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compound verb



(1) Two or more words combined to form a single verb. Conventionally, verb compounds are written as either one word ("to housesit") or two hyphenated words ("to water-proof").

(2) A unit (such as a phrasal verb or a prepositional verb) that behaves either lexically or syntactically as a single verb. In such cases, a verb and its particle may be separated by other words ("drop the essay off"). Now more commonly known as a multi-word verb.

(3) A lexical verb plus its auxiliaries: in traditional grammar, a verb phrase.

See also:

Examples (Definition #1)

  • "Television has, it would seem, an irresistible ability to brainwash and narcotize children, drawing them away from other, more worthwhile activities and influences."
    (David Buckingham, "A Special Audience? Children and Television." A Companion to Television, ed. by Janet Wasko. Blackwell, 2006)

  • "After lunch Dos Passos and the Fitzgeralds, who had rented a scarlet touring car and chauffeur, househunted on Long Island."
    (Sally Cline, Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise. Arcade, 2004)

  • "Barely awake, he moved through the darkness, automatically went through the motions of emptying his bladder, sleep-walked his way back through his familiar kingdom, and unthinkingly pushed open the bedroom door."
    (Olga Grushin, The Dream Life of Sukhanov. Penguin, 2007)

  • Some studio owners use foam tiles, carpet, or egg boxes on the walls to sound-proof a room.

  • "I pretended to windowshop, pausing in front of a little store jammed with racks of costume jewelry."
    (Sophie Littlefield, Unforsaken. Delacorte Press, 2011)

Examples (Definition #2)

  • "[Stella] broke off the engagement, and I got out the dinghy and rowed off."
    (P.G. Wodehouse, "Rallying Around Old George")

  • "I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty."
    (President John Kennedy)

  • "Man feels the urge to run up against the limits of language."
    (Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics As a Guide to Morals. Chatto and Windus, 1992)

  • "I've just been informed that the witness Latour has done away with himself."
    (Leo G. Carroll as Sir Joseph, The Paradine Case, 1947)

  • "I put up with your obsessions. I even encourage them--for one reason. They save lives."
    (Robert Leonard as Dr. James Wilson, "Here Kitty." House M.D., 2009)

Examples (Definition #3)

  • "And then I was playing over and under and through all of this, and the pianist and bass were playing somewhere else."
    (Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography, with Quincy Troupe. Simon & Schuster, 1989)

  • "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. Da Capo Press, 2000)

  • "If White House officials had called reporters about Valerie Wilsoii after the Novak column, they would have been playing a rather bruising (and arguably unethical) game of hardball."
    (Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. Crown Publishers, 2006)


  • Placement of Adverbs in Verb Phrases
    "Although most authorities squarely say that the best place for the adverb is in the midst of the verb phrase, many writers nevertheless harbor a misplaced aversion, probably because they confuse a split verb phrase with the split infinitive. H.W. Fowler explained long ago what writers still have problems understanding: 'When an adverb is to be used with [a compound] verb, its normal place is between the auxiliary (or sometimes the first auxiliary if there are two or more) and the rest. Not only is there no objection to thus splitting a compound verb . . ., but any other position for the adverb requires special justification' (MEU1)."
    (Bryan A. Garner, The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style. Oxford University Press, 2000)

    To stay within your daily calorie budget, you will probably decide to completely boycott certain foods.

    My sister has certainly been warned about strangers.
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