Term of Art: Verb Phrase

1. Also verbal phrase. In traditional grammar, a term for the main verb and any auxiliary or combination of auxiliaries that precedes it: can spell; may have cried; should be paid; might have been transferred2. In generative grammar, a term roughly equivalent to the traditional predicate. It includes the traditional verb phrase with (at least) any complements of the verb, such as the non-bracketed parts of the following sentences: (They) have understood his intention); (Susan) was very patient.”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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