Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

"Perífrasis verbal" seems to be used pretty consistently at least in some references to refer to grammatical constructions like ir a.

But I'm not sure if it's a set grammatical or linguistic term, and I'm not sure if there's one best way to say it in English or if it depends on the particular use:

  • compound verb
  • verbal phrase

Is there a best English equivalent of "perífrasis verbal"?

Here's an example as it's been posted in an answer right here on our site:

Si el infinitivo o el gerundio forman parte de una perífrasis verbal, en la mayor parte de los casos los clíticos pueden colocarse también delante del verbo auxiliar de la perífrasis, que es el que aparece en forma personal:

And another which has since been edited:

Perífrasis verbal "ir a" is roughly the same as "going to" in English: we primarily use it when talking about the immediate future.

share|improve this question
Just to add to the "mess" :D, there's also my answer for the question "Spanish phrasal verbs" which is about them. – Alenanno Dec 3 '11 at 11:11

It looks like the grammatical term is actually periphrasis. Compound verbs and verb phrases both refer to different things.

I came to this conclusion after viewing the translation on WordReference and the English Wikipedia article for periphrasis.

share|improve this answer
I'd add "verbal" to your "periphrasis" there to be more specific. :) But I'm curious to see if other people have more to add. – Alenanno Dec 3 '11 at 11:16
Are you implying "verbal" in the Spanish meant "related to words" rather than "related to words" and as such it can be omitted, leaving only "periphrasis"? – hippietrail Dec 3 '11 at 13:01
I've seen that used, but not referring to "words", rather to "verbs"... Is that the correct adjective in English? Maybe it's ambiguous for that... – Alenanno Dec 3 '11 at 13:34
Periphrasis in English, according to Wikipedia, relates specifically to verbs already. I don't think a verbal modifier is needed. – Kevin K. Dec 3 '11 at 22:18
@hippietrail This is true. Verb periphrasis might be clearest. I modeled that after verb phrase. – Kevin K. Dec 4 '11 at 19:43

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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