Language
Fact-checked

At LanguageHumanities, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Is a Complete Verb?

A complete verb is the backbone of a sentence, encompassing the main verb and its helpers, known as auxiliary verbs. Together, they express action, existence, or occurrence with clarity and strength. Understanding complete verbs unlocks the power of precise communication. Ready to master the art of the complete verb and elevate your language skills? Join us as we explore further.
Christine LaFleur
Christine LaFleur

The complete verb of a sentence in English grammar consists of the main verb and the helping verbs that go with it. It could contain as many as four verbs, and words that function as adverbs or infinitives are not part of it.

To determine the complete verb of a sentence, one should first identify the main verb. The main verb tells what the subject of the sentence is doing. For example, in the sentence "Jane was working on an essay," the main verb is "working" because that is what Jane, the subject, was doing.

Consult a dictionary or other language reference books if unsure about verb usage.
Consult a dictionary or other language reference books if unsure about verb usage.

All helping verbs are identified after the main verb. Helping verbs take different forms of the verbs "have" or "be." In the sentence, "Jane was working on an essay," the word "was" functions as a helping verb. The complete verb in this sentence is "was working."

Adverbs, such as the word "not" and any words that form contractions using "not," are not part of the complete verb. For example, in the sentence "He didn't enjoy the movie," the word "not" is contracted with the word "did." The contraction "n't" would not included, so the complete verb in this sentence is "did enjoy."

Complete verbs may stand alone when used with past tense verbs, such as in the sentence "He raised his hand."
Complete verbs may stand alone when used with past tense verbs, such as in the sentence "He raised his hand."

Infinitives, which usually begin with the word "to," are not part of the complete verb either. In this sentence, "They were going to party all night long," the phrase "to party" functions as an infinitive. The complete verb in this sentence is "were going."

Complete verbs might stand alone when used with present and past tense verbs. In the sentence "I took the test," the past tense verb "took" acts as the main verb, and there are no helping verbs in the sentence. The same is true of the verb "take" in the sentence "I take a geometry class."

"She jumped on the trampoline" is an example of a sentence containing a complete verb.
"She jumped on the trampoline" is an example of a sentence containing a complete verb.

Present and past participles cannot stand alone and must be accompanied by a helping verb. The present participle form of "take" is "taking," and the past participle form is "taken." In the sentence "I will be taking piano lessons," the verb "taking" is accompanied by the helping verbs "will be."

In the sentence "I have taken dance classes," the verb "taken" is accompanied by the helping verb "have." The complete verb for this sentence is "have taken." An example of a sentence with one that has four words is "I will have been taken to the emergency room by then."

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Consult a dictionary or other language reference books if unsure about verb usage.
      By: Sebastian Crocker
      Consult a dictionary or other language reference books if unsure about verb usage.
    • Complete verbs may stand alone when used with past tense verbs, such as in the sentence "He raised his hand."
      By: Monkey Business
      Complete verbs may stand alone when used with past tense verbs, such as in the sentence "He raised his hand."
    • "She jumped on the trampoline" is an example of a sentence containing a complete verb.
      By: Gorilla
      "She jumped on the trampoline" is an example of a sentence containing a complete verb.