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The Action Verb

Recognize an action verb when you see one.

Explode! Scream! Sneeze! Type! Kick! What are these words doing? They are expressing action, something that a person, animal, force of nature, or thing can do. As a result, we call these words action verbs. Look at the examples below:

In the library and at church, Michele giggles inappropriately.

Giggling is something that Michele can do.

Because of the spicy Jamaican pepper, David reached for his glass of iced tea.

Reaching is something that David can do—happily, if his mouth is on fire.

Carlos watched pretty women in skimpy bikinis parading on the beach.

Watching is something that Carlos can do.

The alarm clock buzzed like an angry bumblebee.

Buzzing is something that the alarm clock can do.

The coffee maker gurgled on the kitchen counter.

Gurgling is something that the coffee maker can do.

If you are unsure whether a sentence contains an action verb or not, look at every word in the sentence and ask yourself, "Can a person or thing do this?"

Read the sentence below:

During biology class, Omesh napped at his desk.

Can you during? Is during something you can do? Can you biology? Is there someone biologying outside the building right now? Can you class? Do your obnoxious neighbors keep you up until 2 a.m. because they are classing? Can you Omesh? What does a person do when he's Omeshing? Can you nap? Bingo! Sure you can! You'd probably prefer napping to listening to a biology lecture yourself. Can you at? Of course not! Can you his? Show me hising. Can you desk? Demonstrate desking for me!

In the sentence above, there is only one action verb: napped.

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