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What are the functions of the following verbs in this sentence?

It might help leave a better impression?

Is might a modal? How about help? leave?

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The example sentence mentioned

  • It might help leave a better impression.

is already highly processed syntactically. First there is the question of what it is.

Does it represent some activity (like saying "Thank you") that might help leave a better impression?

  • Saying "Thank you" might help leave a better impression.

Or is it a dummy subject inserted by Extraposition?

  • It might help leave a better impression to say "Thank you".

Either one is possible, and in fact they mean the same thing. But we don't know because the sentence is context-free.

As to the structure, it's pretty much the way @Shoe put it:

Might is a modal, followed by an infinitive complement without to, which is itself a verb (help) that takes an infinitive complement VP, with or without to -- in this case without -- (leave a better impression). That's all, really.

[vp might [vp help [vp leave a better impression vp]vp]vp].

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    In other words... "might" is a modal... "help" is a bare infinitive acting as an adverb... and "leave" is a bare infinitive acting as a verb? – user22542 Oct 11 '18 at 14:24
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    Might is a modal auxiliary verb; help is a bare infinitive acting as verb; and leave is a bare infinitive acting as a verb. They're all verbs. There are no adverbs. I have no idea where people get the idea that verbs can act as adverbs. – John Lawler Oct 11 '18 at 20:43
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Might is a modal verb that is followed by a bare infinitive (help).

Help is a catenative verb that may be followed by a bare infinitive (leave) or a to-infinitive (to leave).

Leave is the catenative complement of the verb help.

You can read about catenative verbs on ThoughtCo: What is a Catenative Verb?

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  • In other words... "might" is a modal... "help" is the verb action... and "leave" is a bare infinitive acting as a noun? – user22542 Oct 11 '18 at 13:44
  • Leave is a bare infinitive acting as a verb. The noun is impression. – John Lawler Oct 11 '18 at 20:45
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    Thanks, @John. Sorry. I see a lot of opinions here on ELL. A casual survey of internet usually yields a bunch more. I get the modal part in this question, but I think the rest is subjective opinion however staunchly held. So, all are verbs still act as verbs, OK. – user22542 Oct 11 '18 at 21:27

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