Sample Final
Answers V: g-o

Discuss why each of the following sentences are ungrammatical-i.e. what principles and parameters failed to be applied or were applied incorrectly:


  1. *Henry promised Mary to buy herself a viola.
  2. *Henry promised Mary [PRO to buy herself a viola].

The anaphor herself is bound to PRO, and PRO is bound to Henry through agent control. However, the feature of gender in the anaphor does match the feature of gender in the antecedent. The correct form should be buy himself a viola. If Mary is who the viola is being bought for, then the correct would be buy her a viola, in which case the pronominal could be bound to Mary, but it could also be bound to an external antecedent.


  1. *Ignatz urged to comb their hair.
  2. *Ignatz urged [PRO to comb their hair].

Urge is a goal-control verb, but no goal is assigned by the verb. A correct form would be Ignatz urged Brunhilda and the Sirens to comb their hair.


  1. *Not Mary attempted Polly to finish her paper.
  2. *Not Mary attempted Polly [PRO to finish her paper].

Attempt is an agent control verb and it does not assign a goal.
Not is [-Strong] when it is not contrastive and its host T occurs in the clause; therefore, it should lower to T which it did not:

  1. Mary did not attempt to finish her paper.

*Calamity Jane wished Henry to study anaphors.
*Calamity Jane wished Henry to study anaphors.

Wish does not subcategorize a non-control infinitive. Correct form:

  1. Calamity Jane wished that Henry would study anaphors.


  1. *Barry is had writing a book.
  2. *Barry has is writing a book.

The wrong dummy verbs have been inserted to function as a host for tense and relevance (the perfect):

Barry has been writing a book.

  1. *Ilsa sold but her house a not her apartment.
  2. *Ilsa sold [but her house a not her apartment].

In contrastive negation, but cannot occur before the first NP, only before the second one. The determiner-numeral "a" cannot be generated in a definite clause.

  1. Ilsa sold not her apartment, but her house.
  2. Ilsa sold her but house, not her apartment.
  1. *Is Henry read essays every day?

The incorrect dummy has been selected to function as a host for tense.
Does Henry read essays every day?

  1. *The a books do read the three -s little pig.

A noun cannot be modified by both a definite and an indefinite determiner. The result is a feature clash which crashes the sentence. Tense (+Past) failed to lower to the main verb forcing the unwarranted insertion of the dummy verb. The plural suffix "-s" failed to lower to PIG, and then spell out as pig+s. The agent should have not been assigned the accusative and it should have raised to TP. The accusative Case should have been assigned to the theme, in which case it should not have moved.

  1. *Has the car been wrecked by?

If the agent occurs in the logical structure but remains phonetically empty, the dummy preposition by should not be inserted Verbs and prepositions must assign Case to phonetic forms (we have not covered 'little' pro yet which would provide an exception.)

  1. Has the car been wrecked?
  2. Has the car been wrecked by someone?

What is the theta hierarchy established in class? How is it applied in syntax?

  1. agent - instrument - theme.

The lowest theta-role is assigned to the first complement of the verb.
The highest theta role raises and adjoins to TP in the active voice.