What Is a Compound Verb? Explanation and Use Cases

A compound verb consists of two or more verbs that share the same subject and are joined by a conjunction or punctuation. This structure allows for the expression of multiple actions or states of being related to the subject. Compound verbs can enhance sentence variety and convey complex actions or ideas efficiently.

If you’re a new English speaker or looking to improve your English, you may get overwhelmed by the language’s different types of verbs. One important type of verb to know is the compound verb. But what is a compound verb?

In this article, you’ll learn what a compound verb is and how to use one. Just to be sure, you’ll also find examples of compound verbs in action. 

What Is a Verb?

Learning and improving English requires understanding the main components of a sentence: the subject and the predicate, the part of the sentence that adds meaning or detail to the subject. The simplest form of a predicate is a verb, just like the words wear or ware. Check out other predicate noun examples if you’re interested!

Before jumping into compound verbs, let’s start with a recap of what exactly a verb is.

A verb is a word that describes an action, occurrence, or state of being. Verbs are an essential element of any sentence, and a sentence is incomplete without a verb. Take the words invision or envision for example.

There are several different types of verbs that you know. Some commonly used types of verbs include:

  • Action verbs
  • Linking verbs
  • Helping verbs

There are also vivid verbs that add an extra description to a sentence. While all these verbs are important for English speakers to know, we will focus on the compound verb.

What Is A Compound Verb?

list of compound verbs

A compound verb is a verb that consists of multiple words combined

Usually, when people think of verbs, they think of a single word to describe an action, such as walk, jump, and sing. However, the beauty of verbs is they can work together to enhance the meaning of the action and the overall sentence.

When multiple verbs work together to form a compound verb, they create a single meaning. However, there are several ways that compound verbs can work. Let’s take a look.

How to Use a Compound Verb

Knowing what a compound verb is isn’t the end of the story. You also need to understand how they work, which includes knowing the different types of compound verbs out there. There are also different types of verbs such as a linking verb and action verb that you need to understand!

There are several ways that you can use compound verbs. Here are the top ways to use them and examples.

Type of Compound VerbDefinitionExamples
Single-word Compound VerbsThese are verbs made up of two or more words combined into one without a space. They often blend the meanings of the individual words into a new, unique meaning.understand, overtake, undergo
Prepositional Compound VerbsThese verbs consist of a verb followed by a preposition. The preposition gives additional meaning to the verb and the two together often function as a single verb.look after, run into, sit on
Phrasal Compound VerbsThese are made up of a verb followed by an adverb or a preposition. The adverb or preposition changes the meaning of the verb, and they work together as a unit.give up, break down, take off
Auxiliary VerbsAlso known as helping verbs, these are used with a main verb to form a verb phrase, indicating tense, mood, or voice of the main verb.be (am, is, are), have, do, will

1. Single-word Compound Verbs

One form of a compound verb is to combine multiple words. In this form, both words do not have to be verbs. One can be a simple descriptor. Moreover, the words can join together to form one word or be hyphenated.

Here are a few examples of a compound single word verb.

  • Can you proofread this paper for me?
  • I need to jumpstart my car.
  • My daughter babysits on the weekend.

As you can see, the combination of words sometimes entirely changes the typical meaning of the single verb or verbs in the word, such as “babysit” or “jumpstart.” If you need to double-check your work, use our paper checker to see if you used your compound verb correctly.

2. Prepositional Compound Verbs

Another form of a compound verb is a prepositional verb, where a preposition comes before the verb. 

A preposition does not change the verb’s meaning – each word keeps its individual meaning. These verbs usually come right before another noun (like gooses or geese) or verb phrase.

Here are some examples of how to use a compound prepositional verb:

  • Can you go ask for more water?
  • She’s pointing at the stop sign.
  • You have to believe in yourself to succeed. 

3. Phrasal Compound Verbs

The next type of compound verb we have is a phrasal verb, when a verb combines with an adverb. 

Adverbs often used to create phrasal verbs include:

  • Up
  • In
  • Out
  • Down

The tricky aspect of phrasal verbs is that they are usually idiomatic, meaning they aren’t translated literally. This can be tough for new English speakers still getting used to English idioms. The good news is that the more you use idioms, the easier it is to get used to them.

Here’s an example of phrasal verbs and its meaning:

  • He was brought up in North Carolina.

In the context of the first example, “brought up” means raising a child, not the physical act of lifting anyone. 

Here are a few other phrasal verbs:

  • Can you look up what “injunction” means?
  • She threw up in the car last night.
  • It’s faster if we cut across the parking lot. 

4. Auxiliary Verbs

The final compound verb we’ll discuss is an auxiliary verb.

Also known as a helping verb, an auxiliary verb combines with another verb to serve various purposes. A helping verb comes before the main verb of a sentence to form a verb phrase.

Common auxiliary verbs are:

  • May
  • Should
  • Could
  • Shall
  • Was 
  • Do

Here are a few examples of compound verbs:

  • Lily can make her bed.
  • Doris will look into your issue.
  • Manny helps cook dinner sometimes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a compound verb example?

A compound verb is a verb that consists of multiple words combined together. An example of a compound verb would be “dry-clean.” The two words, “dry” and “clean,” are combined to create one new verb.

What is a simple compound verb sentence?

“Josh eats and reads” is an example of a compound verb sentence. In this sentence, “Josh” is the subject, and “eats” and “reads” are the verbs. The two verbs are linked together with the word “and”. This is called a compound verb sentence.

How do you identify a compound word?

A compound word is a word that is made up of two or more words. The words are used together to yield a new meaning, which is usually the sum of the meanings of the individual words. For example, “bedroom” is a compound word made up of “bed” and “room”.

Is birthday a compound word?

Yes, birthday is a compound word. It’s made up of two words: -birth and -day. The “birth” part means “the event of being born.” And the “-day” part means “a day designated for special observance or celebration.” So together, these two parts mean “the day on which one is born.”

The Bottom Line

Compound verbs may be simple, but they pack a big punch.

Compound verbs give any sentence more meaning and give your reader a better understanding of what you’re trying to convey. And if you understand these grammar rules, give the Quillbot grammar checker paraphrase tool a try. I highly recommend it!

The good news is compound verbs aren’t much different than other types. Hopefully, this article has answered more than what a compound verb is and given you the confidence to use these verbs to your advantage in your writing. 

If you still need help, a grammar tool such as Grammarly can help determine whether you’re using compound verbs correctly.