Verb Complements

E. Siler

What is a verb complement?

A verb complement is the arrangement of one verb as the object of another verb. This happens three ways in English:

1. With infinitives

I asked her to leave.

I wanted to leave.

I helped him to leave.

I stopped for the child to cross the street.

2. With gerunds

I considered leaving the job.

I regretted his leaving the job.

They decided on leaving.

3. With noun clauses

I insisted that he leave.

I wondered why he left..

She acknowledged that she had left the job.

He didn’t know that she had left.

She decided when she would leave.


The dictionary marks these verb patterns in bold print followed by pattern sentences. These pattern sentences can help you decide how to arrange the words in a sentence.

For example, the verb recommend shows the following patterns and pattern sentences for the first definition:

recommend that Doctors recommend that all children should be immunized against measles.

recommend doing sth The manufacturers recommend changing the oil after 500 km.

The pattern sentences are important because they give you more ideas about HOW verb patterns are used. Notice that in the pattern sentence for recommend that the verb in the second clause uses the modal "should." In fact this is an indication of how this pattern is used. If you were to write the second sentence The manufacturers recommend changing the oil after 500 km.

using the first pattern, you would use "should": The manufacturers recommend that the oil should be changed after 500 km..

Exercise: Look up each of the following verbs and identify the verb patterns. Write the first three words of the pattern sentence for each verb pattern. Note: some verbs have several different verb patterns depending on the meaning.

1. understand

2. note

3. appreciate

4. mean

Now, write a completely original sentence -- not copied from the book for each of these four words.