6 The verb raising parameter

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

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

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 free tense morphemes 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 tense forms. 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 and the verb combine to form a complex word when tense is expressed synthetically. Following much recent work, we assume that word formation takes place in the morphology, a component of the grammar that operates on structures generated by the syntax and that associates the terminal nodes in those structures with words in the traditional sense. This association is often called spellout. For instance, play and past tense are spelled out as the regular form played, whereas sing and past tense are spelled out as the irregular form sang. In this chapter, we present evidence that in some languages, the verb moves up and adjoins to I before the structure is handed over to the morphology, whereas in others, the verb remains in situ (that is, it does not move). Instead, tense moves down and adjoins to V in the morphology. We will refer to the choice between V-to-I movement in the syntax and I-to-V lowering in the morphology as the verb raising parameter. As we will show, the parametric variation correlates with systematic variation in the post-spellout position of inflected verbs.

In addition to presenting the basic facts concerning the verb raising parameter, 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 detailed case study of the verb raising 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 raising parameter that characterizes modern standard English.

Verb raising: V moves to I in the syntax

The future tense in French

As just mentioned, in certain languages, the verb moves and adjoins to Infl in the syntax. One such language is French, and we begin our discussion of the verb raising parameter by considering 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 morphologically more closely related than might appear at first glance. The elementary trees for the future tense suffixes in (3) can be schematically represented as in (4a), where the vertical bars express sets of mutually exclusive linguistic feature values (1, 2, 3 for person and sg, pl for number). (4b) instantiates the scheme for the 1st person plural.

(4) a.       b.

Given elementary trees like (4), 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 (4b) to yield the structure in (6b).

(6) a.       b.  
Elementary tree for chanter Substitute (6a) in elementary tree (4b)

The verb then moves and left-adjoins to the Infl node, as shown in (7).

(7) a.       b.  
Select I as target of adjunction Left-adjoin V to I

The remaining steps of the derivation, shown in (8), are identical to the ones that would be required to derive the corresponding English sentence We will sing a song.

(8) a.       b.  
Substitute subject and object Move subject

Finally, the structure in (8b) is handed over to the morphological component, where the combination of chanter and the future tense affix is spelled out as chanterons.

It is worth noting that our use of the adjunction operation here here differs in certain respects from our use of it in Chapters 4 and 5. The differences are summarized in (9). In particular, our use of it here is combined with movement, a fact that is highlighted by the term head movement in (9). From a purely structural point of view, however, the steps in carrying out the adjunction operation are identical in both cases: selecting a target of adjunction, cloning it, and attaching some constituent as a daughter of the higher clone.

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

Adjunction structure represents ... Semantic restriction of modifiee by modifier Morphological relation between stem and affix
Target of adjunction Intermediate projection Head
Adjoined node Maximal projection Head
Adjoined node part in tree before adjunction?
(= Movement involved?)
No Yes

The order of diagnostic adverbs and verbs in French

In reading the following section, it may be helpful to 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 to use the particular subset of adverbs that left-adjoin to V' as a diagnostic tool to determine the position of finite verbs in French.

The facts of French presented so far are consistent with a verb raising analysis, but do not provide conclusive evidence in favor of it. In other words, nothing in what we have said so far prevents the French verb from remaining in situ and not combining with tense until the morphology. In this section, we present conclusive 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 (underlined) that ordinarily precede the main verb of a sentence (in boldface), rather than follow it. (Strictly speaking, à peine is a PP; what is relevant for the purposes of the argument is not its syntactic category, but rather its syntactic distribution.)

(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.

The word order facts in (10)-(12) follow straightforwardly if we assume that the adverbs in question must adjoin to the left of V', as shown schematically in (13), rather than to the right.

As highlighted by the grammaticality contrast in (i), expressions in one language don't necessarily behave syntactically like their translation equivalents in another.
(i) a. * perdre la tête complètement
b. lose one's head completely


Participles pattern 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 to not listen to the radio.'
b. * Nous allons (n') écouter pas la radio.
c. * Nous allons (n') 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.3sg three hours
'She will hardly work three hours.'
b. *
Mon ami    complètement perdra       la  tête.
my  friend completely   lose.fut.3sg the head
'My friend will completely lose his head.'
c. *
Je presque oublierai      mon nom.
I  almost  forget.fut.1sg my  name
'I will almost forget my name.'
d. *
Nous (ne) pas écouterons     la  radio.
we    NE  not listen.fut.1pl 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.

