The following clauses have main verbs in the present tense:
- John walks.
- John and Mary walk.
The following clauses have main verbs in the past tense:
- John walked
- John and Mary walked.
Both present and past tense verb forms vary according to the
number of the subject. In the present tense, regular verbs
do. In the past tense only the irregular verb be does:
- singular subject: John walked
- plural subject: John and Mary walked.
- singular subject: John was a clown.
- plural subject: John and Mary were clowns.
We call the present and past tenses of verbs and modals finite forms.
- All finite verbs agree with their subjects for number.
We call any clause wose main verb is a finite verb a finite
Verbs that aren't either
present or past and don't agree with
their subjects for number are called non-finite forms. English has
three non-finite forms.
What we'll call the bare infinitive form is just the infinitive
form without the the to:
- present participle: walking
- past participle: walked
- infinitive: to walk
All ordinary verbs have
the full inventory of non-finite forms.
Modals never have non-finite forms:
- * maying
- * to may
- * mayed
We call any clause whose main verb is a non-finite verb a non-finite
- present participle: Mary kept John walking
- past particple: Mary had her dog walked every day.
- infinitive: Mary would like for John to walk.
- bare infinitive: Mary made John walk.
Non-finite verbs don't show tense or agreement:
Remember present tense plural forms (walk)
can look just like non finite forms (walk).
To show a verb
is tensed and prove a clause is finite, put the verb into
the past tense or use a singular subject in the present
- Mary would like for John to walk.
- * Mary would like for John to walks.
- * Mary would like for John to walked.
A non-finite clause will not allow modals,
since modals lack non-finite forms:
- * Mary would like for John to may walk.
- * Mary had John mayed walk every day.
- * Mary kept John maying walk.
Only non-finite clauses can be subjectless:
Another way of putting this is that only non-finite verb
phrases can occur without subjects.
- John keeps smiling.
- John wants to smile.
- John felt frozen.
English pronouns show up in three different forms called
Linguists sometimes like to say that all English nouns have case, but
that the distinction only shows up in pronouns.
This is in part because there are other languages, like German,
Latin, Russian, and Finnish, where the distinctions of case show
up on all nouns.
- Nominative: I he she, we, they
- Accusative: me, him, her, us, them
- Genitive: my, his, her, our, their
Finite clauses assign nominative case to their subjects:
The interesting property, which gives us another test for finite clauses,
is that only finite clauses assign
nominative case to their sibjects.
- I left.
- *Me left.
- *My left.
- * Mary would like for I to walk.
- Mary would like for me to walk.
- * Mary had I walk every day.
- Mary had me walk every day.
- * Mary kept I walking.
- Mary kept me walking.
There is a class of clause-introducing particles we're going
to call complementizers (shown in italics):
- We believe that the mayor will win the election.
- We all wondered whether the mayor would win the election.
- I for one would prefer for the mayor to win the election.
Bresnan proposes the S-bar analysis, that
complementizers are introduced by a rule:
Emonds proposes the S analysis, that complementizers are
introduced by the rule.
In this chapter we develop a theory which allows trees
with empty elements.
In English, overt complementizers occur only in embedded clauses.
But we will say that all clauses have complementizers and that some
of these complementizers are covert or empty.
What does this mean?
Are we saying something different from what we say about determiners
in NP? That they are optional, sometimes there and sometimes
Yes, it's different. What we're saying really is that there's a complementizer
position in the clause, and it always has an effect,
whether it's filled or not. We're also saying
that other things besides complementizers may
fill this position. We turn to some arguments for this
view, first to arguments for main clause
Many languages have main clause complementizers in particular
- Question particles. These are often clause-initial and clause-final.
Examples in (30) p. 296.
- Exclamative constructions. "Let it be so." Examples (33), p.297.
- Optative constructions. This is an imperative-style construction
that means, roughly, "let it be so." Examples (34), p.297.
In English we find that auxiliary inversion is always in complementary
distribution with the occurrence of complementizers (the two
never occur together).
These curious facts are explained if we assume that inverted auxiliaries
fill the complementizer position, and that once the position is filled,
it is no longer available to be used by a complementizer.
- semi-indirect speech
- John wondered whether he would get a degree. (ordinary embedded question)
- John wondered would he get a degree (semi-indirect speech)
- * John wondered whether would he get a degree.
- subjunctives with inversion:
- One must be vigilant, whether it be at home or abroad. (subjunctive with complementizer)
- One must be vigilant, be it at home or abroad.(subjunctive with complementizer)
- One must be vigilant, whether be it at home or abroad.(subjunctive with complementizer)
Note that this explanation depends on talking about a structural position
in the clause. Once we adopt the idea of a fixed complementizer position,
then the additional idea that the position may be filled or unfilled
does not seem so strange.
