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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2003, Vol. 34, No. 1, Pages 1-35
(doi: 10.1162/002438903763255913)
© 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Topic of Small Clauses
Article PDF (140.54 KB)

This article proposes that understanding the syntax and semantics of small clauses (SCs) requires understanding their topic structure. The article focuses on two observations: (a) the lack of passive for verbs that take bare infinitival complements and (b) the lack of a narrow scope interpretation for subjects raised from adjectival SCs. It shows that with bare infinitival complements, the subject of the SC is not the topic; this contrasts with adjectival SCs, where the subject must be a topic. The differences between verbal and adjectival SCs then follow. Finally, the article compares raising verbs with adjectival SC complements and raising verbs with infinitival complements, showing again that the differences in the syntax and semantics of such constructions are related to whether or not the subject of the embedded clause must be a topic.