Table 1 summarizes the facts just presented in (10)-(12) and (14)-(21).

Table 1: Adverb placement by finiteness of verb in French
AdvP > verb ... verb > AdvP ... verb > XP > AdvP
verb is nonfinite, as in (10)-(12), (14)-(18) * *
verb is finite, as in (19)-(21) * *

As already noted in connection with (10)-(12), the adverb placement facts for nonfinite verbs are straightforwardly expected under the assumption that the diagnostic adverbs left-adjoin to V'. This assumption also explains the rightmost judgment for finite verbs (the blue star in row 2). The judgments highlighted in red, which are the opposite of their green counterparts in the row above, seem puzzling at first glance. But they too follow straightforwardly if we assume that finite verbs obligatorily move to I in French, as in (22a).

(22) a.       b.  
    Verb raising yields FinV > Adv
(grammatical in French)
        No verb raising yields Adv > FinV
(ungrammatical in French)

If French did not require finite verbs to move to I, as in the hypothetical scenario represented in (22b), it is difficult to see how the contrast between the green and the red cells in Table 1 could be derived in a principled way.

As (23) and (24) show, the adverb facts for other simple tenses is parallel to those for the future tense, and it is therefore natural to extend the verb raising analysis to them as well.

(23) a.  
Elle travaillait     à peine trois heures.
she  work.imperf.3sg hardly  three hours
'She used to hardly work three hours.' 
Mon ami    perd          complètement la  tête.
my  friend lose.pres.3sg completely   the head
'My friend is completely losing his head.'
J' oublie          presque mon nom.
I  forget.pres.1sg almost  my  name
'I am almost forgetting my name.'
Nous (n') écoutions         pas la  radio.
we    NE  listen.imperf.1pl 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.

In concluding our discussion of French, we draw your attention to the fact that verb movement, just like subject movement in Chapter 4, allows us to accommodate mismatches between an item's expected position given its thematic or semantic relations and the position in which that item is pronounced. In the case at hand, assuming verb movement allows us to maintain a simple generalization concerning diagnostic adverbs (they obligatorily left-adjoin) regardless of the finiteness of the verb they modify. Perhaps even more importantly, we can maintain - regardless of the finiteness of the verb and the presence of any adverbs - the idea encoded in the X' schema that verbs and their complements are sisters. The case of nonfinite verbs presents no difficulty in this regard. But even in the case of finite verbs, where the verb-complement adjacency expected under sisterhood can be interrupted by an intervening adverb, the expected structural relation is preserved via the trace of the verb.

Tense lowering: I moves to V in the morphology

The order of diagnostic adverbs and verbs in English

Having established that French exhibits verb raising in the syntax, we now investigate the corresponding English facts, using exactly the same tool that we used in French - namely, the position of diagnostic adverbs. As in French, certain adverbs in English obligatorily precede nonfinite verbs.

(25) a. They will { almost, hardly, never } fail.
b. They have { almost, hardly, never } failed.
(26) a. * They will fail { almost, hardly, never. }
b. * They have failed { almost, hardly, never. }

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

(27) a.   They { almost, hardly, never } failed.
b. * They failed { almost, hardly, never. }

The ungrammaticality of (27b) means that the verb raising analysis that is successful for French is exactly wrong for English. Instead, English finite verbs remain in situ in the syntax and tense lowers and adjoins to V in the morphology. The syntactic input to the morphology is identical to the one that is ungrammatical in French - namely (22b), repeated here as (28). Here and in what follows, we do not explicitly indicate the morphological lowering.

    Morphological tense lowering yields Adv > V
(grammatical in English regardless of finiteness of V)

Do support in English

In this section, we turn to an apparently idiosyncratic and quirky consequence of the fact that English lacks verb raising - namely, the
do support that is necessary in sentences negated with not. In order to highlight the conditions under which do support takes place, we will contrast sentences containing not with ones containing the negative element never, which don't require do support.

