A compound verb is a verb that is made up of multiple words. The compound verb can take on such forms as:
- A prepositional verb
- A phrasal verb
- A verb with auxiliaries
- A compound single-word verb
Each of these operate a little differently and the best way to understand them is to study a variety of compound verb examples.
Verbs can take on a slightly or even a very different meaning when a preposition is added to the end of them.
- Believe in
- Ask for
- Rely upon
A phrasal verb is formed when you combine a verb with an adverb or a preposition. The meaning of the resulting compound verb isn't always obvious by looking at the two words in isolation. Also, the adverb or preposition can be moved after the object and still make perfect sense.
- Tear up
- Take away
- Take down
- work on
Verbs can also be preceded by an auxiliary verb to form a compound verb. Variations of "to be" are the most common, but other auxiliaries are oftentimes used too.
- Was swimming
- Will be considering
- Will meet
- Are running
Whether or not the two words are connected with a hyphen, you can form a compound verb by combining two separate words, either or both of which may or may not be verbs on their own.
- Rely on
- Wear away
An even better way to illustrate how compound verbs function is to see them in action in example sentences.
- Mary will take off her makeup before bed.
- The town was destroyed by the tornado.
- Everything will work out eventually.
- I had water-proofed the boat, but not well enough.
- We opted for the cheaper room without a view.
- He was looking for a nice place to camp.
- Someone will need to proofread my manuscript.
- The meeting will reconvene in an hour.
- Egg cartons can soundproof a room.
- We really need to air-condition the house.
- John will babysit for us tonight.
- Sometimes we second guess the outcome.
- I really want to test-drive that sports car.
- Dad will be waiting at the train station.
- The cashier shortchanged me fifty cents.
- You will be amazing in the role.
You can also see compound verbs in action via these quotes.
- "I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty." - President John F. Kennedy
- "Although all three musicians had been playing earlier that night, they had not been together." - Erik Nisenson, Open Sky: Sonny Rollins And His World Of Improvisation
These examples of compound verbs show the many ways that this grammar tool can be used to further enhance the verb in a sentence. When you're ready to learn more, check out our resources on helping verbs and linking verbs too.