6 The verb movement parameter

Old version (Fall 2006) - current version here

As we saw in Chapter 4, tense in English can be expressed in one of two ways.1 The future tense is expressed by will, which precedes the verb and is a free morpheme; that is, it can be separated from the verb and stand alone.

(1) a.   We will never watch that show.
b.   (Will you watch that show?) We will.
c. * We watch will that show.

The past tense, on the other hand, is expressed by a bound morpheme, ordinarily the suffix -ed, which combines with the verb to form a morphologically complex word.

(2) a. * We -ed never watch that show.
b. * (Did you watch that show?) We -ed.
c.   We watch-ed that show.

This dual expression of tense is typical of the Germanic language family, to which English belongs. In all of these languages, the future is expressed analytically (as two separate words), whereas the past is mostly2 expressed synthetically (as a single morphologically complex word).

The syntactic structure for sentences presented in Chapter 4, according to which they are projections of I, provides a structural locus for the free tense morpheme and is therefore straightforwardly compatible with the analytic expression of tense. On the strength of the analogous semantic contribution of free and bound tense morphemes to the meaning of English sentences, we extended the IP analysis to the synthetic past tense. This extension receives further support from the fact that in languages like French, the future tense is synthetic, yet semantically equivalent to its analytic English counterpart. Representing all sentences uniformly as IPs does, however, raise the question of how tense in I and the verb in V merge to form a complex word when tense is expressed synthetically. In this chapter, we present two ways in which this merger can come about: either V moves to I (verb raising) or I moves to V (tense lowering). Both types of merger are instances of a more general process of head movement, by which one syntactic head adjoins to another, forming a complex head that subsumes both simple ones. Given theoretical assumptions that are beyond the scope of this introductory textbook, it is possible to recast tense lowering in a way that assimilates it to verb raising. The idea is that the verb moves up the tree in both cases, but that this upward movement is visible only in some cases (verb raising) and invisible in others (tense lowering). Anticipating this reformulation, we refer to the choice between verb raising and tense lowering as the verb movement parameter.

In addition to presenting the basic facts of verb raising and tense lowering, we discuss a closely related and important topic in the grammar of English: the do support that is found in sentences negated with not (cf. He doesn't like okra with *He not likes okra). We then review crosslinguistic evidence that verb raising is linked (in ways that are still not fully understood) to the overt expression of subject-verb agreement, and we discuss the process by which the loss of agreement morphology in a language can result over time in the loss of verb raising. The chapter concludes with a case study of the verb movement parameter and related issues in the history of English. As we will see, the diachronic interplay of the principles of Universal Grammar with several contingent language-particular developments has resulted in the intricate web of facts related to the verb movement parameter that characterizes modern standard English.

Verb raising: V movement to I

The French future tense

As we mentioned, the merger of tense and the verb when tense is expressed synthetically can take place in two directions: either the verb moves up to the tense morpheme, or the tense morpheme moves down to the verb. We begin with the verb raising case. In this connection, it is informative to consider the future tense in French, which is formed by attaching suffixes to a verb's infinitive.

(3)     Future tense of
chanter 'to sing'
Present tense of
avoir 'to have'

je chanter-ai 'I will sing' j'ai 'I have'
tu chanter-as 'you.sg will sing'        tu as 'you.sg have'
il, elle chanter-a 'he, she will sing' il, elle a 'he, she has'
nous chanter-ons 'we will sing' nous avons 'we have'
vous chanter-ez 'you.pl will sing' vous avez 'you.pl have'
ils, elles chanter-ont 'they will sing' ils, elles ont 'they have'

As is evident from (3), the future tense affixes are nearly identical to the present tense forms of the verb avoir 'to have', the only difference being that the affixes are truncated in the first and second person plural by comparison to the full two-syllable forms of avoir. This correspondence suggests that the future tense in French developed via a semantic shift from 'they have to V' to 'they will V'.3 In addition, and more immediately relevant for the present discussion, the originally free forms of avoir were reanalyzed as bound morphemes.4 The analytic roots of the synthetic French future tense thus indicate that the two ways of expressing tense (analytic or synthetic) are not just semantically parallel, but that they are also not as unrelated morphologically as they seem to be at first glance. In particular, what the French case suggests is that bound tense morphemes can project syntactic structure on a par with free tense morphemes. The elementary trees for the future tense suffixes in (3) are then as in (4).

(4) a.       b.     c.     d.     e.     f.

Given these elementary trees, sentences like (5) can be derived as follows.

Nous chanter-ons une chanson.
we   sing    fut a   song
'We will sing a song.'

We begin with the elementary tree for the verb chanter in (6a) and substitute it as the complement of the elementary tree for the future tense marker to yield the structure in (6b).

(6) a.       b.  
Elementary tree for chanter Substitute (6a) in elementary tree
of future tense suffix (4d)

The synthetic future tense form can then be created by moving the verb and adjoining it to the left of the tense morpheme. This is shown in the step-by-step derivation in (7).

(7) a.       b.       c.  
Select target of adjunction Clone target of adjunction Attach V as left daughter of higher clone

The remaining steps of the derivation are identical to the ones that would be required to derive the corresponding English sentence We will sing a song. These steps (substitution of the subject and object arguments and subject movement) are shown in (8).

(8) a.       b.  
Substitute arguments Move subject

Our use of adjunction in building morphologically complex words differs in certain respects from our earlier use of it, as summarized in (9). In particular, our present use of adjunction is combined with movement, a fact that is highlighted by the term head movement. Nevertheless, adjunction consists of the same formal operation in both cases: selecting a target of adjunction, cloning it, and attaching a suitable constituent as a daughter of the higher clone.

(9)     Use of adjunction for ... Modification Head movement

Adjunction structure represents Semantic relation
(between modifier and modifiee)
Morphological relation
(between stem and affix)
Target of adjunction Intermediate projection Head
Adjoined constituent Maximal projection Head
Movement involved? No Yes

The order of verbs and adverbs in French

The facts of French presented so far are actually consistent not only with an analysis according to which V raises to I, but also with one in which I lowers to V. However, there is evidence in favor of the verb raising analysis that is based on the order of verbs and adverbs (Emonds 1978).

As illustrated in (10)-(12), there are certain adverbs in French (in italics) that must ordinarily precede the main verb of a sentence (in boldface), rather than follow it.

(10) a.  
Elle va   à peine travailler trois heures.
she  goes hardly   work        three hours
'She is going to hardly work three hours.'
Mon ami    va   complètement perdre la  tête.
my  friend goes completely    lose    the head
'My friend is going to completely lose his head.'
Je vais presque oublier mon nom.
I  go   almost   forget   my  name 
'I'm going to almost forget my name.'
(11) a. * Elle va travailler à peine trois heures.
b. * Mon ami va perdre complètement la tête.
c. * Je vais oublier presque mon nom.
(12) a. * Elle va travailler trois heures à peine.
b. * Mon ami va perdre la tête complètement.
c. * Je vais oublier mon nom presque.

Be sure to focus on the French grammaticality judgments, especially in (12). Adverbs don't necessarily behave syntactically like their translation equivalents, as highlighted by the grammaticality contrast in (i).
(i) a. * perdre la tête complètement
b. ok lose one's head completely

These word order facts reflect the fact that the adverbs in question must adjoin to the left of V', as shown schematically in (13), rather than to the right.


In reading the following discussion, bear in mind that our focus is not on the distribution of adverbs per se. In particular, we are not claiming that all, or even most, adverbs left-adjoin to V' in French; in fact, there are many that right-adjoin. Rather, the idea is that we will use the particular subset of adverbs that left-adjoin to V' as a diagnostic tool to determine the position of finite verbs in French.

