What do you call a list of three verbs that form a sequence?


I often find myself sitting down, opening the paper and reading the section on sports.


He was tearing up bunches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuffing them into his mouth.

What are all the names you could use to describe this type of list?

  • 1
    When a subject governs more than one verb, there exists a compound predicate. Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 19:05
  • Yes, a compound verb phrase formed by deleting the subjects under identity with the first subject. Conjunction Reduction also works for Objects (He washed the car, the truck, and the dog), and Subjects and Objects (Mary, Tina, and Gloria went out for drinks, dinner, and a show), and lots of other combinations. Oh, and there's no special name for a sequence of three or more verbs. Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


Multiple verbs with a single subject are called compound verbs. There's no name specifically for a group of three of them.

  • An example of the concept under discussion: some lines from a famous Flanders & Swann skit: ...And he said as he hastened to put out the cat, The wine, his cigar and the lamps: "Have some madeira, m'dear." Note how the meaning of "put out" is different for each direct object (cat, wine, cigar, lamp).
    – tautophile
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 21:51
  • Zeugma (also syllepsis, or semantic syllepsis) refers to a situation where a word is used with different relations to two or more the other parts of the sentence ("he took his hat and his leave"), but that wasn't specified in the question. The questioner just asked for the name for three verbs that form a sequence.
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 20:18

I would use the term series.

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

  1. Grammar A succession of coordinate elements in a sentence.

Note that this application isn't limited to lists of verbs.

Note too that the separation of the ultimate and penultimate items in the list is often by a "serial comma", also known as the "Oxford comma" (for its recommended usage by the Oxford Style Manual). See Wikipedia for more on that.

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