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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 LearnEnglish Team,

Unless I’m mistaken, the verb phrase “thank you” is an independent clause with the implied subject “I”.

I’m aware that “thank you” can also be an adjective (“a thank you note”) and less commonly a noun (“send flowers as a thank you”). But these are not what I’m talking about. I mean specifically the verb phrase “thank you” as one might use in an email as a normal pleasantry to express one's appreciation.

If, as I say, “thank you” as a verb phrase can be an independent clause with an implied subject, then wouldn’t the following be examples of a comma splice?

“Thank you, it makes my day to hear that.”
“Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to write.”
“I am happy to hear you feel that way, thank you.”

I appreciate your input and look forward to your reply.

Tim O’Brien

Hello Tim,

Your analysis looks correct to me, which means that the examples you include do indeed feature a comma splice. Although strictly speaking this is incorrect, this usage has become extremely common, as I expect you've noticed.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

Thanks, as always, for your quick reply.

Cheers,
Tim

Hi perfect team,
I want to clear 2 confusions in my mind.

I saw that sentence, but I don't understand the part
'big ships stuck in the Red sea'
Big ships stuck in the Red Sea could be targets after a series of attacks

-Is it a reduced relative passive clause? Like
'Big ship which was stuck in the Red sea'
If it is passive, who/what can stuck the big ship? I am also confused about that thing.

I would be grateful if you could explain me.
Best wishes!

Hello Nevi,

I'd say it's a reduced relative clause -- a reduction of 'that are stuck'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Nevi,

Sentences like this are often ambiguous. You could read it as an adjective or as a verb form which is part of a passive construction. It's really only a question of terminology; in terms of meaning it does not change the sentence at all.

If you see it as a passive, then many things could be the cause: the tide, the current, the captain's mistakes, misfortune etc. The context may make this clear or may leave it unsaid.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team,
I am confused about one thing.

Can I use the verb 'be' after a verb
whose a pattern is like 'a verb+to do something'.

For example,
'be expected to do something'
Can I say
'The weather is expected to be cold'?
Does - to do something- include the verb -to be-?

Thanks.Best wishes

Hi Nevı,

Yes! You can use be in these patterns.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hm, OK teacher.
I understand

-to do something=to +any verb??

Best wishes

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