Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Action and Linking Verbs: What Part Do They Play in a Sentence?

Verbs can be used to express time as well as context within a sentence.  This becomes more apparent when you want to add more information to clarify an action or details of what might be occurring.   To  help in sentence construction you need to know about Action Verbs, Transitive Verbs, Intransitive Verbs, and Linking Verbs.  They all hold up the subject of a sentence.

By expanding your knowledge of verbs you will enhance your writing and be able to express what you mean more freely.  Many writer's end up using just simple action verbs which can often leave a sentence feeling clumsy and strained.  Give your writing a new lease of life and start experimenting with verbs.  Study your favourite writers and get a flavour of how they make use of verbs.

Try: Basic English Grammar: Understanding Verbs & Verb Tenses

Action Verbs

Action Verbs also known as dynamic verbs articulate whether an action is physical or mental, clarifying what the subject of the sentence has done or is doing.

Example: Kevin watched his favourite cartoon.

Words like watched, ate and baked are verbs that people do.

If you're unsure about action verbs, take a closer look at all of the words used in the sentence. Say to yourself "Can a person, animal, place, thing or idea actually do this?" If the answer is yes then that is an action verb.

You can use Action Verbs with or without a direct object.  These are called Transitive and Intransitive Verbs.

Transitive Verbs

Transitive Verbs can be placed with an object, noun, phrase or pronoun and refer to the person or thing that receive the action of the verb.

Example: The heating engineer will fix the broken boiler soon.  

The direct object is the broken boiler.


Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive words don't need a direct object to state their meaning.  They are achieved by an infinitive, adverb, adjective, preposition or gerund.  Contrary to transitive verbs they don't require a receiver of the action of that verb.

Example: The President waved to the crowds.

Linking Verbs

Also known as copulas or copular verbs they link two parts of a speech, which usually involves two nouns (one subject and one complement).  Accepted forms of "to be" are usually used: Am, is, is being, are, are being, was, was being, were, has, has been, have been, will have been and had been.

Example: I was a tap dancer when I was younger.

The Active and Passive Voice

Where the subject performs the action stated by the verb that is the Active Voice.  When the subject is acted upon by the verb, that is the passive voice.

Active Voice

When the active verb is used the subject performs the action that is signified.

Example: Katy mailed the letter.

Passive Voice

When the passive voice is used the subject is being acted upon.

Example: Six hamburgers must have been eaten by that man.

With more changes and words added, the passive voice can be harder for the reader to decipher.  A richer more conversational voice comes through when the active voice is used.  In everyday language the active voice is used more routinely, and is also preferred by many writer's.  The passive voice can be used to draw attention to the action of the sentence instead of the person doing the action.

Sentences become more exciting when the passive voice is used.  Even though it's grammatically sound and correct it can be too formal and dated.  Mostly carried out in academic writing, literary prose and poetry where the writer wants to be detached or distanced from the work at hand.  Try and recognise the genre and audience your writing for when selecting your writing voice.

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