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Verbals and Verb Phrases

• Verbals are formed from the four principal parts of verbs
• However, verbals do not act as verbs
• This is the one situation where a past or present participle may be used grammatically without a helping verb
• because it's not a verb in such a situation, but a verbal
• A verbal phrase = verbal [+ modifiers + complement (as if the verbal were still a verb)]


• formed from present participle
• end in -ing
• act as Nouns
• can therefore be Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object, Predicate Nominative, Object of Preposition, or Appositive


• formed from present or past participle
• end in -ing, -ed, -en (and other irregular past participle forms - see Gucker, 30-31)
• act as Adjectives
• if single word, will appear next to noun/pronoun being modified
• if phrase, can be embedded in sentence or appear at beginning to modify subject
• often, but not always, set off by commas


• formed from "to" + present form
• not to be confused with prepositional phrases beginning with "to"
• prep phrases don't contain verbs
• act as Nouns, Adjectives, or Adverbs
• as nouns, often the DO of "mental action"
• as adjectives, will appear next to noun/pronoun being modified
• as adverbs, position not fixed

Each verb has four forms

• Present see
• Simple past saw
• present participle seeing
• past participle seen

Each verb has two voices

Active and passive

Each verb has two numbers that correspond to and must agree with the number of the subject

• singular
• plural

Ways of distinguishing verbs and verb phrases

1. action verbs vs. linking verbs
2. main verbs vs. helping/auxiliary/modal verbs
3. transitive vs. intransitive verbs
4. passive vs. active verbs

Characteristics of a Verb Phrase

1. Person: 1,2,3
2. Number: singular, plural
3. Tense: 12 possibilities
4. Voice: active, passive
5. Mood: indicative, imperative, subjunctive

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