Complex Predicates


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This book examines various linguistic phenomena and determines that certain constructions should be treated as complex predicates. Specifically, the book explores auxiliary and verb combinations in future, perfect, and passive constructions; causative constructions, verb complex constructions with raising and control verbs; subject and object predicatives; depictive secondary predicates (1); resultative constructions (2); and particle verb combinations. The properties of all these constructions are studied on a broad empirical basis, mainly with data from German.


(1) Er ißt  das Fleisch roh.
    he eats the meat    raw
(2) Er fährt  das Auto kaputt / zu Schrott.
    he drives the car  broken   to junk

Scrambling and fronting data are used to argue that all these constructions-except the depictive secondary predicates, which are treated as adjunct-should be treated as complex predicates. The potential for a verb to enter a resultative construction or to form a particle verb that follows a productive pattern is licensed by lexical rules. Base verb and resultative predicate and base verb and particle are combined in syntax by the same rule that licences verbal complexes in German.

In the part about particle verbs it is argued that particles should be treated as parts of the predicate complex. They are serialized in the right sentence bracket (3)–(4) and they can be fronted like adjectives or verbs (5).

(3) Karl kommt abends  in Berlin an.
    Karl comes evening in Berlin PART
    `Karl arrives in Berlin in the evening.'
(4) Karl kommt abends  in der Stadt an,  in der   ich wohne.
    Karl comes evening in the city  PART in which I   live
    `Karl arrives in the evening in the city in which I live.'
(5) Fest  steht, daß  Karl nicht der Mörder   war.
    solid stands that Karl not   the murderer was
    `It is certain that Karl was not the murderer.'

So it seems reasonable to treat the preverb-verb-constructions in the same way as other predicate complex constructions. Frontings as (5) then can be described as instances of Partial Verb Phrase Fronting.

Arguments that have been put forward in order to show that particle verbs have to be treated in the morphology component are discussed and refuted. An analysis of inflection and derivation is provided that is compatible with the syntactic analysis of particle verbs. As a byproduct this analysis solves the brackating paradox with regard to particle verbs that was often discussed in the literature.




There are several reviews by now. The most important is the one that appeared in Language, the journal of the Linguistics Society of America (LSA).

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(Sept. 20, 2013, 5:14 p.m.)
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  • German language
  • Linguistics
  • Nonfiction
  • Syntax


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