The syntax of adjunct predicates

Date of Completion

January 1988


Language, Linguistics




This thesis investigates the syntactic properties of adjunct predicates within the Government Binding framework of Chomsky (1981). This study is primarily concerned with the syntax of adjunct predicates in English. However, adjunct predicates in Spanish are also examined because their distribution differs crucially from that of English adjunct predicates. This contrast in distribution is shown to follow naturally from a difference in the expression of overt morphological agreement in these two languages.^ The thesis consists of four Chapters. Chapter I is concerned first with determining the D-structure position of a number of distinct adjunct predicates. Once determined, it is shown that their distribution follows from a proposed Locality Condition on XP Theta Role Assignment. It is then argued that this condition governs the distribution of all theta-assigning XPs.^ Chapter II is concerned with WH-movement of adjunct predicates in Spanish and English. The impossibility of adjunct predicate WH-movement in English is shown to follow from the interaction of two independently motivated principles: an LF agreement requirement on predication and Chomsky's (1985) Principle of Full Interpretation applying at PF. In English, which lacks overt agreement between adjunct predicates and their subjects, satisfying either one of these requirements entails violating the other. By contrast, in Spanish, in which overt agreement is exhibited in such constructions, both requirements can be met.^ A wide array of Spanish and English constructions containing adjunct predicates are examined in Chapter III with the intent of assessing the adequacy of the analysis presented in the previous chapters.^ The final chapter investigates the nonstructural constraints governing adjunct predicate distribution. Specifically, thematic and semantic restrictions on these predicates are discussed. ^