Participles behave analogously to infinitives, as shown in (14)-(16).

(14) a.  
Elle avait à peine travaillé trois heures.
she  had   hardly   worked     three hours
'She had hardly worked three hours.'
Mon ami    a   complètement perdu la  tête.
my  friend has completely    lost   the head 
'My friend completely lost his head.'
J'avais presque oublié   mon nom.
I had   almost   forgotten my  name 
'I had almost forgotten my name.'
(15) a. * Elle avait travaillé à peine trois heures.
b. * Mon ami a perdu complètement la tête.
c. * J'avais oublié presque mon nom.
(16) a. * Elle avait travaillé trois heures à peine.
b. * Mon ami a perdu la tête complètement.
c. * J'avais oublié mon nom presque.

Moreover, the negative marker pas behaves like an adverb in French.5

(17) a.
Nous allons (ne) pas écouter la  radio.
we   go      NE  not  listen   the radio
'We are going not to listen to the radio.'
b. *
Nous allons (ne) écouter pas la radio.
c. *
Nous allons (ne) écouter la radio pas.
(18) a.
Nous (n') avons pas écouté la radio.
we    NE  have  not  listened the radio
'We haven't listened to the radio.'
b. * Nous (n') avons écouté pas la radio.
c. * Nous (n') avons écouté la radio pas.

However, when the the main verb of the sentence is finite, the adverb-verb order that is obligatory with infinitives and participles is ungrammatical.

(19) a. *
Elle à peine travaillera trois heures.
she  hardly   work.fut      three hours
'She will hardly work three hours.'
b. *
Mon ami    complètement perdra   la  tête.
my  friend completely    lose.fut  the head
'My friend will completely lose his head.'
c. *
Je presque oublierai mon nom.
I  almost  forget.fut  my  name
'I will almost forget my name.'
d. *
Nous (ne) pas écouterons la radio.
we    NE  not listen.fut   the radio
'We won't listen to the radio.'

Instead, the adverb must follow the verb, although it still cannot follow the entire V'.

(20) a.   Elle travaillera à peine trois heures.
b. Mon ami perdra complètement la tête.
c. J'oublierai presque mon nom.
d. Nous (n') écouterons pas la radio.
(21) a. * Elle travaillera trois heures à peine.
b. * Mon ami perdra la tête complètement.
c. * J'oublierai mon nom presque.
d. * Nous (n') écouterons la radio pas.

We can make sense of these facts if we continue to assume that the adverbs under discussion adjoin to the left of V' regardless of the finiteness of the verb that they modify. This gives the correct adverb-verb order for infinitives and participles, and it also immediately explains the ungrammaticality of (21). The contrast between (19) and (20) follows straightforwardly as well if finite verbs move to I to merge with the tense morpheme, as shown in (22).

(22) a.       b.  

Under an analysis according to which I lowers to V, it is difficult to see how the contrast between (10) and (11) on the one hand and that between (19) and (20) on the other could be handled in a principled way. It is these contrasts that lead us to conclude that V raises to I in French, rather than that I lowers to V.

As (23) and (24) show, the adverb facts for other simple tenses in French are parallel to those for the future tense.

(23) a.  
Elle travaillait à peine trois heures.
she  work.imperf   hardly   three hours
'She used to hardly work three hours.' 
Mon ami    perd     complètement la  tête.
my  friend lose.pres completely    the head
'My friend completely loses his head.'
J' oublie     presque mon nom.
I  forget.pres almost   my  name
'I am almost forgetting my name.'
Nous (n') écoutions   pas la  radio.
we    NE  listen.imperf not the radio
'We weren't listening to the radio.'
(24) a. * Elle à peine travaillait trois heures.
b. * Mon ami complètement perd la tête.
c. * Je presque oublie mon nom.
d. * Nous (ne) pas écoutions la radio.

On the strength of this evidence, we extend the verb raising analysis to these other tenses as well.

Tense lowering: I movement to V

The order of verbs and adverbs in English

Let's now turn to English and investigate simple-tense verbs, using exactly the same diagnostic that we did in French - namely, the position of adverbs. As in French, certain adverbs in English obligatorily precede nonfinite verbs.

(25) a. They will { always, never } apply.
b. They have { always, never } applied.
c. They are { always, never } applying.
(26) a. * They will apply { always, never. }
b. * They have applied { always, never. }
c. * They are applying { always, never. }

But unlike French, these adverbs precede the main verb of a sentence even when the verb is finite.

(27) a.   They { always, never } applied.
b. * They applied { always, never. }

The ungrammaticality of (27b) means that the verb raising analysis that is successful for French cannot be extended to English. But recall the second option that we mentioned earlier: that tense and the verb might merge in the other direction, by means of I lowering onto V. The simplest way of implementing this idea would be to have -ed project an elementary tree, as in (28a). The past tense marker would then take a VP complement, as shown in (28b), and rightward adjunction of the tense marker to the verb would result in the structure in (28c).

(28) a.       b.       c.  
Elementary tree for bound morpheme Substitute VP in (28a) Lower tense morpheme from I to V
Unsatisfactory analysis

But although such an analysis would allow us to derive regular past tense verbs, it doesn't extend to irregular past tense forms like brought, sang, taught, and so on. In order to derive both regular and irregular past tense forms in a uniform way, we will therefore assume a silent past tense morpheme as in Chapter 4. It is this silent morpheme that lowers onto the verb. A question that remains open is the exact form of the verb that merges with tense. On the one hand, V might dominate a form that is already inflected for past tense, as in (29a). On the other hand, V might dominate the bare form of the verb, as in (29b).

(29) a.       b.  

The idea is that structures like (29b) are passed on to a morphological component of the grammar, which contains rules for how to spell out the terminal nodes of syntactic structures. According to these rules, the past tense morpheme in English is ordinarily spelled out as -ed. With irregular verbs, however, it is the entire combination of verb and tense that is spelled out in more or less idiosyncratic fashion. Thus, the regular watch + [past] is spelled out as watched, whereas the irregular sing + [past] is spelled out as sang. Although the choice between the two approaches in (29) is not completely straightforward, we prefer the second approach for the following reason. According to the first approach, the morphological component of the grammar generates verb forms bearing certain properties, or features, including tense. These verb forms then project elementary trees in the syntax that combine with other elementary trees, possibly yielding ungrammatical structures. For instance, a present tense I might take a VP complement headed by a past tense form. In order to rule out structures with such feature mismatches, it would be necessary to institute a special checking procedure, either as part of tense lowering itself or as a sort of quality control on the structures resulting from it. The second approach avoids the need for such a procedure. The idea is that terminal nodes dominated by V contain no tense features of their own, thus eliminating the possibility of feature mismatches in the syntax. When the syntactic structures are passed on to the morphological component, the tense-verb combinations are simply spelled out appropriately according to the morphological rules of the language.

Note, incidentally, that a morphological component is necessary not just in tense-lowering languages like English, but in verb-raising languages like French as well. As discussed in the previous section, the future tense in French is formed for regular verbs by combining the future tense morpheme with a verb's infinitive. In the case of irregular verbs, however, what combines with the tense morpheme is not the infinitive, but a special stem. For instance, the future tense of être 'to be' is formed with the stem ser-, yielding the future tense forms je ser-ai 'I will be', tu ser-as 'you will be', and so on. The approach in (29b) can be extended to this case straightforwardly. The idea is that in a syntactic structure like (30), the morphological rules of French spell out the terminal nodes être + -ai as serai rather than as *êtrai.


