Verb phrase

Every sentence must have a verb. To show that a doable activity is happening, action verbs are used. To describe conditions, linking verbs are used. A verb phrase is simply a verb that is more than one word, or a phrase that consists of a verb and its auxiliaries. The auxiliary verb (or helping verb), or the subject, always comes before the main verb.

Examples of phrase verbs

Here are some verb phrase examples with explanation:

  • She has taken the job (auxiliary “has” + main verb “taken”)
  • Mum is making the bed (auxiliary “is” + main verb “making”)
  • Life goes on (subject “life” + main verb “goes on”)
  • Don’t buy that house (auxiliary “don’t” + main verb “buy”)
  • We have to work out a plan (auxiliary “have to” + main verb “work out”)

Other common verb phrases:

Come from

Come in

Eat out

Go on

Keep on

Look out

Pick up

Move out

Stand up

Write down

Verb phrases are commonly used by writers to great effect. Take the following two sentences:

Sarah opened the car window and handed over her driving license. She sobbed. The policeman was unmoved.

Taken separately, the second two sentences cannot accurately describe what’s going on, as they’re taken out of context. But in the greater context, that of a woman possibly being pulled over for dangerous driving, they make sense. In this instance, they are known as multipart verb phrases.

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