Lexical Verb


Lexical verb is also called as main verb or full verb. We can define it as “Lexical verb is any verb that is not an auxiliary verb (helping verb)”. The verb phrase used is a sentence is headed by the lexical verb.


Lexical verbs are used as the main verb‏‎ in the sentence. It carries the real-world and semantic meaning that’s why called the main verb. Lexical verbs are open-class of verbs that contain all verbs except auxiliary verb. The lexical verb denotes the main action to which the subject is engaged in. It does not require the presence of an auxiliary verb in the sentence whereas an auxiliary verb is used in the sentence only to help a lexical verb. A lexical verb can exist alone in the sentence.

For Example:

  • You
  • He laughed.
  • They ran.
  • She danced in public.
  • He googled my question to know the answer.

Differences between Lexical verbs and Auxiliary Verbs?

  • Auxiliary verbs become the helping verbs in the sentence. They help or support something else in the sentence and become the secondary to something more significant.
  • Lexical verbs become the main verbs in the phrase or sentence. Lexical verbs can be any verb which is no auxiliary verb. It carries its own meaning that’s why it can exist alone in the sentence and doesn’t necessarily need the use of helping or auxiliary verb.

For example:

I was acting very fast today at the carnival. (In this sentence, ‘was’ is auxiliary verb whereas ‘acting’ is lexical verb as it describes the main state or action of the subject.

Whenever I go to the restaurant, I will want the crab. (In this sentence, ‘will’ is auxiliary verb and ‘want’ is lexical verb as it shows main action of the subject).

  • Examples of auxiliary verbs are like: may, be, was, is, had, has, have, could, would, can, did, might, etc.
  • Examples of lexical verbs are like: run, laugh, see, think, want, act, pull, walk, go, make, etc.

Examples and Use of Lexical Verbs

Following are some examples showing the use of lexical verbs in the sentence:

Simple tenses use only the lexical verbs in the form: subject + lexical verb. Such as:

  • I run.
  • I ate.
  • I walked.
  • I laughed.
  • I tried.

Continuous or perfect tenses use both, an auxiliary verb and a lexical verb in the form: subject + auxiliary verb + lexical verb. Such as:

  • I had run.
  • I was acting.
  • I was eating.
  • I was laughing.
  • I was walking.
  • I was drawing.

Lexical verbs can exist alone; however, auxiliary verbs require the use of lexical verbs to make sense. Such as:

  • She will in the garden. (It is the sentence with auxiliary verb but without lexical verb which makes no sense.)
  • She will dance in the garden. (In this sentence, ‘will’ is auxiliary verb and ‘dance’ is lexical verb. Thus sentence is complete and makes sense.)
  • He rested in the Five Star Hotel. (It is the sentence with the only lexical verb ‘rested’; however, makes sense and complete without use of auxiliary verb.)
  • He was organizing fresher party last week. (It is the sentence with both, auxiliary verb ‘was’ and lexical verb ‘organizing’.)

Exercises for you

Lexical verb exercises given below will help you in analyzing your knowledge about lexical verb. Just go through all the details given above about the lexical verb and check your skill by doing following exercises for lexical verb. We have used lexical verbs in the following sentences; you need to check your skill by identifying lexical verbs in each sentence:

  1. I will have the dinner.
  2. I do my homework daily on the way to school.
  3. She laughed only on my interesting jokes.
  4. He sings song very well.
  5. He ran very slowly.
  6. My class teacher scolded me.
  7. He loves Chinese recipes very much.
  8. I have taken a dog from obedience training.
  9. I will pretend myself to be asleep.
  10. I will be attending the meeting this evening next week.
  11. I will buy this jacket for you.
  12. I am giving haircut service for 30 years.
  13. He will pick me at my home.
  14. She will not bring lunch today.
  15. I will not go to school today.
  16. My mother will give me birthday present.
  17. We go to abroad this summer.
  18. I will celebrate my birthday in the five star restaurant.
  19. I am doing preparations for my final exams.
  20. I was studying in London in those days.

Answers: 1 – have, 2 – do, 3 – laughed, 4 – sings, 5 – ran, 6 – scolded, 7 – loves, 8 – taken, 9 – pretend, 10 – attending, 11 – buy, 12 – giving, 13 – pick, 14 – bring, 15 – go, 16 – give, 17 – go, 18 – celebrate, 19 – doing, 20 – studying

More Information:


Auxiliary Verb

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Intransitive Verbs

Transitive Verbs

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