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compound verb

This Grammar.com article is about compound verb — enjoy your reading!

A compound verb is a multiword verb form consisting of one or more auxiliary verbs and a main verb, as in I have seen the movie, She has gone home, We will have decided this issue sometime next week.

An unfortunate—and incorrect—rule has developed among some writers: They believe that an adverb never comes between the parts of a compound verb. They are wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: The adverb should frequently come between the auxiliary and the main verb, as in should frequently come.

To put adverbs in their proper place, follow these seven conventions. The adverbs appear in bold underlined type, the verbs in bold type:

1. To stress the adverb, put it before the subject.

Emphatically the parent denied the child's request to ride without a seatbelt.

2. An adverb needing no emphasis comes after the subject and before the simple (one‑word) verb.

The teacher sometimes uses the dictionary.

3. Do not put an adverb between a verb and its object.

Avoid: I understand entirely the rule governing the placement of adverbs. (The word understand is the verb and rule is its object; no adverb should come in between.)

Instead: I entirely understand the rule governing the placement of adverbs.

4. An adverb modifying a two‑word compound verb comes between the helping verb and the main verb.

The manager will probably review the salary scales next month. The president has often rejected similar arguments. The runner was consistently winning her races.

5. An adverb modifying a three‑word compound verb comes after the first helping verb when the adverb modifies the entire thought communicated by the compound verb.

The students have certainly been forewarned about the risks of smoking. We will undoubtedly have received news from the school by that time.

6. If an adverb strongly modifies the main verb, put it before the main verb, not after the first helping verb (in a compound verb with three or more words).

This argument has been repeatedly rejected by the personnel office. This policy will have become firmly entrenched in our tax law.

7. An adverbial expression consisting of several words comes outside the compound verb, ordinarily after it.

The students have been reminded over and over again to refrain from smoking. We have been hearing this particular argument off and on for several years.

You'll find a complete discussion of this problem in the section on Adverbs in Parts of Speech on Grammar.com. Click here for the beginning of that discussion.

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