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Compound Verb


Definition: A verb formed by the combination of an auxiliary verb followed by the main verb. For example, in "we are speaking" (estamos hablando), "are speaking" (estamos hablando) is a compound verb made up of the auxiliary verb "are" (estamos) followed by the main verb "speaking" (hablando). It is also possible to use two auxiliaries, as in "we have been speaking" (hemos estado hablando), where "have" (hemos) and "been" (estado) are auxiliaries.

Compound verbs are used much more often in English than they are in Spanish, since Spanish is able to use conjugation to indicate tenses that sometimes are expressed in English with compound verbs. For example, the future tense in English uses the auxiliary verb "will" as in "I will study." But Spanish needs no auxiliary verb in this case, as the future is expressed through a verb ending: estudiaré. English also uses the auxiliary verb "do" to form many questions, as in "Do you study?" A compound verb isn't needed in Spanish: ¿Estudias?

Two very common types of English compound verbs have equivalents in Spanish: In English, forms of "to have" are combined with the past participle to form the perfect tenses; in Spanish, haber is used. In English, forms of "to be" are combined with the present participle to form the progressive (or continuous) tenses; in Spanish, forms of estar are used with the gerund.

Also Known As: verbo compuesto in Spanish
Compound verbs are in boldface; note that sometimes a compound form is used in one language but not the other. I have bought a house. (He comprado una casa.) We are celebrating. (Estamos celebrando.) He does not work. (No trabaja.) I can swim. (Puedo nadar.) I know how to swim. (Sé nadar.) I usually drive fast. (Suelo manejar rápido.)
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