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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

sir,
1) I have no complaint except that i have a head ache.
2) He has no choice but to go office.

Sir, what is the main verb in the above 2 sentences.

Hello! I couldn't find the section about `there is there are` and so I am writing here.
This is a part of a story ~Pacey walked into the room where his English class was going to take place.And he had a surprise.A beautiful blond woman was standing behind the teacher's desk. It was Tamara - the gorgeous woman who had rented the videos.~
The question is why can't say ~There was a beautiful blond woman standing behind the teacher's desk?
Thank you!

Hello chedD1t,

You can say that – it is correct. By the way, our page on 'there is' is called it and there.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The_Unknown,

The first is just a noun phrase (i.e. a noun with determiner and adjectives) and the second is a sentence (i.e. a noun phrase and a verb phrase) that says such a woman was in a place. Beyond that, there are many, many different ways these two phrases could be used in so many different contexts.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir
In the sentence " I have been reading this book for three week. this is really a long book" which one is the verb phrase? " have been reading" or " have been reading this book" or " have been reading this book for three weeks"?
because as per the wikipedia a verb phrase is a syntactic unite composed of at list one verb and its dependents objects - complement - modifiers but not always the subject.

Hello Ambitious learner,

Please tell us what you think the verb phrase is and why; we will then tell you if you are correct or not.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir.
i thought the verb phrase in here must be " have been reading" 'a modal +been + v + ing'. and ' this book' should be a noun phrase and ' for three weeks' should be a prepositional phrase. but when i viewed the Wikipedia site I got confused because according to them, a verb's dependents are also part of the verb phrase.
best regards

Hello Ambitious learner,

If you look on the wikipedia page for verb phrase you will see several different and, in a sense, competing approaches to classification. Scroll down to the section entitled 'Verb phrases narrowly defined' and you will see that your description fits this model (well done). This is the model which I think is most accessible and most useful for teachers and learners of English, and is the model I suggest you use. 

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello learning team,
I got a bit confused when I read the previous learner comment:
"Active: I used to play cricket.
Passive: Cricket used to be played by me."
Shouldn't be "Passive: Cricket was used to be played by me." Could you correct me if I am wrong, please?
Thank you in advanced

Hello NA7,

The form you suggest ('Cricked was used to be played...') is not correct. 'used to' acts kind of like a modal verb here, and cannot be put into a passive form. 'play' is the verb that is put in the passive, and 'used to' is used with the auxiliary verb 'be': 'Cricket used to be played...' 

By the way, this sentence is so unnatural-sounding that you're not likely ever to hear it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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