Do support in English

In this section, we turn to an apparently idiosyncratic and quirky consequence of the fact that English has tense lowering - namely, the do support that is necessary in sentences negated with not. In order to clearly show the conditions under which do support takes place, we will contrast sentences containing not with ones containing other negative elements, such as never, which don't require do support.

In vernacular English, never often functions as simple sentence negation, without its literal meaning of not ever.

(31) a.     Did you get a chance to talk to Tom at the party?
b. i. Nope, I never did.
ii. Nope, I didn't.

But despite their functional equivalence in contexts like (31), the negative elements not and never exhibit a striking syntactic difference: not obligatorily triggers do support, whereas never doesn't. (All forms of do in this section are to be read without emphatic stress.)

(32) a. * He not applied.
b. He { did not, didn't } apply.
(33) a. He never applied.
b. * He did never apply.

In order to explain this puzzling fact, we will develop an analysis of do support that relies on two main ideas: first, that never and not are integrated into the structure of English sentences in different ways, and second, that Universal Grammar allows tense lowering (and head movement more generally) only under certain structural conditions.6

A syntactic difference between never and not. As shown in (34), never is intransitive and hence a maximal projection in its own right, whereas not is transitive and hence a head, rather than a complete phrase.

(34) a.       b.  

There are several pieces of evidence for this distinction. The first comes from negative inversion, a construction reminiscent of the so am I construction discussed in Chapter 2 in connection with the constituenthood of adjective phrases. (35a) shows an ordinary negative sentence, and (35b) shows its negative inversion counterpart, in which the negative constituent (in boldface) has moved to the beginning of the sentence, and the subject (underlined) has inverted with the auxiliary (in italics).

(35) a.   They would appreciate no present more than another novel by Wodehouse.
b.   No present would they appreciate more than another novel by Wodehouse.

We discuss the structure of sentences with inversion in Chapter 13.

An important property of this construction is that the material preceding the auxiliary must be a maximal projection. Thus, in contrast to the DP no present in (35b), the head of the DP, the negative determiner no, cannot undergo negative inversion on its own.

(36)   * No would they appreciate present more than another novel by Wodehouse.

Bearing in mind this fact about negative inversion, consider the canonical and negative inversion sentences in (37).

(37) a.   They will never tolerate this mess.
b.   Never will they tolerate this mess.

(38) illustrates the beginning of the derivation of (37a). (38a) is the structure for the positive sentence corresponding to (37a) (where irrelevant, we omit the internal structure of maximal projections). Adjoining never as a verbal modifier then yields (38b).

(38) a.       b.  

As noted earlier, we discuss the structure for sentences with inversion in Chapter 13, but what is important for now is that never in the canonical variant is a maximal projection, and hence a candidate for negative inversion.

Now consider the not variant of (37a) in (39).

(39)     They will not tolerate this mess.

Making the reasonable assumption that I can take either NegP or VP complements, we can give (39) the structure in (40).


Given this structure, not on its own is not a maximal projection, and so not, like no but unlike never, should not be able to undergo negative inversion. As (41) shows, this expectation is confirmed.

(41)   * Not will they tolerate this mess.

A second piece of evidence for the status of not (and its variant n't) as a head comes from the fact that it optionally raises and adjoins to I, forming a complex head that can exhibit morphological irregularities. For instance, shall-n't and will-n't are spelled out as shan't and won't, respectively. Such irregularities are typical of what is possible when two heads combine. Although the direction of movement is different, we have seen comparable examples in connection with irregular past tense forms in English, where the combination of two heads like sing and [past] is spelled out as sang. Other well-known examples of the same phenomenon include the idiosyncratic spell-outs for preposition-determiner combinations like those in (42).

(42) a. French
de + le > du;  de + les > des;  à + le > au;  à + les > aux
of   the.m.sg  of   the.pl      to  the.m.sg  to  the.pl
b. German
an + dem > am;     in + dem > im;     zu + dem > zum;    zu + der > zur
to   the.m.dat.sg  in   the.m.dat.sg  to   the.m.dat.sg  to   the.f.dat.sg
c. Italian
con + il > col;  in + il > nel;  su + il > sul
with  the.m.sg   in   the.m.sg   on   the.m.dat.sg

A constraint on tense lowering. We turn now to the second piece of our solution to the puzzle presented by the contrast between (32) and (33), repeated here as (43) and (44).

(43) a. * He not applied.
b. He { did not, didn't } apply.
(44) a. He never applied.
b. * He did never apply.

The idea is that tense lowering (though not verb raising) is subject to the locality condition in (45).

(45) a.   When a head A lowers onto a head B, A and B must be in a local relation in the sense that no projection of a head distinct from A and B intervenes on the path of branches that connects A and B.
b.   An element C, C distinct from A and B (and projections of A and B), intervenes between two elements A and B iff A (or some projection of A) dominates C and C (or some projection of C) dominates B.

It is important to understand that intervention is defined not in terms of linear precedence, but in terms of the structural relation 'dominate.' This means that the place to look for whether the locality condition in (45) is satisfied or violated is not the string of terminal nodes beginning with A and ending with B, but the path of branches that connects A with B in the tree.

The structure for (44a) is given in (46). In this structure, tense lowering is consistent with the locality condition in (45), since adjoining never at V' results in the adverb being too low in the tree to intervene between I and V. (In other words, AdvP isn't on the green path from I to V.)


In the structure in (47a), on the other hand, tense lowering violates the locality condition because the red projections of Neg intervene on the path between I and V, indicated in green. As a result, only the do support variant of (47a) is grammatical, which is shown in (47b). Although the intermediate and the maximal projections of Neg intervene between I and V in (47b) as well, forms of do, being free morphemes, don't need to lower onto the verb. Since the locality constraint is a constraint on tense lowering, not a constraint on syntactic trees in general, (45) is irrelevant and hence not violated in (47b).

(47) a.       b.  

Cues for the acquisition of verb raising

In this section, +d and +t stand for the Icelandic characters eth and thorn, which represent the voiced and voiceless 'th' sounds in this, eth and thin, thorn, respectively.

Our discussion so far has treated movement from V to I and from I to V as two symmetrical parametric options provided by Universal Grammar. However, the languages in which the two options have been studied in greatest detail - the Germanic and Romance languages - suggest that they are ranked and that it is the V-to-I option that is preferred, all other things being equal.7

Of course, we need to take into account that in this case, as in life generally, all other things aren't equal. Among the Germanic and Romance languages, we can distinguish two groups, which have to do with the expression of subject agreement on finite verbs.8 All of these languages resemble English in distinguishing three grammatical persons and two grammatical numbers (singular and plural). In principle, therefore, a language might have six (= 3 x 2) distinct agreement morphemes, one for each person-number combination. In languages like Italian and Spanish, this is exactly what we find, and French makes up to four distinctions. In Germanic, no language makes six distinctions, but Icelandic makes up to five and Yiddish makes four. The agreement paradigms for these rich agreement languages are illustrated in (48). Square brackets enclose material that is silent.

We focus on the number of distinctions that are made in speech, because that is what children hear. They only learn to read and write later on, once language acquisition is virtually complete.

(48)     Verb paradigms in rich agreement languages

Italian Spanish French Icelandic Yiddish
'I speak' 'I speak' 'I will speak' 'I say' 'I say'

1 sg parl-o habl-o parler-ai seg-i zog
2 sg parl-i habl-as parler-a[s] seg-ir zog-st
3 sg parl-a habl-a parler-a seg-ir zog-t
1 pl parl-iamo habl-amos parler-on[s] segj-um zog-n
2 pl parl-ate habl-áis parler-e[z] seg-i+d zog-t
3 pl parl-ano habl-an parler-on[t] segj-a zog-n

By contrast, the mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) exhibit no agreement morphology at all, even with a verb like 'be', which in English preserves agreement distinctions that are not expressed elsewhere in the language. For ordinary verbs, English expresses only one distinction in the present tense and none at all in the past tense. (49) gives some paradigms for these poor agreement languages.

