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Verb phrases

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

Ok thanks Peter.
ones again just to make sure.
"Many have highlated the hypocrisy of the ban on social media by comparing photos of woman being ordered to undress by armed police to image of a police officer measuring the length of a woman's swimsuit 1925".
----------------------
"A woman being ordered" and "Police officer measuring"
They should have the auxiliary 'was', shouldn't they?

Hello Nizam Balinese,

These are the same as the earlier example and are participles not present continuous forms. There is no need for the auxiliary.

The participles act as adjectives. They follow the noun and describe the current activity of the noun.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes Peter.
I'd certainly say "I understand now".
Thank you very much. :)

How distinction in meaning between the auxiliary verbs(have- be - have been)

Hello Salma Sleem,

Auxiliary verbs are helper verbs used with other verbs to make verb forms. The auxiliaries themselves do not carry intrinsic meaning, but rather the whole verb form carries the meaning. Therefore you should look up the particular verb forms in our Verbs section, not just the auxiliary verbs.

If there is a particular form about which you have a question then we'll be happy to help. Please include a concrete example - a sentence - as it is hard to discuss these things clearly in such an abstract way.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I know it is off-topic a bit, but one question about articles:
You write:
"an auxiliary verb ("be") and a main verb in –ing form"
Why do you use "an" before "auxiliary" and not "the"? We are talking about a specific verb, so why the indefinite article?

Sir, what is the main verb in the following sentences?
1) The irrigation department has to complete 85 tanks.
2) I want to become an officer is my ambition.

Verbs in the first sentence are has, complete.
Verbs in the second sentence are want, become.

These sentences have multiple verbs, how to find the main verb and how to find the subject of the sentence.

Hello LoveKumar,

In your first sentence, 'has' is an auxiliary verb; 'to complete' is the main verb.

Your second sentence is not grammatical. The best way to say this would be 'Becoming an officer is my ambition' and then there is only one verb - 'becoming' is a gerund, which is a noun form.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,
In my first sentence, 'has' is main verb, ' to complete' is a infinitive, Whether this is possible, is my assumption is right?

Hello LoveKumar,

In your sentence 'has' is a semi-modal auxiliary verb and therefore cannot be the main verb. The main verb here is the marked infinitive 'to complete'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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