Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 951–1013 | Cite as

Locating agreement in grammar: an argument from agreement in conjunctions

  • Rajesh BhattEmail author
  • Martin Walkow


In Hindi-Urdu, T(ense) can agree with non-overtly case-marked subjects or objects. Despite being controlled by the same head and being sensitive to the same morphological properties of the agreement target, agreement inside conjunction structures reveals differences between subjects and objects: agreement with objects is sensitive to linear proximity, while agreement with subjects is not. This difference shows itself in two sets of conjunction structures: agreement with conjoined subjects and objects, and agreement in Right Node Raising. This difference between agreement with co-ordinated subjects and objects is addressed in terms of two questions: why does object agreement not access the same features as subject agreement, and how does it access the features of the closest NP in the coordinated object. We argue that the answers to these questions show that agreement is largely syntactic, but that post-syntactic processes can be recruited for agreement when syntactic processes have failed to value agreement in the syntax. The inaccessibility of certain features to agreement with objects follows from Bhatt’s (2005) proposal that agreement with subjects assigns case, but agreement with objects is agreement with an already case-licensed argument. While T-agreement can access the ϕ-features of subjects, case assignment to the object prior to T-agreement deactivates the object’s ϕ-features so that T can match their features but is not valued by them. Post-syntactic processes use the matching relation between T and the inactive features of objects to retrieve values for T. This process is sensitive to linear proximity.


Agreement Closest conjunct agreement Post-syntactic processes Right node raising Hindi-Urdu 



We would like to thank Artemis Alexiadou, Archna Bhatia, Željko Boškovic̀, Miriam Butt, Ashwini Deo, Brian Dillon, David Embick, Peter Hook, Kyle Johnson, Pallika Kanani-Madhwani, Jim McCloskey, and the audiences at PLC (especially Tony Kroch), the Case Workshop in Konstanz (especially Ellen Brandner and Hubert Truckenbrodt), UC Santa Cruz, the Fall 2010 More Advanced Syntax class at MIT, Johns Hopkins, Yale, WCCFL 29, ZAS, and GLOW 34. We are much indebted to our reviewers and our editor Marcel den Dikken, whose combined efforts have helped to improve the exposition.


