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In the sentence "Offering her license and registration, Selena sobbed in the driver's seat," offering is not a gerund, right? It isn't a noun and does not act as a subject. That made me wonder if the main verb is offering or sobbed.

I'm having a hard time trying to identify the main verb and phrase verb. Actually I'm wondering if in my last sentence the main verb was trying or identify.

One last question: In the sentence "The man is watching the birds," is the main verb watching? or is? and why?

Please, any help is welcome.

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"Offering her license and registration, Selena sobbed in the driver's seat."

No. The subject (noun) is Selena and the main verb is sobbed.

I'm having a hard time trying to identify the main verb and phrase verb.

The subject is "I." The main verb within the predicate is "having". The auxiliary verb (the one that's helping the main verb but does not describe the action performed by the subject) is "am."

The man is watching the birds.

The main verb is "watching." The auxiliary verb is "is."

  • There are, at a conservative estimate, four verbs in that sentence: am, having, trying, identify. In the first sentence there are two: offering and sobbed. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Dec 1 '15 at 10:09
  • @Araucaria: Yes, that's correct. I'm afraid I don't see your point. – Ricky Dec 1 '15 at 10:21
  • Well, I'm being a bit permickety (to say the least) but your first line says sobbed is the verb. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Dec 1 '15 at 14:39
  • Thanks for the help guys! But which one is the main verb ? and why ? I can't understand that. – José Vinícius Dec 1 '15 at 20:25
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You also asked for confirmation that offering is not a gerund. You’re right, it is not a gerund, but a present participle verb heading the bracketed participial clause. Notice that it has her license and registration as object. This kind of clause is very common; it’s often referred to as a supplement, detached by intonation or punctuation from the rest of the clause. Supplemental clauses offer useful but non-essential information, and as such are omissible with no loss of core meaning to the sentence as a whole.

  • Thanks for that explanation! But which one is the main verb ? "offering" or "sobbed"? – José Vinícius Dec 1 '15 at 20:27
  • @JoséVinícius In your first sentence " sob" is the main verb. – Afsane Dec 2 '15 at 23:34
  • @José Vinícius The main verb is "sobbed". It is the head of the main clause "Selena sobbed in the driver's seat". – BillJ Dec 3 '15 at 7:35
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"Offering her license and registration" is a participial phrase. A participle is an -ing or -ed form of a verb that acts as an adjective. (A clause must have a subject and a verb in order to be a clause; otherwise it is a phrase.) "Offering" is describing Selena as she sobs in the driver's seat. The subject of the sentence is Selena and the verb is sobbed.

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Since you ask, in your first sentence the main verb, as @ricky said, is "sob".

But you have two sentences in "Offering her license and registration, Selena sobbed in the driver's seat."

Main clause: "Selena sobbed in the driver's seat."

Subordinate clause: "Offering her license and registration,"

In the main clause the main verb is "sob".

And in the subordinate clause which the original sentence had been "Slena was offering her license and registration" the main verb is "offer".

Look at these examples:

(If there is no subject, then it is understood to be the same as in the main clause.)

"The men sat round the table playing cards." (The men were playing cards.)

(The understood subject is usually the same as in the main clause.)

"Walking across the field, we saw a plane fly past." (= As we were walking across the field, we saw a plane fly past)

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