In vernacular English, never often functions as a sentence negator equivalent to simple 'not', without its literal meaning of 'not ever'.

(31) a.     Did you get a chance to talk to Tom at the party?
b. Nope, I never got a chance.

But despite their functional equivalence in contexts like (31), not and never differ from each other in a striking way: 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 present 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 in the morphology 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 not a phrase on its own.

(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). (We discuss the structure of the sentences with inversion in Chapter 14.)

(35) a.   They would accept no present more happily.
b.   No present would they accept more happily.

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 accept present more willingly.

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). Adjoining never as a verbal modifier yields (38b).

(38) a.       b.  

As noted earlier, we discuss the structure for sentences with inversion in Chapter 14, 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.

Under the reasonable assumption that Infl can take either NegP or VP complements, (39) receives the structure in (40).


In 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 transitive head comes from the fact that it optionally adjoins to I, forming a complex head that can exhibit morphological irregularities. Specifically, when n't raises to shall and will, the result is spelled out as shan't and won't, respectively. Moreover, nonstandard English allows the combination of n't with various forms of the aspectual auxiliaries be and have to be spelled out as ain't. Such irregular forms are typical of what is possible when two heads combine, whether in the syntax or in the morphology. Comparable examples arise in connection with irregular past tense forms in English, where the combination of two heads like sing and past tense is spelled out as irregular sang. Other well-known examples from languages other than English include the idiosyncratic spellouts for preposition-determiner combinations like those in (42).

(42) a. French
à + le > au;   à + les > aux;   de + le > du;   de + les > des;   
to  the.m.sg   to  the.pl       of   the.m.sg   of   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
d. Portuguese
por + o > pelo
for   the.m.sg

A constraint on tense lowering in the morphology. 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 in the morphology is subject to the locality condition in (45).

(45)     When a head A lowers onto a head B in the morphology, 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.

The notion of intervene is defined as in (46).

(46)     An element C, C distinct from A and B (and projections of A and B), intervenes between two elements A and B iff (= if and only if) 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 (47). 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 part of the green path from I to V.)


In the structure in (48a), on the other hand, tense lowering would violate 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 (48a) is grammatical, which is shown in (48b). It's true that the intermediate and the maximal projections of Neg intervene between I and V in (48b) as well, but forms of do are free morphemes. Therefore, unlike tense affixes, they don't need to undergo tense lowering onto V to form a well-formed morphological word. Since (45) is a constraint on tense lowering, not a constraint on syntactic trees in general, (48b) does not violate it.

(48) a.       b.  

Cues for the acquisition of verb raising

In this section, the Icelandic characters eth (capital Ð, lowercase ð) and thorn (capital Þ, lowercase þ) represent the voiced and voiceless 'th' sounds in this, eth and thin, thorn, respectively.

Our discussion so far has treated verb raising in the syntax and tense lowering in the morphology 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 verb raising 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 (49). 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 essentially over.

(49)     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-ið 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. (50) gives some paradigms for these poor agreement languages.

(50)     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, as we have already seen for French, finite verbs raise to I and hence precede diagnostic adverbs and negation. This is illustrated for Icelandic and Yiddish in (51) and (52). As earlier, the verb is in boldface and precedes the diagnostic adverbs and negation. As usual with Germanic, 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 14 - that eclipses verb raising to I.

(51) a. Icelandic  
að   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'
(52) a. * að Jón { ekki, aldrei, raunverulega } keypti bókina
b. * az zey { nit, avade, mistome } redn mame-loshn

In poor agreement languages, on the other hand, tense lowers onto the verb in the morphology; in this case, the finite verb follows diagnostic adverbs, including simple negation. (53) and (54) illustrate this for Danish and Swedish.

(53) 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'
(54) a. * at Peter drikker { ikke, ofte } kaffe om morgenen
b. * att Ulf köpte { inte, faktiskt } boken

As the absence of do support in (53) and (54) shows, the translation counterpart of not has a different status in Mainland Scandinavian than it does in English. In particular, it is an ordinary intransitive adverb, as evidenced by the availability of negative inversion in (55a),9 and so there is no need for do support in these languages. (As (55b) shows, negation is also an ordinary adverb in Icelandic, where finite verbs move upward to Infl past ekki just as they do past pas in French.)

