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In this sentence "That girl keeps smiling at him!" "Smiling at him" is a participle phrase, which can only function as an adjective, so which part of the sentence it is modifying, it must be the subject girl, which is a noun. As the participial phrase is modifying or complementing the subject can we say here keep function as linking verb?

Or keep (on) doing sth. is a phrasal verb function as main verb, so keep smiling is verb, and at him is adverbial preposition phrase. This one is more plausible, right?

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That girl keeps (on) smiling at him!

"Smiling at him" is a participial clause, but it's not functioning as an adjective, and nor is "keep" a so-called linking verb.

This is a catenative construction in which "keep" is a catenative verb and the participial clause is its catenative complement. Within the participial clause, the preposition phrase "at him" is complement of "smiling".

It makes no difference whether the verb is just "keep" or the two-word idiom "keep on".

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  • Thank you BillJ, I just learned the catenative concept!
    – Kevin
    Nov 9 '21 at 23:22

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