Action verbs, also called dynamic verbs, express an action whether it be physical or mental. An action verb explains what the subject of the sentence is doing or has done. Looking at examples helps make it clear the function of action verbs in sentences and what purpose they serve.
There are endless action verbs used in the English language. An action verb can express something that a person, animal or even object can do. To determine if a word is an action verb, look at the sentence and ask yourself if the word is describing something someone can do or something someone can be or feel. If it is something they can do, then it is an action verb (if it is something they can be or feel, it is a non-action, or stative, verb).
Below is a list of commonly used action verbs:
The following are examples of how action verbs are used in sentences, keep in mind that you can use more than one action verb in a sentence. The action verb is underlined in each sentence. Remember that action verbs don't have to describe movement; the action can be mental.
What separates action verbs from non-action verbs (stative verbs) is that they can be used in continuous tenses, meaning they have a present, past and future tense. The following are examples:
Action verb: eat
Present: I eat when I am hungry.
Past: She ate dinner last night at six.
Future: We will eat lunch tomorrow at noon.
Action verb: swim
Present: We swim when it is hot outside.
Past: Last week, we swam in the pool.
Future: We will be swimming at the lake next month.
Action verb: sleep
Present: The baby sleeps in the nursery.
Past: She slept all night.
Future: We will be sleeping in tents at summer camp.
Action verb: play
Present: The kids play basketball at recess.
Past: We played the last game on Monday.
Future: The girls will be playing at the park this weekend.
Action verbs are used to deliver important information in a sentence, and add impact and purpose. These verbs play an vital role in grammar and signals to the reader what action the subject is performing in the sentence. Now that you’re familiar with action verbs you can practice further with YourDictionary’s action verb worksheets.