Do you know how to learn English verbs?
Study flashcards. Work hard. Travel to America, if you want.
Verbs are everywhere.
So where do you begin? Which verbs should you learn first?
Here are 50 of the most common verbs you’ll use in any given situation.
First, you’ll learn a few that you’re likely to hear everywhere you go. Then we’ll cover verbs that are specific to familiar situations, like traveling, and places, like your home, school or business.
Ways to Practice English Verbs
Act out the verbs.
Sometimes transforming words into actions can help your brain memorize vocabulary.
Write verbs on individual slips of paper, and put each slip into a hat. Draw a piece of paper out of the hat and act out the verb, then another, and another and so on.
You can easily do this activity by yourself.
Or, if you have a couple of friends who are also learning English, you can make a game out of it!
Play a form of Charades. While you act out a verb, your friends have to guess what the verb on the piece of paper is.
Watch videos to see verbs in action.
Are you a visual learner?
Watching videos to see examples of each verb may help you memorize and understand words.
FluentU is a fantastic tool for English language students to watch videos. FluentU takes real-world videos—like commercials, music videos and movie trailers—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
When you watch a video, you can follow along with annotated subtitles. Just hover over an English word with your mouse to see the definition, part of speech and an associated image.
If you click on the word, you’ll access a list of more FluentU videos that feature the vocabulary word. Seeing a verb in multiple videos makes it easy to gain a deeper understanding of the word and the contexts in which it can be used.
After watching a video, you’ll enter Quiz Mode. FluentU’s quizzes feature interactive activities to help you remember verbs and other vocab. Earn points to move to the next level and access more material.
You can filter videos by level, type of video or topic. This means you can focus on verbs relative to the topic you’re interested in. You also won’t be bored reviewing verbs you already know or overwhelmed by being thrown into a difficult level.
This study method is a classic for a reason. Flashcards make for a quick way to memorize vocab words!
Write the English word on one side of the card, then the definition (in either English or your native tongue, depending on your level) on the other side.
You may buy a set of physical flashcards and create a deck the old-fashioned way. Or, download an app (such as FluentU) that allows you to create digital flashcard decks. FluentU will even provide you with ready-made flashcard sets that cover vocab from videos you’ve already watched.
There’s no right or wrong way to make flashcards, but going the digital route can make it easier to study from anywhere, without having to lug (carry) around a thick deck of cards.
Write a story.
You’ve memorized the definitions. You can understand what others are saying when they use the verbs in a sentence. Now you need to make sure you can use the verbs on your own.
Try writing a short story, and challenge yourself to use 10 or 15 of the verbs you’re studying in the story. If you have a friend who’s also an English student, swap (trade) and proofread each other’s stories.
If you’re someone who remembers material by writing, this is a great exercise to put your knowledge to the test.
Soar to New Heights with 50 Common English Verbs
The Most Common English Verbs
1. to be
Conjugation: to be
He is the only male cousin in his family.
to occur or take place
The conference will be next Wednesday.
2. to have
Conjugation: to have
to own or hold
I have two dogs.
We had a good time at the restaurant last night.
3. to ask
Conjugation: to ask
to say something to gain information
Did you ask the teacher when your homework assignment is due?
to request something from someone
Mom asked me to clean my room.
4. to do
Conjugation: to do
to perform an action
A: What do you like to do on weekends?
B: I usually watch TV and play with my dogs.
to act in a certain way
My favorite football team is doing poorly.
5. to get
Conjugation: to get
A: Has the letter I sent arrived yet?
B: Yes, I got it.
to obtain or fetch
Can you get my jacket from the closet for me?
A: Are you still studying for the English test?
B: Yes. I just don’t get how to conjugate verbs!
A: I know, conjugations are difficult to understand.
6. to go
Conjugation: to go
to move from one place to another
Are you going to the concert next weekend?
It’s already 11:00? I have to go!
7. to hear
Conjugation: to hear
to take in a sound with your ears
A: Did you hear that sound?
B: Yeah, but don’t worry, I think it’s just the wind.
to be aware of
Did you hear about Taylor Swift’s new cat?
8. to say
Conjugation: to say
to utter words aloud
A: What did she say?
B: She said that she will think about it.
to convey information
The website says the museum will open at 8:00.
9. to know
Conjugation: to know
to be aware of
Did you know that Taylor Swift got a new cat?
to have a relationship with someone
A: Do you know Sarah?
B: Yes, we used to work together.
10. to like
Conjugation: to like
A: Do you like the TV show “Supernatural?”
B: Yes, but I like “Breaking Bad” more.
11. to love
Conjugation: to love
to like a lot
A: Do you like the movie “Ocean’s 11?”
B: Yes, I love that movie!
to have deep romantic or emotional feelings for
I know your mom is strict, but remember that she loves you.
I love Steve—I want to marry him!
12. to need
Conjugation: to need
I need a pencil to take the test.
13. to want
Conjugation: to want
I want a puppy, but I would adopt an older dog if I found the right one.
14. to think
Conjugation: to think
to have an opinion or belief
I don’t think the color red looks good on me.
I think God is real.
to direct your mind toward something
A: What are you thinking about?
B: I am thinking about what I want to eat for lunch.
English Verbs for Home
15. to eat
Conjugation: to eat
to put food in your mouth and swallow it
Do you want to eat pizza or chicken for dinner?
16. to drink
Conjugation: to drink
to put liquid in your mouth and swallow it
Don’t forget to drink water before you go to bed.
17. to watch
Conjugation: to watch
to look at or observe
You can watch TV for 30 minutes when we get home.
18. to sleep
Conjugation: to sleep
to be asleep
I try to sleep for at least eight hours every night.
