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Catenative verb

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Title: Catenative verb  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: List of Latin words with English derivatives
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Catenative verb

In the English language and others, catenative verbs are verbs which can be followed within the same clause by another verb. This second subordinated verb can be in either the infinitive (both full and bare) or gerund forms. An example appears in the sentence He deserves to win the cup, where "deserve" is a catenative verb which can be followed directly by another verb, in this case a to-infinitive construction.

Some catenative verbs are used in the passive voice followed by an infinitive: You are forbidden to smoke in here.

These verbs are called "catenative" because of their ability to form chains in catenative constructions. For example: We need to go to the tennis court to help Jim to get some practice before the game.[1]

Form of the verb following the catenative verb

  • Some catenative verbs are followed by a to-infinitive: "He agreed to work on Saturday"
  • Some catenative verbs are followed by a gerund: "He admitted taking the money".
  • Some catenative verbs are followed by either a to-infinitive or a gerund, either with or without a difference in meaning between the two structures:
    • No difference in meaning:
      • It began to rain.
      • It began raining.
    • Difference in meaning:
      • I forgot to go to the shopping centre. (I wanted to go to the shopping centre but then didn't go.)
      • I forgot going to the shopping centre. (I cannot remember the experience of going.)
  • Some catenative verbs may be followed either by a bare infinitive or by a to-infinitive:
    • I helped pack her bags.
    • I helped to pack her bags.
    • Go clean your room.
    • Go to clean your room.

See also


  • Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey K. Pullum. A Student's Introduction to English Grammar, Cambridge University Press, 2005
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