Pseudopassives as complex predicates

A Scandinavian perspective


  • Helge Lødrup University of Oslo


pseudopassives, prepositional passives, complex predicates, reanalysis, Scandinavian, Norwegian


Passives in which the subject corresponds to the object of a preposition in the active are usually called pseudopassives or prepositional passives (e.g. John was talked about). Both in traditional and modern grammar, the standard opinion on the English pseudopassive is that the verb and the preposition are reanalyzed into one complex verb (e.g. Bresnan 1982). Scandinavian allows pseudopassives in which the verb and the preposition are not adjacent, and this has been taken to show that reanalysis cannot be involved. The strategy in this paper is to move the reanalysis of verb + preposition from c-structure to f-structure. Verb + preposition then constitute a complex predicate (an option mentioned in Richards (2017) within Minimalism, and in Lødrup (2022) within LFG). This kind of analysis can accommodate the Scandinavian situation, and it is suggested that it could also be transferred to English.