Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Folia Linguistica

Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae

Editor-in-Chief: Fischer, Olga / Norde, Muriel

Folia Linguistica
IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.463
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.647

CiteScore 2018: 0.59

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.284
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.971

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 51, Issue 3


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

Anton Granvik
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Gothenburg, Box 200, 40530 Göteborg, Sweden/HANKEN School of Economics, Gothenburg, PB 479, 00101, Sweden
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-11-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin-2017-0021


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.

Keywords: nominal complement clauses; inflected infinitive; collostructional analysis; logistic regression; corpus linguistics


  • Abad Serna, Silvia. 2014. Funcionamiento semántico de los encapsuladores nominales en la prensa informativa: Un análisis contrastivo. Paper presented at the XI Congreso Internacional de Lingüística General, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, 21–23 May.Google Scholar

  • Ackerlind, Sheila R. & Rebecca Jones-Kellogg. 2011. Portuguese: A Reference Manual. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar

  • Bjellerup, Sven. 1990 [1973]. Portugisisk språklära [Portuguese Grammar]. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar

  • Bowerman, Melissa. 1990. Mapping thematic roles onto syntactic functions: Are children helped by innate linking rules? Linguistics 28. 1253–1289.Google Scholar

  • Carvalho, Maria José. 2015. Para a história do infinitivo flexionado português: Uma abordagem semântico-pragmática. Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 131(3). 664–689.Google Scholar

  • Croft, William. 1991. Syntactic categories and grammatical relations: The cognitive organization of information. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Croft, William. 2001. Radical construction grammar: Syntactic theory in typological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Cunha, Celso & Lindley Cintra. 1985. Breve Gramática do Português Contemporâneo. Lisboa: João Sá da Costa.Google Scholar

  • Da Silva, Augusto Soares da. 2008. The Portuguese inflected infinitive and its conceptual basis. In Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (ed.), Asymmetric events, 227–243. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Davies, Mark & Michael Ferreira. 2006–. Corpus do Português: 45 million words, 1300s–1900s. Online at http://www.corpusdoportugues.org.

  • Davies, Mark & Ana Maria Raposo Preto-Bay. 2008. Frequency dictionary of Portuguese: Core vocabulary for learners. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Gärtner, Stefan. 1998. Grammatik der Portugiesischen Sprache. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.Google Scholar

  • Glynn, Dylan. 2010. Testing the hypotheses: Objectivity and verification in usage-based Cognitive Semantics. In Dylan Glynn & Kerstin Fisher (eds.), Quantitative methods in cognitive semantics: Corpus-driven approaches, 239–269. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar

  • Goldberg, Adele. 1995. Constructions. A Construction Grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar

  • Granvik, Anton. 2015. Oraciones completivas de sustantivo: Un análisis contrastivo entre portugués y español. Verba 42. 347–401.Google Scholar

  • Granvik, Anton. 2017. Oraciones completivas de sustantivo en español y portugués: ¿infinitivo u oración finita?. Cuadernos de Lingüística de El Colegio de México 4(1). 103–180.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gries, Stefan Th. 2015. More (old and new) misunderstandings of collostructional analysis: On Schmid and Küchenhoff (2013). Cognitive Linguistics 26(3). 505–536.Google Scholar

  • Gries, Stefan Th. & Anatol Stefanowitsch. 2004. Extending collostructional analysis: A corpus-based approach on ‘alternations’. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9(1). 97–129.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Groothuis, Kim. A. 2015. The inflected infinitive in Romance. Leiden University MA thesis. Online at: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/34426 (Accessed on 9 November 2015).