  1. Aissen, Judith. 2003. Differential object marking: iconicity vs. economy. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 21: 435–483. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anand, Pranav, and Andrew Nevins. 2006. The locus of ergative case assignment: evidence from scope. In Ergativity, emerging issues, eds. Alana Johns, Diane Massam, and Juvenal Ndayiragije, 3–25. Berlin: Springer. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aoun, Joseph, and Elabbas Benmamoun. 1999. Gapping, PF merger, and pattern of partial agreement. In Fragments: studies in ellipsis and gapping, ed. Shalom Lappin, 170–187. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chap. 7. Google Scholar
  4. Aoun, Joseph, Elabbas Benmamoun, and Dominique Sportiche. 1994. Agreement, word order and conjunction in some varieties of Arabic. Linguistic Inquiry 25: 195–220. Google Scholar
  5. Aoun, Joseph, Elabbas Benmamoun, and Dominique Sportiche. 1999. Further remarks on first conjunct agreement. Linguistic Inquiry 30: 669–681. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Asarina, Alya, to appear. Neutrality vs. ambiguity in resolution by syncretism: experimental evidence and consequences. In Proceedings of the 41th North East Linguistics Society, eds. Nicholas LaCara, Yelena Fainleib, and Yangsook Park. Google Scholar
  7. Badecker, William. 2007. A feature principle for partial agreement. Lingua 117: 1541–1565. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bahloul, Maher, and Wayne Harbert. 1992. Agreement asymmetries in Arabic. In Proceedings of the eleventh West Coast conference on formal linguistics. Google Scholar
  9. Bailey, Thomas Grahame, and Thomas Fulton Cummings. 1994. Panjabi manual and grammar: a guide to the colloquial Panjabi. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. Google Scholar
  10. Béjar, Susana. 2000. Structural markedness in formal features: deriving interpretability. Revue Québécoise de Linguistique 28: 47–72. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Benmamoun, Elabbas. 1992. Functional and inflectional morphology: problems of projection, representation and derivation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Google Scholar
  12. Benmamoun, Elabbas. 1996. Agreement asymmetries and the PF interface. SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics 6:106–128. Google Scholar
  13. Benmamoun, Elabbas, Archna Bhatia, and Maria Polinsky. 2009. Closest conjunct agreement in head final languages. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 9: 67–88. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bhatia, Archna. 2011. Agreement in the context of coordination Hindi as a case study. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Google Scholar
  15. Bhatia, Archna, and Elabbas Benmamoun. 2009. Close conjunct agreement: role of linear adjacency. Slides from 83rd Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, San Francisco. Google Scholar
  16. Bhatia, Tej K. 1993. Punjabi: a cognitive-descriptive grammar. London: Routledge. Google Scholar
  17. Bhatt, Rajesh. 2005. Long distance agreement in Hindi-Urdu. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 23: 757–807. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bhatt, Rajesh, and Veneeta Dayal. 2007. Rightward scrambling as rightward remnant movement. Linguistic Inquiry 38: 287–301. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Bobaljik, Jonathan David. 2008. Where’s phi? Agreement as a post-syntactic operation. In Phi-theory: phi features across interfaces and modules, eds. Daniel Harbour, David Adger, and Susana Béjar, 295–328. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  20. Bošković, Željko. 2009. Unifying first and last conjunct agreement. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 27: 455–496. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Butt, Miriam. 1993. Object specificity and agreement in Hindi/Urdu. In Papers from the 29th regional meeting of the Chicago linguistics society, Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society. Google Scholar
  22. Camacho, José. 2003. The structure of coordination, conjunction and agreement phenomena in Spanish and other languages. Vol. 57 of Studies in natural language and linguistic theory. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chomsky, Noam. 1995. The minimalist program. Vol. 28 of Current studies in linguistics. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  24. Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries. In Step by step: Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, eds. Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka, 89–155. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  25. Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Ken Hale, a life in language, ed. Michael Kenstowicz, 1–52. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  26. Citko, Barbara. 2004. Agreement asymmetries in coordinate structures. In Formal approaches to Slavic linguistics #12: the Ottawa meeting, Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications. Google Scholar
  27. Citko, Barbara. 2005. On the nature of merge: external merge, internal merge, and parallel merge. Linguistic Inquiry 36: 475–496. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Déchaine, Rose-Marie, and Martina Wiltschko. 2002. Decomposing pronouns. Linguistic Inquiry 33: 409–442. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Doron, Edit. 2000. VSO and left-conjunct agreement, Biblical Hebrew vs. Modern Hebrew. In The syntax of verb initial languages, eds. Andrew Carnie and Eithne Guilfoyle, 75–95. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chap. 5. Google Scholar
  30. Eisenberg, Peter. 1973. Identity of constituents. Linguistic Inquiry 4: 417–420. Google Scholar
  31. Embick, David, and Rolf Noyer. 2001. Movement operations after syntax. Linguistic Inquiry 32: 555–595. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Embick, David, and Rolf Noyer. 2006. Distributed morphology and the syntax/morphology interface. In Oxford handbook of linguistic interfaces, eds. Gillian Ramchand and Charles Reiss, 289–324. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  33. Farkas, Donka F., and Draga Zec. 1995. Agreement and pronominal reference. In Advances in Roumanian linguistics, eds. Guliemo Cinque and Giuliana Giusti, 83–101. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  34. Findreng, Ånde. 1976. Zur Kongruenz in Person und Numerus zwischen Subjekt und finitem Verb im modernen Deutsch. Oslo: Universitetsforlage. Google Scholar
  35. Gračanin Yuksek, Martina. 2007. About sharing. Doctoral Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. Google Scholar
