Types of Verbs
Before you begin the verb tense lessons, it is extremely important to understand that NOT all English verbs are the same. English verbs are divided into three groups: Normal Verbs, Non-Continuous Verbs, and Mixed Verbs.
Group I Normal Verbs
Most verbs are "Normal Verbs." These verbs are usually physical actions which you can see somebody doing. These verbs can be used in all tenses.
to run, to walk, to eat, to fly, to go, to say, to touch, etc.
- I eat dinner every day.
- I am eating dinner now.
Group II Non-Continuous Verbs
The second group, called "Non-Continuous Verbs," is smaller. These verbs are usually things you cannot see somebody doing. These verbs are rarely used in continuous tenses. They include:
to be, to want, to cost, to seem, to need, to care, to contain, to owe, to exist...
to possess, to own, to belong...
to like, to love, to hate, to dislike, to fear, to envy, to mind...
- He is needing help now. Not Correct
- He needs help now. Correct
- He is wanting a drink now. Not Correct
- He wants a drink now. Correct
Group III Mixed Verbs
The third group, called "Mixed Verbs," is the smallest group. These verbs have more than one meaning. In a way, each meaning is a unique verb. Some meanings behave like "Non-Continuous Verbs," while other meanings behave like "Normal Verbs."
to appear, to feel, to have, to hear, to look, to see, to weigh...
List of Mixed Verbs with Examples and Definitions:
- Donna appears confused. Non-Continuous Verb
- My favorite singer is appearing at the jazz club tonight. Normal Verb
- I see her. Non-Continuous Verb
- I am seeing the doctor. Normal Verb
- I am seeing her. Normal Verb
- He is seeing ghosts at night. Normal Verb
Some Verbs Can Be Especially Confusing:
- Joe is American. Non-Continuous Verb
- Joe is being very American. Normal Verb
- Joe is being very rude. Normal Verb
- Joe is being very formal. Normal Verb
NOTICE: Only rarely is "to be" used in a continuous form. This is most commonly done when a person is temporarily behaving badly or stereotypically. It can also be used when someone's behavior is noticeably different.
- The massage feels great. Non-Continuous Verb
- I don't feel well today. Sometimes used as Non-Continuous Verb
I am not feeling well today. Sometimes used as Normal Verb
NOTICE: The second meaning of "feel" is very flexible and there is no real difference in meaning between "I don't feel well today" and "I am not feeling well today."