(49)     Verb paradigms in poor agreement languages

Danish Swedish English
'I throw' 'I am' 'I throw' 'I am' 'I throw' 'I am'

1 sg kaster er kaster är throw am
2 sg " " " " " are
3 sg " " " " throw-s is
1 pl " " " " throw are
2 pl " " " " " "
3 pl " " " " " "

In rich agreement languages, tense merges with the verb in the same way as we have already seen for French; that is, the verb (in boldface) raises to I and hence precedes adverbs and negation (in italics). This is illustrated for Icelandic and Yiddish in (50) and (51). The examples are in the form of subordinate clauses because main clauses in Germanic introduce a complication - briefly mentioned for Dutch and German in Chapter 5 and discussed in detail in Chapter 13 - that eclipses verb movement to I.

(50) a. Icelandic  
a+d  Jón keypti { ekki, aldrei, raunverulega } bókina
that Jón bought   not   never   actually       book.def
'that Jón { didn't buy, never bought, actually bought } the book'
b. Yiddish  
az   zey  redn ( nit, avade,    mistome } mame-loshn
that they speak  not  certainly probably  mother-tongue
'that they { don't, certainly, probably } speak Yiddish'
(51) a. * a+d Jón { ekki, aldrei, raunverulega } keypti bókina
b. * az zey { nit, avade, mistome } redn mame-loshn

In poor agreement languages, on the other hand, tense merges with the verb by lowering onto it, just as in English (in those contexts that don't require do support); in this case, the finite verb follows adverbs and negation. (52) and (53) illustrate this for Danish and Swedish.

(52) a. Danish  
at   Peter { ikke, ofte } drikker kaffe  om morgenen
that Peter   not   often  drinks  coffee in morning.def
'that Peter { doesn't drink, often drinks } coffee in the morning'
b. Swedish  
att  Ulf { inte, faktiskt } köpte boken
that Ulf   not   actually   bought book.def
'that Ulf { didn't buy, actually bought } the book'
(53) a. * at Peter drikker { ikke, ofte } kaffe om morgenen
b. * att Ulf köpte { inte, faktiskt } boken

We note in passing that the syntax of sentences containing negation is simpler in mainland Scandinavian than it is in English. Negation patterns like other adverbs, and mainland Scandinavian has no do support. This is consistent with the status of sentence negation in Scandinavian as a maximal projection, as evidenced by its ability to participate in negative inversion.9

(54) a. Swedish
Inte vet  jag var   hon bor.
not  know I   where she lives
'I don't know where she lives.'
b. Icelandic
Ekki veit ég hver  hun byr.
not  know I  where she lives

We know of no rich agreement languages in which I lowers to V. Related to this is the fact that languages that lose rich agreement also tend to lose verb movement to I over time. Although we do not know why this correlation between richness of agreement and verb raising should hold, it suggests that children acquiring a language prefer the parametric option of verb raising over the tense lowering alternative, but only if they are able to detect sufficient cues for it in the sentences that they hear. In Germanic and Romance, the cues for the verb raising option are twofold: on the one hand, richness of agreement, and on the other, the word order that results from verb raising (finite verb > adverb). If the language being acquired has rich agreement, then the cues for the verb raising option are extremely robust. This is because virtually every sentence that the child hears contains the agreement cue, which is further reinforced by the word order cue in those sentences that contain adverbs. Under these conditions, children acquire the verb raising option without difficulty. On the other hand, given a language with poor agreement and without cues from word order, the idea is that children are simply unable to acquire the verb raising option.

What happens in a language in which agreement is being lost? In such a language, agreement first becomes variable (that is, some sentences contain agreement, whereas other do not) and then is lost entirely. Thus, the cues from rich agreement become less frequent over time, and children acquiring the language become increasingly dependent on the word order cue. But since not every sentence contains adverbs of the relevant sort, the cues for the verb raising option in a language that is losing rich agreement are nowhere near as robust as in a language with stable rich agreement. This means that although it is possible in principle for children to acquire the verb raising option, at least some children might acquire the tense lowering option instead (all other things being equal). Such children would no longer produce sentences in which the finite verb precedes the adverb. Instead, they would produce adverb-verb orders, which are errors from the point of view of the verb raising grammar, but the only option that the tense lowering grammar generates. Thus, the relative frequency of the word order cue would decrease yet further, in turn decreasing the chance of other children acquiring the verb raising option. Such a feedback mechanism would predict an overall tendency over time for the verb raising option to disappear from the language. During a period of transition, the old parametric option might continue to be used alongside the new one - for instance, in formal usage. But for speakers who have acquired the tense lowering option in early childhood, the verb raising option would never be as natural as tense lowering, and so the new parametric option would tend to supplant the old one even in formal usage.

It is possible to track these developments in some detail in the history of the Scandinavian languages. In Swedish, agreement begins to be lost in the 1400s, and the earliest examples of tense lowering are from the late part of that century. During a transition period from 1500 to 1700, both verb raising and tense lowering are attested, sometimes even in the same text (as in the (b) examples in (55) and (56)).

(55) a. Verb raising
at   Gudz  ord  kan ey  vara j  honom
that God's word can not be   in him
'that God's word cannot be in him'
när  thet är ey  stenoghth
when it   is not stony
'when it is not stony'
(56) a. Tense lowering
om den  dristigheten än  skulle wara onågigtt uptagen
if that boldness     yet would  be   amiss    taken
'if that boldness would yet be taken amiss'
wm annar   sywkdom ey  krenker nokon
if another illness not afflict  someone
'if someone isn't afflicted with another illness'

Finally, after 1700, the verb raising option in Swedish dies out completely.

The geographically more isolated Faroese seems to be at the very tail end of the same change. Agreement has weakened in Faroese, and speakers do not ordinarily produce verb raising sentences. However, when asked to give grammaticality judgments, many speakers accept both word orders in (57), characterizing the verb raising variant in (57b) as archaic.

(57) a. Tense lowering (vernacular)  
Hann spur, hvi tad   ikki eru fleiri tilikar samkomur.
he   asks  why there not  are  more  such    gatherings
'He asks why there aren't more such gatherings.'
b. Verb raising (archaic) Hann spur, hvi tad eru ikki fleiri tilikar samkomur.

Interestingly, there is at least one dialect of Swedish, the dialect of Älvdalen, that has retained agreement (the paradigm for kasta 'throw' is: 1, 2, 3 sg kast-ar, 1 pl kast-um, 2 pl kast-er, 3 pl kast-a). In this dialect, as we might expect, verb raising is the only option, and tense lowering, unlike in standard Swedish, is ungrammatical.

(58) a.
um du  for int gar  ita ia firi   brado
if you get not done this   before breakfast
'if you don't get this done before breakfast'
fast die  uar int ieme
if   they were not home
'if they weren't home'
ba   fo dye  at   uir uildum int fy      om
just because that we  would  not follow  him
'just because we wouldn't follow him'

Verb raising and related issues in the history of English

In this section, as in the previous one, +d and +t stand for the characters eth and thorn, which were borrowed from Scandinavian and used in Old and Middle English to represent the voiced and voiceless 'th' sounds in this, eth and thin, thorn, respectively. +g stands for the Middle English character yogh, which represents 'g' or 'y'.