We might still object that we've argued that inverted S's
and S's with overt complementizers should be S-bar, but not that
S's with neither inversion nor overt complementizers are.
In other words, what motivates ever having an
- John believes the bill is well-crafted and that the president
will act to support it.
- There is good reason to intervene in this instance, but do we have the
resources to carry it through?
In Chapter 6 we move from the S-bar analysis
to the TP analysis. A S-bar is a projection
of T, and the subject is the specifier
of TP. In this discussion, for simplicity,
we stick with S-bars.
We classify complementizers two ways, according to whether they
take questions or declaratives, and according to
whether they take declaratives or questions.
We describe the complementizer properties with the features ±
FIN and ± WH (question or non-question)
- Mary should know that the president will intervene.
- * Mary should know that the president to intervene.
- * Mary should know that to intervene.
- Mary should know whether the president will intervene.
- * Mary should know whether the president to intervene.
- Mary should know whether to intervene.
- Mary should know who the president will choose.
- Mary should know if the president will intervene.
- * Mary should know if the president to intervene.
- * Mary should know if to intervene.
- * Mary should is anxious for the president will intervene.
- Mary should is anxious for the president to intervene.
- whether: + WH, ± FIN
- if: + WH, + FIN
- that: - WH, + FIN
- for: - WH, - FIN
We have assumed a rule for S like this one:
This only works for finite clauses, because modals are always
finite. To generalize to non-finite clauses, we propose a category
T (for "tense"), which will dominate both modals and the infinitival
to. These two instances of
T look like this:
Thus the category T can be both finite and non-finite.
- for [S [NP John] [T to] [VPleave] ]
- that [S [NP John] [T will] [VPleave] ]
Arguments that to should be conflated with modals:
- Both allow VP ellipsis
- Anyone who wants to [VP Ø ] can read Proust.
- She wants to read Prous and she will [VP Ø ].
- to never co-occurs with modals:
- * to can go vs to be able to go
- * to must go vs to have to go
We noted above two important properties restricted to finite clauses:
We will link both these properties to finite T. (to T with
the feature +TNS)
- Only finite clauses assign nominative case to their subject.
- Only in finite clauses do subjects agree with verbs.
Here "NP which is sister to T" is just a structural definition
- An NP which is sister to +TNS T is assigned Nominative case.
- An NP which is sister to a +TNS T must agree with it in
number and person.
Something that needs to be spelled out is how a subject can agree with
T in number and person. In order for this to happen, the
T node must be specified for number and person as well.
These are rules not for spelling what T dominates (like
phrase-structure rules), but for what features it can be made up
of. Here the Greek letters (Alpha, Beta, Gamma)
stand for either + or - with
TNS and Agr and different
number and person values with Number and
Person. The first rule
says that T consists of a TNS (tense) and AGr (agreement) feature
and that these have to have the same value; either they're both +
or they're both minus. The second rule says that + TNS can be
spelled out as + or - PAST, and that + AGR is spelled out as
some number value and some person value.
- T ==> [Alpha TNS, Alpha Agr]
- + TNS ==> ± PAST
- + AGR ==> [Beta Number, Gamma Person]
above, complementizers seem to determine whether the T of the following
S is finite or non-finite;
- We are anxious for John to leave.
- * We are anxious for John should leave.
- We are anxious that John should leave.
- * We are anxious that John to leave.
- We wonder whether/if John will come.
- We wonder whether to come.
- *We wonder if to come.
We assume that T may be empty too. But even when empty it is
still specified for finiteness.
Our analysis of ordinary tensed clauses without modals is that
they have empty T nodes specified +TNS.
This means that a full S-bar for a finite main clause has
two empty nodes:
- [S [NP John] [T[+TNS] e] [VPleaves] ]
- [S' [[Comp[+FIN, -WH] e] [S [NP John] [T[+TNS] e] [VPleaves] ] ]
We have two kinds of verbal forms out of the picture thus
far, present participles and past participles:
We are treating the inflections -ing and -en
differently from other inflections on
verbal forms (person and number). Person
and number inflections like
-s and -ed are dealt with in T. But -ing
and -en must be dealt with elsewhere. Is this right?
- present: break + ing = breaking
- past: break + en = broken
Arguments for this.
- None of the verbal forms that show up under T inflect for
-ing and -en.
- *mayen, *maying
- *toen, *toing
- *shoulden, shoulding
- We assume one verb in T at a time and -ing and -en
forms can appear when something already fills T:
- It would be a pity for you [T to] be working.
- It would be a pity for you [T to] have
Note that this treatment of -ing and -en as special goes hand
in hand with treating the aspectual
auxiliaries have and be as
distinct from the other auxiliaries. For
one thing they can co-occur with overt elements in T,
unlike other elements of T.
