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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 Эллен, Hellion, tchrist, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez Jul 2 '13 at 18:13

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What does "prepositional-gerundial construction" mean? –  xxx Jul 1 '13 at 13:28
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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 Эллен Jul 1 '13 at 13:49
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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

1 Answer 1

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
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You may have to pay the penultimate penalty. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 3 '13 at 12:52

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