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What is the correct grammatical description for this sentence?

I need help taking out an old hard drive.

I am most interested in whether the verb "take" is a gerund here, and how to describe the proceeding clause. It may be a prepositional-gerundial construction, but I don't know if that makes sense.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Matt E. Эллен, Hellion, tchrist, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez Jul 2 '13 at 18:13

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

What does "prepositional-gerundial construction" mean? – user57234 Jul 1 '13 at 13:28
What do you hope to learn from this question? You should try to generalise your question so that people are encouraged to answer with more than no. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 1 '13 at 13:49
Hello vixtor! I edited your question slightly, in order to make it answerable with more than a yes or no, as @MattЭллен recommended. Please see if that captures the intent of your question. Could you clarify what you mean by "prepositional-gerundial"? I don't know what that means. – Ellie Kesselman Jul 1 '13 at 15:03
Probably a nonce term that sounds impressive and means they're adverbial gerund clauses and can take optional prepositions. I gotta admit, "prepositional-gerundial" sounds cool. Like complex catenative, which means it's complicated and it's linked together. – John Lawler Jul 1 '13 at 23:59

At http://www.englishforums.com/English/VerbObjIngForm/nqrbz/post.htm are descriptions of two different but identical-looking structures of the Verb + obj + -ing-form form:

(1) She caught Tom smoking.

(2) She needed help walking.

The first is a complex catenative ( http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YNfzbWuMFuoC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=complex+catenative&source=bl&ots=PXamBDZhQk&sig=x4zwAVO1mnZ-oYlpXJRdWDFQVS4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ErTRUcDRA6mK7Aanr4CADg&ved=0CEcQ6AEwAw ).

The second really uses a two-word idiom (need help); it is, as CJ in the first link above says, not best analysed as part of a catenative structure. He gives further examples, and another pair of look-alikes are:

(3) She took Bill walking.

(4) She took care walking.

Several of these verb + noun collocations / idioms (take care, make haste, lose no time, have fun...) regularly take ing-forms (usually themselves followed by noun groups). I'd say these ing-forms were a lot nearer the verbal end of the continuum than the nounal (so I would never call them gerunds).

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I'd just call all but the last one reduced adverbial clauses; note that one can insert prepositions and/or subordinate conjunctions in most of these cases. She caught Tom (in (the act of)/while (he was)) smoking, She needed help (in/while) walking, She took care (in/while) walking. The take construction is different, part of the come/go + V(-ing) idiom cluster: go eat, go shooting, come dance, come dancing, bring her dancing, take him shooting, etc. – John Lawler Jul 1 '13 at 23:46
That's "the next-to-last one" (3) that's special. Sorry. – John Lawler Jul 1 '13 at 23:57
You may have to pay the penultimate penalty. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 3 '13 at 12:52

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