chapter  Chapter 9
8 Pages

Verbs and verb phrases

ByNancy Stenson

75With the exception of sentences involving the copula is (see Chapter 7), the predicate of most sentences is minimally composed of a verb, plus any complements it requires and some number of optional adverbial elements (also known as adjuncts). Just how complex a verb phrase is depends in part on the requirements of the verb itself, and partly on how much information the speaker chooses to provide about the event the sentence describes. Examples of English verb phrases include: fell, ate a peach, wants to eat a peach, may drop in on our friends unannounced, promise that they will never do anything like that again, gave a very expensive present to her granddaughter for Christmas last year, left the box on the table next to the Ming vase, and so on. In Irish, because of its verb-initial word order, the verb is often separated from the other elements of the verb phrase, but the verb and its complements nonetheless form a semantic unit distinct from the subject, and many contemporary analyses treat verb phrases as syntactic units as well. In certain structures, to be covered in later chapters, the verb phrase (VP) components do remain together as a surface syntactic unit.