(55) 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 hvar  hún býr.
not  know I  where she lives

We know of no rich agreement languages with tense lowering in the morphology. Related to this is the fact that languages that lose rich agreement also tend to lose verb raising 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 in the syntax over tense lowering in the morphology, 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 instead fail to acquire it (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 tense lowering in early childhood, verb raising 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.

These developments have been tracked in some detail in the history of the Scandinavian languages. In Swedish, agreement begins to be lost in the 1400s, and the earliest tense lowering examples 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 (56) and (57)).

(56) 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'
(57) 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 ails    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 is 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 (58), characterizing the verb raising variant in (58b) as archaic.

(58) 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, verb raising is the only option, and tense lowering, unlike in standard Swedish, is ungrammatical.

(59) 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

The characters eth (capital Ð, lowercase ð) and thorn (capital Þ, lowercase þ) were borrowed from Old Norse and used in Old and Middle English where we use 'th' today. The yogh character (ȝ) was used where we use 'g' or 'y' today.

This section gives a brief review of the history of the verb raising 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:

For the purposes of the exam, you are not expected to know the full details of the present section, but only the gist of it as summarized in this box.
  • English had both verb raising and subject-verb agreement, but lost both in the course of Middle English (1150-1500).

  • Not was once an ordinary intransitive adverb like never (or the Scandinavian translation counterparts of not). Not developed into the transitive head that it is in Modern English in the course of Middle English. The development was essentially complete by 1400 (Chaucer), but intransitive uses continued to be attested into 1600 (Shakespeare).

  • Both of these developments on their own would have made sentences with not ungrammatical because tense lowering would have violated the locality condition in (45). Negative sentences were saved from ineffability by an indepedent auspicious development: the development of a modal variant of main verb do.

  • Modern (American) English still has two verbs that continue to exhibit verb raising: have and be. In the case of have, it is only auxiliary have that raises.

    (i) a. They haven't arrived.
    b. * They don't have arrived.

    Main verb have patterns like an ordinary verb and requires do support.

    (ii) a. * They haven't a car.
    b. They don't have a car.

    The situation with be is simpler: it raises regardless of whether it is an auxiliary, as in (iii), or a main verb, as in (iv).

    (iii) a. They aren't coming.
    b. * They don't be coming.
    (iv) a. They aren't fine musicians.
    b. * They don't be fine musicians.

    Resume reading at Notes.

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 (60). Silent letters are enclosed in square brackets.

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

'I sing'   
'I sing'   
'I sing'   
'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-eþ sing-eþ 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 (61)-(63) show, the finite verb moved to I across both adverbs and negation, just as it does in French, Icelandic, and Yiddish. The Middle English examples here and below are from the second edition of the Penn Parsed Corpus of Middle English (Kroch and Taylor 2000a).11

(61) 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 þe Britons destroiede alwai þe cristen peple þat seynt Austyne hade baptisede (cmbrut3,98.2951)
'for the Britons always killed the Christians that St. Austin had baptized'
c. þe ȝong man resortyd alwey to þe preste (cmkempe,57.1270)
'the young man always resorted to the priest'
(62) a. never   for God ... ȝeueþ neuer two tymes to-geder (cmcloud,20.115)
'for God ... never gives two times together'
b. and y ne seiȝ neuer þe ryȝtful for-saken (cmearlps,44.1880)
'and I have never seen (lit. not saw never) the righteous forsaken'
b. he thought he sawe never so grete a knyght (cmmalory,180.2434)
'he thought he had never seen so great a knight'
c. for þey synneden neuere. (cmwycser,234.204)
'for they never sinned.'
(63) a. not This emperour Claudius was so obliuiows þat, sone aftir he had killid his wyf, he asked why sche cam not to soper. (cmcapchr,49.534)
'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 þat no Jew into Jerusalem schuld entre, but Cristen men he forbade not þe entre. (cmcapchr,52.604-605)
'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 nouȝt þy mercy (cmearlps,49.2107)
'I did not hide your mercy' (lit. not hid not)
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,69.2361)
'but Balyn did not 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 raising 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 (61) and (62). But the effects of the loss of verb raising in the case of negation were 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.

