Verb Phrases in English Grammar with Illustration


verb phrase is one that has a combination of a main verb and another auxiliary verb. Verb Phrases in English Grammar with Illustration

A verb phrase is the combination of a main verb and one or more auxiliary verbs.

This group of words acts as a verb.

They have been waiting for the teacher.
Why is your brother bothering my sister?
They can make a house really quick.


The verbs in the verb phrase can be separated. In other words, they don’t have to keep the same order!

For example, both “We will return! ” ( “We will return !”) And ” Will we return ?” (“Will we be back?”) Contain verbal phrases (in bold).

Note: Don’t confuse verb phrases with phrasal verbs!

Formation of Verb Phrases in English

In English, there are conjugations that are verb phrases themselves:

Simple future

verb phrase formed by “will” and verb in the infinitive. I will see you soon. / I’ll see you soon. In the Spanish translation, the verb phrase formed by two verbs (will and see) becomes a single verb.

Present continuous

Verb phrase formed by the verb to be and the main verb in gerund. I am playing tennis. / I’m playing tennis.

Present perfect 

Verb phrase of the verb to have and the verb in the past participle. I have seen that movie. / I’ve seen that movie.

Present perfect continuous

The verb to have + been + main verb in gerund. I have been looking for you. / I’ve been looking for you.

Past perfect

Verb phrase formed by the verb to have in the past (had) and the main verb in the participle. I had seen her before. / I had seen it before.

Auxiliary verbs as part of the Verb Phrases

There are verbs that, in addition to being used independently, are often used as part of verb phrases.

  • Be: I am trying to help you. / I’m trying to help you.
  • Can: He can jump higher. / You can jump higher.
  • Do: Do you like chocolate? / You like chocolate? In this case, the verb phrase made up of two verbs (do and like) becomes a single verb.
  • Must: We must pay in advance. / We must pay in advance.

Examples of verb phrases in English Grammar

( verb  phrase is in bold)

  • They are waiting for the rain to stop.
    (They are waiting for the rain to stop.)
  • Why is she staying at home?
    (Why is he staying home?)
  • Jack is not taking any breaks.
    (Jack is not taking any breaks.)
  • Shanon will meet us there.
    (Shanon will see us there.)
  • Will you help us?
    (Will you help us?)
  • He can speak more than ten languages.
    (He can speak more than ten languages.)
  • Should I call you?
    (Should I call you?)
  • They have replaced all the locks.
    (They have replaced all the locks.)
  • My brother has been working there for over five years.
    (My brother has been working there for over five years.)
  • They have not seen it.
    (They haven’t seen it.)
  • Was it baked?
    (Was it baked?)
  • His heart was broken.
    (His heart was broken.)

Verb Phrases in English Grammar with Illustration

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