Main Verbs

The name itself tells us that Main Verbs are important. Main verbs are Verbs which show the major actions carried out by the subjects (I, we, you, he, she, it, they). Main Verbs are also known as Lexical Verbs or Principal Verbs. The term Lexical means related to the Vocabulary (words) or the dictionary.

Generally Main Verbs have ability to stand alone, however we can also find one or more than one Auxiliary/Helping Verbs helping them.

Main Verbs vs Helping Verbs

For Example, in the sentence, 
"John has been working very hard lately"
There are three verbs but only one that shows the action of the subject.

has - auxiliary verb
been - auxiliary verb
working - main verb

Forms of Main Verb

Each main Verb has five forms.

Base Form

Past tense

Present Tense

Continuous Tense

Participle

Tie

Jump

Cook

Date

Marry

Blame

Teach

Tied

Jumped

Cooked

Dated

Married

Blamed

Taught

Ties

Jumps

Cooks

Dates

Marries

Blames

Teaches

Tying

Jumping

Cooking

Dating

Marrying

Blaming

Teaching

Ties

Jumps

Cooks

Dates

Marries

Blames

Teaches

Examples of Main Verb Usage

They can be understood more clearly with the help of some more examples and their use in sentences.

1. Simple/Base form    

Eat, play, sleep, laugh, study, dance, pass,  sing, wake etc.

I never eat meat because I am a vegetarian.
Do they laugh this way?
You sing so sweetly.
Wake up and exercise daily.
Study two hours every day to pass tour exam.

2. Past Tense                        

Ate, played, slept, laughed, studies, danced, sang, woke etc.

We ate lobster yesterday.
She danced all night with him.
I sang like a toad.
We woke up to wish him his birthday.
I slept all day long.

3. Continuous –ing form    

Eating, playing, sleeping, laughing, studying, dancing, singing, walking  etc.

Can’t you see? I am eating.
My children are singing rhymes in their bedroom.
We are walking these days to work.
James is studying seriously.
Are you laughing at me?

4. Past Participle                 

Eaten, played, slept, laughed, studied, danced, sung, walked

I have eaten my breakfast.
She laughed at him.
His child danced on the stage.
We walked all the way back to home from the office.
You hardly studied.

5. Present Tense                      

Eats, plays, sleeps, laughs, studies, dances, sings, walks

Janet plays violin.
He studies very hard.
It dances funnily.
She walks to the grocery store every morning.
He laughs at my silly mistakes.

Points to Remember

  • Generally, ‘be’, ‘have’ and ‘do’ are considered Auxiliary Verbs/helping. However, at times they also act as main Verbs.
    As Main Verb
    am a student and he is a teacher.

    As Auxiliary Verb
    am working as a teacher and he is working as a student.

    ‘Am’ and ‘is’ are helping verbs as they are seen to be supporting main verb ‘working’. Sometimes even more than one helping verbs are seen to be supporting main verb in sentences.
     
  • I most cases, the tense of the helping verb agrees with the tense of the main verb. But sometimes, the tense of helping Verbs can differ from that of main Verb. It’s not necessary that tenses of both Verbs should be same but they should be grammatically correct.
    Same Tense
    She told me that he was very handsome.

    Different Tense(still correct)
    She told me that he is very handsome.