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I know infinitive clause can be an adjective or a complement.
My following sentences concern what they act as.

No one in the team possesses the ability which is required to accomplish this task.

Do the infinitive clause to accomplish this task act as an complement modifying required,
or is it an adjective which goes to the noun ability,and in this case, the sentence contains two adjective phrases:

No one in the team possesses the ability (which is required)(to accomplish this task).

Is the above sentence a possible interpretation?

Another example, but this time using participle phrases instead of relative clause:

The information needed to make a rational decision isn't provided.

Same question,but I wonder if changing relative clauses to participle phrases will change anything,
does the infinitive clause to make a rational decision go to needed, or the noun informatiom?

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    In principle, the referent of which in your first example could be either the ability (to accomplish the task, which no-one in the team has), or the entire preceding statement (implying in order to accomplish this task, it is necessary that no-one in the team should have some capability specified elsewhere in the context). Does the intended sense affect your choice as to whether to label the construction "adjective" or "complement"? – FumbleFingers Feb 24 at 14:51
  • It seems ambiguous whether "to accomplish this task" modifies "ability" or "required". My first impression is that everything after "which" is a relative clause modifying "ability" ... but, frankly, it doesn't really matter, as it doesn't change the meaning either way. – Andrew Feb 24 at 15:15
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[1] No one in the team possesses the ability which is required [to accomplish this task].

[2] The information needed [to make a rational decision] isn't provided.

The infinitival clauses are both complements.

"Require" and "need" are catenative verbs and the bracketed infinitivals function as their catenative complements.

The term 'catenative' comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since "require and "accomplish" in [1] form a chain of two verbs, as do "need" and "make" in [2].

  • Thanks !Does the same rule apply to verb like "invented" or "asked", for example, "The employee asked to accomplished the task will not be fired". Or "The man (who is) killed to reach our goal will be buried in the garden." – 黃冠霖 Feb 25 at 1:49
  • "Ask" is a catenative verb in "The employee asked [to accomplished the task] will not be fired", and the bracketed infinitival clause is its catenative complement. But in your rather odd second example, "the man [who is killed to reach our goal]" the bracketed element is a relative clause modifying "man". In "the man [killed to reach our goal]", the bracketed element is also modifying "man", though it is a past-participial clause, not a relative one. Since the clause is in NP structure it cannot, of course, be a catenative complement. – BillJ Feb 25 at 10:07
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Those are both complements. At least, with reference to the verbs require and need.

You can tell when an infinitive clause is a complement (or the object of a catenative verb) because it is filling the role of a complement. It is necessary to complete the meaning of the verb. You have both require and need, and the meaning of that need or requirement is completely dependent on those complement.

Note however that in both cases, need and require are not the principal verb of their sentences. Those would be possess in the first case, and either is or provide in the second, depending on how you prefer to describe things. The verb phrases centred on require and need are actually acting on ability and information to further specify those nouns.

  • Thanks !Does the same rule apply to verb like "invented" or "asked", for example, "The employee asked to accomplished the task will not be fired". – 黃冠霖 Feb 25 at 1:49
  • Or "The man (who is) killed to reach our goal will be buried in the garden." – 黃冠霖 Feb 25 at 1:51

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