0

For the sentence 'I have been having difficulty sleeping', how would you analyse the verb phrase elements : VP have been having? 'have is an auxiliary - required to create -en form of the verb 'been'. but then the present progressive (having) also rquires an auxiliary [a form of to be]. Does this mean that 'been' is both a main verb, and an auxiliary? Seems weird!

  • This is present perfect continuous. – krobelusmeetsyndra Jan 22 at 11:09
  • "Have" is the perfect auxiliary, and "been" is the progressive auxiliary. You could say that in the clause "been having difficulty sleeping", "been" is the matrix verb functioning as head of the clause. – BillJ Jan 22 at 11:54
  • You have to consider the structure of the sentence. Perfect "have" is a catenative verb, and "been having difficulty sleeping" is a subordinate clause functioning as catenative complement of "have". "Be" is also a catenative verb, so "having difficulty sleeping" is also a subordinate clause functioning as catenative complement of "been". We can thus represent the structure as "I have [been [having difficulty sleeping]]", where the brackets surround the two subordinate clauses, one within the other. – BillJ Jan 23 at 9:09
0

Would you agree that "I have been having difficulty sleeping" is similar in form to "I have been reading"? By switching the verb to something more concrete, it becomes a little easier to parse.

"I have been reading" is present perfect continuous. Both "have" and "been" are auxiliary verbs. "Have" is the perfect auxiliary, and "been" is the progressive auxiliary. "Reading" is the main verb in present participle (-ing) form.

This is the extent of analysis found on most grammar websites. It seems like a good start for an English language learner, although it's likely possible to delve further into an advanced analysis of the role of auxiliary verbs within sentence structure. (There's also English Language & Usage)

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.