So only complex commands deserve | should use | merit command helper functions.

Is the highlighted word (any one of the three) the verb in this sentence? Is it a form of Catenative Verb? Can Catenative Verb use auxiliary Verbs? Or is it some kind of Inversion?

  • should here is an auxiliary verb, but deserve, use, and merit are all just (main) verbs used transitively (you deserve / use / merit something). Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:40
  • For my money, He deserves to die is an example of a "catenative" verb usage, but He deserves a good thrashing is just a simple transitive verb usage. Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:45
  • So is this just a typo? It's taken from openocd.org/doc/doxygen/html/primercommand.html Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 17:57
  • 1
    Who said anything about a typo? All I'm saying is your cited text definitely isn't a typical example of a "catenative" verb, because that's normally where one verb form modifies another verb form, as in He likes watching movies. But your example is structurally equivalent to He likes movies - just an ordinary transitive verb usage (likes) followed by an "object" (movies). But yes - if it wasn't already obvious, there should be some kind of "divider" (maybe a slash / or vertical bar |) in the written version. Which is irrelevant to real (spoken) language. Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 18:34
  • In fact, it wasn't obvious for me that the sentence have two verbs. It's just "/" or "or" is missing from the sentence. Would you mind to add it as your answer so that I can check it as accepted answer? Plus, I guess we need to fix the question as well. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 5:29

1 Answer 1


It is either deserve or should, so far as I understand your original statement.

So only complex commands deserve command helper functions


So only complex commands should use command helper functions

In this case, however, you must use the second example because deserve implies the complex commands have agency. Inanimate objects in English do not usually have agency in this way.

So whilst in Japanese we might say ケーキが食べたい - that is, the cake is inducing (me) to eat it - this formation is not regular in English.

Where the subject of the sentence is inanimate, similarly you cannot use verbs which confer a greater deal of agency (as in the case of deserve).

My apologies. To answer what type of verb it is; should use is catenative as should and use are verbs and use is the bare infinitive of to use in this instance. Deserve is simply the verb.

  • Possibly "should deserve to use" which is grammatically correct although clumsy. Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 15:28

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