The part of speech which contains words like see, arrive, sleep, discuss, ask, play, can and take off. Verbs are distinguished from other parts of speech by a number of properties.

1. A verb can be marked for tense.

2. A verb can be preceded by an auxiliary verb.

3. A verb can form a gerund.

4. A verb can form a participle.

Most verbs refer to actions or states. Verbs are divided into two groups: lexical verbs and auxiliaries. Lexical verbs are further divided into intransitive and transitive verbs.

Transitive verbs

A label applied to a verb that can have an object.

Examples are: sing, write, read, sink, ring, want, need etc.

Some verbs are always transitive and produce an ungrammatical result if used without an object. Among these are destroy, assassinate, want and trigger.

Many other verbs can be either transitive or intransitive.


Any verb that does not take an object is an intransitive verb. Examples are: sit, sleep etc.

Passive Voice

The sentence structure in which the logical object of a verb becomes its grammatical subject, while its logical subject is either reduced to a prepositional phrase introduced by by or removed from the sentence altogether. The subject of a passive verb is usually the person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb.

Consider the sentence They sent John to prison for five years, which is in the active voice. Its corresponding passive form is John was sent to prison for five years.

Another example is given below.

In English, the passive voice is constructed by combining the verb be with the past participle of the lexical verb.

As a rule any transitive verb can appear in the passive voice, but there are a few exceptions like have, fit, weigh and resemble.

An intransitive verb cannot normally appear in the passive at all.