Verb Phrases: Meaning And Functions Of Verb Phrase

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A verb phrase is a group of words consisting of one main/lexical verb ( the headword) and; a minimum of one and maximum of four auxiliary verbs acting as pre-modifiers. Verb phrases perform the same function as verbs in a sentence i.e they act as predicators. Which begs the question of “why do we have verb phrases?”

Except sentences are in present or past tense, they always use verb phrases.

*Examples*
* The man *may + eat* the food.
* You *must + have + lost* the pen.
* The child *could + have + been + punished* for his offence.
* The meeting *would + have + been + been + concluded* by now.

The examples above show the various structures in which verb phrases have.

* He *could + have + been* here.

In the example above, we have *been* as the headword and this may bother you. Remember that primary auxiliary verbs (have, be and do) in their various forms can act as headwords given the fact that they also perform the lexical function.

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*Differentiating between a verb phrase and a phrasal verb*
While the verb phrase performs the same function as verb in a sentence (predicator), a phrasal verb is a group of words consisting of a verb, a pronoun (optional element) and a preposition to give the expression a meaning beyond the surface.
E.g: *Look down on* means to belittle or downgrade.

FUNCTIONS OF VERB PHRASES

1. Like verbs, they communicate actions.
E.g: I *will eat* the food.

2. *VERB PHRASES*

A verb phrase is a group of words consisting of one main/lexical verb ( the headword) and; a minimum of one and maximum of four auxiliary verbs acting as pre-modifiers. Verb phrases perform the same function as verbs in a sentence i.e they act as predicators. Which begs the question of “why do we have verb phrases?”
Except sentences are in present or past tense, they always use verb phrases.

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*Examples*
* The man *may + eat* the food.
* You *must + have + lost* the pen.
* The child *could + have + been + punished* for his offence.
* The meeting *would + have + been + been + concluded* by now.

The examples above show the various structures in which verb phrases have.

* He *could + have + been* here.

In the example above, we have *been* as the headword and this may bother you. Remember that primary auxiliary verbs (have, be and do) in their various forms can act as headwords given the fact that they also perform the lexical function.

*Differentiating between a verb phrase and a phrasal verb*
While the verb phrase performs the same function as verb in a sentence (predicator), a phrasal verb is a group of words consisting of a verb, a pronoun (optional element) and a preposition to give the expression a meaning beyond the surface.
E.g: *Look down on* means to belittle or downgrade.

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*FUNCTIONS OF VERB PHRASES*

1. Like verbs, they communicate actions.
E.g: I *will eat* the food.

2. As predictors, they form the crux of a clause.
E.g: I *am travelling* tomorrow.

3. They are used to show tense or aspect.
E.g: They *are reading* alone.
They *were reading* alone.

4. Verbs demonstrate modality i.e they show probability, deduction, disapproval,necessity etc.

E.g: You *must write* the examination.
He *should be* here by now.

5. Verb phrases show agreement (concord).
E.g: They *are coming* tomorrow.
She *is coming* tomorrow.

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