In the sentence

He makes you want to leave early today to get more space for himself

instead of having NP as argument to the predicate "makes", we get an entire verb phrase "want to leave early today".

So we end up with a parse tree of VP := Verb + Object + Verb Phrase.

What is the terminology for this phenomenon?
Also, what will be the name for the Verb Phrase want to leave early today?
In all, what will be the correct parse tree for this sentence?

  • 1
    I haven't heard of a special term, it's just a verb phrase argument? I don't know why a special term would be needed or helpful.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 12:58
  • 1
    First of all, wording it " ... + Object + Verb Phrase" is a bit misleading because the VP is just as much an object to the verb as the NP is, just of a different type (VP instead of NP). Then, the "correct parse tree" totally depends on what syntax theory assume - that already starts with the problem whether for ditransitive verbs (like this one) you assume ternary braching into V + Obj1 + Obj2 or want to stick to the binary principle (which is more often than not the preferred variant, but forces one to introduce lots of empty categories that you usually don't want in a pragmatic parse tree). Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 13:59
  • What do you mean by "what will be the name for the Verb Phrase want to leave early today"? This is simply a VP, which is an object of the ditransitive verb make in the sentence. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:03
  • 3
    I don't think make is ditransitive here. It just means cause and takes an infinitive complement like cause, except make takes an infinitive without to. Contrast He caused you to want to leave with He made you want to leave. Cause requires a to, make in this sense does not allow it. Just an irregular verbal tic, that's all.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:06
  • 1
    I agree with jlawler, "make" isn't ditransitive in the sentence. The VP is a verbal complement (with a bare infinitive).
    – Atamiri
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


In Elements of Symbolic Logic, Hans Reichenbach gives this example of a predicate which is a quantified argument of another predicate: "Napoleon had all the qualities of a great general." This wording should make Reichenbach's point clear: (For all P)(if P is predicated of a great general then P is predicated of Napoleon).

Reichenbach calls the analysis of such propositions part of "the higher calculus of functions". Or, I think one could term it "second order predicate logic".

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