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Verb Phrase vs. Phrasal Verb: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 25, 2024
A verb phrase is a combination of a main verb and its auxiliaries, while a phrasal verb is a verb combined with a preposition or adverb, altering its original meaning.
Verb Phrase vs. Phrasal Verb

Key Differences

A verb phrase consists of the main verb along with its helping (auxiliary) verbs, indicating tense, mood, or voice. Conversely, a phrasal verb is a unique combination of a verb and a preposition or adverb, creating a meaning different from the original verb.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024
Verb phrases are fundamental to constructing sentences, providing detailed information about the action. Phrasal verbs, however, often carry idiomatic meanings not directly deducible from the individual words.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024
Examples of verb phrases include "is running" or "has been completed", where the main verb is supported by auxiliaries. Phrasal verbs like "give up" or "run into" demonstrate how added prepositions or adverbs change the verb's meaning.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024
In a verb phrase, the main verb remains the core of the meaning, while auxiliaries modify it. In phrasal verbs, the combination of words works as a single verb, and the original meaning of the main verb can be vastly different.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024
Understanding verb phrases is essential for mastering verb tenses and grammatical correctness, while learning phrasal verbs is key to understanding and using informal and conversational English.
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Jan 25, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Definition

A combination of a main verb and its auxiliaries
A combination of a verb with a preposition or adverb
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Purpose

To indicate tense, mood, or voice
To create a new meaning distinct from the original verb
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Examples

"is running", "has been completed"
"give up", "run into"
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Meaning Consistency

Maintains the main verb's meaning
Often idiomatic and differs from the main verb's meaning
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Usage

Essential in sentence construction
Common in informal and conversational English
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Shumaila Saeed
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Verb Phrase and Phrasal Verb Definitions

Verb Phrase

A verb phrase is the main verb with its helping verbs.
She is singing beautifully.
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Phrasal Verb

Phrasal verbs are often idiomatic.
She finally gave in to her cravings.
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Verb Phrase

Verb phrases provide nuances of time and manner.
She can speak three languages.
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Phrasal Verb

They are common in informal speech and writing.
We need to cut down on expenses.
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Verb Phrase

They can show passive voice or modalities.
The cake must be baked by now.
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Phrasal Verb

Understanding them requires context and practice.
He's always looking out for his sister.
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Verb Phrase

It expresses the action or state of being in a sentence.
They have been working hard.
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Phrasal Verb

It creates a meaning different from the original verb.
He ran into an old friend.
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Verb Phrase

Verb phrases can indicate different tenses and aspects.
He will be arriving soon.
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Phrasal Verb

A phrasal verb is a verb combined with a preposition or adverb.
She looked up the word in the dictionary.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Do all verbs form phrasal verbs?

Many, but not all, verbs can be part of phrasal verbs.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

What is a phrasal verb?

A phrasal verb is a verb combined with a preposition or adverb, creating a new meaning.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Are phrasal verbs formal or informal?

Phrasal verbs are more common in informal language.
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Can the meaning of a phrasal verb be guessed from the words?

Often not, as many phrasal verbs are idiomatic.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Can phrasal verbs be separated?

Yes, in some phrasal verbs, the verb and particle can be separated.
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Jan 25, 2024

What's an example of a phrasal verb?

"She looked after the children."
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What is a verb phrase?

A verb phrase is a syntactic unit consisting of a main verb and its auxiliary verbs.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Can verb phrases be passive?

Yes, verb phrases can be in the passive voice.
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What's an example of a verb phrase?

"They are playing soccer."
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Can verb phrases be in any tense?

Yes, verb phrases can express action or state in any tense.
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How many parts does a phrasal verb have?

Typically two or three (verb + preposition/adverb).
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Do phrasal verbs have synonyms?

Often, but synonyms might not convey the same informal tone.
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Do phrasal verbs vary between dialects?

Yes, some phrasal verbs are more common in certain English dialects.
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Are verb phrases important in English grammar?

Yes, they are crucial for correct tense and aspect in sentences.
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Do verb phrases change the main verb’s meaning?

No, they modify its tense, aspect, or voice but not its meaning.
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Is context important for understanding phrasal verbs?

Absolutely, context is crucial for interpreting their meaning.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Can verb phrases indicate future actions?

Yes, with the correct auxiliary verbs.
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Jan 25, 2024

Are verb phrases used in questions?

Yes, they are used in forming questions.
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Are phrasal verbs replaceable with single verbs?

Sometimes, but the single verb may not capture the exact nuance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Are verb phrases or phrasal verbs harder to learn?

Phrasal verbs are often considered more challenging due to their idiomatic nature.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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