What is a Verb: Examples and Teaching Ideas

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There is a running joke we always see on social media. It goes something like this- “POV: Your family is proud of you for being an educator. You: Googling ‘what is a verb’.”

what is a verb: examples and teaching ideas

We have to admit – it’s true sometimes! Whether it’s been a while since you taught verbs or just need to brush up on your knowledge, we got you. This blog will answer “what is a verb” with several examples.

Verb Examples and Definitions

Let’s start with the basics. What is a verb? It’s likely that students were originally taught that verbs are action words. But the truth is – it’s more complicated than that. Verbs in a sentence can take on many roles. Here are the many different types of verbs –

  • Action Verb – This is something that the subject is actively doing. For example, jump, talk, moving, win, ate.
  • Linking Verb – This verb type connects the subject to another element in the sentence that isn’t another verb. Typically, it connects to an adjective or noun. Am bored, is hot, are gigantic, were tired, and become adults are some linking verb examples.
  • Helping Verb – A helping verb does what it sounds like, it assists another verb. They do not stand alone. For example, am going, have found, will join, etc.

In order to refrain from having boring, choppy sentence structures, students will need to utilize all of these different verbs in a sentence!

Activities to Practice Verbs

Now that we know what is a verb example, let’s talk about some helpful activities for your students to help them answer the age old question, “What are verbs?”

what is a verb teaching ideas and activities

Teaching Video: Verbs

One way to teach about verbs is through video. This method works really well for auditory and visual learners. Additionally, it’s a great way to reinforce a lesson. Students often need to hear things said in different ways before it clicks, so follow up your mini-lesson with a video to help aid understanding.

This Understanding Verbs video breaks down information in a way students can clearly understand what is a verb. The video walks students through key verb-related vocabulary, so you can use it for direct instruction, centers, or independent practice.

It also incorporates interactive elements and practice so you (or your students) can pause the video and answer questions to think critically about what is a verb! Honestly, these teaching videos are some of our favorite centers because it’s easy yet useful.

watch a verb teaching teaching video
what is a verb teaching video for linking, helping and action verbs

Anchor Charts: Verbs

Another way to review verbs with students is through anchor charts! There are a few ways you can do this. But no matter which way you choose, you end up with a great reference material. One way you can create an anchor chart for verbs is collaboratively. For example, you can have a blank anchor chart that has 3 columns – one labeled linking verbs, another labeled helping verbs, and finally one for action verbs. Make sure to put what is a verb example at the top! Then, give each student a sticky note. On each sticky note, ask them to write one verb (from the various types). Then, they can add their sticky note to the correct spot on the anchor chart. 
While students are adding their sticky notes, engage with them at the anchor chart. Ask students to explain why they placed their sticky note (and therefore, their verb), in that column. This is a quick way to check for understanding and prevent students from simply guessing.

Another way to create an anchor chart for verbs is to have each student make their own. If you use interactive notebooks or something similar in your classroom, this will make a great addition. As you draw or write on the large anchor chart, have students copy you and create their own. We suggest making this collaborative again, so having students help generate a list of verbs to add to the chart.

Practice Identifying Verbs in a Sentence

Once you start teaching verbs, it’s normal to want to say, “Alright, time to write your own sentences!” But don’t miss a crucial step – identifying verbs in a sentence. Before students can write sentences with these verbs, they need examples and lots of modeling.
That’s where this Verb Sentence Detectives resource comes in. This resource has two parts – reviewing student understanding of the types of verbs and then having them identify verbs in a sentence.

By the end, your students will have a solid understanding of the different types of verbs and be ready for the most challenging part: writing!

Practice Writing Verbs in a Sentence

Now, despite your students showing mastery up until this point – we don’t suggest throwing them into the lion’s den at the final challenge. Instead, slowly scaffold and build students up to longer pieces of writing. 
For example, you might want to start by providing students with a verb and asking them to craft a sentence with it. Then, you can give students a verb type and have them choose a verb from that type to write a sentence about (allow them to use their verb anchor charts as a reference).
Lastly, give them a few prompts to engage in longer form writing. These can be verbal, written or even picture prompts! You can include some directions like, “Write a few sentences about (prompt). You need to use two action verbs and two helping verbs.” As you move through these tasks, make sure you are constantly checking in with students and making adjustments as needed!

It may seem kinda strange to spend so much time just focusing on verbs, but there is a bigger matter at hand – writing complete sentences. When our students have a better understanding of what a verb is and how to use it, then talking about sentence structure, verb tense,subject-verb agreement, and even word choice will go much smoother!

This will also help students in the future. As they move to more advanced and longer forms of writing, we don’t want students to write the same words over and over. With a wider range of verbs and diction, students’ essays will have more clarity and fluidity. Every teacher’s dream!

Developing an understanding of VERBS,  helps students easily grasp future lessons on  sentence structure,  verb tense,  subject-verb agreement, word choice and more!

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