Low applicatives and optional se in Spanish non-anticausative intransitive verbs


  • Ismael Iván Teomiro García Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)




Low applicative, Optional se, Anticausative, Pronominal verb


This work revolves around a very peculiar set of Spanish verbs (‘caer[se]’, ‘morir[se]’, ‘tropezar[se]’ and ‘encallar[se]’), which optionally allow the clitic ‘se’ without any significant change of meaning. These verbs do not enter the transitive-inchoative alternation (i.e. they are non-anticausative). Besides, the presence of the clitic has little semantic contribution, if any at all. They are problematic because they cannot be integrated in existing analyses that account for other instances of pronominal verbs like anticausatives and reflexives. What it is proposed in this work is that these verbs optionally allow a complement low applicative phrase. Moreover, the clitic ‘se’ is thought of as a nominal item. This allows the integration of these verbs in broader analyses of pronominal verbs that consider the clitic a nominal item (whether argumental or expletive-like).


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Ismael Iván Teomiro García, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

Profesor de Teoría Lingüística y Lengua Inglesa del Departamento de Filologías Extranjeras y sus Lingüísticas de la Facultad de Filología de la UNED.


Burzio, L. (1986). Italian Syntax. A Government-Binding Approach. Dordrecht: Kluwer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-4522-7

Campanini, C., & Schäfer, F. (2011). Optional Se-Constructions in Romance: Syntactic Encoding of Conceptual Information. Talk given at Generative Linguistics in the Old World 34,.

Carlson, G. (1977). A unified analysis of the English bare plural. Linguistics and Philosopy, 1(3), 413-458. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00353456

Cinque, G. (1988). On si constructions and the Theory of Arb. Linguistic Inquiry 19:521-581.

Cuervo, M. C. (2003). Datives at large. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT.

De Miguel, E., & Fernandez Lagunilla, M. (2000). El Operador Aspectual "se". Revista Española de Lingüística, 30(1), 13-44.

Dobrovie-Sorin, C. (1998). Impersonal se constructions in Romance and the passivization of unergatives. Linguistic Inquiry 29:399-437. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/002438998553806

Hale, K., & Keyser, J. (2002). Prolegomenon to a Theory of Argument Structure (39). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Jackendoff, R. (1987). The Status of Thematic Relations in Linguistic Theory. Linguistic Inquiry, 18(3), 369-411.

Levin, B., & Rappaport-Hovav, M. (1995). Unaccusativity at the Syntax-Lexical Semantics Interface. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Manzini, M.R. (1986). On Italian si. In Hagit Borer (ed), Syntax and Semantics 19: The Syntaxo fo Pronominal Clitics. New York: Academic Press, 241-262.

Martín Zorraquiño, M. A. (1979). Las Construcciones Pronominales en Español. Madrid: Gredos.

Masullo, P.J. (1999) La Interfaz Léxico-Sintaxis: Presencia y Ausencia del Clítico se en Construcciones Inacusativas. Ms. Universidad Nacional del Comahue & University of Washington.

Mendikoetxea, A. (1999a). Construcciones con se. Medias, Pasivas e Impersonales. In I. Bosque & V. Demonte (Eds.), Gramática de la Lengua Española. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.

Mendikoetxea, A. (1999b). Construcciones inacusativas y pasivas. In I. Bosque & V. Demonte (Eds.), Gramática de la Lengua Española. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.

Pustejovsky, J. (1991). The Syntax of Event Structure. In B. Levin & S. Pinker (Eds.), Lexical and Conceptual Structure (pp. 47-81). Oxford: Blackwell.

Pylkkänen, L. (2002). Introducing Arguments. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT.

Pylkkänen, L. (2008). Introducing Arguments. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Ramchand, G. C. (2007). Verb Meaning and the Lexicon: A First Phase Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Real Academia Española. (1973). Esbozo de una Nueva Gramática de la Lengua Española. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.

Reinhart, T. (2002). The Theta System: An Overview. Theoretical Linguistics, 28(3), 229-290.

Reinhart, T., & Reuland, E. (1993). Reflexivity. Linguistic Inquiry, 24(4), 657-720.

Reinhart, T., & Siloni, T. (2005). The Lexicon-Syntax Parameter: Reflexivization and other Arity Operations. Linguistic Inquiry, 36(3), 389--436. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/0024389054396881

Reuland, E. (2001). Primitives of Binding. Linguistic Inquiry, 32(3), 439-492. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/002438901750372522

Reuland, E. (2006). Agreeing to Bind. In H. Broekhuis & N. Corver (Eds.), Festschrift for Henk van Rimsdijk.

Rivero, M.L. (2001). On impersonal reflexives in Romance and Slavic and semantic variation. In J. Camps and C.F. Wiltshire, Romance Syntax, Semantics and L2 Acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 169-195.

Schäfer, F. (2008). The Syntax of (Anti-)Causatives. External Arguments in Change-of-State Contexts. (126). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Teomiro, I. (2010). Anaphors at the Interfaces. A Comparative Study of the Variation of the Anaphoric Systems of English, Dutch and Spanish. Doctoral dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid.

Teomiro, I. (2011). Reflexivity and adjustment strategies at the interfaces. Tromsø Nordlyd Working Papers in Linguistics, 119-149.

Volkova, A. (2009). Structural vs. Inherent Case: Evidence from Finno-Ugric. Talk given at NORM Workshop - Relating to Reflexives.