A Simple Predicate is simply the verb or verb phrase in a sentence. Since some verbs, for example phrasal verbs, have additional words other than the "stem word" would they be considered part of the simple predicate? For example, which is generally the simple predicate of "Get hold of"

  1. Get
  2. Get hold
  3. Get hold of
  4. if none of the above, please specify the answer.

If you need a specific example for context, then you may identify the simple predicate of:

I need to get hold of Tom's address

And it would be appreciated if you could justify and cite any references I could refer to?


Hold, meaning a grasp on something, is a very old word in the language. The OED traces it to 1300, and it is idiomatic with a number of verbs, including catch, get, lay, lose, seize, and take. We may therefore analyze I got hold of Tom's address as

I (Subject)
got (Verb)
hold (DirectObject)
of Tom's address (Prepositional Phrase Complement of hold)

(I've changed your example to show that the simple predicate is got, eliminating the distraction of need+to-infinitive.)

There are two reasons not to consider got hold as a phrasal verb. First, it's understandable from its parts. To get hold is to obtain a grasp. This is quite different from the verb in

I have to look after my brother

which doesn't mean that I have to look past him. Secondly, we can add adjuncts freely between the two words:

I got a definite though tenuous hold on the handle.

We can't generally do this with a phrasal verb:

* I have to look this afternoon after my brother.

The indefinite article may appear, as in the song lyric

You've really got a hold on me

so it might be tempting to think that the phrase started with get ahold, with ahold the (now obsolete) nautical adverb for bringing a ship into the wind to hold her steady. But the OED finds an earlier use for get hold than for ahold (the latter fittingly from The Tempest).

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