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

The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: van der Hulst, Harry

4 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.558
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.813

CiteScore 2017: 0.56

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.403
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.876

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 34, Issue 2


Intervention in tough-constructions revisited

Stefan Keine / Ethan Poole
Published Online: 2017-10-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2017-0003


In this paper, we subject to closer scrutiny one particularly influential recent argument in favour of the long-movement analysis of tough-constructions. Hartman (2011, 2012a, 2012b) discovered that experiencer PPs lead to ungrammaticality in tough-constructions, but not in expletive constructions. He attributes this ungrammaticality to defective intervention of A-movement, a movement step crucially postulated only in the long-movement analysis. He takes this as evidence that tough-constructions are derived via long movement. We make the novel observation that a PP intervention effect analogous to that in tough-constructions also arises in constructions that do not involve A-movement, namely pretty-predicate constructions and gapped degree phrases. Consequently, the intervention effect does not provide an argument for an A-movement step in tough-constructions or for the long-movement analysis, but rather for the base-generation analysis. We develop a uniform account of the intervention effects as a semantic-type mismatch. In particular, we propose that what unifies tough-constructions, pretty-predicate constructions, and gapped degree phrases is that they all have an embedded clause that is a null-operator structure. Introducing an experiencer PP into these constructions creates an irresolvable semantic-type mismatch. As such, we argue for a reassessment of what appears to be a syntactic locality constraint as an incompatibility in the semantic composition.

Keywords: tough-constructions; predication; defective intervention; null-operator constructions; gapped degree phrases


  • Akmajian, Adrian. 1972. Getting tough. Linguistic Inquiry 3. 373–377.Google Scholar

  • Anagnostopoulou, Elena. 2003. The syntax of ditransitives: Evidence from clitics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Bhatt, Rajesh & Roumyana Izvorski. 1997. Genericity, implicit arguments and control. Paper presented at Student Conference in Linguistics 7 (SCIL 7).Google Scholar

  • Bhatt, Rajesh & Roumyana Pancheva. 2006. Implicit arguments. In Martin Everaert & Henk Van Riemsdijk (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, Volume 2, 554–584. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Bogal-Allbritten, Elizabeth. 2016. Building meaning in Navajo. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Brillman, Ruth. 2014. Gapped degree phrases are improper movement constructions. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ms.Google Scholar

  • Brody, Michael. 1993. θ-theory and arguments. Linguistic Inquiry 24. 1–23.Google Scholar

  • Bruening, Benjamin. 2014. Defects of defective intervention. Linguistic Inquiry 45. 707–719.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1964. Current issues in linguistic theory. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1973. Conditions on transformations. In Stephen Anderson & Paul Kiparsky (eds.), A Festschrift for Morris Halle, 232–286. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1977. On wh-movement. In Peter Culicover, Thomas Wasow & Adrian Akmajian (eds.), Formal syntax, 71–132. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1981. Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1982. Some concepts and consequences of the theory of government and binding. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: The framework. In Roger Martin, David Michaels & Juan Uriagereka (eds.), Step by step: Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, 89–155. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Epstein, Samuel. 1984. Quantifier-pro and the LF representation of PROarb. Linguistic Inquiry 15. 499–505.Google Scholar

  • Faraci, Robert. 1974. Aspects of the grammar of infinitives and for-phrases. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Fleisher, Nicholas. 2013. On the absence of scope reconstruction in tough-subject A-chains. Linguistic Inquiry 44. 321–332.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Fleisher, Nicholas. 2015. Rare-class adjectives in the tough-construction. Language 91. 73–108.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Geach, Peter. 1972. A program for syntax. Synthese 22. 3–17.Google Scholar

  • Gluckman, John. 2016. Taking time with tough-movement. Handout of talk presented at the Linguistic Society of America 2016 Annual Meeting.

