Skip to main content
Verb phrase definition and examples

Verb phrase definition and examples

(1 votes)



A verb phrase is a group of words that includes a main verb and any accompanying auxiliary (helping) verbs or other elements. It functions as a single unit and carries out the main action or state of being in a sentence.

Here's a detailed explanation of verb phrases:

  1. Components of a Verb Phrase:

    • Main Verb: The central component of the verb phrase that expresses the action or state.
    • Auxiliary Verbs: Helping verbs that assist the main verb in expressing tense, mood, voice, or aspect.
    • Other Elements: Additional words or phrases that may modify or further describe the action or state.
  2. Examples of Verb Phrases:

    • "She is running." ("is running" is the verb phrase consisting of the main verb "running" and the auxiliary verb "is" indicating present continuous tense.)
    • "They have been studying all night." ("have been studying" is the verb phrase with the main verb "studying" and the auxiliary verbs "have" and "been" indicating present perfect continuous tense.)
    • "He will have finished his work by tomorrow." ("will have finished" is the verb phrase with the main verb "finished" and the auxiliary verb "will have" indicating future perfect tense.)
  3. Verb Phrase Types:

    • Simple Verb Phrases: Consist of a single main verb.
      • Example: "She sings beautifully."
    • Compound Verb Phrases: Contain more than one verb, typically with one main verb and one or more auxiliary verbs.
      • Example: "They are playing soccer."
    • Complex Verb Phrases: Include additional elements such as adverbs, prepositional phrases, or infinitive/gerund phrases.
      • Example: "He went to the park to play."
  4. Verb Phrase Functions:

    • Indicate tense: Verb phrases help express the time at which an action occurs (past, present, future).
    • Convey mood: Verb phrases can indicate the speaker's attitude, such as possibility, necessity, or doubt.
    • Show aspect: Verb phrases express how the action is viewed in terms of completion, duration, or repetition.
    • Form passive voice: Verb phrases help create passive constructions, where the subject receives the action.
    • Express modality: Verb phrases convey modal meanings such as ability, permission, or obligation.


Understanding verb phrases is essential for constructing grammatically correct sentences and conveying precise meanings. By analyzing the components and functions of verb phrases, you can enhance your writing and communicate effectively in English.


Related IELTS tips


Conjunction definition, usages and examples

Conjunctions are words or phrases used to connect words, phrases, or clauses...

IELTS Grammar493

Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases

Infinitives are verb forms that are used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs....

IELTS Grammar182

The present perfect tense

The present perfect tense is used to describe actions or events that happened...

IELTS Grammar436

Adverb Formation

Adverbs can be formed in various ways, depending on the base word or the...

IELTS Grammar112

Common Nouns

Common nouns are words that represent general names for people, places,...

IELTS Grammar9,007