"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.


1 Answer 1


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.

  • 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
    Commented Dec 3, 2011 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"? Commented Dec 3, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 3, 2011 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.
    Commented Dec 3, 2011 at 22:18
  • 1
    @hippietrail This is true. Verb periphrasis might be clearest. I modeled that after verb phrase.
    – Kevin K.
    Commented Dec 4, 2011 at 19:43

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