  • Hartman, Jeremy. 2011. Intervention in tough-constructions. In Suzi Lima, Kevin Mullin & Brian Smith (eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 39), 387–397. Amherst, MA: GLSA.Google Scholar

  • Hartman, Jeremy. 2012a. (Non-)Intervention in A-movement: Some cross-constructional and cross-linguistic consequences. Linguistic Variation 11. 121–148.Google Scholar

  • Hartman, Jeremy. 2012b. Varieties of clausal complementation. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Hicks, Glyn. 2009. Tough-constructions and their derivation. Linguistic Inquiry 40. 535–566.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hornstein, Norbert. 2001. Move! A minimalist theory of construal. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Jacobson, Pauline. 1999. Towards a variable-free semantics. Linguistics and Philosophy 22. 117–184.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kennedy, Christopher. 2013. Two sources of subjectivity: Qualitative assessment and dimensional uncertainty. Inquiry 56. 258–277.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kratzer, Angelika. 1981. The notional category of modality. In H. J. Eikmeyer & H. Rieser (eds.), Words, worlds, and contexts, 38–74. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Kratzer, Angelika. 1996. Severing the external argument from its verb. In Johan Rooryck & Laurie Zaring (eds.), Phrase structure and the lexicon, 109–137. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar

  • Kratzer, Angelika. 2006. Decomposing attitude verbs. Talk given in honour of Anita Mittwoch. Jerusalem: The Hebrew University.Google Scholar

  • Landau, Idan. 2000. Elements of control: Structure and meaning in infinitival constructions. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar

  • Lasersohn, Peter. 2005. Context dependence, disagreement, and predicates of personal taste. Linguistics and Philosophy 28. 643–686.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lasnik, Howard & Robert Fiengo. 1974. Complement object deletion. Linguistic Inquiry 5. 535–571.Google Scholar

  • Lebeaux, David. 1984. Anaphoric binding and the definition of PRO. In Charles Jones & Peter Sells (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 14), 253–274. Amherst, MA: GLSA.Google Scholar

  • Lees, Robert B. 1960. A multiply ambiguous adjectival construction in English. Language 36. 207–221.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Longenbaugh, Nicholas. 2015. Difficult movement. Handout from talk presented at the 46th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 46).

  • McGinnis, Martha. 1998. Locality in A-movement. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Moulton, Keir. 2009. Natural selection and the syntax of clausal complementation. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Moulton, Keir. 2015. CPs: Copies and compositionality. Linguistic Inquiry 46. 305–342.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nissenbaum, Jon. 2000. Investigations of covert phrase movement. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Nissenbaum, Jon & Bernhard Schwarz. 2011. Parasitic degree phrases. Natural Language Semantics 19. 1–38.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Partee, Barbara. 1977. John is easy to please. In Antonio Zampolli (ed.), Linguistic structures progressing, 281–312. Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar

  • Poole, Ethan. 2015. An argument for implicit arguments. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ms.Google Scholar

  • Postal, Paul. 1971. Cross-over phenomena. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar

  • Postal, Paul & John R. Ross. 1971. ¡Tough movement si, tough deletion no! Linguistic Inquiry 2. 544–546.Google Scholar

  • Pylkkänen, Liina. 2002. Introducing arguments. Cambridge, MA: MIT Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Rezac, Milan. 2006. On tough-movement. In Cedric Boeckx (ed.), Minimalist essays, 288–325. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Rosenbaum, Peter S. 1967. The grammar of English predicate complement constructions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Ross, John R. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Stephenson, Tamina. 2007. Towards a theory of subjective meaning. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Stephenson, Tamina. 2010. Control in centred worlds. Journal of Semantics 27. 409–436.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sæbø, Kjell Johan. 2009. Judgment ascriptions. Linguistics and Philosophy 32. 327–352.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Torrego, Esther. 1996. Experience and raising verbs. In Robert Freidin (ed.), Current issues in comparative grammar, 101–120. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar

  • Williams, Edwin. 1983. Semantic vs. syntactic categories. Linguistics and Philosophy 6. 423–446.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2017-10-03

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 34, Issue 2, Pages 295–329, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2017-0003.

Export Citation

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

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Eva Klingvall
Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 2018

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in