19. to cook
Conjugation: to cook
to prepare food or a meal
Dad loves to cook healthy meals for the family.
20. to clean (up)
Conjugation: to clean
to make something free of dirt or mess
Let’s clean the living room before we have guests over.
Did you clean up the mess on the kitchen counter?
21. to open
Conjugation: to open
to move something so that there is a space for access or view
I can’t open this pickle jar—can you help?
Open the window so the fresh air can get in.
22. to close
Conjugation: to close
to move as to cover an opening
Close the refrigerator door so we don’t waste electricity.
English Verbs for School
23. to learn
Conjugation: to learn
to gain knowledge of or skill in something
I am learning a lot in my English class!
24. to teach
Conjugation: to teach
to show or explain how to do something
The professor will teach us how to read the data in tomorrow’s class.
25. to study
Conjugation: to study
to devote time to an academic field
Note: In college, if you say “I am studying math,” this implies that math is your college major, and you’ll earn your degree in math. If you say “I am studying for the math test,” this means you’re studying for something specific for a short amount of time.
A: I hear you are starting college in the fall. What do you want to study?
B: I think I want to major in history.
A: Do you want to play basketball tomorrow night?
B: I can’t. I have to study for my communication class.
A: What are you studying for?
B: I have a huge test on Friday.
26. to write
Conjugation: to write
to mark words on a surface
Can you write the rules on the chalkboard?
to compose a document
I have to write a six-page paper by Monday morning.
27. to read
Conjugation: to read
to look at and understand written text
Everyone remember to read the first chapter of your textbook by tomorrow.
28. to assign
Conjugation: to assign
to give a job or task to someone
The teacher assigned us so much homework!
29. to listen
Conjugation: to listen
to pay attention to sound
Did you listen to the teacher’s instructions?
English Verbs for Business
30. to work
Conjugation: to work
Definition: to be engaged in a practical activity, especially at one’s job
I’m an elementary school teacher. I work at the school down the street.
31. to submit
Conjugation: to submit
to present to someone for judgment
I have to submit my report to the manager by 5:00.
32. to explain
Conjugation: to explain
to describe an idea to someone so that they understand it
A: Can you explain how to create this document to me?
B: Sure! First, select a template in Microsoft Word.
33. to contact
Conjugation: to contact
to communicate with someone
A: Have you contacted the manager yet?
B: Yes, I called her cell phone this morning.
34. to send
Conjugation: to send
to arrange for the delivery of
A: Have you contacted the manager yet?
B: No, but I will send her an email tomorrow.
I sent the team the memo yesterday.
35. to buy
Conjugation: to buy
to obtain in exchange for payment
We need to buy more uniforms for the new employees.
36. to sell
Conjugation: to sell
to give in exchange for payment
I sold 12 boxes this week.
37. to pay
Conjugation: to pay
to give currency in exchange for an item or service
A: Where do I pay for this necklace?
B: You can pay at the cash register at the front of the store.
A: Did the boss pay us yet?
B: No, he pays us every Friday.
38. to advertise
Conjugation: to advertise
to promote something in a public medium
A: What’s the best way to advertise the product?
B: We could create a TV commercial.
C: If we’re going to do that, let’s write a radio commercial, too.
39. to finish
Conjugation: to finish
A: When do you think you can finish writing that speech?
B: I should finish it by the end of the day on Tuesday.
English Verbs for Travel
40. to travel
Conjugation: to travel
to make a journey
My dad and I are traveling to Spain this summer.
41. to visit
Conjugation: to visit
to go see someone or something
I want to visit my grandmother next month.
Let’s visit as many attractions as we can.
42. to explore
Conjugation: to explore
to travel through a new place
Do you want to explore the neighborhood before we go home?
43. to tour
Conjugation: to tour
to travel through a new place, or to explore (explore and tour can often be used interchangeably)
Do you want to tour the neighborhood before we go home?
44. to fly
Conjugation: to fly
to move through the air
Note: You’ll often hear fly when referring to animals like birds. But when applied to travel, fly means to travel by airplane.
I am flying from Atlanta to New York at 4:00.
45. to ride
Conjugation: to ride
to travel in a vehicle
The Eiffel Tower is too far away for us to walk. Let’s ride the bus.
46. to camp
Conjugation: to camp
to stay in a tent or camper
Note: You can say to camp or to go camping.
Let’s camp in the mountains this weekend.
Do you want to go camping in the state park?
47. to ski
Conjugation: to ski
to travel over snow on skis
Note: As with to camp, you can say to ski or to go skiing.
Would you rather ski in Colorado or Utah?
My family and I go skiing every winter.
48. to stay
Conjugation: to stay
Definition: to remain in one place
Note: You can also use to stay to refer to where you’re temporarily living in a hotel or hostel.
A: You’re going to Sydney? Where are you going to stay?
B: I am staying at a hotel just outside of the city.
A: [on the phone] Where are you?
B: I’m standing at the bus stop.
A: Stay there. I’m on my way.
49. to swim
Conjugation: to swim
to move through water
Note: Like with to camp and to ski, you can say to swim or to go swimming.
Let’s swim in the pool after lunch.
Do you want to go swimming this weekend?
50. to relax
Conjugation: to relax
to become less anxious
You need to relax! Hopefully, going on vacation will help.
to partake in an enjoyable activity
Dad is relaxing in the hammock outside.
Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, there’s a verb. Once you’ve mastered these basic verbs, you can move on to more and more advanced ones. There’s always more to learn!
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer based in Nashville. You can find her work at outlets such as Business Insider, Roads & Kingdoms and The Write Life. Follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.
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