Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The Rules of Writing-Parts of Speech-Verb 2
Published: September 15, 2012

Are there different types of verbs?

Yes, about forty, from andative, momentane, and semelfactive to zero copula.  But, as stated earlier, this book is not a treatise on English grammar. For our purposes we’ll limit the verb types to major divisions: intransitive, transitive active, transitive passive, linking, and helping.

Intransitive verbs

These are verbs of action that never have direct or indirect objects to receive those actions.

Sonia always prays before eating.

The verb is “prays,” which is active, but the sentence construction supports no object to receive the action. “Before eating” is a prepositional phrase modifying “prays.” It tells us when.

Transitive active verbs
These express direct actions (hit, pinch, carry, load) or possession (give, take, get, have.)

Transitive active verbs have a direct and/or, sometimes, an indirect object. By “object” we mean the noun that receives the action of the verb. To determine the direct object, we ask whom or what receives the action of the verb:

Sonia kicks the rock.

Sonia kicks what? The rock. Hence, the rock is the direct object of “kicks.”

To identify any indirect object, we ask “to whom,” “for whom,” “to what,” or “for what.”

Sonia gave Joe her cookie.

Here, the verb is “gave.” What did Sonia give? Her cookie, which is the direct object of the action. To whom did Sonia give it? To Joe. Joe is the indirect object.

Sometimes this example is seen in a sentence as:

Sonia gave her cookie to Joe.

Transitive passive verbs
These verbs also show action, but the action of the sentence is directed at the subject rather than the object of the sentence within the construction. These constructions are best avoided in fiction because they create a slower pace and a “telling” construction.

Sonia was hit by the cookie.

In this sentence, for example, “Sonia” is in the subject position. “Cookie” is in the object position. A natural active construction would say either “Sonia hit the cookie” or “The cookie hit Sonia.” Neither example is an exact translation of the example. If Sonia stands there and a cookie hits her, Sonia certainly does not hit the cookie. However, the cookie cannot (unless this is plausible within a fantasy) hit anyone without being propelled through the air. A better construction would be: “Steve hit Sonia with a cookie.” If we don’t know who threw the cookie, the transitive passive example is the best construction to convey this meaning.

Linking verbs
These describe states of being. These verbs are conjugations of the infinitive “to be.” They connect the subject of a sentence to a word—a noun or an adjective—or phrase that describes it:

Joe is the champion.

Joe is the subject and “is,” the linking verb. “Champion” is a predicate noun, meaning a noun positioned after the verb, which is another word for Joe.

Joe is handsome.

Again, “Joe” is the subject with “is” linking him to the predicate adjective “handsome.”

Helping verbs
These verbs also termed auxiliary verbs, team with other verbs to add information. Together, they become a verb phrase.

The cow has jumped over the moon!

In this intransitive sentence, the helping verb “has” lends a hand to the main verb “jumped.” Together, they tell us the jump occurred in the past. “Has jumped” tells us when. We know the cow performed an action, but there was no object to receive it. “Over the moon” told us where the cow went.
Writer’s Companion, Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes

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