consider this sentence:

I saw him driving the car.

I know it is made from two sentences

1.I saw him

2.He was driving the car

in the second sentence it is obvious that driving is a verb, but when you join them what is "driving": a verb or an adverb or an adjective or a noun? if it is a verb, it should have a subject and "he" is used as him.It is really messing with my mind.


I saw him [driving the car].

"See" is a catenative verb and this is a complex catenative construction where the bracketed non-finite clause (headed by the verb "driving") is catenative complement of "saw".

The intervening noun phrase, "him", is object of "saw" and the understood (semantic) subject of the "driving" clause. There's nothing unusual about this since most non-finite clauses are subjectless, though we understand them as having subjects.

"Him" is called a raised object here since the verb it relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the verb it relates to semantically.

The term 'catenative' comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since the two verbs "saw" and "driving" do indeed form a chain.

  • Nice answer, but a hard nut to crack for the question boy. – Barid Baran Acharya Dec 5 '18 at 15:06
  • The nut has been cracked. – Manish Kumar Balayan Dec 5 '18 at 16:34
  • At whose instance, mine or BillJ's. The point is to drive the nail home, and there's the success of an explanation. How happy I am to find my worries unfounded! – Barid Baran Acharya Dec 5 '18 at 16:43
  • You don't have to be so complex fellow human.i understood what your phrase meant and replied accordingly. – Manish Kumar Balayan Dec 6 '18 at 9:14
  • You come off as "too proud of my knowledge of english language" guy.but its my personal subjective opinion. – Manish Kumar Balayan Dec 6 '18 at 9:15

You are right : They are two sentences made one simple sentence which can accommodate only one finite verb, here it's " SAW ". So " WAS DRIVING " should be made non finite by using infinitive form, ' to drive ' or participle form,
' driving ' both of which inspite of being verbs, don't complete sense, haven't any tense and discharge the function of any other parts of speech along with one verbal as above. Such an infinitive or a participle accepts the tense of the main clause and is positioned near the noun and pronoun it qualifies; such nouns or pronouns may be in subjective (he), objective (him) or possessive (his) form; no harm. Now consider the following sentences:

  • I saw him driving the car.

  • X Driving the car I saw him.X

  • I saw him drive the car. (After ' see ' infinitives drop 'TO'.)

The explanation is kept as simple as my ability permits so that you may not 'chew and digest ' an expression borrowed from great Francis Becon.

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