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Using Verbs as Verb Phrase Heads


Using Verbs as Verb Phrase Heads

Traditional grammars define verbs as “words that denote an action or a state of being.” Verb phrases consist of a verb plus any modifiers, complements, objects, particles, infinitive markers, and auxiliaries.

In grammar, a verb phrase head is the word that functions as the head of the verb phrase. Only verbs can function as verb phrase heads. Examples of verbs as verb phrase heads include the following:

  • saunter
  • am crying
  • had bitten
  • could have been being painted
  • throw up
  • might read the new novel
  • look into the problem
  • has given me a headache

Verb as Verb Phrase Head

Verb as Verb Phrase Head 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.


Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cat. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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