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I could see it going down the drain.

In this sentence, I want to ask whether "going" is a gerund or "going down" is a phrasal verb.

And is the word "see" modifying "it" or is "going" modifying "it"? Please explain properly because I am a novice.

  • 4
    This is a catenative construction where "going" is a gerund-participle verb heading the gerund-participial clause "going down the drain", which functions as complement of "see". "It" is the syntactic object of "see", and the understood subject of the subordinate clause.
    – BillJ
    Apr 29, 2018 at 14:30
  • You mean that gerund participle clause is modifying SEE and please explain which one is the subordinate clause
    – Ahmed
    Apr 29, 2018 at 18:05
  • No: the gerund-participial clause is not a modifier, but a complement of "see". the g-p clause is the subordinate one.
    – BillJ
    Apr 29, 2018 at 18:09
  • Going down the drain is no fun. However, it can happen to your reputation. And I doubt the first comment will be understood by the OP. Those kinds of comments are 100% useless to "novices."
    – Lambie
    Feb 11, 2020 at 4:10

2 Answers 2


I see X. X is the object of see. x = "it going down the drain" is a clause that serves as the object of the sentence.

Separately, if we look at the sentence this clause would be based on: "It is going down the drain", we see that "is going" is the verb, and "down the drain" is the object clause "Where is it going? Down the drain."

Putting everything together:

"I see [it going (down the drain)]."


In this sentence, I want to ask whether "going" is a gerund or "going down" is a phrasal verb.

Neither. "Going" is the present particle. A gerund is a form that functions like a noun. For example, in "The going down of the water", "going" is a gerund (that's an awkward construction, used just to give an example of "going" as a gerund). The phrase "down the drain" is functioning as an adverb. BTW, gerunds can be formed from phrasal verbs, so presenting this as an either/or is inaccurate.

And is the word "see" modifying "it" or is "going" modifying "it"?

The phrase "going down the drain" functions as an adjective modifying "it". "See" is a verb that takes "it" as the object.

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