What Are Pro-Verb Phrases?
Pro-verb phrases are short words or expressions that replace the verb and its accompanying elements.
As a type of pro-form, pro-verb phrases are anaphoric, meaning they refer back to other elements in the sentence.
English Pro-Verb Phrases
In English, 'do and 'so' are common pro-verb phrases. For example, in the sentence 'Sam went to the toy store and Alec did too', 'did' is a short form substituting the full verb phrase 'went to the toy store.' Let's take a look at some of the common pro-verb phrases in English:
So + Modals or Auxiliaries
We use 'so' with 'be', 'modal verbs', and 'auxiliary verbs' to avoid repeating a verb, especially in short responses with pronoun subjects.
When we use 'so' in this way, we invert the verb and subject, and we do not repeat the main verb. For example:
So in Exclamatives
In exclamative responses, we use 'so' as a substitute for the verb before the subject and verb 'be', modal, or auxiliary verb. In this case, we do not need to invert the verb and subjects. For example:
Do as Pro-verb Phrase
We can use 'do' instead of repeating the whole verb phrase.
Do So as Pro-verb Phrase
'Do so' is used to refer to actions where the subject and verb are the same as the ones mentioned previously. For example:
Nor, Neither and Either with Do
We can also use 'not … either', 'nor' or 'neither' when we want to avoid repeating a negative sentence. For example:
Do It and Do That as Pro-verb Phrase
We use 'do it' when the subject is different from the one already mentioned and we want to avoid repeating the whole clause. For example:
We use 'do that' for deliberate actions because it is more emphatic. We often use 'do that' to show contrast. For example:
Modal Verbs as Pro-verb Phrases
We can use a modal verb to avoid repeating the main verb phrase. Take a look at the examples:
We can also use 'a modal verb + do' to substitute for the main verb phrase. But keep in mind that do (so) could simply be omitted, and adding it would make the sentence formal.
The Particle 'To' as Pro-verb Phrase
A to-infinitive consists of the particle 'to' plus a bare infinitive. Since the bare infinitive verb can be omitted, the particle 'to' can act as a pro-verb for the to-infinitive. Take a look at the examples:
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