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Verb Phrases

Let's review a verb's purpose and explain what a verb phrase is. A verb tells the reader what happens. The action can be modified by an object, assisted with a helper, or modified by a verb phrase. Verb phrases are often used in idioms, colloquialisms, or slang.

1) A verb object is the item upon which the action is committed.

Jane drove (subject/verb) the car (object).

Dick threw (subject/verb) the ball (object).

2) A verb can be modified with a helping verb:

Forms of to be: am, are, be, been, is, was, were.

Forms of to do: did, do, does.

Forms of to have: had, has, have.

Qualifiers: can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would.

Qualifiers can be red flags and often need to be cut. Search for them. Kill them unless they are absolutely essential to the point. 

Jane could see Dick edging around the corner, weapons out.

In distant third or omniscient: Jane saw Dick edge around the corner, weapons out.

First person or close third in Jane's POV: Dick edged around the corner, weapons out.

3) A verb can be modified by a verb phrase.

A verb phrase contains a verb and a helping verb that act as one word. The helping word always precedes the verb. The words never, not, and the contraction n't are negation words and are not part of the verb.

Dick could have been willing (verb) to fly (modifier).

Dick might not have wanted (verb) to fly (modifier)

We have become (verb) world travelers (object).

4) The helping verb can be separated from the verb in certain situations.

When asking a question, the helping verb comes before the actual verb.

Have you ever been to Spain?

Do you know the way to San Jose?

No, I've never been there.

Dick should never (negation) have gone (verb) there (modifier).

Revision Tips
? Make sure the verb phrases are used correctly. You should search for these verb phrase key words by selecting [Control] [F] or [Find] and entering the word. Make sure you avoid clichés.
? Evaluate all verb phrases. Are they used correctly?
? Do they constitute clichés? Can you change it or cut it?

  For all of the revision tips on verbs and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

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