How To Teach Action Verbs (With Examples)

Teaching action verbs is essential for developing effective communication skills in ESL students, as these verbs are the backbone of dynamic and expressive language. In this guide, we will explore effective strategies to teach action verbs, enabling your students to confidently use these verbs in English.

Understanding and utilizing action verbs is key for learners to describe activities and actions vividly. They will learn how verbs like ‘run’, ‘jump’, ‘eat’, and ‘think’ transform sentences, adding movement and energy to their speech and writing. Grasping these verbs is crucial for students to articulate actions and processes, especially in situations requiring detailed and lively descriptions.

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What are Action Verbs?

Action verbs bring life to a sentence with movement and purpose. They are the words that specifically describe what the subject is doing, whether it’s a physical activity, or a mental action. These verbs are crucial in the English language as they provide clarity and direction to a sentence, making it more engaging and understandable. For example, verbs like ‘think’, ‘laugh’, and ‘discover’ are all action verbs that vividly illustrate the action being performed.

Their usage is essential in creating dynamic and impactful sentences, as they help the listener or reader visualize the action, making the communication process more effective and lively. Understanding and correctly using action verbs is a foundational aspect of mastering English, and is key to developing fluent and expressive language skills.

Who can benefit in learning action verbs?

Learning action verbs is beneficial for a wide range of individuals, spanning from young learners in their early stages of language acquisition to adults seeking to refine their language skills or learn English as a second language.

  1. Young Learners: Children in elementary school can greatly benefit from learning action verbs as they form the foundation for building basic sentence structure and enhancing vocabulary. This knowledge is crucial for their overall language development and helps in improving both their spoken and written communication skills.
  2. ESL/EFL Students: For students learning English as a second or foreign language, understanding and using action verbs is essential. It enables them to convey actions and ideas more effectively, which is vital for their academic success and daily communication in English-speaking environments.
  3. Adult Learners: Adults looking to improve their English proficiency for professional or personal reasons can also benefit from learning action verbs. It can aid in making their communication more dynamic and effective, especially in professional settings where clear and impactful communication is key.
  4. Special Education Students: Students with learning difficulties or language delays can benefit from the structured learning of action verbs. It can aid in enhancing their cognitive and language abilities, providing them with essential tools for better communication.
  5. Language Enthusiasts: Individuals with an interest in language learning or linguistics can find the study of action verbs enriching. It deepens their understanding of language mechanics and enriches their linguistic skills.
  6. Speech Therapy Clients: People undergoing speech therapy, especially those recovering from language impairments due to injury or stroke, can benefit from learning action verbs as part of their rehabilitation process.

Teaching Action Verbs

For teachers and those who love language, teaching these verbs is important not just for growing a student’s vocabulary, but also for helping them communicate more effectively and vividly. By using fun activities, real examples, and practical exercises, we can help students not only learn and understand action verbs, but also use them confidently in their daily talking and writing.

Without further adieu, let’s get onto it! There are two main types of action verbs in the English language:

Teaching Action Verbs: Transitive Verbs

The idea of transitive verbs in English grammar revolves around the idea that verbs need a presence of an object or noun to receive the action they denote. The term “transitive” comes from the Latin word “transire”, which directly translate to “to go across” in the English language. In short, the action of the verb “crosses over” an object to complete the meaning of a sentence.

To make it easier to understand how transitive verbs work, here are some examples of transitive verbs incorporated into sentences:

“She reads a book,” ‘reads‘ is a transitive verb because the action of reading is being applied to ‘a book‘.

“She cooks dinner every night,” “cooks” is the transitive verb, and “dinner” is the object receiving the action.

“He writes a letter to his friend,” “writes” is the transitive verb, because the action of reading is being applied to “a letter“.

“The player throws the ball during the game,” “throws” is the transitive verb, and “the ball” is the object receiving the action.

“They buy groceries every week,” “buy” is the transitive verb, and “groceries” is the object receiving the action.

“She painted a beautiful landscape,” “painted” is the transitive verb, because the action of reading is being applied to “a beautiful landscape“.

