To Top

Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Predicates

Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Predicates

Traditional grammars define verbs as “words that denote actions and states of being.” A verb phrase consists of a verb plus any auxiliary verbs, particles, modifiers, complements, and objects.

In grammar, a predicate is a word or phrase that expresses the action performed by the grammatical subject or the state of the grammatical subject. Only verbs and verb phrases can function as predicates. Examples of verbs and verbs phrases as predicates include the following:

  • I am. (verb)
  • She has left. (verb phrase)
  • The man is dancing. (verb phrase)
  • You seem sad. (verb + subject complement)
  • My daughter loves Elmo. (verb phrase + direct object)
  • Her husband listens to blue grass. (verb phrase + verb phrase complement)
  • The librarian can look the information up. (verb phrase + direct object + particle)
  • Our physician gave me some pamphlets for you. (verb + indirect object + direct object)

Verb as Predicate

Verb as Predicate Grammar Tree

Verb Phrases as Predicates

Verb Phrase as Predicate Grammar Tree

Verb Phrase as Predicate Grammar Tree

Verb Phrase as Predicate Grammar Tree


Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

More in English Verbs

  • Grammatical Aspect

    Grammatical aspect is the grammaticalized expression of the temporal structure of an action or state. Temporal structure roughly relates to duration....

    Heather JohnsonJune 20, 2018
  • ESL Recipe Lesson Plan: Practice the Imperative Mood

    Many English language learners hope to function fully and completely in the English language. Learning to follow and write recipes is...

    Heather JohnsonFebruary 25, 2018
  • English Auxiliary Verbs

    Auxiliary verbs are a subcategory of English verbs that provide additional semantic or syntactic information about the main verb in the...

    Heather JohnsonMarch 1, 2016
  • Ambitransitive English Verbs

    Verbs are traditionally defined as “words that describe actions or states of being.” Main or principal English verbs may be either...

    Heather JohnsonFebruary 25, 2016
  • Attributive Ditransitive English Verbs

    Traditional notional grammars define verbs as “action or state of being words.” Transitive verbs in English grammar are main verbs that...

    Heather JohnsonFebruary 23, 2016