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Linking, Action, and Helping Verbs & Examples + Definition

You may already know a bit about the importance of action and linking words in the English language. After all, you can’t have complete sentences without including them at least once. But do you know there are three main categories? The different forms include linking verbs, action verbs, and helping verbs. Curious to know the difference between these three types? Let’s look at definitions and examples of these important forms.

What is an Action Verb?

In every sentence you have two main things. First, there’s a subject. This is usually a noun or pronoun. Second, you have an action or state of being word. This word describes information about the subject.

When the word describing the subject is an action verb, the reader or listener understands what action the subject takes. It’s important to learn about action verbs because these words convey a variety of different actions. By increasing the number of action verbs you use in conversation, you can accurately describe to your listeners what a subject is doing.

A few action verb examples include walk, skip, and jog. Although the actions aren’t much different (as the words all describe motion) each one forms a different image in your mind. It’s these subtle changes that make language unique and more exciting! That’s why it’s so important to memorize a list of action verbs.

It’s also important to understand that there isn’t only one type of action word. In fact, there are two types you’ll learn a bit about now.

What is an Action Verb?: Defining the Transitive

A transitive action verb describes an action taken. However, this type of verb also affects a direct object. The direct object can be another noun or pronoun. Additionally, this type of action verb can even affect a phrase or clause. Let’s review some transitive action verb examples:

  • Fred’s going to buy a comic book.

Without knowing the direct object (in this case a comic book) you wouldn’t understand what Fred is going to buy. That’s what makes the word buy transitive. See if you can identify the direct object in the next two examples.

  • Stacy is washing her dirty dishes.

Stacy (the subject) is washing (the verb) her dirty dishes (the direct object.)

  • Can you check whether the front door is locked?

You (the subject) should check (the verb) the front door (the direct object) to determine if it’s locked.

Did you accurately locate the subject, direct object, and action word? If you need more help with the transitive form, click site.

What is an Action Verb?: Defining the Intransitive

Whereas a transitive word requires a direct object, an intransitive word does not. That’s because these action verbs describe what the subject of a sentence does to itself. Thus, it does not act upon a direct object. Here are some examples:

  • I can’t stop crying.

This action only impacts the subject, who cries continuously.

  • Stacy always arrives to work ten minutes late.

The verb arrives is followed by the location work. In this case, work is a preposition of place and not a direct object. You can also say, “Stacy always arrives ten minutes late,” and the sentence would still retain its meaning.

An Action Verb Definition

Considering that there are two ways to describe action, a good definition is that action words describe what a subject does. These words can even explain the impact the action has on the subject itself, or the impact it has on a direct object.

List of Action Verbs

Here’s a list of words, including resume action verbs. Resume action verbs help describe previous work experience and show off your accomplishments without using the same words repeatedly.

Common Action Words

Arrive Ask Bake
Build Buy Cry
Dance Dream Drink
Eat Go Help
Kick Laugh Listen
Move Open Play
Read Run Walk

Resume Action Verbs

Achieved Built Delivered
Designed Founded Hired
Improved Increased Integrated
Maximized Organized Overhauled
Oversaw Pioneered Planned
Reduced Simplified Streamlined
Supervised Transformed


Now that you know you’ve seen a list of action verbs, why not take some time to learn about MLA format and APA format? Once you’re done, let’s move on to discussing the linking verb.

What is a Linking Verb?

To be, to feel, and to become are examples of linking verbs. But what are linking verbs specifically? Before you read a linking verb definition, look at this useful reference on linking words.

What is a linking verb? A linking verb connects a subject to the words that describe what the subject is. Linking verbs, unlike action words, do not describe actions. Instead, a linking verb describes a state of being.

Examples of Linking Verbs

Examples of linking verbs include: to be, to become, and to seem. These three examples are always linking verbs. In addition, you have the verbs: to appear, to feel, to look, to smell, to sound, and to taste. These words #act as either action or linking verbs, depending on whether they express action or not. Here are some examples of sentences that use linking words.

  • Pete is my favorite dog.
  • That car was incredibly fast.
  • am happy that I passed my math exam!
  • The house smells like the ocean breeze.
  • Nancy feels a bit sick today.

Although linking verbs such as smells and feels can describe actions, in the above examples they connect the subject to the predicate. They aren’t used in these examples to express any action.

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What is a Helping Verb?: The Auxiliary Form

In some sentences you have more than one action or linking word. One action or linking word is often more important in the sentence than the other. The second action or linking word simply provides additional meaning and assists the main word.

So, what is a helping verb exactly? Well, helping verbs add both emphasis to your sentences and describe the possibility of something happening. There are two types of helping verbs: auxiliary and modal.

Auxiliary words include the tenses of to be, to have, and to do. If you find a sentence with multiple action or being words, such as to be, to have, or to do, then you know these words are in their auxiliary form. Here are some example sentences that include an auxiliary:

  • Jacob is running another marathon this weekend.
  • Her father has not made dinner for us yet.
  • am reading my favorite book right now.

What is a Helping Verb?: The Modal Form.

The second type of helping verb is known as a modal. Modals include the words: can, could, might, may, should, shall, will, would, must, and ought to. You can use a modal helping verb to discuss possibility and obligation. Here are a few examples:

  • May I use your bathroom please?

More than likely you can, but there’s a chance that whoever you’re asking will not let you use the bathroom.

  • You must make this basket to win the game!

You might need to, but there’s a chance that you miss the basket and lose the game.

  • Could Steve give me a hand with the groceries?

Now you know all about the types of action, linking, and helping words and their many forms! Use them to accurately describe who you are and the actions you’ll take in your writing and speech.

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