Verbal Phrase Modifier: A Basic Guide

Verb phrase modifiers are words and phrases that modify a verb or a verb phrase in a sentence. They are words that attach to a verb to give a detailed description. Verbal phrase modifiers include adverb phrases, adjective clauses, and appositive phrases.

What is a Verb Phrase?

Verb phrases are phrases that modify verbs to give them different meanings. They typically show tense changes, time changes, mood changes, and other that modifies the verb.

Verb phrases are commonly used in English languages to modify the meaning of a verb by adding to it. They are the incomplete predicate of a sentence.

Verbal phrases can be dependent clauses, which serve as adverbial modifiers of independent verbs or subordinate clauses. Verb phrases usually contain a helping verb and the main verb in a sentence.

Verbal Phrase Modifier

A verbal phrase modifier is a word or phrase used to describe a verb or a verbal phrase. The most common verbal phrase modifiers are adverb phrases and adjective clauses. Verbal phrase modifiers help add authenticity to your writing and make your point more emphatic.

Adverb phrase as Verbal Phrase Modifier

An adverb phrase modifies and emphasizes a verb or verb phrase. They add extra information, modify the time, or talk about how a verb occurs.

The adverb phrases can precede or follow the verb within a verb phrase. Some adverbial phrases that serve as verbal phrase modifiers include: in a low voice and in the most painful way.

In the sentences below, the underlined adverb phrases function as verb phrase modifiers:

  • Mary was speaking in a loud voice.
  • John was hurt in the most painful way.
  • The car was moving quite slowly.

Adjective Clauses as Verbal Phrase Modifiers

An adjective clause also called a relative clause, functions as an adjective and modifies nouns and pronouns. Adjectival clauses grammatically function as verb phrase modifiers.

The adjective clause begins with a relative pronoun, like which, whom, or whose, or a relative adverb like why, where, or when.

Adjective clauses have a subject and a verb (or predicate), through which adjective clauses function as verb phrase modifiers. Adjective clauses modify only verb phrases in the form of present participles.

For example,

I enjoy singing worship songs, which I do almost every morning.

Cooking, which is one of my favorite hobbies, is an art.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash


Verb phrase modifiers are a type of adverb, adjective, or phrase added to the verb or verb phrase to further describe it. They can change the entire meaning, so be careful and ensure that you use them correctly.

The phenomenon of the verb phrase modifier is relatively complex, which is why it’s good to learn about them. It’s important to recognize when it is appropriate used a phrase in a sentence. This article will guide you through making use of verbal phrase modifiers effectively.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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