Verb phrases in English have the following forms:

Level: beginner

  1. main verb:
  main verb  
We are here.
I like it.
Everybody saw the accident.
We laughed.  

The verb can be in the present tense (are, like) or the past tense (saw, laughed).

  1. the auxiliary verb be and a main verb in the –ing form:
  auxiliary be -ing form
Everybody is watching.
We were laughing.

A verb phrase with be and –ing expresses continuous aspect. A verb with am/is/are expresses present continuous and a verb with was/were expresses past continuous.

  1. the auxiliary verb have and a main verb in the past participle form:
  auxiliary have past participle  
They have enjoyed themselves.
Everybody has worked hard.
He had finished work.

A verb phrase with have and the past participle expresses perfect aspect. A verb with have/has expresses present perfect and a verb with had expresses past perfect.

  1. modal verb (can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would) and a main verb:
  modal verb main verb
They will come.
He might come.
The verb phrase 1


The verb phrase 2


Level: intermediate

  1. the auxiliary verbs have and been and a main verb in the –ing form:
  auxiliary have been -ing form  
Everybody has been working hard.
He had been singing.  

A verb phrase with havebeen and the -ing form expresses both perfect aspect and continuous aspect. A verb with have/has expresses present perfect continuous and a verb with had expresses past perfect continuous.

  1. a modal verb and the auxiliaries be, have and have been:
  modal auxiliary verb
They will be listening.
He might have arrived.
She must have been listening.
  1. the auxiliary verb be and a main verb in the past participle form:
  auxiliary be past participle  
English is spoken all over the world.
The windows have been cleaned.  
Lunch was being served.  
The work will be finished soon.
They might have been invited to the party.

A verb phrase with be and the past participle expresses passive voice.

The verb phrase 3


The verb phrase 4


Level: advanced

We can use the auxiliaries do and did with the infinitive for emphasis:

It was a wonderful party. I did enjoy it.
I do agree with you. I think you are absolutely right.

We can also use do for polite invitations:

Do come and see us some time.
There will be lots of people there. Do bring your friends.


I would like to know if the following are correct or which one is better to use
To practice/ practicing
To practise/practising?
Thank you in advance

Hi agie

'to practice' and 'practicing' are the spelling in American English, whereas 'to practise' and 'practising' are British English. The noun form 'practice' (e.g. 'a lot of practice') is spelled the same in both American and British English.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to ask about the following. If someone has a plan in order to get prepared for an exam. Can we ask
Do you follow the plan? Have you been following the plan?
1. The verb follow is correct?
2. Which tense is correct in this case?

B. Do someone take an exam? Is the verb take correct in this case?
Thank you in advance

Hello agie,

If the question is about a person who is in the process of preparing for the exam then we can say:

Are you following the plan?


If the person's preparation is complete and they are about to take the exam then we can say:

Have you followed the plan?


The sentence in B is not correct. I'm not sure what you want to say, but either of the forms above would be correct grammatically.



The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to ask what is the difference in the following verbs
I care for someone and
I care about someone
Thank you in advance

Hello agie,

Both care for someone and care about someone can mean that the person is important to the speaker emotionally.

Care for someone can also mean that the speakers looks after someone when they need help, such as when they are sick.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, I am from South Asian country and Muslim too. As a Muslim we suppose to avoid things which are sinful to do. For example: watching unveiled women, listening to songs, smelling and eating pork, watching crime and don't report. I want one word which applies on every action. Like I want to say "Avoid everything which is sinful". Thank you

Hello Muhammad Erad,

Perhaps the noun 'sin'? So you could say 'Avoid all sins'. This word can also be used as a verb; in this case, you could say 'Do not sin'.

Does that help?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Actually we use word 'Qufl-e-Madina' which means 'avoid all sinful acts or activities' but i am looking for proper word. 'avoid all sins' is fine but not appropriate for my usage.

Hello again Muhammad Erad,

I see what you mean. As far as I know, there is no single word that can translate the concept of 'Qufl-e-Madina' as you describe it. I'm sorry not to be able to help you more.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team