(64) a.  
&   nohht ne stannt itt stille (cmorm,I,125.1079)
and not   NE stood  it  still
'and it didn't stand still'
Acc nohht ne mihht itt oppnenn hemm Þe  ȝate off heoffness blisse (cmorm,I,142.1171)
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 intransitive adverb to being a transitive head. As a result, as mentioned earlier in the chapter, the modern English counterparts of (64) are ungrammatical, as shown in (65).

(65) 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 an intransitive head to a transitive a head in the course of Middle English. In early Middle English, not could adjoin not just to V', but also to I'.

(66) a.  
Þatt Jesuss nohht ne wollde Ben borenn nowwhar i  þe  land (cmorm,I,122.1052)
that Jesus  not   NE wanted be  born   nowhere in the land
'that Jesus did not want to be born anywhere in the land'
ða  þinges ðe   hie  naht ne scolden ȝiuen. (cmvices1,139.1728)
the things that they not  NE should  give
'the things that they shouldn't give'

In this respect, not resembled never and other adverbs, which have preserved this ability to this day, as shown in (67).12

(67) a. Middle English   he swore þat Saxones neuer shulde haue pees ne reste (cmbrut3,69.2088)
'he swore that the Saxons never should have peace or rest'
b. Modern English   He { always, never } will admit his shortcomings.

However, as it developed from an intransitive to a transitive head, not lost the ability to adjoin to I' in the course of Middle English, with the result that the Modern English counterparts of (66) are ungrammatical, as shown in (68).

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

This is consistent with the elementary tree for Modern English not that we give it in (34b), where it is a transitive head that takes a VP complement, forcing it to appear lower in the tree than required to generate the word order in (68).

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, the new status of not as a head ruled out tense lowering in sentences containing not. In other words, in the absence of any other developments, ordinary negative sentences would have become ineffable.

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. These sentences might have become particularly salient because of the ineffability of their tense-lowering counterparts. As we will see, verb raising is preserved 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 a modal.

Like many languages, Middle English had a construction (no longer available in Modern English) 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 (69). The causative verb is in boldface, and the lower verb is in italics.

(69) 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 used do, as illustrated in (70), whereas the West Midlands dialect used make. In other words, the West Midlands equivalent of (70a) would have been (using modern spelling) Edward made assemble a great host.

(70) a. Middle English
(East Midlands)
  Kyng Edwarde dede assemble a grete hoste (cmbrut3,112.3377)
'King Edward had a great army assembled'
(lit. 'King Edward had (someone) assemble a great army.')
b. This Constantin ded clepe a gret councel at Constantinople (cmcapchr,81.1483)
'This Constantine had a great council called at Constantinople'
(lit. 'This Constantine had (someone) call a great council at Constantinople')
c. He ded make ferþingis 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 The king had a great army assembled are used more or less interchangeably with simple sentences like The king assembled a great army. (In the first case, we zoom in, as it were, on the details of the situation - the king gets someone else to do the actual legwork of assembling the army, whereas in the second case, we zoom out, ignoring the fact that the king isn't running around himself.) 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 an alternative way of saying the corresponding 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, however it came to pass, 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 the ever-increasing number of speakers with the tense lowering grammar to produce negative sentences with not.

The emergence of modals

In modern English, the do of do support is a modal (= I) rather than an auxiliary (= V) (see Modals and auxiliary verbs in English for further details concerning the distinction between modals and auxiliaries). What we have just been calling auxiliary do must either have entered the language as a modal or been reanalyzed as one early on, since as an auxiliary verb, it would have to combine with tense and would thus, in the tense lowering grammar, run afoul of exactly the locality constraint that it actually helped to circumvent. In any event, the do of do support was one of a growing number of modals in Middle English that developed out of an earlier class of auxiliary verbs. Historically, many members of this class exhibited morphological peculiarities, and some of them were already syntactically special from the very beginning of Middle English. For instance, must and shall never occur as nonfinite forms in Middle English. Children acquiring these vocabulary items (what we might call premodals) would therefore never have encountered evidence that they moved from V to I (as they do in the case of Modern English auxiiary have and be). The children might instead have assigned these items to the syntactic category I from the get-go, 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 (71) (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 morphological tense lowering. For examples like (72), this yields a schematic derivation as in (73).