Note: Transitive verbs often answer the question of “what?” or “whom?” in relation to the verb.

Teaching Action Verbs: Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive Verbs are a part of action verbs in English grammar that do not require an object or noun to understand their meaning. The main characteristic of these verbs is that the action they describe does not “transit” or “cross over” to an object or noun – instead, the action remains in the subject.

To make it easier to digest how intransitive verbs work, here are some examples of intransitive verbs incorporated into sentences:

“He sleeps,” ‘sleeps‘ is an intransitive verb because there is no object receiving the action.

“The audience laughed loudly,” “laughed” is the intransitive verb, and the sentence does not require an object to complete its meaning.

“They arrived early for the meeting,” “arrived” is an intransitive verb because there is no object receiving the action.

“The flowers grow quickly in the spring,” “grow” is the intransitive verb, and the sentence does not require an object to complete its meaning.

“She sits quietly in the corner,” “sits” is an intransitive verb because there is no object receiving the action.

“He dances gracefully,” “dances” is the intransitive verb, and the sentence does not require an object to complete its meaning.

Note: Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive, depending on how they are used in a sentence. For example, “She sings a song” (transitive) versus “She sings beautifully” (intransitive).

Action Verb Exercises

Here are some exercise that will supplement teaching action verbs to students:

Transitive Verbs Exercise

Match the appropriate verb to each sentence and fill in the blanks. Remember, a transitive verb needs an object to complete its meaning.

Sentence (Fill in the blank with a transitive verb) List of Transitive Verbs (Answer key for teachers)
1. She _______ the book on the shelf. places
2. The chef _______ a delicious cake. bakes
3. They _______ their homework before dinner. completed
4. He _______ his friend at the station. meets
5. The artist _______ a beautiful portrait. paints
6. The gardener _______ the flowers every morning. waters
7. She _______ a letter to her cousin. writes
8. We _______ the old car with a new model. replaced
9. The teacher _______ the test on Friday. administers
10. He _______ his opinion during the meeting. expresses

Note for students: Identify the object for each transitive verb in your sentences after filling in the blanks. This will give better understanding on how the verb is acting upon the object. You can also create your own sentences using other transitive verbs to further practice this concept.

Intransitive Verbs Exercise

Match the appropriate intransitive verb to each sentence and fill in the blanks. Remember, an intransitive verb does not require a direct object to complete its meaning.

Sentence (Fill in the blank with an intransitive verb) List of Intransitive Verbs (Answer key for teachers)
1. The cat _______ softly on the windowsill. sits
2. After the movie, everyone _______ loudly. laughed
3. In the morning, the flowers _______ beautifully. bloom
4. As the sun set, the birds _______ towards the south. flew
5. During the concert, the audience _______ and cheered. clapped
6. When the rain started, the children _______ inside. ran
7. The stars _______ brightly in the night sky. shone
8. After the long journey, the travelers _______ exhausted. arrived
9. Every morning, the sun _______ over the horizon. rises
10. In winter, the snow _______ gently. falls

Note for students: Identify why these verbs are intransitive after filling in the blanks (they don’t need an object or noun to make sense). You can also create your own sentences using other intransitive verbs for further practice.

Final Thoughts on Teaching Action Verbs to Your Students

Thank you for exploring this resource on teaching action verbs to your students. Introducing lessons on action verbs is crucial in English language education, as it provides students with the dynamic tools necessary for expressive and effective communication. Learning how to use action verbs like ‘run’, ‘jump’, ‘think’, and ‘create’ allows students to vividly describe activities and actions. This understanding not only elevates their speaking and writing skills but also brings clarity and energy to their communication, especially in scenarios that require detailed descriptions. Proficiency in action verbs enables students to express their ideas and actions with greater impact and confidence.

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John Bart
Author: John Bart

I am the co-owner of englishlearningbypro.com, a community built specifically for English teachers around the world trying to make a living teaching English. I have lived in Brazil for four years and had previously taught private English classes for three years. I am passionate about helping others, and making English teaching and learning easier.

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