- Mary would prefer for John [T to] be seeing a dentist.
- Mary would prefer for John [T to] have seen a dentist.
- * Mary would prefer for John [T to] may see a dentist.
- Mary [T may] have seen a dentist.
- Mary [T will] be seeing a dentist.
- * Mary [T will] may see a dentist.
But we still lack an explanation of certain unifying
properties of auxuiliaries:
We note this and move on.
- Undergoes inversion: Has Mary read Proust?
- Undergoes VP-ellipsis: Anyone who can read Proust already has [VP Ø ]
- Can be followed by negative element, unlike most verbal elements:
- John may not go.
- * John may go not.
- John did not go.
- * John not went. [did obligatory in
negative sentences with no mdal.]
- * John went not.
- John wants to not go.
- John has not been going.
- John has been not going.
We turn to the topic of clauses that
appear to lack a subject.
Some clauses appear to be subjectless.
It should be obvious what to do here.
In (1) in particular, we have a complementizer,
which is diagnostic of S-barhood,
but no overt subject.
- The president isn't sure whether to intervene.
- Mary is anxious to leave.
We posit that the subject is an empty element. This time we're going to
write the empty element as PRO instead of e. Don't attach
too much meaning to this. It's the position
in the tree that tells us what kind of empty element we have,
not its spelling. Spelling empty subjects
a particular way makes the trees easier to read.
So in the above examples, we propose to have empty subjects:
Predicate nominals agree with the subjects of their immediate clauses:
Note that even though they is plural it is not
what the predicate nominal a candidate agrees with.
It is too far away. The predicate nominal agrees with
the subject of its own clause.
- They are unsure whether the president should be a candidate.
- * They are unsure whether the president should be candidates.
- The presidenti isn't sure [S' [Comp whether] [S [NP PROi ] [T to] [VP be a candidate/*candidates.] ]]
Here the predicate nominal must be singular as well. We can retain
our generalization about agreement if we say the
predicate nominal agrees with PRO the subject
of its own clause, and that PRO takes the president
as an antecedent.
Reflexives agree with the subjects of their immediate clauses
in number, gender, and person. This is called
Note in (2) that the plural
reflexive may not agree with
It is too far away. The reflexive agrees only with
the subject of its own clause. In (3),
we see, in contrast, that a nonreflexive pronoun may be coreferential
with a non clausemate, so
that clausemate agreement
is a special
property of reflexives.
- They are unsure whether Johni should show himselfi/*herselfi/*yourselfi.
- * Theyi are unsure whether John should show themselvesi.
- Theyi are unsure whether John should show themi.
- The president isn't sure [S' [Comp whether] [S [NP PRO ] [T to] [VP show himself.] ]]
Here the reflexive must match the president. We can retain
our generalization about agreement if we say the
reflexive agrees with PRO the subject
of its own clause, and that PRO takes the president
as an antecedent, as indicated by the subscripts.
We analyze expect in
example (1) as what is called an exceptional
clause verb. That is, we assume
the following structure for the VP
expect you to win:
- I don't expect you to win.
Note that up until now we have assumed that
all embedded clauses are S-bars. Now, exceptionally,
we are going to allow a certain very
special class of embedded Ss.
- [V' expect [S [NP you ] [T to] [VP win]]]
We base this on a series of arguments.
There is a class of subjects with very special
clause verbs. First we have special
occurrences of it
and there which
The it in (1) does not have
an antacedent. The sentence
is really a paraphrase of
(2); we say the it
functions as a dummy subject, satisfying
a syntactic requirement
of English that all finite clauses
have overt subjects, even when
that subject contirbutes nothing
to the semantics. Something
similar seems to be
going on in (3), which
has (4) as a paraphrase.
- There is a Santa Claus.
- Santa Claus exists.
- It was obvious that she was embarassed.
- That she was embarassed was obvious.
English also has a number of
fixed or idiomatic expressions
in which the subjects have a
very unusual meaning.
- The cat is out of the bag. [ a secret is out.]
- The chips were down. [The crisis had arrived.]
- The shit hit the fan. [The consequences began to
grow very complicated.]
- The chickens came home to roost. [Because of past actions
which were unfair or evil, bad things began to happen.]
Having established the existence
of these special subjects,
we note their occurrence
- Dummy it and there:
- We expect it to be obvious that there is a hazard.
- We expect it to rain tomorrow.
- We expect there to be a school dance.
- Idiom chunks:
If nonreferential it and the chips were
direct objects in these examples, as they would be in
PRO analysis of this construction,
we would expect these sentences
all to be anomalous,
these peculiar ("funny") noun phrases
do not occur as subjects of
the constructions they are
- We expect all the chips to be down in the fourth quarter.