(72)     yef sho wil noht do it (cmbenrul,31.1035)
'if she will not do it'

(73) 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 (74), where the negated verb inverts as a constituent with the subject.

(74)     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 (73) might plausibly have been ruled out on the grounds that modal do inherited a constraint from causative do that is given in (75).

(75)     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 (75) is not specific to Middle English; its effects in modern English and German are illustrated in (76) and (77).

(76) 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.
(77) 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 wollen.
the coach   had   the players run    want
'The coach had the players want to run.'

Again, various ways out of this impasse are conceivable. For instance, the constraint in (75) might have been relaxed for modal do. What actually happened, however, was that any remaining premodals were reanalyzed as modals along the lines of must and shall. The schematic structure for (73a) after the reanalysis is shown in (78). (Note that (78) still allows not to raise to I as a precondition for the subject-aux inversion in (74).)


After this reanalysis, sentences like (79), 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).

(79) a. he schuld cun best rede þe 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 nouȝt mow stonde (cmearlps,19.765)
'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 Modern English - namely, 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 (80) and (81); 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.

(80) 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.
(81) a. Main verb: I have that book.
b. This chapter is difficult.

We begin by considering these verbs as auxiliaries in structures like (82) (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 (82) because not intervenes between tense and the verb, nor can the structure be rescued by do support given the constraint suggested in (75). 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 they rarely occurred as nonfinite forms. But an analogous reanalysis in the case of auxiliary verbs was precluded because nonfinite auxiliary have and be were productive in Middle English (as they continue to be in Modern English). Some examples are given in (83) and (84); 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.

(83) a.   y shulde haue axede of here no more (cmbrut3,19.562)
'I should have asked no more of her'
b. and after he wolde haue conquerede al Scotland and Walys (cmbrut3,23.686)
'and afterwards he would have conquered all Scotland and Wales'
c. And Gutlagh wolde haue went into his countree (cmbrut3,25.728)
'And Gutlagh would have gone into his country'
(84) 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 son, Josias by name, shall be born to the house of David'

As in the earlier case of the development of the premodals to modals, various ways of resolving this impasse are conceivable. AgAin, 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
(85) a. Verb raising We have not read the book.
Nous (n') 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
(86) 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.

(87) schematically illustrates the derivation of the English examples. (87a) is identical to (82), and as in the analogous structure for modals in (71), we take the verb to raise to I via Neg because the entire complex head can invert with the subject in questions.

(87) a.       b.       c.  

Let us now turn to the main verb uses of have and be. For a time, main verb have behaved syntactically like auxiliary have, raising from V to I and otherwise exhibiting the syntactic behavior of a modal, as illustrated in (88).

(88) 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?

However, in present-day American English, the pattern in (88) is archaic and has been replaced by the pattern in (89), where main verb have exhibits the syntax of an ordinary verb.

(89) 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?

The replacement of (88) by (89) in American English took place from about 1800 to 1950 (Zimmermann 2017). British English usage, which was more conservative during this time, is now to some extent falling in line with American English.15

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.

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

Resume reading here.


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 comparable 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 and glossing it as NE.

6. Do support and the syntax of negation 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 is by no means intended to solve many other puzzles that have been discovered in connection with these phenomena.

7. The discussion in this section is based on data and ideas in Barnes 1992, Falk 1993, Heycock et al. 2010, 2011, 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 raising 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, and Rohrbacher 1993.

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 grammar without verb raising, 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 in a corpus that appreciably exceed 15% can reliably be attributed to the tense 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 the examples from Shakespeare 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, yet have lost verb raising, just like modern English. As adverbial not finally dies out completely in the 1600s, so do sentences of the type in (i).

14. The agentless construction discussed in the text was also attested with verbs of perception, as illustrated 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 ...'

A fossilized form of the construction is the nominalization hearsay.

15. The replacement of (88) by (89) 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

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 raising. 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 þat 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 (lit. to his life's end)'
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 suggest that he { come, *comes, *came. }
b. I suggested that he { come, *comes, *came. }

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


Is the silent subjunctive element that heads these complement clauses a bound or a free morpheme? Explain.

