The non-existence of finite sentential subjects

Mary Aizawa Kato, Carlos Mioto


Sentential subjects constitute a category in all traditional, Structuralist and recent Generative Grammar. Examples of such sentences are the constituents interpreted as arguments of verbs such as parecer [to seem], acontecer [to happen], impressionar [to impress]. The usual analysis in Generative Grammar is that such constituents are internal arguments of the verb in D-structure, and that they rise to subject position by movement. This article maintains the claim that they are D-structure internal arguments, but shows that the landing position of finite sentences is an A’ position. The main evidence presented is that the so-called “sentential subjects” behave exactly like adjunct sentences for extraction. The analysis retains infinitive clauses as possible subject clauses.


sentential subjects; islands; infinitive clauses; adjunct clauses; A/A’-movement.

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