Like a noun phrase, a Verb phrase consists of a Verb and all the words and word groups that belong with the Verb and cluster around it. The Verb is called the headword or head, and the other words are the modifiers (as in the case of the noun phrase) and the auxiliaries, and complements of the verb. The word auxiliaries may be familiar to you since you have studied this structure class in your morphology course. As for the word complements, it is a generic (or general) term which covers all completers of the verb. These complements are the direct object, the indirect object, the objective complement, and the subjective complement, all of which we shall know about later in the present book.
where in example 1. we have a modifier soon preceding the head; in example 2, a modifier late following the head ; and in example 3, we have two modifiers, one preceding (soon) and one following (in the station).
4. had been eaten by the cat, and
5. built a house
we have an example of auxiliaries (had been) and an example of a complement of the direct object type (a house).
Many English sentences consist of two parts, a noun phrase and a Verb phrase. For example, the sentence Many students attended the birthday party is composed of the noun phrase many students and the Verb phrase attended the birthday party.
D. The Subject of the Verb; the
Modified / Complete Subject; and the Predicate
In a sentence like the above the headword of the noun phrase (students in this case) is called the subject of the verb, which we shall know more about soon. As for the whole phrase (many students), it is called the modified subject or the complete subject. The Verb phrase is called the predicate.
E. Locating the Complete Subject
When the complete subject comes at the beginning of a statement, it can be located by a test known as the front-shift test. This test involves changing the statement into a question of the yes-or-no type. Here are some examples of the application of this test.
6. That young wan with the blue lined shirt is her brother.
7. The person who told me the story could have been mistaken.
8. The man who was leading the team saluted the president.
Changing the statements into yes-or-no questions results in the following:
6.a. Is that young man with the blue lined shirt her
7.a. Could the person who told me the story have been
8.a. Did the man who was leading the team salute the
In 6.a. the Verb be was front-shifted to the beginning of the yes-or-no question; in 7.a. the first auxiliary, could, was front-shifted; and in 8.a, which has no auxiliary, the auxiliary did was provided and placed in the front position at the beginning of the yes-or-no question. The part of the statement around which the front-shift occurs is the complete subject, namely that young man with the blue lined shirt in 6; the person who told me the story in 7; and the man who was leading the team in 8. These are the parts around which the shift occurred, namely between the place of is in the statement, and its new place in the question in 6, between could in the statement and its new position in the question in 7, and finally between the position of the Verb saluted in the statement and the position of did in the question in 8