Thursday, November 20, 2008

Compound Verbs in English

Concept of Compound Verb

As you all know that the verb is considered as the most important part in a sentence. The verb asserts something about the subject of the given sentence and it communicates actions, events, or states of being. Mostly we require only one verb to communicate some ideas. For example the words Come, Sit, Speak, Go, See and Remain represents an action, event or state of being. However in most of the times we require a compound verb to communicate some concepts. The term compound verb was first used in publication in Grattan and Gurrey's Our Living Language (1925). (Wikipedia).

Auxiliary Verb

The compound verb comprises the main verb and one or more auxiliary or helping verbs. The auxiliary verb does not express an action. Instead it joins a word or words in the predicate to the subject. Wikipedia calls compound verb as "complex predicate", since it is the critical element of the predicate of a sentence. Some of the more common linking verbs are forms of be:

Am, are, is, was, were

Common Auxiliary Verb

There are certain other verbs which does mere linking job. For example: appear, feel, look, seem, smell and taste. These can be used as either linking or action verbs. Even if you replace with are, is, was and were can be used as main verb as well as auxiliary verb.

1) Appear
a) Giri appears before court (action verb)
b) Giri appears puzzled or Giri is puzzled (linking verb)
2) Feel
a) Giri feels heat (action verb)
b) Giri feels curious or Giri is curious (linking verb)
3) Look
a) Giri looks handsome (action verb)
b) Giri looks fresh or Giri is fresh (linking verb)
4) Seem
a) Giri seems knowledgeable (action verb)
b) Giri seems poised or Giri is poised (linking verb)
5) Smell
a) Giri smells polluted air (action verb)
b) Food smells fresh or Food is fresh (linking verb)
6) Taste
a) Giri tastes the apple (action verb)
b) Apple tastes sweet or Apple is sweet (linking verb)

Verb Tenses

The main verb always expresses an action and the auxiliary verb is used specifically with the verb in order to create the many of the tenses available in English. Consider the following examples:

1) Giri had visited this place before.
2) Giri has been visiting this place for the past six months.
3) Giri may visit your place soon.
4) Giri would never stop

In the above examples you may easily identify the compound verb and the tenses expressed by them. In the first example main verb visited and the single auxiliary verb had together forms this compound verb expression ‘had visited.’ In the second the main verb ‘visiting’ and two auxiliary verbs has been together forms another compound verb expression ‘has been visiting.’ Note the compound verb expression ‘may visit’ in the third example. In the fourth example the word ‘never’ falls between the auxiliary verb ‘would’ and the main verb ‘stop.’

A verb has certain principal parts to express tense. Consider the example the verb ‘visit’ has:

1) ‘visit’ (present tense);
2) ‘visited’ (past tense);
3) ‘will visit’ (future tense)
4) ‘has visited’ or ‘have visited’ (past participle); (always require the auxiliary verb ‘has’, ‘have’ or ‘had’
5) ‘to visit’ (infinitive verb)
6) ‘visiting (present participle)
7) ‘has visited’ or ‘have visited’ (present perfect) (expresses an action that began at some time in the past and has now ended)
8) ‘had visited’ (past perfect) (expresses an action that began and ended in the past)
9) ‘will have visited’ or ‘shall have visited’ (future perfect) (expresses an action that began in the past and will end at a definite time in the future)

Phrasal Verb

Phrasal Verb is the verb complex consisting of a combination of:

1) verb and preposition (Prepositional Verbs), Example: Look after
2) verb and adverb (Adverbial Verbs), example: highlight, fine tune, foul mouth
3) verb with both an adverb and a preposition.

The adverb or preposition which follows the verb is usually called a particle. You may notice that the particle changes the meaning of the phrasal verb. You will find different meaning of the phrasal verb which is entirely different from the meaning of the original verb. For example consider meanings verb ‘look’ (see) and prepositional Verbs.

1) Look after = Take care
2) Look back = Think about the past
3) Look down on = Have a low opinion off
4) Look for = Try to find
5) Look forward to = Wait for or anticipate something pleasant
6) Look in = Make a quick visit
7) Look in on = Visit briefly to see if everything is alright
8) Look into = Investigate
9) Look on = Watch something like a crime without helping
10) Look on as = Consider, Regard
11) Look out = Be careful
12) Look over = Inspect
13) Look round = Inspect a house
14) Look to = Expect, Hope
15) Look up = Improve
16) Look up to = Respect
17) Look upon as = Consider, Regard

The website ‘Using English’ reports about 2,621 current English Phrasal Verbs (also called multi-word verbs) with definitions and examples. If you have a question about phrasal verbs, ask us about it in our English Phrasal Verbs Forum.

The Oxford English Grammar identifies seven types of prepositional or phrasal verbs in English:

1) Intransitive Phrasal Verbs: Example Catch on = to understand
a) After attending the class Giri began to catch on (to the algorithm)
2) Transitive Phrasal Verbs: example Find out = to discover
a) After attending class Giri began to find out bugs
3) Mono-transitive Prepositional Verbs (Inseparable): example get around = to evade
a) Giri always gets around the procedure (Correct)
b) Giri always gets the procedure around the procedure (Not Correct)
4) Doubly-transitive Prepositional Verbs (Separable): example add up = to add
a) Giri added up the total on computer (Correct)
b) Giri added it up on computer (Not Correct)
5) Copular Prepositional Verbs. In English copula is considered as a special type of verb. It serves as a connector between the subject of the given sentence and some sort of modifier. The best example of the copula is the verb to be, which most often serves to link the subject of the sentence with the predicate -- a part of the sentence which modifies the subject. Some examples of this use of to be is included at ‘Wisegeek’:

a) Can anything ever be enough?
b) The house is on top of the hill.
6) Monotransitive phrasal-prepositional verbs - example. look up to = respect, admire someone
a) Giri looks up to his father
7) Doubly transitive phrasal-prepositional verbs - example. put [something] down to [someone] = Give as an explanation
a) Giri didn't score many, but we can put that down to inexperience


1) - phrasal-verb -
2) - Verb -
3) Learn English - Phrasal Verbs -
4) Online Writing Lab (OWL) – Verb Tenses -
5) The Oxford English Grammar by Sidney Greenbaum ISBN10: 0198612508 hardback, 672 pages May 1996,
6) Using English – Phrasal Verb -
7) Wikipedia – Compound Verb –
8) Wisegeek – What is Cupola -

1 comment:

Vocab said...

vocabexperts - Great post ! Thanks I really Appreciate It