What is a Main Verb? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Main Verb
  • 0:53 Verb Review
  • 1:28 Main Verbs in a Sentence
  • 2:23 Complications
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

There are four things you need to write a good sentence: capitalization, punctuation, a subject, and a verb. In this lesson, we will learn about the verb - its role and how to identify it.

Main Verb

What do you like most about your favorite movie - the character, the story, the special effects? Most movies have a main character - the person or animal who stars in the movie. But if you only have the main character, all you have is a movie poster - nothing happens. You need action to make a good movie.

A sentence is like a movie. It must have a subject, which tells whom or what the sentence is about, like the movie star. But a sentence also needs some action. That is why every sentence has a main verb. The main verb of the sentence expresses either the action or the state of being of the subject.

sentence formula

Verb Review

What is a verb, anyway? A verb is a word that expresses an action or state of being.

Action verbs express action. Here are some examples of action verbs:

  • run, walk, kick, hug, eat, dance, write, forget, build

Linking verbs connect the subject to a word that describes or renames it. Here are some examples of linking verbs:

  • is, was, seems, appears, feels, grows, smells, tastes, becomes

Main Verbs in a Sentence

A sentence is a group of words that has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought.

The main verb is the verb in the sentence that is expressing the action or state of being of the subject.

1. Marilyn ate pie.

  • In this sentence, the subject is Marilyn. The action verb ate tells the action that Marilyn performed. Ate is the main verb in this sentence.

2. She was hungry.

  • In this sentence, the subject is she. The linking verb was connects the subject to the word that describes it. Was is the main verb in this sentence.

3. Cooper ran around the track.

  • In this sentence, the subject is Cooper. The action verb ran tells what Cooper did. Ran is the main verb in this sentence.

main verbs


You might find a sentence with more than one verb. If this happens, you need to first find the subject of the sentence. Then see which verb expresses the action of that subject or connects that subject to a word that renames or describes it.

1. Eric yelled at the barking dog.

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