CATENATIVE VERB

Examples to Understand Catenative Construction

Catenative verb is a chain of verbs occurring recursively in which all except the last have a non–finite complement.

It is that sort of verb which controls a non–finite complement.

In simple definition, catenative means chaining and reflects the way that the verb can link recursively with other catenatives to form a chain.

For Example:

There are various constructive elements in this sentence:


Consider also this sentence:

In the sentence, all the head verbs have a non-finite clause as complement. These are shown in the chart below:

Head Verb Complement
seems to want to stop trying to avoid meeting him
want to stop trying to avoid meeting him
stop trying to avoid meeting him
trying to avoid meeting him
avoid meeting him
  • All the non–finite clause in the complement column functions as catenative complements.
  • The head verbs in the first column are catenative verbs; and each of these verbs + complement pair forms what is called a catenative construction.

Like auxiliary verbsOpens in new window, catenative verbs are used in front of a main verb in its infinitiveOpens in new window form (including to).

Note that catenative verbs are sometimes used in combination with one another.

For Example:
  • She managed to seem to be surprised.
  • As time passes we begin to get to know each other better.