Verb Lists to Have on Hand

As a teacher, you sometimes need to come up with examples on the spot. Sometimes it’s hard to think of a particular example, especially when more common alternatives (ones that don’t fit your category) come to mind far too easily. That’s why it’s good to have some word lists on hand.

Write these in your notebook, print out pages for your folders, type them in your phone or tablet, or even stick them on your classroom walls.

Intransitive Verbs

Transitive Verbs are verbs that require direct objects. For example, you can’t say, “She gave.” She gave what? There has to be something that she gave. Thus, ‘gave’ is a transitive verb. Intransitive verbs, on the other hand do not have a direct object. For example, ‘stood’ is an intransitive verb, and “He stood,” is a complete sentence. By the way, some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive, like sing: “We sang,” and “We sang a few songs,” are both complete sentences.

I find intransitive verbs to be particularly helpful with beginners. With transitive verbs, you have to also use a direct object, which means you’re giving the students more words to think about; more words they don’t know yet. When you want to keep things simple for them, a subject and an intransitive verb can be sufficient for your needs.

Here are a few intransitive verbs for beginners:

  • go
  • stand
  • sit
  • lie down
  • talk
  • sleep
  • sing
  • cry
  • laugh
  • smile
  • frown
  • fall
  • walk
  • run
  • swim
  • jump
  • break
  • agree


Non-Irregular Verbs

Okay, sure, these are better known as ‘regular verbs’. But that term seems a little ambiguous, and I want to stress that these are verbs that are not irregular. Ironically, the irregular verbs are more commonly used than regular verbs. I found it actually pretty difficult to think of regular verbs on the spot because it’s so easy to think of irregular verbs instead. That’s why I wrote a non-irregular verbs list and keep a copy with me every time I teach.

Download our list of non-irregular verbs.


Irregular Verbs

The classic verbs list. We use these when introducing past forms, and then again each time we talk about perfect tenses. I actually recommend that you use 3 different lists:

  1. a full list organized alphabetically. This is great when students need to look up a particular verb (or see if it’s even on the list). Virtually every coursebook will have this list in the back.

  2. a full list grouped by type. This is helpful for learners who wish to review irregular verbs so they can better remember them. There are different ways to group them. Insiders can download our grouped list.

  3. a list for elementary students. The full list can be overwhelming for those just learning about irregular past forms. We recommend cutting out the past participle column and shortening the list. Insiders can download our list for elementary students.


Elementary Verb Pairs

Especially for beginners and elementary students, it’s nice to teach verbs in pairs. Opposites are a good way to go. Sometimes a leaner can better understand the definition of a word if they are also taught the opposite. Furthermore, when students for associations between words in their minds, they are more likely to remember them later.

Here are some examples of easy verb pairs:

  • go / come
  • drop / pick up
  • open / close
  • start / stop
  • love / hate
  • sleep / wake
  • eat / drink
  • sit / stand / lie

You can certainly come up with a lot more on your own.


Stative Verbs

We talk about stative verbs whenever we teach continuous/progressive tenses. Stative verbs can’t be continuous because they are instantaneous, permanent, or receptive.

Here are some common stative verbs:

  • be
  • think
  • know
  • cost
  • love
  • like
  • want
  • need
  • seem
  • sound
  • have
  • owe

There are a lot more than the ones listed here. For a more comprehensive list (over 60 words), download our Stative Verbs printout for Insiders.


Phrasal Verbs

It just occurred to me that it would be nice to have a list of phrasal verbs. I’ve never used one, but it would probably be helpful to show students more than the few at a time that are listed in one chapter of your coursebook.

We don’t have a list to share with you yet, but we’ll put one together soon.

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