I am confused to find objects of catenative verbs , for example i was looking for the verb refuse and it's transitive and intransitive when i found some examples from oxford dictionary but still not able to clearely find the object, here some examples

  1. He flatly refused to discuss the matterplease where is the object
  2. My brother refused to allow anyone to help him.please where is the object`
  3. He has steadfastly refused to answer my questions.

Please could you help me to understand when the verb refuse is transitive or intransitive in the given examlples .if not please give me more complicated examples of when the verb refuse plus to infinitives is intransitive or transitive. Thank you

  • No, certainly not! The whole point of the catenative construction is that the non-finite clause (infinitival, gerund-participial or past-participial) functions as catenative complement, not direct object. The catentive verbs concerned are thus functioning intransitively.
    – BillJ
    Aug 26, 2020 at 10:15
  • Thanks for help , please have you examined the given examples . Oxford says that refuse can be intransitive .could you judge the given examples
    – samir nour
    Aug 26, 2020 at 10:16
  • Of course I have. "Refuse" is transitive in "He refused help", but its intransitive in "He refused to help".
    – BillJ
    Aug 26, 2020 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


He flatly refused [to discuss the matter].

My brother refused [to allow anyone to help him].

He has steadfastly refused [to answer my questions].

The whole point of the catenative construction is that the non-finite clause functions as catenative complement of a catenative verb, not as direct object. The catenative verbs concerned are thus functioning intransitively.

"Refuse" can be transitive, as in "He refused my offer of help", but in your examples "refuse" is intransitive in a catenative construction, and thus there is no direct object.

  • thanks , I have started to understand still one point please . could you give me some examples of usage of the verb refuse . if the following examples are not correct : Three of the students refused to play the guitar . Three of the students refused to play outside today
    – samir nour
    Aug 26, 2020 at 10:55
  • @samirnour Those examples are correct -- they are catenative constructions with "refuse" as catenative verb and the infinitival clause as catenative complement of "refuse".
    – BillJ
    Aug 26, 2020 at 11:06
  • I wasn't consciously aware of it myself until I just checked the precise definition of "catenative verbs", but I hear tell there are just a handful of verbs (say, tell, help, let, make) that can be followed by a bare infinitive (no to). Which might be a relevant snippet to include here for the benefit of others. Aug 26, 2020 at 11:17
  • thanks,it was helpful
    – samir nour
    Aug 26, 2020 at 14:47
  • almost learned it . please look at those examples that i have wrotten 1.the plan refused to land. ... 2.the student refused to land the pen .
    – samir nour
    Aug 26, 2020 at 15:46

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