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Appendix:English catenative verbs

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Catenative verbs

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These are verbs which can be followed directly by another verb, in either the to infinitive or present participle / gerund forms. For example He deserves to win the cup. Where deserve is a catenative verb which can be followed directly by another verb, in this case in the to infinitive form.

Most of these verbs demand that the following verb be in one or the other form only. A few can take both forms, but sometimes there is a difference in meaning.

They are called catenative from their ability to form chains. We promised to agree to try practicing playing tennis more often.

If you are thinking of adding to this list, it is most important to distinguish between a real catenative verb, such as decide I decided to work. and a normal verb followed by an infinitive of purpose (French: pour) or a descriptive gerund. A good example of a non-catenative verb that could easily be confused is leave where I left to work is in reality I left (home), followed by a purpose, To go to, or do, some work. A descriptive gerund example: She left crying. is in reality a description meaning She left and at the same time she was crying.

Catenative Verbs Followed by an Infinitive

afford

  • At last I can afford to buy a new car.

agree

  • He agreed to work on Saturday.

aim

  • We aim to please all our clients.

appear

  • I appear to have forgotten my glasses.

arrange

  • I think we can arrange to put you in a double room.

ask

  • He asked to leave early.

attempt

  • This is the second time we have attempted to climb the mountain.

be able to

Note This is also considered an auxiliary modal verb similar to can, but sometimes it is used to differentiate between general ability and a particular situation.
  • Ask John. He will be able to help you.
  • Normally I can do these problems, but I am not able to solve this one.

beg

  • I beg to differ on that point.

bother

  • He didn’t bother to ask for permision.

care

  • Would you care to choose another one, sir?

choose

  • I will go when I choose to go, and not before.

condescend

  • I don’t know if the Senator will condescend to see us.

consent

  • He consented to pay for the dinner.

dare

Note This is considered a semi-modal auxiliary verb. Particularly in negative, the modal form is preferred.
  • He didn’t dare to climb the tree.
  • He didn’t dare climb the tree.

decide

  • We decided to buy the pink one in the end.

deserve

  • You don’t deserve to be treated like that.

expect

  • I expect to receive the payment any day now.

fail

  • I fail to understand your argument.

happen

  • If it happens to fall, just put it back up again.

have

Note have to is also considered an auxiliary modal verb similar to must, meaning obligation
  • I have to go to work now.

help

Note The to is optional.
  • I helped to pack her bags.
  • I helped pack her bags.

hesitate

  • If you hesitate to make the reservation, you could lose the discount.

hope

  • I hope to see my aunt this week-end.

intend

  • I intend to study medicine if I pass the exams.

long

  • I am longing to go to Paris.

offer

  • I offered to carry her suitcase for her.

plan

  • I plan to play football this week-end.

prepare

  • Always be prepared to help others whenever you can.

pretend

  • I know you are only pretending to be asleep.

proceed

  • He proceeded to apply the lotion as instructed.

promise

  • I promise to tell the truth.

refuse

  • I refuse to take such silly advice.

seem

  • You seem to be rather tired today.

strive

  • He strives to teach well.

swear

  • I swear to tell the truth.

tend

  • It tends to snow here in winter.

threaten

  • He threatened to call the police.

wait

  • I can’t wait to see her face when I tell her!

want

  • I want to play the guitar.
Note (UK) usage with gerund below.

wish

  • I wish to complain to the manager.

would like

  • I would like to drink some water.

Catenative Verbs Used in Passive Voice Followed by an Infinitive

Note These verbs are not found in catenative form with to infinitive except in the passive voice.


allowed

  • You are allowed to wear jeans here.

asked

  • We were asked to leave by the back door.

forbid

  • You are forbidden to smoke in here.

permit

  • But you are permitted to smoke in here.

request

  • You are requested to leave immediately.

