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An Introduction to Action Verbs

Why Vocabulary Words in English like "Run," "Swim," "Jump," "Run," Play," and "Walk" Are Crucial to Becoming a Better ESL Student

When you are first getting the basic structure of English sentences, it's important to base those same sentences around key verbs in the language that we use every day. Knowing what action verbs are as well as when and where to use them is key to becoming better at the beginning stages of your English language studies. In this blog post, we will cover what an action verb is, what it does, and we will cover numerous examples in the past and present tenses in order for students to understand how to use these action verbs and apply them to regular sentences.

I recommend taking these examples and studying them on your own by copying them or saying them out loud depending on if you are working on your speaking or writing. You can also have a friend, or a family member help you understand what these action verbs mean by listening to the context of the sentences and how these different action verbs are used. Please remember to memorize this type of English vocabulary because action verbs are perhaps the most commonly used in English and will come up quite frequently in both the written and spoken form. Do your best to read through this article and then on your own time, please feel free to give a few examples of sentences that use action verbs to complete them.

An action verb is a verb that expresses physical or mental action.

The action verb tells us what the subject of our clause or sentence is doing-physically or mentally.

Examples of Action Verbs:

To find an action verb:

  1. Find the word in the sentence that is something someone or something can do.
  2. Remember that the action can be physical or mental.

Examples of action verbs: think, smell, love, do, act, run, swim

Examples of action verbs in a sentence:

Maria walked to school.

"Walked" tells us what Maria was doing physically. (Past Tense)

Louie thought about the math problem.

"Thought" tells us what Louie was doing mentally. (Past Tense)

Below are some more examples of sentences that contain action verbs:

The action verbs are italicized.

  1. Sam and Dave ride the bus to school each morning.
  2. Jordan wants a horse for her birthday.
  3. Isaac reads a chapter in his book each night.
  4. Do you think it will rain today?
  5. I believe that fairies, monsters, and unicorns are real.
  6. Will you help me with my Math homework?
  7. Please call your mom, Teresa.
  8. The chicken strutted across the road without any fear.

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  1. Are you doing your homework today?
  2. McGregor and Mayweather will be fighting in the boxing match tomorrow.
  3. She is singing a cover of a famous song by Ella Fitzgerald.
  4. I’m smelling the flowers and their scent is divine.
  5. She is acting in the top musical on Broadway these days.
  6. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
  7. We are dancing to the beat of the Salsa music.

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Lastly, as you can see from the numerous examples I have provided, there are dozens of action verbs in English but the ones I would like you to focus on primarily are the few that come up most frequently. From my experience as both an English as a Second Language teacher and a student of other languages, action verbs like "run, go, swim, jump, walk, play, dance, sing" are all vocabulary words that you should memorize first. Once you have those action verbs under your belt, you will be able to move on to more complicated and longer action verbs such as "think, strut, believe, smell, etc." In order to gain an advantage in getting better with English vocabulary, make sure to focus your efforts on action verbs first before moving on to other vocabulary topics. 

Ben W
Ben W

Ben helps students from around the world to improve their English language skills. Ben enjoys traveling around the world, developing his writing abilities, and reading good books.  

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