It is not always possible to identify a verb by its form. However, some word-endings (suffixes) can show that the word is probably a verb.
appreciate, celebrate, congratulate
frighten, soften, widen
identify, specify, qualify
realise, recognise, modernize
*Both forms are used, but the -ise form is more common in British English and the -ize form is more common in American English.
Typical verb prefixes
Verbs often also have these typical prefixes.
adapt, admit, advance
deceive, deform, describe
impose, increase, inform
perform, persuade, perceive
recall, receive, reproduce
However, some words beginning with these prefixes may belong to other word classes (e.g. increase [noun], reception [noun]). A good learner’s dictionary will tell you whether a word is a verb.
Verbs sometimes have the same form as nouns or adjectives.
Verbs related to nouns
Could you hand me the dictionary?
We should position the noticeboard where everyone can see it.
I’ll email Sally to see if she is free on Thursday.
Verbs related to adjectives
I needed to calm my nerves before the interview.
The government hopes to slow the growth in road traffic over the next five years.
As they get older, most people’s hair starts to thin.
Compound verbs are two words which combine to make one meaning. The first word is usually a noun, an adjective or a preposition, and the second word is a verb. The words are sometimes written as one word and sometimes joined by hyphens. A good learner’s dictionary will tell you how the compound is normally written:
hand-wash (noun + verb)
highlight (adjective + verb)
overcome (preposition + verb)
Sorry, I was daydreaming. What did you say?
Do you have to hand-wash this sweater or can it go in the washing machine?
The airline upgraded me to business class.
Compound verbs are much less common than compound nouns or compound adjectives.