Catenative Verbs Followed by a Gerund

admit

  • He admitted taking the money.

advise

  • I advise leaving immediately.

allow

  • We do not allow smoking here.

appreciate

  • I would appreciate receiving more help with this.

avoid

  • Please avoid touching the goods on display.

can’t help

  • I can’t help liking the way he smiles.

complete

  • I have completed painting the kitchen.

consider

  • Have you considered working at the factory?

delay

  • We had to delay travelling because of the weather.

deny

  • I deny taking the money.

detest

  • I detest working on Sundays.

dislike

  • I dislike working on Saturdays.

enjoy

  • I enjoy watching snooker on the TV.

escape

  • He escaped being run over by about a millisecond!

finish

  • When you finish painting the shed, let me know.

forbid

  • They forbid smoking in the restaurant.

imagine

  • Can you imagine winning the lottery?

imply

  • This plan implies buying an expensive piece of equipment.

mind

  • Would you mind closing the window, please?

miss

  • I miss playing football with my friends.

permit

  • Do they permit smoking in here?

practice and practise

  • I like to practice playing the piano every day.

quit

  • I wish I could quit smoking.

recall

  • I recall meeting you at the convention in New York.

recommend

  • I can recommend washing your clothes with this product.

regret

Note This verb is found with to infinitive in some set phrases. See next section.
  • I regret telling him about the party now.

resent

  • I resent seeing him enjoying himself as if nothing has happened.

resist

  • How can you resist eating those lovely chocolates?

resume

  • We will resume discussing this matter tomorrow.

risk

  • We can’t risk working in the dark.

stand

Note This verb is most commonly found in the form can’t stand.
  • I can’t stand walking in the rain.

suggest

  • I suggest asking your teacher about it.

tolerate

  • I won’t tolerate swearing in this office.

want

Note (UK) usage. Means require or need.
  • That door wants painting.

give up

Note Catenative phrasal verbs in general are followed by the gerund.
  • I gave up smoking last year.

Catenative Verbs Followed by a To Infinitive or a Gerund

No difference in meaning

bear

Note This verb is most commonly found in the form can’t bear.
  • I can’t bear to hear him sing.
  • I can’t bear hearing him sing.

begin

  • It began to rain.
  • It began raining.

continue

  • It continued to rain.
  • It continued raining.

love

  • I love to swim in the sea.
  • I love swimming in the sea.

neglect

  • I neglected to paint behind the cupboard.
  • I neglected painting behind the cupboard.

prefer

  • I prefer to work alone.
  • I prefer working alone.

regret

Note This verb is normally followed by the gerund, except in certain set phrases with tell, say, and inform.
  • I regret inviting him to the party now.
  • I regret to tell you that the show has been cancelled.
  • I regret to have to inform you that your brother has had a serious accident.

start

  • I started to learn Spanish three years ago.
  • I started learning Spanish three years ago.

Difference in meaning

forget

  • I forgot to go to the shopping centre. (I remember that it is something I meant to do but didn’t do.)
  • I forget going to the shopping centre. (I cannot remember if I went there or not.)

like

  • I like to go to the dentist every 6 months. (I have the custom. I do not necessarily enjoy it.)
  • I like going to the cinema every week. (An activity that I enjoy.)

mean

  • I meant to tell her yesterday, but I forgot. (Intention. I intended to tell her.)
  • The promotion will mean moving to a new area. (Signify. Imply)

remember

  • I remembered to lock the door. (I did not forget that I was supposed to lock the door, and I locked it.)
  • I remember locking the door. (I can remember that I did this activity.)
Note For this reason, the imperative form can only take the to infinitive.
  • Remember to lock the door when you go out.

propose

  • I propose to open up a little shop. (I have the intention of doing something)
  • I propose going to that nice little restaurant by the beach. (I suggest, or make a proposal, for a group activity.)

stop

Note Many sources state that this has two meaning. But some sources state that it is nothing more than ellipsis of the first activity in gerund form, as context will always allow us to know what activity has stopped, followed by an infinitive of purpose.
  • I stopped driving.
  • I stopped to drink some coffee. (This could be an ellipsed form of I stopped driving. followed by the purpose to drink some coffee.)

try

  • I tried to open the door, but it was locked. (I attempted and failed in an activity.)
  • I tried opening the door. Then I tried opening the window. (I made an attempt or experiment. Neither success nor failure is implied.)

Catenative Verbs Followed by a bare Infinitive

dare

Note This is considered a semi-modal auxiliary verb. Particularly in negative, the modal form is preferred.
  • He daren’t climb the tree.
  • He didn’t dare to climb the tree.
  • He didn’t dare climb the tree.

help

Note The to is optional.
  • I helped to pack her bags.
  • I helped pack her bags.

go

  • Go clean your room.
  • I can’t go watch that movie.