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Complementation of adjectives: A corpus-based study of adjectival complementation by that- and to-clauses
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This corpus-based study investigates adjectives that allow complementation by both that- and to-clauses. The study is concerned with arriving at a structural and functional description of the distribution of adjectives that allow complementation by both to-infinitive clauses and that-clauses, based on the various syntactic and semantic manifestations of these two clause types and the adjectives that are complemented by them.

The study reveals that there is a strong correlation between the semantics of different adjectives, the grammatical patterns they allow and their differing valency possibilities. Furthermore, the study shows that to-clauses are primarily used when the subject of the complement clause does not need to be explicitly marked. Conversely, that-clauses are primarily used when the subject of the complement clause is required. Other factors influencing the choice between that- and to-clauses include the ability to mark modality and tense on the finite verb in that-clauses as well as differing register distribution. The ability to mark modality on the finite verb in that-clauses functions as a strong factor favouring the use of that-clauses. The differing register distribution reveals that post-predicative to-clauses typically are represented by complex matrix subjects in the academic register whereas the matrix subjects post-predicative to-clauses in fiction and the spoken register typically are represented by anaphoric personal pronouns. Furthermore, the register distribution of adjectives complemented by that- and to-clauses has been linked to differing functions of these clauses in different registers. The study shows that  extraposed to-clauses are frequently complementing epistemic matrix adjectives in the academic register. In the spoken register, on the other hand, post-predicative that-clauses with that omission are typically complementing evaluative predicates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 63 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-168675OAI: diva2:502227
Educational program
Freestanding course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-03-20 Created: 2012-02-14 Last updated: 2012-03-20Bibliographically approved

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