What is Verb Phrase

What is Verb Phrase

Verbs are an essential component of a sentence. They can describe an action, state or occurrence and form the main part of the predicate of a sentence. Action verbs are the verbs that describe an action or an occurrence whereas linking verbs are those that indicate a state. Sometimes a verb can contain more than one word. It can contain the main verb and some other helping words. We use the term verb phrase to refer to such verbs. A verb phrase is a verb that contains more than one word.

Let’s see what words can be included in a verb phrase. A verb phrase can consist of the main verb, auxiliary verbs and/or modal verbs. These verbs help to change the tense of a verb, to form questions and negatives and to create emphasis.

An auxiliary verb or helping verb is a verb that accompanies the main verb to help express its mood, tense, and voice. Be, do and have are three of the most common auxiliary verbs in English.

Modal verbs are verbs that indicate modality- ability, permission, and obligation, etc. Can/could, may/might, must, will/would, and shall/should are the modal verbs in English.

As mentioned above, a verb phrase can consist of the main verb, a modal verb or/and auxiliary verb. A verb phrase can contain a maximum of four verbs. The main verb can be seen at the end of the verb phrase. The modal verb always comes before the auxiliary verb.

He went to school.

(Main verb only)

He is going to school.

(Auxiliary verb + main verb)

He can go to school.

(Modal verb + main verb)

He could have gone to school.

(Modal verb + auxiliary verb + main verb)

You should have been fired from this job.

(Modal verb + auxiliary verb + auxiliary verb + main verb)

What is Verb Phrase

He is fishing.

Examples of Verb Phrases

She has been helping the fugitives.

I have seen you somewhere.

He was talking about you all day.

It might rain today.

He could have called the police.

This project should have been completed by 30th March.

Her car was stolen from the garage.

He can swim very well.

The house has been cleaned.

They will not attend the party.

Did you invite them to the party?

He does understand the complications of this surgery.

It is important to note that short adverbs like also, never, not often appear in the middle of verb phrases. But adverbs are not taken as a part of the verb phrase.

He would also like to join our committee.

He may not like your suggestion.

Verb Phrase – Summary

  • A verb phrase is a verb that contains more than one word.
  • A verb phrase consists of the main verb, auxiliary verbs and/or modal verbs.
  • The main verb appears at the end of the verb phrase, and the modal verb comes before the auxiliary verb.
  • Adverbs that appear in the middle of a verb phrase are not considered as a part of the verb phrase.

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