Main Verbs - Explore What is, Definition and Examples

Verbs are classified into two main categories, namely the main verbs and the helping verbs. This article will help you understand what is a main verb and its definition. Go through the examples as well to have a clear idea of what and how main verbs are used in the English language.

Table of Contents

What is a Main Verb?

A main verb, as the name suggests, is the principal verb in a sentence. It denotes the action performed by the primary subject in a context.

Definition of a Main Verb

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a main verb as “the verb that contains the meaning, compared with any auxiliary verbs that go with it in a clause.” According to the Collins Dictionary, a main verb is “a word used as the final verb in a verb phrase, expressing the lexical meaning of the verb phrase, as ‘drink’ in ‘I don’t drink’, ‘going’ in ‘I am going’, or ‘spoken’ in ‘We have spoken’.”

Examples of Main Verbs

There are umpteen numbers of verbs that can be used as main verbs in a sentence. Given below is a list of a few common verbs that can function as main verbs.

  • Write
  • Speak
  • Read
  • Talk
  • Walk
  • Sit
  • Jump
  • Swim
  • Leave
  • Am
  • Is
  • Are
  • Have
  • Has
  • Take
  • Lend
  • Request
  • Apologise
  • Teach
  • Grab
  • Gulp
  • Swallow
  • Digest
  • Drink
  • Do
  • Make
  • Try
  • Pause
  • Copy
  • Invent
  • Discover
  • Chat

How to Use Main Verbs in Sentences?

Main verbs can be further divided into regular verbs and irregular verbs. The usage of the verb changes according to the type of the main verb. As far as regular verbs are concerned, they follow the same rules when conjugated as a particular tense form. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, have specific conjugations. The usage of these verbs as a main verb to represent the different tenses, therefore, depends on the type of verb.

Let us look at the following examples to have a better understanding.

  • I am a tennis player.
  • She is going to the grocery store.
  • The little boy loved the cake.
  • My mom knows to operate the computer.
  • Tina asked Sheela to work on the pending documents.

Difference between Main Verbs and Helping Verbs

The main difference between main verbs and helping verbs is that the main verb is the principal verb in a sentence and represents the primary action done by the subject in the sentence, whereas the helping verb is used along with the main verb to denote the course of action. Let us look at the following examples to understand better.

  • Arjun is a salesman. (The verb ‘is’ acts as the main verb here that represents the action of Arjun being a salesman.)
  • The peacock flew from one tree to another. (The verb ‘flew’ acts as the main verb in this sentence, and it represents the action of the peacock flying from one tree to another in the past.)
  • Gavin will be meeting us at the airport. (The verb ‘will be’ is the helping verb and the verb ‘meeting’ acts as the main verb that represents a progressive action of Gavin meeting us at the airport in the future.)
  • She has come all the way from Chicago to profess her love for him. (The verb ‘has’ acts as the helping verb and ‘come’ acts as the main verb, which indicates the action of her coming from Chicago in the recent past to profess her love for him.)
  • He likes pizzas and burgers more than anything else. (The verb ‘likes’ is the main verb in the sentence, and it signifies the action of him liking pizzas and burgers more than anything else.

Test Your Knowledge on Main Verbs

Let us see if you have understood well. Identify the main verbs in the following sentences.

1. Raam sent me a gift for my birthday.

2. Tharun has a brother.

3. It is Chirrag’s birthday today.

4. Sheena had visited her mother, who was hospitalised, last week.

5. I have called for a meeting of all the previous employees today evening.

6. When can you deliver the package?

7. They are trapped inside a vault.

8. The mom ran with her children to safety.

9. She started screaming when she saw a cockroach.

10. Can I ask you a question?

Check your answers to find out if you got it right.

1. Raam sent me a gift for my birthday.

2. Tharun has a brother.

3. It is Chirrag’s birthday today.

4. Sheena had visited her mother, who was hospitalised, last week.

5. I have called for a meeting of all the previous employees today evening.

6. When can you deliver the package?

7. They are trapped inside a vault.

8. The mom ran with her children to safety.

9. She started screaming when she saw a cockroach.

10. Can I ask you a question?

Frequently Asked Questions on Main Verbs

What is a main verb?

A main verb, as the name suggests, is the principal verb in a sentence. It denotes the action performed by the primary subject in a context.

What is the definition of a main verb?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a main verb as “the verb that contains the meaning, compared with any auxiliary verbs that go with it in a clause.” According to the Collins Dictionary, a main verb is “a word used as the final verb in a verb phrase, expressing the lexical meaning of the verb phrase, as ‘drink’ in ‘I don’t drink’, ‘going’ in ‘I am going’, or ‘spoken’ in ‘We have spoken’.”

Give some examples of main verbs.

Eat, drink, walk, talk, have, had, am, is, take, keep, need, try, make, etc., are some verbs that can be used as main verbs.

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