What is a Main Verb? Definition, Examples of Main Verbs

Main verb definition: The main verb is the action word of the main clause that the subject completes.

What is a Main Verb?

What does main verb mean? A main verb includes most verbs. Main verbs (or lexical verbs) are the actions words in a sentence (main/independent clause).

The subject completes the main verb. Main verbs can stand alone in sentences.

 

Main Verb Examples

  • What is main verb The man quenched the fire.
    • In this example, “quenched” is the main verb. The subject, “the man,” is completing the action. This is the only verb in this sentence; it is also the verb of the main clause.
  • People enjoy sports.
    • In this example, “enjoy” is the main verb. The subject, “people,” is completing the action. This is the only verb in this sentence; it is also the verb of the main clause.
  • In order to be a teacher, you have to attend several years of school.
    • In this example, “attend” is the main verb. The subject, “you,” is completing the action. However, “attend” is not only verb in this sentence. But, it is the verb of the main clause.

Main Verbs vs. Helping Verbs

What is a main verb in a sentence Main verbs complete action alone. That is, they do not require additional verbs to communicate action.

Helping verbs cannot stand alone. They need to be paired with main verbs in order to communicate action. Helping verb change verb tense and meaning.

Examples:

  • I helped Sam.
    • In this example, “helped” is the main verb. The subject, “I,” is completing the action. This is the only verb in this sentence; it is also the verb of the main clause.
  • I was helping Sam.
    • In this example, “helping” is the main verb. The subject, “I,” is completing the action. However, “helping” is not only verb in this sentence. The helping verb, “was,” completes the verb phrase, “was helping.”
  • I had helped Sam.
    • In this example, “helped” is the main verb. The subject, “I,” is completing the action. However, “helped” is not only verb in this sentence. The helping verb, “had,” completes the verb phrase, “had helped.”

Classifications of Main Verbs

Main verbs fall into different categories. They are classified below.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Main verb in a sentence What are transitive verbs? Transitive verbs “transfer” the action to an object. That is, the subject does something to someone or something else through a transitive verb. Transitive verbs will answer the question “to what?” or “to whom?”

Examples of transitive verbs:

  • Jacob called Abe. (Jacob called whom? Abe.)
  • Martha reported the news. (Martha reported what? The news.)

What are intransitive verbs? Intransitive verbs do not transfer action. Intransitive verbs will not have direct objects. Intransitive verbs will not answer the question “to what?” or “to whom?”

Examples of intransitive verbs:

  • I applied to the university.
    • “to the university” does not answer “what?” or “whom?”.
    • “applied” is an intransitive verb.
  • They recorded on paper.
    • “on paper” does not answer “what?” or “whom?”.
    • “recorded” is an intransitive verb.

However, both transitive and intransitive verbs are action verbs. In each example sentence above, the subject is DOING something.

Linking Verbs

Main verb listWhat are linking verbs? Linking verbs “link” the predicate the subject. They do this in that what comes after the linking verb describes, modifies, or renames the subject.

Linking verbs are not action verbs.

Some linking verbs do not only function as linking verbs. However, when they are followed by adjectives, they serve as linking verbs.

For example:

  • The girl grew tall.
    • In this sentence, grew is acting as a linking verb because it is followed by an adjective.
  • The girl grew flowers.
    • In this sentence, grew is not acting as a linking verb because it is followed by a noun, not an adjective.

Some verbs that are only linking verbs when they are followed by adjectives include:

  • appear
  • feel
  • look
  • smell
  • grow

Dynamic and Stative Verbs

what is a main verb and helping verbWhat are actions verbs? An action verb, or dynamic verb, verb is a verb that the subject can do.

If a subject can DO the action, it is an action verb.

Examples of action verbs in sentences:

  • We built a house.
  • They bought tickets.
  • You arrived early.

A few common action verbs:

  • to have
  • to make
  • to do

What are non-action verbs? Non-action verbs, or stative verbs, do not refer to an action. Rather, they express a state of being, opinion, need, preference, or sense.

A few common non-action verbs include:

  • to be
  • to believe
  • to like

Examples in sentences:

  • I am the owner. (to be)
  • They believe in God.
  • He likes basketball.

Regular and Irregular Verbs

what is a main verb in grammarWhat are regular verbs? A regular verb is a verb that when conjugated follows a regular pattern.

Regular verbs add “-d,” “-ed,” or “-ied” to form the past tense or past participle.

Examples:

  • to breathe/breathed
  • to play/played
  • to study/studied

What are irregular verbs? An irregular verb is a verb that when conjugated does not follow a regular pattern in the past tense or past participle conjugations,

  • to go/went
  • to have/had
  • to buy/bought

Summary: What are Main Verbs?

Define main verb: the definition of main verb is the most important verb in the sentence; the one that is necessary to make the sentence complete.

To sum up, a main verb:

  • is the action verb of the independent clause
  • is the verb the subject completes
  • includes several different types of classifications of verbs
[i]
[i]