Verb Phrases for intermediate learners

It's time to learn how to identify the verb phrase in a sentence. Learning about verb phrases is essential in speaking and writing without mistakes.

Verb Phrases in the English Grammar

What Are Verb Phrases?

A verb phrase consists of a verb and its modifiers. We will learn all about it in this lesson.

Verb Phrases: Structure

A verb phrase can consist of only a verb or it can have a modal verb or an auxiliary verb before the main verb. Look at the following examples:

The kitten ate its meal.

Didn't I tell you that I can read an advanced level article?

Types of Verb Phrases

In English, we have two types of verb phrases that are listed as below:

  • Simple Verb Phrases
  • Complex Verb Phrases

Now, let us study each closely:

Simple Verb Phrases

As it was mentioned above, we can have only a verb as the verb phrase. In that case, we have a simple verb phrase. Look below:

Sally watches TV every afternoon.

As you can see, the verb phrase consists only of one single verb.

I work in a restaurant.

Complex Verb Phrases

Complex verb phrases have the main verb and one or more auxiliary or modal verbs before the main verb. Look at the following examples:

Hannah might come to the party tonight.

As you can see, we have a modal verb before the main verb.

They have gone to that café before, dad.


Verb phrases are mainly used to create tenses like continuous and perfect tenses. Look at the following examples:

She could have done something worse to you.

Sicily is staying at her friend's tonight.

Modals in Verb Phrases

In complex verb phrases, we can have one or more modal verbs. Look at the list below to have a quick review over them:

Now, let us take a look at some examples:

Rick might join us, guys!

I hate it when people say it could have been worse.

Auxiliary Verbs in Verb Phrases

We can also have one or more auxiliary verbs in verb phrases. Look at the list below to have a quick review over them:

Now, let us take a look at some examples:

I am watching a movie tonight.

you must accept that she doesn't care about you.


It might come in handy to know that imperative sentences have simple verb phrases because we only have the main verb there. Look:

Look at me, Anna!


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Phrases are comprised of one or more words that form a meaningful grammatical unit. They are one of the most important elements of English grammar.

Noun Phrases

When a group of nouns come together, they form a noun phrase. To know what is a noun phrase and how short or how long a noun phrase can be, start here!

Prepositional Phrases

What are prepositional phrases? Generally, as its name requires, prepositional phrases are phrases made of prepositions. To get to know them, read the article.

Adjective Phrases

Phrases are two or more words that can function as specific parts of speech. Adjective phrases are groups of words that function as adjectives.

Adverbial Phrases

Adverbial phrases are made of two or more words and are used as the adverb of the sentence. In this lesson, you will get to know phrasal verbs.


Gerunds are words derived from verbs that act as nouns. All gerunds include a verb and -ing. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

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