Free Relatives
(1,130 words)

A free relative clause in English is characterized by the following features:

1.

it is introduced by a wh-word (or a morphologically complex word which contains a wh-element);

 

2.

it can be substituted by a semantically equivalent DP or PP; and

 

3.

it contains a trace (it is therefore generated by movement).

 

Consider the following examples from English:

1.

a.

I tasted [what Adam cooked].

 

b.

I wonder [wh-INT what Adam cooked].

 

c.

I tasted [DP the thing(s) Adam cooked].

 

d.

*I wonder [DP the thing(s) Adam cooked].

 

 

(Caponigro 2003)

The example in (1a) contains the free relative clause what …

Cite this page
Francesca DEL GOBBO, “Free Relatives”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 17 December 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000356>
First published online: 2015



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