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Transcript of Verbs
The Magic Lens by Michael Clay Thompson
Definition of a Verb
tells what the noun is doing,
or that it exists,
or what it is equal to.
There are THREE kinds of verbs:
Most verbs show actions (action verbs) or equations (linking verbs).
This is one of the most important concepts in grammar.
Linking verbs create equations:
Sam is my friend.
Sam = my friend.
The most common linking verb is the verb TO BE.
I am a student.
Alexander was a genius.
A being verb is a third, more rare type of verb.
Being verbs express existence.
Be careful because being verbs are sometimes the same words as linking verbs (such as was and am); you must recognize the function of the word to determine the type of verb.
Ask yourself if it is acting as an equal sign. If you answer yes, then it is a linking verb. If you answer no, it is probably showing the existence of something, which makes it a being verb.
You cannot memorize a list of types of verbs; you have to recognize functions:
George SAW a frog. ACTION
George HAS a frog. ACTION
George SMELLS a frog. ACTION
George SMELLS good. LINKING
George WAS a frog. LINKING
There WAS a frog. BEING
Transitive Verbs (v.t.)
Trans means across; a verb is called transitive if it transfers the energy from the subject to something it is acting on: Frogs EAT bugs.
In other words, a transitive verb is an action verb that acts on a direct object:
The harpoon HIT Moby Dick.
Moby Dick = direct object
Some verbs are always transitive because their existence requires an object on which to act.
Examples: enjoy, find, excuse, reward, feed, and sell.
Note: Linking verbs are neither transitive nor intransitive; this does not apply to them.
Intransitive Verbs (v.i.)
An intransitive verb is an action verb that does not act on a direct object:
Some verbs are always intransitive.
Examples: disappear, belong, laugh, wonder, giggle, arise, feast, and go.
We cannot disappear someone, or belong something, laugh someone, or arise something.
An active voice verb is an action verb that SHOWS THE SUBJECT ACTING.
Active voice is usually more vigorous than passive voice.
Example: John and Boswell discussed the problem.
John and Boswell = subject of sent.
they are the ones doing the "discuss"ing
therefore, DISCUSSED is an active transitive verb
A passive voice verb is an action verb that shows the subject as the recipient of the action:
The problem was discussed by John and Boswell.
Problem = subject of sent.
Problem is NOT doing the "discuss"ing
Therefore, DISCUSSED is an intransitive, passive verb
Passive voice can make sentences weak because the subject is not doing anything.
The books were distributed.
The Emphatic Form
Emphatic form intensifies the verb by adding forms of do.
Instead of saying, I like cornbread, we say, I do like cornbread.
Parallel Verb Tense
Parallelism in tense means staying with one tense, unless there is a reason to change.
Maintaining parallel tenses is an effective writing technique. Notice how disturbing the unparallel tenses are in the first passage below:
When Charles Dickens WENT to America, he GIVES many speeches and WILL FEEL that his trip WAS successful. After he RETURNED to England, he BEGINS to lose the buoyant spirit he FOUND in America, and he DESCENDS into melancholy.
In this sentence, "Sue has a new book," is HAS an action or linking verb?
Well, do you mean that Sue IS a new book?
NO? Then the verb is not linking.
If it does not LINK, it is not linking.
When the verb links, it creates an equation between two terms, and the linking verb is the equal sign.
BEWARE: There are other linking verbs that at first sound like action verbs, but sometimes create an equation, which makes them linking verbs.
BECOME, GROW, SEEM, SOUND, SMELL, & TASTE
Examples of Being Verbs:
There WAS a duck in the pond yesterday.
"I think, therefore I AM" ~ Descartes
When PASSIVE VOICE is acceptable:
The author wants to place emphasis on the object and not the action
The author does not know (or want the reader to know) who is completing the action.
Scientific writing: describing the results of experiments and scientific investigations. Rather than write, "First, I administered the placebo," a scientist would write, "Placebos were administered." It contributes to the objective tone of scientific inquiry.
Parallel: When Charles Dickens WENT to America,
he GAVE many speeches and FELT that his trip was successful. After he RETURNED to England, he BEGAN to lose the buoyant spirit he FOUND in America, and he DESCENDED into melancholy.
Now read the passage with parallel verb tense:
Linking Verbs Link
We SMELLED the smoke. Action or Linking?
Something SMELLS fishy. Action or Linking?
Larry GREW a turnip. Action or Linking?
Larry GREW suspicious. Action or Linking?
See how the same verb can be both an action and linking verb? It all depends on the function of the verb. Always go back to the VERB QUESTION: Is it an equal sign? (YES= linking; NO =probably action)
There are two categories of ACTION verbs:
Transitive or Intransitive
Active or Passive