A word class that describes a kind of situation such as a happening (for example, ‘climbed’ in ‘she climbed the ladder’) or a state (for example, ‘is’ in ‘a koala is an Australian mammal’).

  • verbs are essential to clause structure: all clauses contain a verb, except in certain types of ellipsis (for example, ‘Sue lives in Sydney, her parents, in Melbourne’, where there is ellipsis of ‘live’ in the second clause).
  • virtually all verbs have contrasting past and present tense forms. Some are signalled by inflections such as ‘-s’ and ‘-ed’. For example:
    • walk/walks (present tense)
    • walked (past tense).
  • other verbs have irregular forms that signal a change in tense. For example:
    • present – ‘am/is/are’ and past – ‘was/’were’
  • present participle ‘being’ and past participle ‘been’.

Auxiliary verbs and modal verbs are two types of verbs:

  • auxiliary verbs are also referred to as ‘helping’ verbs. They precede the main verb – for example, ‘draw’ (main verb) ‘has drawn’ (auxiliary verb assisting)
  • modal verbs express a degree of probability (for example, ‘I might come home’) or a degree of obligation (for example ‘You must give it to me’, ‘You are not permitted to smoke in here’).