  • Harris, Michael J. 2013. The origin of the Portuguese inflected infinitive through a corpus analysis. In Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, et al. (eds.), Selected proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, 303–311. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.Google Scholar

  • Hutchinson, Amélia P. & Janet Lloyd. 1996. Portuguese: An essential grammar. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Keenan, Edward L. & Bernard Comrie. 1977. Noun phrase accessibility and Universal Grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 8(1). 63–99.Google Scholar

  • Küchenhoff, Helmut & Hans-Jörg Schmid. 2015. Reply to “More (old and new) misunderstandings of collostructional analysis: On Schmid & Küchenhoff”, by Stefan Th. Gries. Cognitive Linguistics 26(3). 537–547.Google Scholar

  • Langacker, Ronald W. 1987. Foundations of Cognitive Grammar. Vol 1: Theoretical prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Martins, Ana Maria. 2001. On the origin of the Portuguese inflected infinitive: A new perspective on an enduring debate. In Laurel J. Brinton (ed.), Historical Linguistics 1999: Selected papers from the 14th Conference on Historical Linguistics, 207–222. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Mateus, Maria Helena, Ana Maria Brito, Inês Duarte & Isabel Hub Faria. 2003. Gramática da Língua Portuguesa. Lisboa: Caminho.Google Scholar

  • Maurer, Theodoro Henrique, Jr. 1968. O infinito flexionado Português (estudo histórico-descritivo). São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional.Google Scholar

  • Pinker, Steven. 1984. Language learnability and language development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

  • Posio, Pekka. 2011. Portugalin kielioppi [Portuguese Grammar]. Helsinki: Tammi.Google Scholar

  • Pountain, Christopher. 1995. Infinitives with overt subjects. In T.F. Earle & Nigel Griffin (eds.), Portuguese, Brazilian and African Studies: Studies presented to Clive Willis on his retirement, 11–25. Warminster: Aris & Phillips.Google Scholar

  • Raposo, Eduardo B., Maria Paiva, Fernanda Bacelar Do Nascimento, Maria Antonia Coelho Da Mota, Luísa Segura & Amália Mendes (eds.). 2013. Gramática do Portugués, vol. 2, Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.Google Scholar

  • Schmid, Hans-Jörg. 2000. English abstract nouns as conceptual shells: From corpus to cognition. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Schmid, Hans-Jörg. 2010. Does frequency in text instantiate entrenchment in the cognitive system?. In Dylan Glynn & Kerstin Fisher (eds.), Quantitative methods in cognitive semantics: Corpus-driven approaches, 101–133. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar

  • Schmid, Hans-Jörg & Helmut Küchenhoff. 2013. Collostructional analysis and other ways of measuring lexicogrammatical attraction: Theoretical premises, practical problems and cognitive underpinnings. Cognitive Linguistics 24(3). 531–577.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Stefanowitsch, Anatol & Stefan Gries. 2003. Collostructions: Investigating the interactions of words and constructions. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 8(2). 209–243.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sten, Holger. 1952. L’infinitivo impessoal et l’infinitivo pessoal en portugais modern. Boletim de Filologia 13. 83–142, 201–256.Google Scholar

  • Vanderschueren, Clara & Ludovic De Cuypere. 2014. The inflected/non-inflected infinitive alternation in Portuguese adverbial clauses: A corpus analysis. Language Sciences 41. 153–174.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Vanderschueren, Clara & Kevin Diependaele. 2013. The Portuguese inflected infinitive: An empirical approach. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 9(1). 161–186.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Vesterinen, Rainer. 2006. Subordinação adverbial: Um estudo cognitivo sobre o infinitivo, o clítico SE e as formas verbais finitas em proposições adverbiais do Português Europeu, Stockholm: Stockholm university dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Vesterinen, Rainer. 2011. A cognitive approach to adverbial subordination in European Portuguese: The infinitive, the clitic pronoun se and finite verb forms. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2015-11-26

Received: 2016-04-14

Revised: 2016-06-20

Accepted: 2016-06-22

Published Online: 2017-11-25

Published in Print: 2017-11-27

Citation Information: Folia Linguistica, Volume 51, Issue 3, Pages 539–585, ISSN (Online) 1614-7308, ISSN (Print) 0165-4004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin-2017-0021.

Export Citation

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in