The compound verbal predicate

The compound verbal phasal predicate

§ 51. The compound verbal phasal predicate denotes the beginning, duration, repetition or cessation of the action expressed by an infinitive or a gerund. It consists of a phasal verb and an infinitive or a gerund, Accordingly its first component may be a phasal verb of:


to begin, to start, to commence, to set about, to take to, to fall to, to come.

Andrew and he began to talk about the famous clinic.

Jack started training out at Hogan’s health farm.

So I took to going to the farm.

He fell to poking the fire with all his might.

I come to think that you are right.

2. Duration:

to go on, to keep, to proceed, to continue.

The talk kept running on the possibility of a storm.

As we continued to laugh his surprise gave way to annoyance.

3. Repetition:

would, used (denoting a repeated action in the past).

Alfredo used to talk to me about it.

During her small leisure hours she would sit by the window or walk in the fields.


to stop, to finish, to cease, to give up, to leave off.

The band had ceased playing.

Give up smoking.

Note the difference in the functions of the gerund and the infinitive after the verb to stop:

She stopped talking to him. (part of a compound verbal phasal predicate) – She stopped with him


She stopped to talk to him. (an adverbial modifier of purpose) – She stopped to talk to


The compound verbal modal predicate

§ 52. The compound verbal modal predicate consists of a modal part and an infinitive (or a gerund). It shows whether the action is expressed by an infinitive is looked upon as possible, impossible, obligatory, necessary, desirable, planned, certain, permissible, etc. In most cases it denotes the attitude to the action of the person expressed by the subject or by the speaker.

The modal part may be expressed by:

1. A modal verb.

You must forget it.

He can’t say a word, he can’t even apologize.

I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from laughing.

Ought he not to treat her generously?

May I ask you a question?

2. A modal expression of nominal nature:

to be able, to be allowed, to be willing, to be going, to be anxious, etc.

You are going to attend the college at Harvard, they tell me.

Are you able to walk another two miles?

We were anxious to cooperate.

The modal part may have two modal verbs or a modal verb and a modal expression.

He may have to return.

She must be willing to come here again.

H. An attitudinal verb such as to like, to hate, to attempt, to expect, to hope, to intend, to mean, to plan, to try, to have a mind, to wish, to want followed by an infinitive denote the attitude of the person expressed by the subject to the action denoted by the infinitive.

The predicate of this type may be called a compound verbal attitudinal predicate.

He hoped to see them the next day.

I mean to find out the truth.

The compound verbal predicate

of double orientation

§ 53. The compound verbal predicate of double orientation consists of two parts. The first part is a finite verb which denotes the attitude to, evaluation of, or comment on, the content of the sentence expressed by the speaker or somebody not mentioned in the sentence. The second part denotes the action which is (was/will be) performed by the person/non-person expressed by the subject.

The Gadfly seemed to have taken a dislike to her ———>It seemed (to the people) that the Gadfly had

taken a dislike to her.

Philip Bosinney was known to be a young man without fortune ———> They knew that Philip Bosinney

was a young man without fortune.

He is said to be looking for a new job. (He is said to be looking for a new job)

The plane is reported to have been lost. (The plane is reported missing)

In this case we see a different orientation of the actions which are regarded from two points of view: that of the speaker and that of the person (or non-person) expressed by the subject. .

In a number of cases semantically this type of predicate has much in common with the compound verbal modal predicate, as in: You can’t have misunderstood me, but formally these predicates are different, because in the compound verbal modal predicate the first component is a modal verb, whereas in the compound predicate of double orientation it is a verborphrase expressing attitude, evaluation, or comment. They belong to one of the following verb groups:

1. Intransitive verbs of seeming or happening with the general meaning of evaluation in the active voice:

to seem, to appear, to prove, to turn out, to happen, to chance.

He seemed to understand everything I said.

Money just doesn’t happen to interest me.

No one appears to have noticed his escape.

2. Some verbs in the passive voice:

a) Verbs of saying:

to say, to declare, to state, to report, to rumour.

This country is said to be rich in oil.

The rocket is reported to have started its night at 6.30.

b) Verbs of mental activity:

to believe, to consider, to expect, to find, to know, to mean, to presume, to regard, to suppose, to think,

to understand.

Mr. Sharp was always expected to say he preferred cold meat.

He has never been known to lose his temper before.

c) Verbs of perception:

to feel, to hear, to see, to watch.

My dog was heard to bark in the yard.

The lady was seen to leave the house.

3. Phrases with some modal meaning:

to be (un) likely, to be sure, to be certain.

The adjectives likely, unlikely, sure and certain indicate the speaker’s attitude to the future:

The weather is not likely to change.

This event is certain to produce a sensation.

If you don’t post the letter at once, it is unlikely to arrive in time.

George is sure to see Mary. (Sure indicates the attitude of the speaker, it is the speaker rather than George

who is sure)

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