This section gives a brief review of the history of the verb movement parameter in English.10 As we will see, this part of the grammar of modern English is the culmination of one of the most complicated chapters in the entire history of the language, and it reflects several distinct but interlocking developments, which include:

The loss of verb raising

In Middle English, the period of the language that lasted from about 1150 to 1500, verbs exhibited roughly as much person-number agreement as in modern French, as illustrated in (59). Silent letters are enclosed in square brackets.

(59)     Verb tense paradigms in two dialects of Middle English and two tenses of French

Southern Midlands French 'I sing' French 'I will sing'
1 sg sing-e sing-e chant-[e] chanter-ai
2 sg sing-est sing-est chant-[es] chanter-a[s]
3 sg sing-e+t sing-e+t chant-[e] chanter-a
1 pl " sing-en chant-on[s] chanter-on[s]
2 pl " " chant-e[z] chanter-e[z]
3 pl " " chant-[ent] chanter-on[t]

Given its richness of agreement, we would expect Middle English to exhibit verb raising, and so it did. As the examples in (60)-(62) show, the finite verb moved to I across both adverbs and negation, just as it does in French, Icelandic, and Yiddish.

(60) a. always   he weneth alwey that he may do thyng that he may nat do. (CMCTMELI,222.C1.193)
'he always thinks that he can do things that he can't do'
b. for +te Britons destroiede alwai +te cristen peple +tat seynt Austyne hade baptisede (CMBRUT3,98.2954)
'for the Britons always killed the Christians that St. Austin had baptized'
c. +te +gong man resortyd alwey to +te preste (CMKEMPE,57.1270)
'the young man always resorted to the priest'
(61) a. never   for God ... +geue+t neuer two tymes to-geder (CMCLOUD,20.115)
'for God ... never gives two times together'
b. and y ne11 sei+g neuer +te ry+gtful for-saken (CMEARLPS,44.1879)
'and I have never seen (lit. saw never) the righteous forsaken'
c. and Engist ... ne knew neuer bifore +tat Lande. (CMBRUT3,55.1621-1622)
'and Engist ... never knew that land before.'
d. he thought he sawe never so grete a knyght (CMMALORY,180.2433)
'he thought he had never seen so great a knight'
e. for +tey synneden neuere. (CMWYCSER,234.204)
'for they never sinned.'
(62) a. not This emperour Claudius was so obliuiows +tat, sone aftir he had killid his wyf, he asked why sche cam not to soper. (CMCAPCHR,49.535)
'This emperor Claudius was so oblivious that, soon after he had killed his wife, he asked why she didn't come to supper.'
b. He mad eke a precept +tat no Jew into Jerusalem schuld entre, but Cristen men he forbade not +te entre. (CMCAPCHR,52.605-606)
'He also made a law that no Jew should enter into Jerusalem, but he did not forbid Christians from entering (lit. the entry).'
c. Ich ne hidde nou+gt +ty mercy (CMEARLPS,49.2106)
'I did not hide thy mercy'
d. Bott I sawe noght synne. (CMJULNOR,60.289)
'But I did not see sin.'
e. but he wythdrowe not hir temptacyon (CMKEMPE,16.321)
'but he did not withdraw her temptation'
f. but Balyn dyed not tyl the mydnyghte after. (CMMALORY,69.2360)
'but Balyn didn't die till the midnight after.'

In the course of Middle English, several syntactic developments took place that culminated in the complex grammar of modern English with respect to the verb movement parameter. First, by 1500, the beginning of Early Modern English, the agreement system of Middle English was simplified, and as we would expect given what we know of the history of Scandinavian, verb raising was lost as well. For instance, between 1475 and 1525, the frequency of verb raising dropped from roughly 65% to 10%. In the case of adverbs, the loss of verb raising simply led to the modern word order adverb > finite verb, as is evident from the translations for (60) and (61). But the effects of the loss of verb raising in the case of negation were quite a bit more complicated and involved two further changes: a change in the status of not and the emergence of do support. We discuss these changes in turn.

A change in the status of not

Negative inversion. There is good evidence that in early Middle English not was an ordinary adverb on a par with never and French pas. Like never and negative phrases throughout the history of English, it could undergo negative inversion.

(63) a.  
&   nohht ne stannt itt stille (CMORM,I,125.1080)
and not   NE stood  it  still
'and it didn't stand still'
Acc nohht ne mihht itt oppnenn hemm +Te +gate off heoffness blisse (CMORM,I,142.1172)
and not   NE might it  open    them the gate  of  heaven's  bliss
'and it could not open the gate of heaven's bliss for them'

In the absence of further developments, we would therefore expect the loss of verb raising in ordinary sentences to result in a word order change from verb > not to not > verb, as happened in mainland Scandinavian. However, in contrast to negation in Scandinavian, not in the course of Middle English went from being an ordinary adverb to being a head (recall the discussion of its status as a head in connection with our discussion of do support). As a result, the modern English counterparts of (63) are ungrammatical (as we already illustrated in (41)).

(64) a. * Not did it stand still.
b. * Not could it open the gates of heaven's bliss for them.

Adjunction to I'. There is a further piece of evidence that not changed from a phrase to a head in the course of Middle English. In early Middle English, not could adjoin not just to V', but also to I'.

(65) a.  
+da +tinges +de  hie  naht ne scolden +giuen. (CMVICES1,139.1728)
the things  that they not   NE should   give
'the things that they shouldn't give'
+Tatt Jesuss nohht ne wollde Ben borenn nowwhar i  +te land (CMORM,I,122.1053)
that  Jesus  not    NE wanted  be  born   nowhere in the land
'that Jesus did not want to be born anywhere in the land'

In this respect, not resembled never and other adverbs, which have preserved this ability to this day, as shown in (66).12

(66) a. Middle English   he swore +tat Saxones neuer shulde haue pees ne reste (CMBRUT3,69.2090)
'he swore that the Saxons never should have peace or rest'
b. Modern English   He { always, never } will admit his shortcomings.

However, in contrast to the other adverbs, not lost the ability to adjoin to I' in the course of Middle English, with the result that the counterparts of (65) are ungrammatical in Modern English.

(67) a. * the things that he not should give
b. * that Jesus not would be born anywhere in the land

The emergence of do support

The reanalysis of not from an ordinary adverb to a head was essentially complete by 1400,13 and shortly thereafter, the first examples of the contracted form n't are attested, as we might expect. Agreement began to weaken around this time. What consequences did this have for children acquiring sentences containing not in early Middle English? On the one hand, the rich agreement cues for verb raising were weakening, but on the other hand, tense lowering was impossible in sentences containing not given that not was a head. In other words, in the absence of any other developments, the loss of verb raising in sentences containing not would have resulted in a situation in which children were acquiring a grammar unable to generate ordinary negative sentences!

One can imagine a number of different resolutions to such an impasse, each of them representing a particular possible accident of history. For instance, speakers might have begun using the adverb never to take over the function of the negative head not. In fact, this did happen in the vernacular, as we saw in (31), but it never became the only way of expressing negation. Alternatively, children might have managed to acquire verb raising solely on the strength of the word order cue in sentences containing not. The idea is that these sentences might have become particularly salient because of the impossibility of their verb lowering counterparts. As we will see, this actually happened in connection with the auxiliary verbs have and be. In the case of ordinary verbs, however, what actually happened in the history of English was something that depended on an unrelated development in the language that had taken place in the 1200s: the development of the verb do into an auxiliary element.

Like many languages, Middle English had a construction involving a causative verb and a lower verb, in which the lower verb's agent could be left unexpressed.14 We first illustrate this construction, which has since been lost from English, for French and German in (68). The causative verb is in boldface, and the lower verb is in italics.

