The verb phrase in English has the following forms:

1) a main verb:

 

  Verb  
We
I
Everybody
We
are
like
saw.
laughed.

here.
it
the accident
 

 


The verb may be in the present tense (are, like) or the past tense (saw, laughed). A verb phrase with only a main verb expresses simple aspect

2) an auxiliary verb ("be") and a main verb in –ing form:

 

  Auxiliary "be" Verb (-ing)
Everybody
We
is
were
watching
laughing

 

A verb phrase with "be" and –ing expresses continuous aspect.

3) an auxiliary verb ("have") and a main verb with past participle:

 

  Auxiliary "have" Verb (past participle)  
They
Everybody
He
have
has
had
enjoyed
worked
finished
themselves.
hard.
work.

 


A verb 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.

4) an auxiliary verb ("have" + "been") and a main verb in the –ing form:

 

  Auxiliary "have" + "been" Verb (-ing)  
Everybody
He
has been
had been
working
singing
hard
 

 

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

5) a modal verb (can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would) and a main verb:

 

  Modal Verb Main verb
They
He
will
might
come.
come.

 

 

6) We can use modal verbs with the auxiliaries "be", "have", and "have been":

 

  Modal Auxiliary  Verb
They
He
She
will
might
must
be
have
have been
listening
arrived
listening

 

Activities

Identify the verb phrase

Identify the main verb

Identify the auxiliary verb

Identify the modal verb

Active and passive:

Transitive verbs have a passive form as well as an active form:

The hunter killed the lion. (active) <> The lion was killed by the hunter. (passive)

Someone has cleaned the windows <> The windows have been cleaned.

The passive forms are made up of the verb "be" with a past participle:

 

  "be" Past participle  
English
The windows
Lunch
The work
They
is
have been
was being
will be
might have been
spoken
cleaned
served
finished
invited

 all over the world


soon
to the party

Decide if the verbs are active or passive

 

Section: 

Comments

Hi again...and if you have the name of the shop?
I usually buy my clothes in Harrods or at Harrods?
Is IN always the best?
Changing the verb, if I use 'go shopping' would you say IN again?
I go shopping in Harrods/in the shopping centre.
Thanks.

Hi Ilariuccia,

The most common choice here is 'at' for all of these examples. It is not incorrect to use 'in', but it is more unusual as there is no other option. It's not possible to buy things from a shop without going inside so to specify 'in' seems slightly odd.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
Which preposition is correct with the verb'buy'?
1. I usually buy my clothes at the shopping centre.
2. I usually buy my clothes in the shopping centre.
3. I usually buy my clothes from the shopping centre.
Thanks...

Hi Ilariuccia,

'in the shopping centre' is the best choice -- the others might work in a very specific context, but 'in' works in most any I can think of.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.
Is this phrase correct?
If you are slow in writing, note down answers only.
(slow 'in' or 'at'?!)
Thanks.

Hi Marua,

'at' is more commonly used, but I'm not sure 'in' is wrong here. If these are instructions for native-speaker students, what I would say is 'If you are a slow writer, just write the answers'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Keep it in the refrigerator so that it may be preserved or safe.
Keep it in the refrigerator so that it may remain or stay safe or preserved.
Which sentence would you use generally to say this thing ?

Hello SonuKumar,

What I'd say is 'Keep it in the fridge so that it doesn't spoil'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi "The LearnEnglish Team",

I am absolutely intrigued about the correct use of a verb phrase.
Please, how British native speakers say: "to wear a beard" or "to have a beard"?
Or, perhaps both are correct but they mean different things?

Thanks a lot for your time!
José

Hi José,

Both forms are possible but they have different meanings. If a person has a natural beard then we say 'have'. If a person has an artificial beard - an actor, for example - then we say 'wear'.

It is a little different for hair. We generally say 'have' but we can use 'wear' to describe styles:

She has blonde hair.

She's wearing her hair in braids today.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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