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Verb catena, chain and Finite Verb Phrase. Options
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Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 12:01:11 PM

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Hey guys.

I have been studying finite and non-finite verbs, and while I was reading one article on Wikipedia, I saw many different definitions regarding two or more verbs together, check it:

"The three verbs together form a chain, or verb catena (in purple), which functions as the predicate of the sentence. The finite verb has is inflected for person and number, tense, and mood: third person singular, present tense, indicative. The nonfinite verbs been and examined are, except for tense, neutral across such categories and are not inflected otherwise. The subject, proposal, is a dependent of the finite verb has, which is the root (highest word) in the verb catena. The nonfinite verbs lack a subject dependent."

Are "Verb catena, Chain and Finite Verb phrase" the same?

I have been here - Have been: Finite verb phrase
I have been here - Have been - Verb Catena
I have been here - have been - Chain.

I am the way, and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6
Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 12:24:11 PM

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Well, these terms should be defined within the grammar-book you are reading.

What is the reference for this description? Wikipedia is not a reference itself.

As far as I know, "catena" is simply the Italian (and originally Latin) word for "chain". So, any phrase made up of a bunch of verbs in a chain could be called a verb-chain or verb-catena.

Some grammars would call this group of three verbs "the verb phrase", "has been examined". This is my style. A 'verb-phrase' is a phrase acting as one verb-function in a sentence ('has been examined' is, by this system, the perfect passive form of the verb 'examine').
In the same system, a noun-phrase is any phrase acting as a noun (it may be an infinitive phrase, a participle/gerund phrase or whatever). If it acts like a noun and it's a phrase, it's a noun-phrase.

As tunaafi mentioned in another thread, some grammars would call the verbs and adverbs "the verb phrase" - "has been intensively examined".

You have to choose one school of grammar and stick to it, or you will become progressively more confused.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 1:39:37 PM

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Quite a few of the learners who submit questions in this forum seem to be learning English in systems in which they are obliged to identify parts of speech.

I feel sorry for them. The parts-of-speech labels can be useful tools for some learners, but they should not become an end in themselves. This is particularly true at a time when there is no general agreement of precise definitions of parts of speech, and when (even if there were general agreement) few native-speaking adults could identify the parts of speech of all the words in "Yes, the boat was stuck fast in the mud; the crew would have to put up with the situation".
Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 3:20:04 PM

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As a native speaker, I have repeatedly suggested that trying to identify English parts of speech can be an exercise in futility.

Sometimes they're obvious, but all too often they're a matter of frustrating guesswork.

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 4:51:26 AM

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Personally, I find that breaking a sentence down into phrases - and seeing which function each phrase performs (noun, adjective, adverb, verb) - can be useful.

However, you (both) are right, trying to figure out what each word would be labelled is pretty pointless.

In tunaafi's sentence, knowing that 'in the mud' is acting as an adverb can be useful, but knowing that 'the' is sometimes called an article, sometimes a determiner and (occasionally) an adjective is useless.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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