Verb groups

Introduction

Introduction

Everyone loves action! We love it when things happen—good things, bad things, expected, unexpected, it doesn't matter. We just looooooove stuff happening.

So you'll find that at the heart of any sentence will be an action or process of some decription.

Everybody held their breath.

How to Train Your DragonCressida CowellSource

Actions and processes are represented by verbs.

The function of a verb is to tell us what is going on.

Sometimes, like in the example above, we can communicate everything we want about what is happening using a single verb.

Here's another example of a single-verb action:

So I unfolded Auggie’s little slip of paper.

WonderR.J. PalacioSource

Can a sentence have more than one action? Sure! Here's a sentence with two actions:

I got to the back of the truck and wrenched at the doors.

Burning for RevengeJohn MarsdenSource
Connectors and complex sentences

Actions are not limited to single verbs; actions and processes are often packaged in verb groups.

Verb groups can be very intricate. In this lesson, one thing we will learn is to spot the boundaries of verb groups—identifying where they begin and end in a sentence.

For examples, try highlighting the actions in the snippets below:

This trip, I was determined to be good.

The Lightning ThiefRick RiordanSource

Did that highlighting catch you by surprise? 

The action is represented by more than just the main verb!

Take a look at these next two snippets:

She was trying to appear to be very frightened, and if you didn't know Sunny it would have seemed genuine.

The Reptile RoomLemony SnicketSource

She wore ill-fitting jeans and a T-shirt smeared with what could have been porridge.

Blood JunctionCaroline CarverSource

How did you go finding those? Verb groups can get pretty complex!

The words we use in verb groups let us describe action in rich and subtle ways. 

We can label each of these words depending on their function in the group.

Here are a few examples to give you a taste of what you will learn to recognise in this lesson:

This trip, I was determined to be good.

The Lightning ThiefRick RiordanSource

She was trying to appear to be very frightened, and if you didn't know Sunny it would have seemed genuine.

The Reptile RoomLemony SnicketSource

She wore ill-fitting jeans and a T-shirt smeared with what could have been porridge.

Blood JunctionCaroline CarverSource

If you are a fluent English speaker, you use complex verb groups like these without even thinking about it. But if you stop to try and figure out what each word of the group is doing, it can be pretty challenging!

The goal of this lesson is to get a little more familiar with these components, and get a feel for how they work in sentences.

To begin, let’s look at the simplest possible situation.

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