Exercise 6.3

A. Build a structure for (1). (Don't build structures for the material in parentheses.)

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

B. Now build a structure for (2), making sure that it is consistent with the locality constraint on head movement from the chapter.

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

C. There turn out to be two structures for (2). They are topologically distinct, but there is no semantic difference between them. What's the difference between the structure that you came up in (B) and the second structure?

Exercise 6.4

African American English (AAE) distinguishes two types of be: habitual be vs. ordinary be. Both 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.

Unlike standard English be, 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. 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)     Habitual be Ordinary be

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

The complete lack of person agreement for habitual be is consistent with the fact that AAE has generally lost person agreement in the present. In other words, AAE has { I, he } do; {I, he} play just like {I, he} did; { I, he } played.

Given the above facts, what do you expect as the emphatic, negated, and interrogative versions of the habitual be sentence in (1)?

Exercise 6.5

A. Explain the grammaticality contrast in (2), assuming the judgments as given. 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 (responding to the challenge): * I so went to the movies.

B. Some speakers accept (2b) as a response to (1). How does the grammar of such speakers differ from the grammar of speakers with the contrast in (2)?

Exercise 6.6

Given the discussion in Chapter 6 and the notes below, exactly 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 hayessta is a morphologically simple head of category I (despite apparently containing the same bound morpheme -essta as mek-essta). This is exactly parallel to the way that we treat tense on auxiliary do in English.

Korean allows only left adjunction.

The nom(inative) and acc(usative) case morphemes explicitly indicating the grammatical functions subject and object, respectively, are included for completeness. They are not important for the purposes of the exercise.

The data for this exercise 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 sentence 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 hayessta.
Chulswu nom meal acc eat   neg did
'Chulswu did not eat the meal.'
Chulswu-ka  pap -ul  mek-essta ani.
Chulswu nom meal acc eat past  neg
'Chulswu did not eat the meal.'
Chulswu-ka  an  pap-ul   mek-essta.
Chulswu nom neg meal acc eat past
'Chulswu did not eat the meal.'

Exercise 6.7

The headline in (1a) (from the May 12, 2010 issue of the Philadelphia Weekly) is a jocular variant of the nonstandard sentence in (1b). Provide structures for both expressions. Treat fightin' words as a compound noun (that is, as an N without internal structure).

(1) a.   Dems' fightin' words
b.   Dem's fightin' words.

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. (When you began your work, you were amazed that the civilization you are studying used a writing system adopted from a much earlier empire centered in the Mediterranean.) 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 regrets her extravagances.
b.   She doesn'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.

A. What are the properties of the grammmars that generate the sentence types in (3)-(5)?

B. Is it possible to arrange the grammars in chonological order based on internal linguistic evidence (that is, not using a radiocarbon dating machine or whatever archeologists are using in the 31st century)? Explain briefly.

C. For the same time period as (3)-(5), the sentence types attested with ordinary verbs are as in (2) and (6).

(6)     She not regrets her extravagances.
How do the variants in (2) and (6) line up with those in (3)-(5)? Explain briefly.

Problem 6.2

Explain the contrast in (1).

(1)     He said he would finish the project, ...
a.   and finish the project he did.
b. * and finished the project he.

Problem 6.3

A. In principle, a sentence with a subject (S), a verb (V), and an object (O) might have any of the orders shown in (1).

(1) a.   S V O       b.   S O V
c.   V S O       d.   V O S
e.   O V S       f.   O S V

Given what you know about phrase structure and verb raising, which of the orders would you expect to find among the world's languages, and which ones would you expect not to find?

B. It has been observed (though not yet satisfactorily explained) that head-initial Infl can take VP complements that are either head-initial or head-final, but that head-final Infl is required to take VP complements that are head-final themselves. What effect does this observation have on your answer to (A)?

Problem 6.4

Old English was notorious for its word order freedom, allowing word order variants beyond those that were the topic of Exercise 5.10, notably the ones in (1).

(1) a.   Beowulf Grendel will slay.
b.   The hero the monster will slay.
c.   The hero of the poem the monster's mother will slay.

How might head movement be relevant for the representation of these word orders?