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 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


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 am a new user. It's fun and at the sametime very helpful

 Dont know but i always find learning grammer very confusing..

 I wanna teach English! How can i print exercises???

Do you want to print out the grammar reference above or something else?
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
   I am Rishabh from India. I want to learn english, I just have joined this site but I do not know how to use it.
Can you please help me with this issue?  I dont even know that how would I check your reply ? :(
ANy help would be appreciated :)

On the statement below, from form # 4,  shouldn't it read  "and main verb in the –ing form" where it reads "and the past participle"

  • A verb with "have" and "been" and the past participle expresses perfect continuous aspect. A verb with have/has expresses present perfect continuous, and a verb with had expresses past perfect continuous.

Thank you

Dear Tom,
You are quite right. I've changed it and thanks a lot for pointing it out.
The grammar is over 120 pages, so it's not so surprising that there are a few small errors and typos. However, we want it to be as accurate as possible and if you see any other mistakes, please tell us.
The LearnEnglish Team

I think I found a small typing error. It's in a verb phrase number 3, in last sentence, verb finish.
Thank you and the others from the LearnEnglishTeam for your work.

Hi Lenka,
Thanks for your comment, but I'm not sure what you mean! Are you talking about the question 3 in the exercise about the verb phrase? If so, which verb has a typing error?
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

:) Sorry, I should have written it more clearly. I didn't mean the exercises, but the grammar explanation above.
The verb phrase in English has the following forms:
3) an auxiliary verb ("have") and a main verb with past participle:
He had finsished work.