Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 427–454 | Cite as

Comparative coordination vs. comparative subordination

  • Timothy OsborneEmail author
Original Paper


The paper explores the syntax of comparatives in English and German. The account builds on the insight that the syntax of comparatives is a combination of coordination and subordination. At times a than-expression is coordinate to a string that immediately precedes it, and at other times, it is subordinate to it. Six key observations are the pillars of the account. These observations accomplish three goals: 1) They determine when comparative coordination obtains, as opposed to comparative subordination; 2) they predict the form that a particular than-expression can assume (e.g. phrasal, clausal); and most importantly, 3) they predict to a large extent the distribution of than-expressions. The key concept is functional equivalence. One can predict the distribution of many than-expressions by acknowledging where they can appear with respect to their functional equivalents. The theory-neutral account remains entirely in surface syntax.


Comparatives Coordination Functional equivalence Comparative deletion 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and LiteraturesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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