Unit 3. The verb group
- In a clause, the verb group usually comes after the subject and always has a main verb.
- The main verb has several different forms.
- Verb groups can also include one or two auxiliaries, or a modal, or a modal and one or two auxiliaries.
- The verb group changes in negative clauses and questions.
- Some verb groups are followed by an adverbial, a complement, an object, or two objects.
1. The verb group in a clause is used to say what is happening in an action or situation. You usually put the verb group immediately after the subject. The verb group always includes a main verb.
They killed the elephants.
2. Regular verbs have four forms: the base form, the third person singular form of the Present Simple, the "-ing" form or Present Participle, and the "-ed" form used for the Past Simple and for the Past Participle.
Irregular verbs may have three forms, four forms, or five forms. Note that "be" has eight forms.
See the Appendix for details of verb forms.
3. The main verb can have one or two auxiliaries in front of it.
I had met him in Zermatt.
The car was being repaired.
The main verb can have a modal in front of it.
You can go now.
I would like to ask you a question.
The main verb can have a modal and one or two auxiliaries in front of it.
I could have spent the whole year on it.
She would have been delighted to see you.
4. In negative clauses, you have to use a modal auxiliary and put "not" after the first word of the verb group.
He does not speak English very well.
I was not smiling.
It could not have been wrong.
Note that you often use short forms rather than "not".
I didn't know that.
He couldn't see it.
5. In "yes/ no" questions, you have to put an auxiliary or modal first, then the subject, then the rest of the verb group.
Did you meet George?
Couldn't you have been a bit quieter?
In "wh"-questions, you put the "wh"-word first. If the "wh"-word is the subject, you put the verb group next.
Which came first?
Who could have done it?
If the "wh"-word is the object or an adverbial, you must use an auxiliary or modal next, then the subject, then the rest of the verb group.
What did you do?
Where could she be going?
He closed the door.
She sends you her love.
Verb groups involving link verbs, such as "be", have a complement after them. See Unit 80.
They were sailors.
She felt happy.
Some verb groups have an adverbial after them.
We walked through the park.
She put the leffer on the table.