Writers Workshop: Writer Resources
Grammar Handbook: Verbals and Verb Phrases
Verbals are verb forms which act as another part of speech in a sentence (i.e. as adjectives, nouns, and adverbs).
Verbal phrases are verbals and any of the verb form's modifiers, objects, or complements. The three types of verbal phrases are participial, gerund, and infinitive phrases.
Participial Phrases are present participles or past participles and any modifiers, objects, or complements. Participial phrases contain verbs which act as adjectives in a sentence.
- Singing very softly, the boy lulled his baby brother to sleep. (the participial phrase works as an adjective, modifying "boy")
- The girls, frightened by the police car's headlights, quickly came down from the school's roof.
(the participial phrase works as an adjective, modifying "girls")
Gerund Phrases contain verbs ending in -ing and any modifiers, objects, or complements. Gerund phrases act as nouns in a sentence. They can act as the subject or object of a verb, as a predicate nominative, and as the object of a preposition.
- Waiting for his grades drove him crazy. (the gerund phrase works as the subject of the verb "drove")
- The woman denied knowing her own husband. (the gerund phrase works as the object of the verb "denied")
- He thought he could escape from his problems by running away. (the gerund phrase works as the object of the preposition "by")
- Making many acquaintances is cultivating future friendships.
(the gerund phrases work as the subject and as the predicate nominative)
Infinitive Phrases contain verbals consisting of "to" followed by a verb and any modifiers, objects, or complements. Infinitive phrases usually act as nouns, but they can also act as adjectives and adverbs.
- To live in Boston eventually is his main goal in life. (the infinitive phrase works as the subject of the sentence)
- Quentin Tarentino loves to babble during interviews. (the infinitive phrase works as the object of the verb "loves")
- Do you have any clothes to donate to the homeless shelter? (the infinitive phrase works as an adjective, modifying "clothes")
- She went home to visit her family. (the infinitive phrase works as an adverb, modifying "went")