(68) a. French
Edouard a   fait assembler une grande armée.
Edward  has made assemble  a   great  army
'Edward had a great army assembled.'
(lit. 'Edward had (someone) assemble a great army.')
b. German
Eduard ließ ein großes Heer versammeln.
Edward let  a   great  army assemble
'Edward had a great army assembled.'

In Middle English, two different causative verbs were used in this construction depending on the dialect. The East Midlands dialect use do, as illustrated in (69), whereas the West Midlands dialect used make. In other words, the West Midlands equivalent of (69a) would have been (using modern spelling) Edward made assemble a great host.

(69) a. Middle English (East Midlands)   Edwarde dede assemble a grete hoste (CMBRUT3,112.3380_ID)
'Edward had a great army assembled'
b. This Constantin ded clepe a gret councel at Constantinople (CMCAPCHR,81.1484)
'This Constantine had a great council called at Constantinople'
(lit. 'This Constantine had (someone) call a great council at Constantinople')
c. He ded make fer+tingis and halfpenies, whech were not used before (CMCAPCHR,128.2962)
'He had farthings and halfpennies made, which weren't used before'
(lit. 'He had (someone) make farthings and halfpennies')

Now in many discourse contexts, causative sentences like He had a great army assembled are used more or less interchangeably with simple sentences like He assembled a great army. As a result, in situations of dialect contact, it was possible for West Midlands speakers (those with causative make) to misinterpret sentences with causative do from the East Midlands dialect as just another way of saying a simple sentence. Based on this misinterpretation, they might then themselves have begun to use do, but as an auxiliary verb bleached of its causative content rather than as a causative verb (for which they would have continued to use their own make). Since the border between the East and West Midlands dialects runs diagonally through England, the chances of dialect contact and of the reinterpretation and adoption of do as an auxiliary verb were good. In any event, it is West Midlands speakers who first used do as an auxiliary verb. Once the auxiliary use was established, it could then have spread to other dialects, especially in big cities like London, where people came from many different dialect backgrounds and where dialect distinctions were leveled as a result.

What is important from a syntactic point of view is that auxiliary do occurred rarely before 1400. However, when agreement weakened and verb raising began to be lost, auxiliary do was increasingly pressed into service since it allowed negative sentences to be generated by the verb lowering grammar.

The emergence of modals

Auxiliary do must either have entered the language as a modal (that is, a member of the syntactic category I), or have been reanalyzed as one very early on, since if it had been a V, it would have had to combine with tense and thus would have run afoul of exactly the locality constraint that it actually helped to circumvent. In any event, auxiliary do was one of a growing number of modals in Middle English that developed out of an earlier class of auxiliary verbs. Historically, these so-called premodals belonged to a special class of verbs with morphological peculiarities, and some of them were already syntactically special from the very beginning of Middle English. For instance, the forerunners of must and shall never occur as nonfinite forms in Middle English. Children acquiring these two premodals would therefore have had no evidence that they moved from V to I as opposed to belonging to the category I, and so they might already have been modals in early Middle English.

Consider now the effect of the loss of verb raising on the status of any premodals that were still members of the syntactic category V. In particular, consider a structure like (70) (we assume that the premodals, just like modals, took VP complements).


In the outgoing verb raising grammar, the finite modal can combine with tense even in the presence of negation because verb raising is not subject to the locality constraint on tense lowering. For examples like (71), this yields a schematic derivation as in (72).

(71)     sho wil noht do it (CMBENRUL,31.1035)
'she will not do it'

(72) a.       b.       c.  

The reason that we represent the verb as raising first to Neg and then I, rather than as skipping Neg and raising directly to I, is because Middle English allows questions like (73), where the negated verb inverts as a constituent with the subject.

(73)     Wil noht sho do it?

In the incoming tense lowering grammar, structures containing not are ordinarily rescued by do support. But in contrast to sentences containing ordinary verbs, do support in a structure like (72) might plausibly have been ruled out on the grounds that auxiliary do inherited a constraint from causative do that is given in (74).

(74)     The complement of a causative construction cannot be headed by an auxiliary element (a premodal, modal, or auxiliary verb like have or be).

Notice that the constraint on causative verbs in (74) is not specific to Middle English; its effects in modern English and German are illustrated in (75) and (76). The causative verb is in italics, and auxiliary elements are in boldface.

(75) a. No auxiliary   The coach had the players run.
b. Auxiliary * The coach had the players be running.
c. * The coach had the players have run.
(76) a. No auxiliary  
Der Trainer ließ die Spieler laufen.
the coach   had  the players run.
'The coach had the players run.'
b. Auxiliary *
Der Trainer ließ die Spieler am     Laufen  sein.
the coach   had  the players at.the running be
'The coach had the players be running.'
c. *
Der Trainer ließ die Spieler gelaufen sein.
the coach   had  the players run.part be
'The coach had the players have (lit. be) run.'
d. *
Der Trainer ließ die Spieler laufen { können, wollen. }
the coach   had  the players run      be.able want
'The coach had the players { be able, want } to run.'

Again, various ways out of this impasse are conceivable. For instance, the constraint in (74) might have been relaxed for auxiliary do. What actually happened, however, was that any remaining premodals were reanalyzed as modals along the lines of must, shall, and auxiliary do. The schematic structure for (72) after the reanalysis is shown in (77).


After this reanalysis, sentences like (78), with nonfinite forms of premodals like cunnen and mowen, both meaning 'be able to', ceased to be possible in English (at least in the standard language).

(78) a. he schuld cun best rede +te booke (CMKEMPE,4.52)
'He should be able to read the book best.'
b. I shal not conne wel goo thyder (CMREYNAR,14.261)
'I won't be able to go there easily.'
c. and hij shul nou+gt mow stonde (CMEARLPS,19.764)
'and he shall not be able to stand'
d. Noo man shall mow resyst thy power in all thy lyfe. (CMFITZJA,A3R.28)
'No man shall be able to resist your power in all your life.'

Remnants of verb raising in modern English

Despite the overall loss of verb raising in the history of English, verb raising is still possible with two verbs in English, have and be. These two verbs, which did not belong to the premodals, have functioned as both auxiliary verbs and main verbs throughout the history of the language. The two uses are illustrated for modern English in (79) and (80); auxiliaries are in boldface and main verbs are underlined. For more detailed discussion of the morphological and syntactic properties of have and be, see Modals and auxiliary verbs in English.

(79) a. Auxiliary verb Perfect I have read that chapter.
b. Progressive I am reading that chapter.
c. Passive That material is treated in the next chapter.
(80) a. Main verb: I have that book.
b. This chapter is difficult.

We begin by considering these verbs as auxiliaries in structures like (81) (we assume for simplicity that the elementary trees for auxiliary verbs don't have specifiers, but the assumption isn't crucial in what follows).


As just discussed in connection with modals, tense lowering is impossible in a structure like (81) because not intervenes between tense and the verb, nor can the structure be rescued by auxiliary do given the constraint suggested in (74). This is exactly the situation in which the premodals were reanalyzed as instances of I. In the case of the premodals, this reanalysis was possible because hardly any of them ever occurred as nonfinite forms. But an analogous reanalysis in the case of auxiliary verbs was precluded because nonfinite auxiliary have and be occurred very often in Middle English. Some examples are given in (82) and (83); again, the auxiliary verbs are in boldface and the main verbs are underlined. In addition, the element in I (modal or premodal), which guarantees the nonfiniteness of the auxiliary verb, is in italics.

