Head verb – verbe principal


Let's Define It!

What's a *head verb*?

In French, identifying the head verb (le verbe principal) within a sentence may not be as simple as identifying the head noun.

This is mainly because the complexity of verbs themselves.

The verbe principal < /strong>(head noun) is also referred to as the lexical verb. It is an ordinary verb as opposed to a complex verb (auxiliary/modal + participle / infinitive).

From the head verb, you can get the full meaning contained in the phrasal verb (i.e. state, event, movement, etc.) ->

In non-auxiliary, simple phrasal verbs, the head verb is easily identifiable. For example, Il profite de ses vacances (He is enjoying his vacation).

In a complex verbal phrase containing an auxiliary + participle or modal+infinitive, the head verb always comes last. For example, Elle a mangé son pain (She ate her bread). Elle peut manger maintenant (She can eat now).


Let's Pronounce It!

What does it sound like in French?


Let's Have an Example or Two!

Can a little reinforcement do the trick?

Find below a few examples of head verbs:

J'aurais été riche depuis bien longtemps. / I would have been rich for quite some time. 

Vous serez devenu avocat avant cela. / You will have become lawyer before this.

Peux-tu me donner un meanteau?/ Can you give me a coat?


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