I would like a term used by linguists that stands for the predicate minus the arguments of the verb.

One possible candidate is “verb group.” This link, http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-cobuild/verb%20group, defines “verb group” as follows:

verb group ( verb groups plural ) A verb group or verbal group consists of a verb, or of a main verb following a modal or one or more auxiliaries. Examples are “walked,” “can see,” and had been waiting.”

But the latter definition doesn’t come from a linguistics source as far as I can tell.

Another possible candidate is “verb phrase.” The SIL Linguistic Glossary site (http://www-01.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsAVerbPhrase.htm) gives two definitions: a definition from traditional grammar that resembles the above definition of “verb group,” and a definition from generative grammar that is synonymous with “predicate.”

Which term would fill the bill?

  • I think that 'verb group' does the job just fine. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 9:24
  • Verb group is possible, but whether it's the right choice depends on your theory. Are you asking about a particular framework?
    – user2081
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 4:29
  • No, I'm just describing a conlang. But if possible, I'd like to use vocabulary from "Basic Linguistic Theory," the descriptive theory used by R.M.W. Dixon. I'll use any available term though. Apparently, I've got a couple of choices already, "verb group" and "predicator." Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 6:48
  • In the verb group analysis, the main verb plus its auxiliaries, taken as a group, have the predicator function. In the catenative auxiliary analysis, the first auxiliary has the predicator function, and it takes a non-finite complement, similar to the catenative like to see. But can [see] has a bare infinitival complement, while like [to see] has a to-infinitival complement. Other analyses are possible.
    – user2081
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


The answer is: predicators. See footnote 13 for sources.
Some people call them predicate chains, or verb chain.

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