(82) a.   y shulde haue axede of here no more (CMBRUT3,19.563)
'I should have asked no more of her'
b. and after he wolde haue conquerede al Scotland and Walys (CMBRUT3,23.687)
'and afterwards he would have conquered all Scotland and Wales'
c. And Gutlagh wolde haue went into his countree (CMBRUT3,25.729)
'And Gutlagh would have gone into his country'
(83) a. Bot euensang sal be saide wid foure salmes (CMBENRUL,18.626)
'But evensong shall be said with four psalms'
b. the wordes of the phisiciens sholde been understonden in this wise (CMCTMELI,226.C2.365)
'the words of the physicians should be understood in this way'
c. A sone, Josias bi name, schal be born to the hous of Dauith (CMPURVEY,I,13.518)
'A sone, Josias by name, shall be born to the house of David'

Again, of course, various ways of resolving this impasse are conceivable. For instance, the constraint preventing do from occurring with auxiliary elements might have been relaxed. However, what actually happened in the history of English is that children acquired the verb raising option with precisely these two lexical items. As a result, the order of auxiliary have and be with respect to negation in modern English parallels that in French.

English French
(84) a. Verb raising We have not read the book.
Nous (ne) avons pas lu   le  livre.
we    NE  have   not  read the book
b. We are not invited.
Nous (ne) sommes pas invités.
we    NE  are     not  invited
(85) a. No verb raising * We (do) not have read the book. * Nous (ne) pas avons lu le livre.
b. * We (do) not be invited. * Nous (ne) pas sommes invités.

(86) schematically illustrates the derivation of the English examples. (86a) is identical to (81), and as in the analogous structure for modals in (70), the verb raises to I via Neg.

(86) a.       b.       c.  

Let us now turn to the main verb uses of have and be. We begin with have. Because of the homonymy of main verb have and auxiliary have, main verb have for a time behaved syntactically like auxiliary have, raising from V to I and otherwise exhibiting the syntactic behavior of a modal, as illustrated in (87).

(87) a. Negation without do support   He hasn't any money; you haven't any wool.
b. Question formation without do support   Has he any money; have you any wool?

In present-day usage, however, the pattern in (87) has become archaic in American English and is on the wane even in British English. It has been replaced by the pattern in (88), where main verb have exhibits the syntax of an ordinary verb, not that of a modal.15, 16

(88) a. Negation with do support He doesn't have any money; you don't have any wool.
b. Question formation with do support Does he have any money; do you have any wool?

Finally, we consider main verb be, which exhibits richer agreement than any other verb in English. Strikingly, it is also the only main verb in English that continues to raise to I.

(89) a. No do support This chapter isn't difficult.
b. Is this chapter difficult?
(90) a. Do support * This chapter doesn't be difficult.
b. * Does this chapter be difficult?


1. In what follows, we focus on the past tense since the present tense is not overtly marked at all in English. The -s of the third person singular expresses subject agreement rather than present tense (Kayne 1989).

2. Yiddish and the southern German dialects from which it developed are exceptions in this regard. In these languages, the synthetic simple past has been completely replaced by the analytic present perfect (Middle High German ich machte 'I made' > Yiddish ikh hob gemakht, literally 'I have made').

3. A very similar shift occurred in English from 'they have to V' to 'they must V'. Such semantic shifts, with concomitant changes in morphological status (see Note 4), are very common across languages.

4. Such reanalysis might be the source of much, if not all, inflectional morphology. In many cases, especially in languages that are not written, the sources of the inflections would be obscured by further linguistic changes, primarily phonological reduction. Consider, for instance, the development of the future tense in Tok Pisin, an English-based contact language that originated in the 1800s and that has become the national language of Papua New Guinea. In current Tok Pisin, particularly among speakers who learn it as a first language, the future marker is the bound morpheme b-. We are fortunate to have written records of Tok Pisin from the late 1800s, and so we happen to know that this morpheme is the reflex of the adverbial phrase by and by, which the earliest speakers of Tok Pisin frequently used to indicate future tense. Without these records, a derivation of b- from by and by would be speculation at best.

5. Historically, the negative marker in French was ne, and pas, literally 'step', was an intensifier without negative force of its own. Modern English has comparable intensifiers, as in I don't want to do it { one bit, at all. } In the course of the history of French, ne, being phonologically weak, was often elided in speech, and pas was reanalyzed as carrying negative force. In modern French, ne is characteristic of the formal language, and in some spoken varieties, such as Montreal French, ne hardly ever occurs. In the present discussion, we disregard ne, treating it as an optional, semantically meaningless particle.

6. Do support raises some of the thorniest problems in English syntax, and no completely satisfactory analysis of it exists as yet. So although our analysis is adequate to explain the contrast between (32) and (33), it does not address many other puzzling facts that have been discovered in connection with do support.

7. The discussion in this section is based on data and ideas in Barnes 1992, Falk 1993, Holmberg and Platzack 1995, Platzack 1988, Roberts 1993, and Vikner 1995.

8. In what follows, we do not consider verb-final languages like German or Dutch. Evidence for verb movement to I in these languages would have to come from adverbs that right-adjoin to V', with the finite verb then moving rightward across the adverb. However, for reasons that are not yet understood, right-adjunction to V' does not seem to possible in verb-final languages.

9. For some reason, negation cannot participate in negative inversion in Danish, perhaps because it cannot bear prosodic stress.

10. The discussion in this section is based on data and ideas in Frisch 1997, Kroch 1989, Roberts 1993, Rohrbacher 1993, and the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English, second edition (Kroch and Taylor 2000a).

11. Early Middle English had a negative particle ne, etymologically cognate with French ne and syntactically comparable to it. See Note 5. The Middle English particle was lost between 1200 and 1400.

12. The possibility of adjoining adverbs to I' complicates the assignment of structures to sentences with adverb-verb word order once verb raising begins to be lost. This is because they could be instances of the old verb raising grammar, with the adverb adjoined at I', or instances of the new verb lowering grammar, with the adverb adjoined at either I' or V'. In any particular sentence, it isn't possible to tell which is the right structure. But in a corpus of sentences, it is possible to correct for the complication introduced by the possibility of adjunction to I', because the frequency of adjunction to I' has remained stable from Early Middle English until today (about 15% with never). This means that frequencies of adverb-verb order appreciably over 15% in a corpus can reliably be attributed to the verb lowering grammar.

13. Not continued to be available as an adverb with a low frequency into the 1600s. The evidence for this is the existence, though rare, of negative sentences in Early Modern English of the modern mainland Scandinavian type, with not preceding a finite verb, as in (i).

(i) a. they deafe mens' eares, but not edify.
b. he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him.
c. Safe on this ground we not fear today to tempt your laughter by our rustic play.

These sentences are linguistic hybrids in the sense that they contain the adverbial not characteristic of early Middle English, but instantiate the tense lowering parameter characteristic of modern English. As the use of adverbial not finally dies out completely in the 1600s, so do sentences of the type in (i).

14. A construction related to the agentless causative construction discussed in the text that was retained a bit longer in the history of English is that in (i).

(i) a.   They heard say that the English had won the battle of Agincourt.
'They heard someone say that ..., they heard it said that ...'
b.   They heard tell of the wages of sin.
'They heard someone tell ...'

The construction in (i.a) survives in the nominalized form hearsay.

15. The syntactic divergence between auxiliary and main verb have is exactly comparable to that between auxiliary and main verb do.

16. The replacement of (87) by (88) is complicated by the existence in both American and British English of the have got pattern illustrated in (i), where have serves as an auxiliary verb rather than as the main verb. Sutherland 2000 studies the competition among all three variants (have with and without do support and have got) in both dialects of English.
(i) a. He hasn't got any money; you haven't got any wool.
b. Has he got any money; have you got any wool?

