He makes me do the work.
I don't understand which is the main verb here. I know that "make" is a causative verb in this sentence but which is the main verb? Is it make or do? and which is the main object? Is it me or the work?
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
"do the work" in this sentence is an bare infinitive clause. In other words, "do the work" is acting as a noun in the sentence (like all infinitive clauses do). Thus, "makes" is the main verb in the sentence.
I am assuming that you are using the definition of "main verb" similar to the one here:
A main verb in English is (1) any verb that is not an auxiliary verb, and/or (2) the verb in a main clause.
Alternatively, you can explain it thus: since "do the work" is a bare infinitive clause, "do the work" is a dependant clause, and thus "do" cannot be a main verb.
Note: "Do the work." can work as a standalone sentence, but it means something different in that context. "Do" is the imperative mood then, while in our sentence "Do" is an bare infinitive which are the same verb form but mean different things. For example, in "I heard her sing a song." "sing a song" has no implied command meaning but saying "Sing a song." alone does. This is why "do the work" in our sentence is a dependant clause in spite of it sounding just like independent clause "Do the work." in an order.
In our sentence, "do the work" is closer to "to do the work" in grammatical function than "Do the work" as a command. ("He made me to do the work" is not correct, because "made" requires the bare infinitive)
He makes me [do the work].
"Make" is a catenative verb and this is a catenative construction. The matrix (main) verb is "make", and "do" is the verb in the subordinate clause "do the work", which functions as catenative complement to "make".
The intervening object "me" is the syntactic object of "make" and the understood (semantic) subject of "do". It's called a 'raised' object because the verb it relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically.
The term 'catenative' comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since there is a chain of verbs, "make" and "do".