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Learning about Action verbs and Linking verbs


Verbs are words used to describe an action, occurrence, or state of being. They form the main part of the predicate of a sentence. Verbs are also the drivers of written and spoken English, since they animate the conversation or article.

There are three types of verbs; action, linking and helping. Most of the verbs you will use in conversation or writing will be action verbs or linking verbs. The different types of verbs have varying degrees of impact; it is important to choose the correct verb and type of verb to suit the particular situation such as business English.

Action verbs

An action verb tells what the subject of our sentence is doing. Action verbs can be used to express physical or mental actions.

Action verbs have a power that is not found in other word types. Action verbs have impact and provide instant information. They help the reader picture the subject engaged in the activity in a clear, precise manner. Additionally, action verbs aid the flow of an article or talk eliminating the need for throwaway transitional words such as “also.”

There are thousands of action verbs. Here are a few examples:

Accumulate Run Merge Organize
Jumped Divide Officiate Allocate
Research File Arrange Spoke
Assemble Place Plan Act
Enforce Enlist Command Thought
Observed Built Closed Kept

person working and drinking coffee

There are two types of action verbs; transitive and intransitive.

Transitive verbs

Transitive verbs always have a noun that receives the action of the verb. This is called the direct object. Some examples of transitive verbs are:

  • Malcom broke the window.
  • Becky gave Sandy a present.
  • The dog wolfed down his dinner.
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In our examples the object receiving the action are the window, which was broken, the present, which was given, and the dinner which was eaten. The final example shows show action verbs are able to convey a clear picture of an activity and enhance the sentence.

Intransitive verbs

Intransitive verbs do not have a direct or direct object. For example, Jack walked slowly to school. No object receives the action. We have used an adverb, slowly, to modify the verb.

Because action verbs are so powerful, you definitely want to use action verbs in your resume and CV.

As we stated earlier, action verbs help the reader picture you in the role you are applying for. They provide your resume with impact and create strong impression. There are many types of professions, which have a number of action verbs that are common within the particular business section. Spending some time researching industry action verbs for the industry you are interested in can add more power to your resume.

Most business consultants state that the average hiring manager spends only a few seconds with each resume; typically the first look is basically a quick scan. Action verbs have a tendency to catch the reader’s eye, especially when industry specific words are used. This can lead to the employer spending more time with the resume.

Many companies require applicants to submit their CV and resumes through an online portal. Many of the resumes submitted are scanned by the computer which is programmed to look for and flag resumes containing specific keywords, phrases, and action verbs. Often the resume is scored by the computer, prior to being sent to the hiring manager. The use of the correct words can be the difference in how highly the computer rates your submission. Many of the major job search portals use similar search algorithms to select resumes to forward to employees.

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One caution about using action verbs in a resume, while you want the resume to have impact you also want it to be accurate. Choose action verbs that accurately describe your skills, roles, and experience.

Linking Verbs

A linking verb is a verb that describes the subject. Linking verbs connect the subject to a predicate noun or a predicate adjective. Linking verbs do not describe any direct physical or mental action of the subject or any action controlled by the subject.

Unlike action verbs, there is only a very short list of words that are true linking verbs. Interestingly these words are always linking verbs.

Here is the list:

Be, am, is, are, was, were, has been, any other form of the verb “be”, become, and seem.

There are other verbs that can be both linking verbs and action verbs. All of the sense verbs; look, smell, touch, appear, sound, taste, and feel can be linking verbs. Other examples of verbs that can be linking verbs and action verbs include turn, remain, prove, and grow.

Some examples of linking verbs:

  • She is a lawyer.
  • He seems like a nice guy.
  • I have become tired of your lateness.
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Linking verb and Action Verb Exercise

It is good to do exercises to help you to consolidate what you have learned. Here is a short exercise where you need to identify the type of verb used in the sentence.

  1. Janet walked to the mall.
  2. Pierce seems to be sad.
  3. Isabelle experimented with her paints.
  4. The fruit smells spoiled.
  5. Joan ran in the marathon.
  6. Beethoven was an amazing composer.
  7. Jack organized the documents
  8. Izzy looks ill.
  9. The first cup of coffee every morning tastes great.
  10. Penelope skated across the ice rink.
  11. Everyone was tired after the bike race.
  12. Marcia grew to be very tall.
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