Are these infinitive and gerund clauses?

He agreed to give him the ball - Here in this sentence, the infinitive clause is "to give him the ball" which is the object of the verb "agreed"? Am I right?

He has problems repairing his car - Here in this sentence, the gerund clause is "repairing his car" and it acts as an adverb to "has".

Did I understand the things correctly? Or there is something wrong?

  • 1
    No, @BoSsYyY -- the infinitival clause "to give him the ball" is not object, but complement of "agreed". The gerund-participial clause "repairing his car" is not an adverb but complement of "has".
    – BillJ
    Oct 12, 2017 at 14:16

3 Answers 3


[1] He agreed [to give him the ball].

[2] He has problems [repairing his car].

The bracketed non-finite clauses are neither objects nor adverbs.

These are both catenative constructions. "Agree" and "have" are catenative verbs and the bracketed non-finite clauses are their catenenative complements.

The term 'catentative' is derived from the Latin word for 'chain', for the construction consists of a 'chain' of verbs in which all except the last have a non-finite complement.

  • 'repairing' the car looks like a complement of the noun 'problem'. The problem is 'repairing his car'. Oct 12, 2017 at 15:12
  • 1
    @user178049 No, gerund-participials do not function as complement of a noun. And it's not a modifier either!
    – BillJ
    Oct 12, 2017 at 15:15
  • @BillJ Okay. So you say that in the first sentence "to give him the ball" is a complement to the verb. So if it's a complement of the verb and not object then it is possible to add an object to this sentence. Give an example of the verb complement and the object.
    – BoSsYyY
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:56
  • @BoSsYyY The complement clause "to give him the ball", has "him" as indirect object and "the ball" as direct object.
    – BillJ
    Oct 13, 2017 at 12:18
  • Thanks! What about the second sentence? Isn't "repairing his car" the participle clause that modifies the subject? Also, Could you tell me what is the infinitive in this sentence: "He allowed the kid to play". I think it is the direct object and "the kid" is the indirect.
    – BoSsYyY
    Oct 13, 2017 at 12:42

He agreed to give him the ball
You are correct. "To give him the ball" is an infinitive phrase that is acting as a noun and is the direct object of the verb "agreed".

He has problems repairing his car
This one is less clear. I would consider "repairing his car" to be a participial phrase acting as an adjective and modifying "problems."

I believe you could also make the case that "repairing his car" is a gerund phrase acting as a noun and an appositive to "problems" but I think the first is more likely.

A few comments.

I've never heard of an infinitive or gerund clause. In English grammar when I learned it, "clauses" were sentence units with subjects and predicates (verbs) and "phrases" were sentence units without predicates. Since infinitives and gerunds do not behave as verbs (remember, they are considered nouns), it is proper to call them "phrases".

Gerunds and infinitives are always nouns and therefore cannot behave adverbially. If an -ing word seems to be behaving as an adverb or an adjective, it is called a "participle".

  • Okay so When something with "ing" is acting like an adjective or an adverb it's "participle" and when something with "ing" is acting as a noun it is "gerund" but the to infinitives act as a nouns, adjectives and adverbs and they are still called to infinitives in all of their forms?
    – BoSsYyY
    Oct 12, 2017 at 14:13
  • Infinitives (to <verb>) can only act as nouns to my knowledge. If you can come up with a contrary example please do, I'm interested.
    – G-Cam
    Oct 12, 2017 at 14:31
  • "It is hard to find new friends" - here "to find new friends" is an adjective that modifies "It". Isn't it? Also, could you tell me in this sentence what is "done"? The sentence is: "I have the homework done" Thanks for the help!
    – BoSsYyY
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:56
  • @BoSsYyY No, that's an extraposed construction in which the infinitival clause is a displaced subject. The displaced subject functions as the real subject in the non-extraposed construction: 'to find a new friend is hard'. 'Done' is a past-participle verb with a passive meaning. Oct 13, 2017 at 13:08

Infinitive phrases can function adverbially, contrary to what was stated above. Consider, for example, this sentence: He took grammar to improve his language skills. The infinitive phrase "to improve his language skills" is adverbial, modifying the main verb "took." The best test for an adverbial infinitive phrase is to insert the words "in order" in front of it, i.e., He took grammar (in order) to improve his language skills.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .