Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 731–773 | Cite as

Particle verbs and benefactive double objects in English: high and low attachments

Original paper


This paper analyzes verbs that can enter into a transitive (The students wrote a lab report), benefactive double object (The students wrote their professor a lab report) and particle verb (The students wrote up a lab report) construction. The analysis is situated within the Distributed Morphology framework. It argues for the presence of a small clause structure only in the particle verb construction and not in the benefactive construction; the particle merges directly with the Root while the benefactive possessive element merges with an already categorized verb. The benefactive differs from the better researched dative in that the dative does involve a caused possession small clause structure. Particle verbs can occur in double object constructions, but they involve a benefactive-like syntax and not a caused possession small clause analysis. Furthermore, I argue that the Roots that underlie these verbs are relationless and underspecified with respect to meaning, supporting the idea that the functional vocabulary introduces arguments and fully specifies the meaning of the Roots. However, rather than adopting the position that an object is introduced at only one point in the derivation, this analysis shows that an object can be introduced at several different points within the derivation. Finally, this paper shows that argument merger is sensitive to the phase structure of the clause.


Particle verb Double object Dative Benefactive Distributed Morphology Argument structure Event structure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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