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Verb phrases

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Level: beginner

Verbs in English have four basic parts:

 Base form   -ing form    Past tense   Past participle 
work working worked worked
play playing played played
listen listening listened listened

Most verbs are regular: they have a past tense and past participle with –ed (worked, played, listened). But many of the most frequent verbs are irregular.

Level: beginner

Basic parts

Verbs in English have four basic parts:

 Base form   -ing form    Past tense   Past participle 
work working worked worked
play playing played played
listen listening listened listened

Most verbs are regular: they have a past tense and past participle with –ed (worked, played, listened). But many of the most frequent verbs are irregular.

Verb phrases

Verb phrases in English have the following forms:

  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

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The verb phrase 2

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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 have been 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

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The verb phrase 4

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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.

Comments

Hi Chada,

Both sentences are correct; the difference between them is more a matter of emphasis or context. The first one emphasises the fact you're still living here more than the second one. You can read more about the difference between the present perfect simple and present perfect continuous forms on our page on this topic.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Chada
I've been living... is correct because you are still living there.
The other would be I lived because (I think) you're talking about the past.

Everything depends on what you want to say

Hi teachers,
I will have a presentation about verbs and the verb phrases next week. After reading theory above, i confuse that is "want to go" a verb phrase? i see it doesn't belong to any categories above.
For example, in the sentence "i want to go to school" the verb phrase is "want" or "want to go?"

Hello thanhyen,

Verb phrases can be quite long and can include other verb phrases, noun phrases and so on in them. In this sentence, everything after 'I' forms one verb phrase, which can then be broken down further into noun phrases, smaller verb phrases and so on.

It's not really our aim to get into linguistics and parsing on this site, which is a site for language learners rather than linguistic analysis. If you want to analyse a sentence in this way then Berkeley University provides a useful onine tool which you can find here.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher,

Pls advise if the following letter makes sense:

This letter confirms that Ms Mary has worked as a Secretary for the company from ...to ,...

Ms Mary decided to develop her career elsewhere after contract end. Wish wish her every success in her future endeavours.

Yours faithfully

Hello, I don't see the topic of defective verbs on the page, could tell me what it is and how is it used?

Hello Portillanat,

I have answered this question for you on another page.  Please post questions once only; we will answer them as soon as we can but posting the same question multiple times only slows the process down.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank u

Hi Teachers,

Can we have a discussion on modal verbs ?
Please let me know the exact differece in the meaning of the below sentences

He will be going for the Party
He would be going for the party.

Or
He will go there.
He would go there.

Please tell me how these sentences are different in terms of will & would.

Thanks,
Nidhin

Hi Nidhin,

Please see our will or would page for an explanation of these two modal verbs. If you have any questions, you're welcome to ask them, but please be sure to include the context, i.e. a sentence or two before the sentences containing will or would so that we can better answer your question.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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