The Syntactic Properties of Subjects

  • Susan Rothstein
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 74)


Pleonastics are syntactic arguments that do not enter into thematic relations of any kind. It has frequently been proposed in the government-binding framework that there is a generalisation that pleonastics occur only in subject position and not in object position. Postal and Pullum (1987), in a careful presentation of potential counterexamples, suggest that this generalisation is not true. However, the theory of grammatical predication that I am presenting in this Chapter predicts that pleonastics should appear only in subject positions, and explains why they cannot appear anywhere else. The potential counterexamples presented by Postal and Pullum divide into two groups; some of them are genuine pleonastics which appear in what turn out to be subjects of small clause complements of ECM verbs (small clauses like those discussed in Chapter 2:2.3.) The others are examples of it in true object position which, despite appearances, turn out not to be a pleonastic it but a theta-marked object of the main verb. The first set, the true pleonastics, are the topic of this section; the second set, which includes sentences like those in (1), are the topic of the second half of Chapter 7 (see also Rothstein 1995a).


Subject Position Internal Argument Embed Clause External Argument Syntactic Property 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Rothstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Bar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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