verbs may be followed by a substantive denoting that which receives the action or is produced by it. These are called transitive verbs. All other verbs are called intransitive.
A substantive that completes the meaning of a transitive verb is called its direct object.
In the following sentences, the first four verbs are transitive (with objects), the last five are intransitive (without objects).
1. Lightning shattered the oak.
2. Clouds darkened the sky.
3. Chemists extract radium from pitchblende.
4. The orator quoted Tennyson incorrectly.
5. Look where he stands and glares!
6. The bankrupt absconded.
7. The orange sky of evening died away.
8. The words differ in a single letter.
A verb which is transitive in one of its senses may be intransitive in another.
Many transitive verbs may be used absolutely….that is…..merely to express action without any indication of the direct object.
Transitive Verb with Object expressed. …… Transitive Verb used absolutely
The horses drank water. . ……The horses drank from the brook.
The farmer plows his fields. . ……The farmer plows in the spring.
Charles is drawing a picture. . ……Charles is drawing.
There is a sharp contrast between a transitive verb used absolutely and a real intransitive verb. To the former we can always add an object….with the latter no object is possible.
IS (in its various forms) and several other verbs may be used to frame sentences in which some word or words in the predicate describe or define the subject.
Such verbs are called copulative (that is, “joining") verbs.
IS in this use is often called the copula (or “link").
1. Time is money.
2. Grant was a tireless worker.
3. Macbeth became a tyrant.
4. His swans always prove geese.
5. The current is sluggish.
6. Lions are carnivorous.
7. This village looks prosperous.
8. The consul’s brow grew stern.
9. The queen turned pale.
In the first four examples, the copulative verb (the simple predicate) is followed by a predicate nominative…..in the last five by a predicate adjective.
The copulative verbs are intransitive, since they take no object. Sometimes, however, they are regarded as a third class distinct both from transitive and intransitive verbs.
The verb IS is not always a copula. It is sometimes emphatic and has the sense of exist.
1. I think. Therefore I am. [That is, I exist.]
2. Whatever IS is right. [The second is is the copula.]
Most of the other copulative verbs may be used in some sense in which they cease to be copulative.
1. The lawyer proved his case.
2. Walnut trees grow slowly.
3. Mr. Watson grows peaches.
4. The wheel turned slowly on the axle.
5. He turned his head and looked at me.