Rich agreement

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Rich agreement refers to person-number agreement (or cross-referencing) paradigms that distinguish most or all person-number combinations and therefore make the use of independent pronouns redundant. In generative syntax, rich agreement has often been said to license the empty pronominal category pro (Taraldsen 1978 and much subsequent work).


Italian has the folloiwng person-number paradigm, which is said to exibit rich agreement:

  • 1SG cant-o 'I sing'
  • 2SG cant-i 'you sing'
  • 3SG cant-a 's/he sing-s'
  • 1PL cant-iamo 'we sing'
  • 2PL cant-ate 'you sing'
  • 3PL cant-ano 'they sing'

As the English translations show, English has a only two different forms (sing and sings), so that the English paradigm does not exemplify rich agreement. Correspondingly, in Italian the use of independent pronouns is optional (io canto 'I sing'), whereas it is normally required in English.


  • Dryer, Matthew S. 2002. "Case distinctions, rich verb agreement, and word order type". Theoretical Linguistics 28:151-157.
  • Taraldsen, K.T. 1978. On the Nominative Island Condition, vacuous application and the that-t filter. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club.

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