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Inflecting an infinitive or a finite verb? The case of Portuguese nominal complement clauses

  • Anton Granvik EMAIL logo
From the journal Folia Linguistica


This paper investigates the contrast between two kinds of clausal complements in the shell noun construction in Portuguese, namely finite clause complements introduced by the conjunction que ‘that’, as in a ideia de que éramos vigiados ‘the idea that we were being watched’, and inflected infinitive complements, as in a idéia de tomarem chá ‘the idea (for them) to have tea’. The aim is to reveal which factors motivate the choice of either the finite complement or the inflected infinitive construction. Three successively more detailed quantitative corpus analyses were carried out: a collostructional analysis, a distinctive collexeme analysis, and a logistic regression analysis. The results show significant differences in the constructional preferences for most nouns, but also reveal 13 nouns that frequently combine with the two complement clause constructions. With these 13 nouns, it was found that a higher degree of complement clause autonomy, complexity, and verbality favored the use of the finite clause alternative.


I wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their precise and valuable comments of an earlier draft of this paper. The final version has greatly benefitted from their expertise. All remaining imperfections and possible inconsistencies are solely my responsibility.


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Detailed information from the mixed effects logistic regression model performed on the total data set of 1346 cases, using the 13 nouns as random effects.

Received: 2015-11-26
Received: 2016-4-14
Revised: 2016-6-20
Accepted: 2016-6-22
Published Online: 2017-11-25
Published in Print: 2017-11-27

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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