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e.g. We want to leave. I like to sleep. She tries to help. They go running.

In these sentences what grammatical term would you use for want/like/try/go, and what would you call to leave/sleep/help/run? How do you differentiate between the two verb-roles?

I’m not looking for „infinitive” as an answer. Is the 1st group called primary verbs of the sentence? Auxiliary verbs? Helping verbs? Linking-verbs? Is the 2nd group called secondary verbs? Main verbs? Verb-objects? Linked verbs?

And while at it: what would be the grammatical term for this whole structure? I used the word multi-verb structure, but maybe there’s a better way to describe it.

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    "Want", "like", "try" and "go" are all catenative verbs. Your examples are all catenative constructions, where the subordinate clauses (three infinitivals and a gerund-participial) are catenative complements of those verbs. In constructions like this, the first (or main) verb is referred to as the 'matrix verb', while those in the complement clauses are subordinate verbs functioning as heads of their respective clauses. The term catenative comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since each sentence has a chain of verbs. – BillJ May 2 '18 at 12:16
  • @BillJ Would be good to write that as the answer. It feels like it's pretty complete. – Bilkokuya May 2 '18 at 13:02
  • Syntactically, "Want", "like" and "try" aren't completely interchangeable in these contexts. You can replace the infinitive with a gerund-participle for I like sleeping, but this wouldn't usually work well with She tries helping, and it would always be completely unacceptable with We want leaving. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 2 '18 at 14:33
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We want to leave. I like to sleep. She tries to help. They go running.

"Want", "like", "try" and "go" are all catenative verbs, and these are all catenative constructions, where the subordinate clauses (three infinitivals and a gerund-participial) are catenative complements of those verbs.

In constructions like this, the first (or main) verb, i.e. the one in the upper clause, is referred to as the 'matrix verb', while that in the complement clause is the subordinate verb functioning as head of its clause.

The term 'catenative' comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since each sentence contains a chain of verbs.

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