Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 405–443 | Cite as

On the syntactic category of pronouns and agreement

  • Elizabeth Ritter


This paper provides support for the claim that there are two functional projections in full noun phrases, Determiner Phrase (DP) and Number Phrase (NumP), based on an analysis of the dual marker in Modern Hebrew. The assumption of two nominal functional categories permits a structural account of differences in the distribution of elements that function as first/second person pronouns and those that function as third person pronouns. It is hypothesized that 1st/2nd person pronouns are DPs which contain only the head D and that this head is specified for person, number and gender. In contrast, 3rd person pronouns have a more complex structure, where D is specified for person and Num is specified for number and gender. Similarities between past tense agreement and 1st/2nd person pronouns on the one hand and between present tense agreement and 3rd person pronouns on the other suggest that the same nominal functional categories that act as pronouns also act as agreement. In other words, the difference between pronouns and agreement lies not in their category, but in their role in the syntax. Finally, this view of pronouns and agreement is applied to complex null subject phenomena in Modern Hebrew. In order to account for the fact that the distribution of null subjects varies across persons and across tenses, we propose a matching condition on both the category and content of the null pronoun and agreement.


Artificial Intelligence Functional Category Noun Phrase Matching Condition Syntactic Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Ritter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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