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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

Hello Ambitious learner,

Modal verbs themselves do not have passive forms, though the verbs that come after them can have passive forms. That's the case in 'you could have been lost'. This is 'could' + 'have' + past participle (in this case, a passive past participle). The basic structure here is explained a bit on our modals + have and can, could and could have pages. What is different in your example is the use of a passive past participle, but you can read about the passive on our active and passive voice page. Note that the passive form here is 'been lost', which has nothing to do with the modal verb 'could'.

'used to' is not a modal verb, though sometimes it's referred to as a 'semi-modal' since it behaves somewhat like a modal verb. One example of this is that it's not used in the passive. 

I hope this clears things up a bit for you!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
I have a problem with these sentences. I am confused with them whether I changed them correctly or incorrectly.
Active: I used to play cricket.
Passive: Cricket used to be played by me.
Active: I did not use to play cricket.
Passive: Cricket did not use to be played by me.
Active: Did I use to play cricket?
Passive: Did cricket use to be played by me?
______________________________
Another problem is, how to change emphatic sentences into passive voice.
Active: I do play cricket.
Active: Do play cricket.
Active: I did play cricket.
Active: I will do play cricket.
It should be changed like a simple present or we have any rule for emphatic sentences. I am unable to change these emphatic sentences. I will be highly obliged to you if you help me with these sentences.
Thanks in advance.

Hello muslimbadshah,

Your first set of sentences (active > passive) are all correct - well done.

Your second set (emphatic) have several errors. The emphatic form you need is only available in simple tenses ('I do play'/'I did play'), not with modal verbs such as 'will'. For these forms we would add emphasis with a modifier such as 'really'. There are no equivalent passive forms to the emphatic 'do' or 'did'; we simply use a normal passive and add emphasis with our tone of voice or with an adverb modifier such as 'really' or 'honestly'.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Can we make a passive sentence from a verb which has no an object ????

Hello Nuruddin Filan,

No, the sentence needs an object in order for a passive sentence to be formed. You can use either a direct or an indirect object, however.

For more information on passive voice please see this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

when I tried to answer the active or passive paragraph, it shows 20 questions needed to be answered but the scroll does not go beyond the 19th question. Could you please check this exercise?

Hello NA7,

I've checked the exercise and I can see and answer all 20 questions. The final one should be 'begin' - can you see this one?

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
I have a question about the active and passive form of the verb. I did the activity for this topic and I'm confused on this "had been proceeding". I answered it as a passive form but the correct answer is active. As I understand the topic, passive verbs are made up of the verb "be', how does it happen to be an active form? Could you give us a tip how can we classify the verb into an active or passive form? A bit confusing for me. Thank you so much in advance.

Hello lizzie1987,

Passive forms are made with 'be + past participle' and in this form there is no past participle. Instead, there is an 'ing form'. It is an example of the past perfect continuous (active) form. Past perfect forms are made with 'had + past participle', and continuous forms are made with 'be + verbing':

It had proceeded (past perfect active)

It had been proceeded (past perfect passive)

It had been proceeding (past perfect continuous active)

It had been being proceeded (past perfect continuous passive)

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Dear Sir
Pssaive Form: Your second example states 'It had been proceeding'(past perfect passive) I think it is a printing error. I am I correct 'sir'? It should be 'it had been proceeded'
Thank you in advance.
Andrew international

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