Grammar-QuizzesVerb Phrases › Verb Groups

Verb Groups

Recognize parts that together form the predicate

X structure diagram
walking
We are walking.
‹ diagram ›
► What is a verb group? ▼ Explanation of term

A verb group:

  • expresses the action or activity with information about:
    • aspect—how the activity  relates to time (ongoing, continuous, repetitive, habitual). He is walking, He has been walking, He had been walking. He will walk later.
    • mood—opinion, prediction, or inference about the action in the clause.  He may walk. We should walk. He must have walked.
    • voice—whether the focus or interest is the agent (person or thing that causes the action) or the patient, also called "theme" (person or thing that is affected by the action.) She walked her dog. (active)  The dog was walked twice a day. (passive)
  • functions as the predicate of the clause.
  • takes form as one or more auxiliaries and a secondary verb (plain form, -ed, -ing). We will walk. We have walked. We have been walking.

"Main Verb"

  • In traditional analysis, the auxiliaries are "helping verbs". The main verb is the one with a "dictionary meaning" and it occurs as (1) plain form, (2) -ing form (progressive) or (3) -ed form (past participle). 
    • He is a fast walker. (main verb)
    • He walks. (main verb)
    • He is walkingHe has walkedHe had been walking. (helping verb + main verb)
    •  He hopes to walk. He enjoys walking.  (main verb + infinitive or gerund)
  • In linguistics, the analysis is simplified. The main verb is a primary verb, which can be marked for person, number or tense [1].  An auxiliary is the "main verb" if it can be marked for person number or tense [3].  A second auxiliary, next form auxiliary, adds aspect or voice (active/passive) to the verb group. A lexical verb (with a dictionary meaning) is the primary verb [1] if it can be marked for tense and number, or it is a secondary verb [3,4] if it is an infinitive, gerund or past participle form (nonfinite: infinitival, gerund-participle, past participle).
    1. They are fast walkers.  (primary verb–can be marked for person, number and tense)
    2. He walks.  (primary verb–can be marked for person, number and tense, lexical verb–has a dictionary meaning)
    3. He is walkingHe has walkedHe had been walking.  (primary verb–can be marked for person, number and tense; auxiliary verb–having function but not carrying meaning].
    4.  He hopes to walk. He enjoys walking.  (secondary verb–cannot be marked for person or tense)

Also see Modal Auxiliaries for their forms.

The term "concatenative", meaning "linked", is used for verbs such as hopes to go, expects to see, enjoys seeing, helps fix, is going to go.

inference (N) — reasoning or conclusion based on evidence (what you know to be true) 

 

Verb Groups

Summary of Practices

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs: recognize function and form

Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

Diagram: Charlie hates sitting all day.

Charlie has raised his hand. ("primary verb", inflects.)

Charlie had raised his hand. (marked for tense)

Charlie is raising his hand. (marked for aspect)

Charlie may raise his hand again. (marked for mood)

The question has been asked. (marked for voice)

 

Negatives: express absence, doubt, denial, prohibition and more (Negative Word Forms)

Beginning – Advanced ESL, native speakers

No No's

No one  /   Not anyone has parked illegally.

His inability / disability was clear to us.

He was unsatisfied / dissatisfied.

Do not park there!  We do not park there.

He would park there, wouldn't he?

We asked him not to park there.

I doubt that he *never / ever helps.

He is neither optimistic nor pessimistic.

His no nonsense approach to life is refreshing. (expression)

Past Perfect: contrast earlier from later events

Intermediate– Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

lunch with friends

After we had ordered from the menu, we began to talk.

First, we ordered from the menu. Then, we began to talk.

We had just ordered from the menu when the electricity went off.

Present Progressive: talk about temporary habits or activities at the moment of speaking

Beginning ESL

jogging

Helen is jogging around the park right now.

Helen is jogging around the park this morning.

Past Progressive: report past temporary, repeated, or background activity

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

CalTrain

Alison lived in San Francisco after she finished school.
Alison took the train while she was living in San Francisco.

We saw two cars crash.
As we were walking along the sidewalk, we saw two cars crash.

Present Perfect Progressive: Duration/ Repetition: express continuous vs. reoccurring activity

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

fixing pisa

Engineers have been working to save the Tower of Pisa!

Present Perfect Progressive: Permanent/Temporary: express long- or short-term activity

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

visitors to pisa

The Tower has stood in this location since 1350.

I have been standing in line to get into the Tower since 10:00 a.m.

Present Perfect Progressive: Completed / Ongoing: contrast present perfect completed vs. ongoing

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

leaning tower

Engineers have tried to keep the Tower of Pisa from falling.

They have been trying a new method.

Past & Participle Forms 1: Review past and participle verb forms (A – L)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Jaycee

Jaycee (spinned, span, spun?) _____the ball on his toe last night.

Past & Participle Forms 2: Review past and participle verb forms (L – W)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Jamie

Jamie (let) _____the ball drop in yesterday's final play.

Been / Being: contrast the sounds of been and being (Audio Practice)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Doctor spanking baby

We've been quiet. (present perfect - active)

We're being quiet.   (present progressive - active)

We've been seen by Dr. Allen.   (present perfect - passive)

We 're being seen by Dr. Allen (present progressive - passive)

Verbal Idioms: express activities with verb-prep combinations ("phasal verbs")

Beginning–Advanced ESL

wolf lets out a howl

Look up. 

Look up the word in the dictionary.

The airplane took off.

He took his coat off.

He took off his coat. 

Negatives: express absence, doubt, denial, prohibition and more

Beginning – Advanced ESL, native speakers

No No's

No one  /   Not anyone has parked illegally.

His inability / disability was clear to us.

He was unsatisfied / dissatisfied.

Do not park there!  We do not park there.

He would park there, wouldn't he?

We asked him not to park there.

I doubt that he *never / ever helps.

He is neither optimistic nor pessimistic.

His no nonsense approach to life is refreshing. (expression)