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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses central concepts in clause structure such as the notion of ‘head’ and the distinction between ‘complements’ and ‘adjuncts’. The different ways in which constituency and dependency grammars approach clausal heads are examined, and modern analyses are juxtaposed with the grammatical tradition. Regarding the distinction between complements and adjuncts, two important issues are discussed: its relevance to the clause’s semantic structure and how to determine obligatoriness, the defining characteristic of complements. The use of the term ‘complement’ to refer to clauses construed as core arguments of main predicates is also explored, particularly the challenge of explaining complement choice with individual verbs, either by means of a general complement binding hierarchy or particular subcategorization features attached to each verb.

Keywords: clause structure, clausal heads, complements, complementation, adjuncts, dependency grammar, constituency grammar, subcategorization, binding hierarchy, X-bar theory

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