The Syntax of Thetic Statements in English

  • Ana Ojea Universidad de Oviedo


This article offers a formal approach to thetic statements in English that focuses on the structural mechanisms available in this language to express a reading of this sort. I explain the opposition categorical/thetic as the result of two alternative ways to value discourse intention [DI], a core intentional feature (CIF) which signals the point of departure of the proposition. This feature is standardly accessed at the phonological component in English, but I argue that it may also be valued through syntactic means, in particular through the insertion of a language particular category, LocP, which serves a double purpose: 1) to keep the subject low in the verbal phrase while still complying with the Extended Projection Principle (EPP); and, 2) to allow a locative phrase to value [DI]. This way, the grammar maintains a balance between the interface need to express a nonpredicative assertion and the computational requirement to have a preverbal subject. I also show how presentational there-sentences and so-called locative inversion (LI) structures result from the structural possibilities opened in LocP, thus offering an analysis that accounts for the similarities and differences between the two constructions in a principled way.

Author Biography

Ana Ojea, Universidad de Oviedo
Ana Ojea is Associate Professor in the Department of English, French and German Philology at the University of Oviedo, where she teaches courses on English syntax from a generativist perspective and postgraduate seminars on contemporary linguistic theories. Her research focuses on syntax, contrastive grammar and first language acquisition, and she has published articles on these topics in high-impact academic journals. She is currently investigating the interface between syntax and information structure and the role of informational features in linguistic variation.


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