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The Verb Phrase Modifier in English Grammar

Verb phrase modifiers are defined as words, phrases, and clauses that describe a verb phrase. A verb phrase is a phrase in which a verb functions as the head of the phrase plus any auxiliaries, modifiers, complements, objects, particles, infinitive markers, and determinatives. The two grammatical forms that can function as verb phrase modifiers are:

  1. Adverb phrase
  2. Adjective clause

Adverb Phrases as Verb Phrase Modifiers

The first grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of verb phrase modifier is the adverb phrase. An adverb phrase is a phrase in which an adverb functions as the head of the phrase plus any modifiers. For example, the following the following italicized adverb phrases function as verb phrase modifiers:

  • The librarian quickly leafed through the book.
  • Do not run with scissors!
  • The autumn leaves fall swiftly.
  • He moved slowly and spoke quietly.
  • She was frantically searching for her new shoes.
  • The child ate the vegetables enthusiastically.

Adverb phrases most frequently function as verb phrase modifiers. Adverb phrases may precede or follow the verb within a verb phrase. Adverb phrases may also intervene between verbs as auxiliary verbs.

Adjective Clauses as Verb Phrase Modifiers

The second grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of verb phrase modifier is the adjective clause. An adjective clause consist of a relative pronoun followed by a clause that consists of a subject and a predicate and that performs an adjectival function. Only which adjective clauses function as verb phrase modifiers. For example, the following the following italicized adjective clauses function as verb phrase modifiers:

  • Reading, which is one of my favorite past times, keeps the mind sharp.
  • Washing the windows, which still needs completed, occurs every Wednesday morning.
  • Dusting, which I loath, must be finished before vacuuming, which I enjoy.
  • Hunting tigers, which many people still consider sport, should be outlawed internationally.
  • The hardest part about learning grammar, which I thoroughly enjoy, is memorizing all the rules.
  • Despite our missing the train, which happened because of a traffic jam, we arrived on time.

Adjective clauses function as verb phrase modifiers only of verbs in the form of present participles performing nominal functions in English.

The two grammatical forms that can function as the verb phrase modifier in the English language are adverb phrases and adjective clauses.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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