Definition of catenative in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkatənātiv/ /ˈkætəneɪtɪv/ /ˌkatnˈātiv/ /ˌkætnˈeɪtɪv/


  • Denoting a verb that governs a nonfinite form of another verb, for example like in I like swimming.

    ‘Not all catenative verbs are followed by infinitives as direct objects, but that's a story for another time.’
    • ‘Begin, continue, cease and start are specifically not referred to as catenative verbs.’
    • ‘In English you can take not only an adjunct but also a predicative complement or a nonfinite catenative complement and prepose them (pop them at the front of the clause) for a special effect.’
    • ‘This analysis treats ‘want to play’ as a catenative VP and ‘play with’ as a verb + particle construction.’
    • ‘This project envisages the distribution of the finite that clause and non-finite CCs which can be used either as catenative complements or as non-catenative complements.’


  • A catenative verb.

    ‘The information on catenatives is adopted from Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln, 4th Edition.’
    • ‘It is assumed that the child understands these catenatives as single units, as opposed to understanding they are short for ‘going to,’ ‘want to,’ ‘have to,’ etc.’
    • ‘Thus the complementation of central and marginal modals, modal idioms, semi-auxiliaries and catenatives, as defined in CGEL, are taken as part of one clause and not regarded as subordinate.’
    • ‘Complex verbal groups (verb phrases with catenatives): Beer seems such a simple drink that we tend to take it for granted.’
    • ‘Speaking of gerunds, has anyone noticed that catenatives (verbs followed by gerunds and infinitives) tend to be followed by gerunds if the catenative is a phrasal verb?’


1960s from Latin catena ‘chain’+ -ative.