Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 1–30

On null operator structures

  • Heles Contreras

DOI: 10.1007/BF00993019

Cite this article as:
Contreras, H. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (1993) 11: 1. doi:10.1007/BF00993019


This paper presents a unified account of null operator structures, based on the hypothesis that the categorial status of empty categories (ECs) in A′ positions is determined by free assignment of the features [±a(naphor)] and [±p(ronominal)], essentially as suggested by Brody (1984) for ECs in A-positions. In so-called predicational structures, the null operator is ungoverned and can only surface as [+p]. As expected, it can be locally A-bound or discourse-licensed, just like argument PRO orpro. Null operators in adjunct clauses with parasitic gaps are governed, and can surface as [−a, −p] or [−a, +p]. The properties of these structures are only compatible with the assignment of the features [−a, −p]. This suggests that even though no general principle blocks [−a, +p] as a governed null operator, there are no licensing conditions for this category.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heles Contreras
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Linguistics GN-40University of WashingtonSeattle

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