Exercises and problems

Exercise 6.1

Using the grammar tool in
verb movement, build structures for the Middle English sentences in (1).

A note on spelling: u and v were used interchangeably in Middle English.

The data raise certain issues beyond the ones concerning verb movement. For instance, is never before a constituent? Is such a determiner or an adjective? What about numerals? Solve the issues as best you can, and briefly describe the issues and justify your solutions. Assume that you can bring evidence from Modern English (or other languages, for that matter) to bear on the structures you are building for the Middle English sentences.

(1) a.   Engist knew neuer before +tat lande
'Engist never before knew that land.'
b.   she saide she had neuer company of man worldely
'She said that she never had the company of any worldly man.'
c.   Seynt Edmond vsyd euer after that prayer to his lyvys ende
'Saint Edmund afterwards always used that prayer till the end of his life.'
d.   sche had euyr mech tribulacyon tyl sche cam to Iherusalem
'She always had much tribulation till she came to Jerusalem.'
e.   I knewe never such two knyghtes
'I never knew two such knights.'
f.   thes two gyauntes dredde never knyght but you
'These two giants never feared any knight but you.'

Exercise 6.2

So-called mandative verbs, such as require and suggest (but not say or think), take subjunctive complement clauses.

(1) a. I will require that he { come, *comes, *came. }
b. I required that he { come, *comes, *came. }

The structure for the grammatical alternative in (1a) is given in (2).


Is the subjunctive element that heads these complement clauses a silent tense element or a silent modal (corresponding roughly to should)? Explain. Take into account the facts in (1) and (3), the results of negating the complement clauses in (1) and (3), and any other facts that you find relevant.

(3) a. I will say that he { *drive, drives, drove } a Mazda.
b. I said that he { *drive, drives, drove } a Mazda.

Exercise 6.3

A. Using the grammar tool in verb movement, according to which not is a head that takes any syntactic category as its complement, build two structures for (1) that are both consistent with the locality condition on tense lowering discussed in this chapter. (Don't build structures for the material in parentheses.)

(1)     She not only wrote the letter (but she sent it).

B. Now build a structure for (2).

(2)     She didn't only write the letter (but she sent it).

Be sure that the structures you build for (1) and (2) are consistent with the contrast in (3).

(3) a. * She not wrote the letter.
b. She didn't write the letter.

Exercise 6.4

African American English (AAE) distinguishes two instances of be: so-called habitual be, the focus of this exercise, and ordinary be. Both types of be can be used as main verbs or auxiliaries. We pose the exercise after describing the semantic and morphological differences between the two types of be. The data are based on Green 1998.

Habitual be has no counterpart in standard English. It is used to describe situations that are generally true, as illustrated in (1).

(1) a. Main verb   The coffee be nasty at that joint.
'The coffee is always/usually bad at that place.'
b. Auxiliary The baby be sleeping when they call.
'The baby is always/usually sleeping/asleep when they call.'

Ordinary be resembles standard English be in its use.

Unlike be in standard English, ordinary be can be silent in the present tense in AAE, as indicated by the parentheses in (2). In this respect, AAE resembles languages like Hebrew and Russian. Habitual be cannot be silent. We mention these facts for completeness only. For the purposes of the exercise, disregard the silent option.

(2) a. Main verb   This coffee (is) nasty.
'This coffee is bad.' (as a one-time occurrence)
b. Auxiliary   The baby (is) sleeping.
'The baby is sleeping.' (now)

The two types of be also differ morphologically, as shown in (3).

(3)     Ordinary be Habitual be

I am be
you is "
he/she/it " "
we " "
y'all " "
they " "

Given the facts in (1)-(3) and the further fact in (4), take a stab at what the emphatic, negated, and interrogative versions of (1) are. Assume that the grammars of AAE and standard English are identical unless you are forced to assume the contrary by the facts in (1)-(4).

(4)     Assume that AAE, unlike standard English, doesn't have person agreement in the present. In other words, AAE has I, he played; I, he play; I, he did; I, he do.

Exercise 6.5

A. Explain the grammaticality contrast in (2). If necessary, invent a new syntactic category for so to belong to.

(1)   A (challenging B):   You're lying; you didn't go to the movies.
(2) a. B (responding to the challenge):   I did so go to the movies.
b. B: * I so went to the movies.

B. Does the so in (2) have the same syntactic properties as the so in (3)? Explain briefly.

(3)     So did I.

Exercise 6.6

One of the Korean sentences in (1) is ungrammatical because it violates a principle of Universal Grammar. Which sentence is it, and why is it ungrammatical? If you wish, you can use the grammar tool in Korean negation to build structures for the sentences in (1).

Assume that hay-essta is a morphologically simple head of category I (despite containing the same -essta as mek-essta).

The case morphemes for nominative and accusative case are included for completeness. Disregard them for the purposes of the exercise.

The data are somewhat simplified in that they do not reflect a syntactic process called scrambling. As a result, native speakers of Korean will find more than one of the sentences in (1) unacceptable.

(1) a.  
Chulswu-ka  pap -ul  mek-essta.
Chulswu-Nom meal-Acc eat-Past
'Chulswu ate the meal.'
Chulswu-ka  pap -ul  mekci ani hay-essta.
Chulswu-Nom meal-Acc eat   not do -Past
'Chulswu did not eat the meal.'
Chulswu-ka  pap -ul  mek-essta ani.
Chulswu-Nom meal-Acc eat-Past  not
'Chulswu did not eat the meal.'
Chulswu-ka  an  pap-ul   mek-essta.
Chulswu-Nom not meal-Acc eat-Past
'Chulswu did not eat the meal.'

Problem 6.1

You are an archaelogist living in the 31st century C.E., and your work involves deciphering and analyzing linguistic relics from an ancient North American empire. The oldest sentence types that you have, from the very beginning of the 21st century, are illustrated in (1) and (2).

(1) a.   He is never late.
b.   He isn't late.
(2) a.   She never regretted her extravagances.
b.   She didn't regret her extravagances.

Based on data for the verb be, given in (3)-(5), there is evidence of three later stages of the language (not necessarily presented in chronological order).

(3) a.   He never bees late.
b.   He doesn't be late.
(4) a.   He bees never late.
b.   He bees not late.
(5) a.   He never bees late.
b.   He not bees late.

There are only two sentence types attested in connection with ordinary verbs, the type in (2) and that in (6) (where (6a) is identical to (2a)).

(6) a.   She never regretted her extravagances.
b.   She not regretted her extravagances.

A. What are the properties of the grammmars that generate the sentence types in (3)-(5)? Is it possible to arrange the grammars in chonological order? Explain briefly. (The radiocarbon dating machine or whatever archaeologists are using in the 31st century to date the media bearing the sentences has gone on the blink, and so you are forced to arrange the data based in internal linguistic evidence alone.)

B. Which of the variants in (2) and (6) goes with which of the variants in (3)-(5)? Explain briefly.

Problem 6.2

In the analysis presented in the text, adverbs like pas 'not' obligatorily left-adjoin to V', and the order finite verb - adverb is derived by moving the finite verb leftward across the adverb. An alternative analysis is conceivable in principle, which dispenses with verb movement, and according to which adverbs like pas can either left-adjoin or right-adjoin to verbal projections. Assess the relative merits of the analysis presented in the text and the alternative analysis just described.

Problem 6.3

Certain English dialects, including dialects in the southern United States, allow the so-called double modal construction illustrated in (1).

(1) a.   I might can come to your party
b.   I might could come to your party

The second modal in the construction is essentially restricted to can or could. Propose an analysis of the construction.