- We expect the cat to be out of the bag by then.
- We expect a few chickens to come home to roost in any close
The following two sentences are near synonyms:
If Mary and the doctor were
direct objects, as they would be in a
PRO analysis of this construction,
we would expect these sentences to differ
in truth conditions. Notice
how, on the incorrect analysis,
would be the direct object of expect:
- We expect the doctor to examine Mary.
- We expect Mary to be examined by the doctor.
On this analysis, Mary and the doctor would
play a meaningful role (they would bear a
theta role, in the language of Chapter 7) with
respect to the expecting.
- [V' expect [NP Mary ] [S' [Comp e] [S [NP PRO ] [T to] [VP be examined by the doctor.] ]]
- [V' expect [NP the doctor ] [S' [Comp e] [S [NP PRO ] [T to] [VP examine Mary.] ]]
We analyze force as a verb
taking an S-bar complement
clause verb. Thus,
force you to help me will
include a PRO construction:
- John will force you to help me.
We base this on the following evidence:
- [V' force [NP you]
[S' [comp e] [S [NP PRO ]
[T to] [VP help me]]]
- Dummy its and there are unacceptable:
- * We forced it to be obvious that there is a hazard.
- * We forced it to rain tomorrow.
- * We forced there to be a school dance.
- Idiom chunks are as well:
This is explained on the PRO analysis because
NPs like nonreferential it and
idiom chunks are forced to
be direct objects of
the verb force,
and therfore do not occur
of the constructions
they are restricted to:
- * We forced all the chips to be down in the fourth quarter.
- * We forced the cat to be out of the bag by then.
- The following two sentences are not synonyms:
On the PRO analysis Mary and the doctor are
- We forced the doctor to examine Mary.
- We forced Mary to be examined by the doctor.
We would expect these sentences to differ
in truth conditions,
because Mary and the doctor
play different meaningful roles with
respect to being forced.
- [V' force [NP Mary ] [S' [Comp e] [S [NP PRO ] [T to] [VP be examined by the doctor.] ]]
- [V' force [NP the doctor ] [S' [Comp e] [S [NP PRO ] [T to] [VP examine Mary.] ]]
Adverb distribution provides
an additional argument for the contrasting analyses
of force and expect:
Here cruelly can modify the upstairs
verb with force but not
expect, as is expected with the
- John forced Mary cruelly [S' C [S PRO to yield.]]
- * John expected [SMary cruelly to yield.]
Emphatic reflexives, controlled
by clausemate subjects,
are anomalous with the exceptional
and work (more or less) with the PRO analysis,
as expected given the structures:
- John forced Mary himself [S' C [S PRO to yield.]]
- * John expected [SMary himself to yield.]
We introduce a new syntactic category SC for
a variety of clausal constructions that lack T.
The maximal V' in example (2) has the following structure:
- I consider John intelligent.
We analyze John intelligent as a small clause. Arguments
- [V'consider [SC [NP John] [AP intelligent]]]
The small clause analysis shares with the
exceptional clause analysis the following important
property: The NPs following the verb in these construction
are analyzed as the subjects of a downstairs clause
and not as objects of the upstairs verb. Therefore
subjecthood tests should apply to both constructions.
In all cases, these special elements
have their distributions determined by
the embedded construction, not
the upstairs verb. This argues for
their being downstairs subjects and against
their being upstairs
- We considered it obvious that she was lying. [nonreferential it]
- We considered it time to leave. [nonreferential it]
- We considered the chips down. [Idiom chunk]
We also claim John in John intelligent is
not a direct object of consider,
a claim supported by the following
odd preposing argument attributed to Chomsky (1981d)
in your text:
Unlike other preposing tests, this one does not
presuppose the "preposed" element
"consider John" is a constituent, merely
that what preposes with the verb in
this construction must be a direct object.
- * Consider John though you may intelligent,
some people still think he's a pretty untrustworthy guy.
- Give John though you may a large donation,
you will still find him a pretty elusive guy.
We are treating
the above example
as the subject of
a small clause.
Therefore we ought
to find subject properties:
- We considered John responsible himself. [subjects can usually
control floating emphatic reflexives]
- This year we considered not many candidates eligible. [not many
usually works with subjects.]
Consistent with both the small clause and exceptional
clause analysis, neither complementizers nor PRO
- * We consider whether /if/that/for John intelligent.
- * We consider PRO intelligent.
Though the construction following consider in (2) shares
many properties with an exceptional clause
construction, we can argue
against its being analyzed as
an exceptional clause
on the basis of the fact that T is never allowed:
- * Nobody can consider John may intelligent.
- * Nobody can consider John to intelligent.