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How to Identify the Verb in a Sentence

Learn how to identify the verb in a sentence from Gotham Writers' Workshop instructor Stephanie Paterik in this Howcast grammar video.


So I'm going to talk about how to find the verb or the action in your sentence. To begin, a verb can be one of two things. It's either an action or it can be a state of being. We don't typically tend to think of 'just being' as an action, but in grammar it is. Sounds like a Yoga philosophy, but actually, it's grammar. I'll give you an example of an action, 'Earth rotates on its axis.'

Well, in this sentence we'll look for the action, which happens to be 'rotate'. To give you an example of a state of being, we have the sentence, 'I am happy.' In this sentence, 'am' is the verb or the action. I'll give you a couple more examples, and we can practice finding the verb. So in this sentence, 'A tree grows in Brooklyn.'

If we want to find the verb, we look for the action. In this case, it's 'grows'. So incidentally, if you want to find the subject of your sentence, you just look at the action and figure out who the actor is. In this case, who or what is growing? Well, it's the tree. So that's your subject. Now you've found both your subject and your verb. So the good news is, I tend to think that the verb is the easiest part of speech to find in your sentence. Hopefully these are some helpful strategies for finding the verb in your sentence.

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