  36. Groos, Anneke, and Henk van Riemsdijk. 1981. Matching effects in free relatives: a parameter of core grammar. In Theory of markedness in generative grammar: Proceedings of the IVth GLOW conference, eds. Adriana Belleti, Luciana Brandi, and Luigi Rizzi, 171–216. Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Google Scholar
  37. Halle, Morris, and Alec Marantz. 1993. Distributed morphology and the pieces of Inflection. In The View from Building 20: Essays in linguistics in honor of Sylvain Bromberger, eds. Ken Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser, 111–176. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  38. Harbert, Wayne, and Maher Bahloul. 2001. Postverbal subjects in Arabic and the theory of agreement. In Themes in Arabic and Hebrew syntax, 45–70. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic. Google Scholar
  39. Harley, Heidi, and Rolf Noyer. 1999. Distributed Morphology. Glot International 4: 3–9. Google Scholar
  40. Hartmann, Katharina. 1998. Right node raising and gapping, interface condition on prosodic deletion. Doctoral Dissertation, Johann Wolfgang Göthe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. Google Scholar
  41. Heycock, Caroline, and Roberto Zamparelli. 2005. Friends and colleagues: plurality, coordination and the structure of DP. Natural Language Semantics 13: 201–270. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Johannessen, Janne Bondi. 1996. Agreement and coordination. Linguistic Inquiry 27: 661–676. Google Scholar
  43. Johannessen, Janne Bondi. 1998. Coordination. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  44. Johnson, Kyle. 2007. LCA + alignment = RNR. Paper presented at Workshop on Coordination, Subordination and Ellipsis, University of Tübingen. Google Scholar
  45. Kayne, Richard S. 1994. The antisymmetry of syntax. Vol. 25 of Linguistic inquiry monographs. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  46. Kiss, Katalin É. 2010. Pattern of agreement with coordinate phrases. Presentation at SinFonIjA 3. October, 2010. Google Scholar
  47. Mahajan, Anoop Kumar. 1997a. Against a rightward movement analysis of extraposition and rightward scrambling. In Scrambling, ed. Shigeo Tonoike, 93–124. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers. Google Scholar
  48. Mahajan, Anoop Kumar. 1997b. Rightward scrambling. In Rightward movement, eds. Dorothee Beerman, David LeBlanc, and Henk C. van Riemsdijk, 185–213. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  49. Marantz, Alec. 1991. Case and licensing. In Proceedings of ESCOL ’91, eds. German Westphal, Benjamin Ao, and Hee-Rahk Chae, 234–253. Cornell Linguistics Club. Google Scholar
  50. Marušič, Franc, and Andrew Nevins. 2009. Two types of neuter: second-conjunct agreement in the presence of ‘5 and ups’. Paper presented at FASL 18. May, 2009. Google Scholar
  51. Marušič, Franc, Andrew Nevins, and Amanda Saksida. 2007. Last-conjunct agreement in Slovenian. In Annual workshop on formal approaches to Slavic linguistics: the Toronto meeting 2006, FASL 15, eds. Richard Compton, Magdalena Goledzinowska, and Ulyana Savchenko, 210–227. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications. Google Scholar
  52. McFadden, Thomas. 2004. The position of morphological case in the derivation: a study on the syntax-morphology interface. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Google Scholar
  53. Munn, Alan. 1993. Topics in the syntax and semantics of coordinate structures. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park. Google Scholar
  54. Munn, Alan. 1999. First conjunct agreement: against a clausal analysis. Linguistic Inquiry 30: 643–668. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Noyer, Rolf. 1997. Features, positions and affixes in autonomous morphological structure. New York: Garland Publishing. Google Scholar
  56. Pesetsky, David, and Esther Torrego. 2001. T-to-C movement: causes and consequences. In Ken Hale, a life in language, ed. Michael Kenstowicz, 355–426. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  57. Preminger, Omer. 2010. Failure to agree is not a failure: ϕ-agreement with post-verbal subjects in Hebrew. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 9:241–278. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Preminger, Omer. 2011. Agreement as a fallible operation. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, MA. Google Scholar
  59. Progovac, Ljiljana. 2003. Structure for coordination. In The second GLOT international state-of-the-article book, eds. Lisa Cheng and Rint Sybesma, 241–287. Berlin: de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  60. Ritter, Elizabeth. 1991. Two functional categories in noun phrases: evidence from Modern Hebrew. In Perspectives on phrase structure, ed. Susan Rothstein. Vol. 25 of Syntax and semantics, 37–62. New York: Academic Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ritter, Elizabeth. 1995. On the syntactic category of pronouns and agreement. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 13: 405–443. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sauerland, Uli. 2008. On the semantics markedness of phi-features. In Phi theory: phi features across interfaces and modules, eds. Daniel Harbour, David Adger, and Susana Béjar, 57–83. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  63. Steiner, Ilona. 2009. Partial agreement in German: a processing issue? In The fruits of empirical linguistics: product, eds. Susanne Winkler and Sam Featherston, 239–260. Berlin: de Gruyter. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ussery, Cherlon. 2009. Optionality and variability: Syntactic licensing meets morphological spell-out. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Google Scholar
  65. Řezáč, Milan. 2008. Phi-agree and theta-related case. In Phi-theory: phi features across interfaces and modules, eds. Daniel Harbour, David Adger, and Susana Béjar, 83–129. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  66. van Koppen, Marjo. 2005. One probe–two goals: Aspects of agreement in Dutch dialects. Doctoral Dissertation, Leiden University, Utrecht. Google Scholar
  67. van Koppen, Marjo. 2007. Agreement with coordinated subjects. a comparative perspective. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 7: 121–161. Google Scholar
  68. Walkow, Martin. 2010. Locality of agreement in syntax and pf: subject verb agreement asymmetries in Modern Standard Arabic. Handout from presentation at Sound, Structure, Meaning: Explorations at the Interface (GLS 2010), February 12–14, 2010. Google Scholar
  69. Wechsler, Stephen, and Larisa Zlatić. 2003. The many faces of agreement. Stanford monographs in linguistics. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstAmherstUSA
  2. 2.University of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations