Sentential subject constraint
Sentential Subject Constraint is one of the constraints on movement proposed by Ross (1967). It states that
- No element dominated by an S may be moved out of that S if that S is dominated by an NP which itself is immediately dominated by S,
and is meant to capture the fact that categories cannot be moved out of a sentential subject.
Consider (i) and (ii), both containing a sentential subject (the for-clause and the that-clause respectively).
(i) [for Haarhuis to beat Becker] is easy (ii) [that Haarhuis beat Becker] pleased us
The Sentential Subject Constraint now correctly predicts that wh-movement of Becker out of the sentential subject leads to ungrammaticality:
(i') * Who is [for Haarhuis to beat t] easy? (ii') * Who did [that Haarhuis beat t] please us?
- Huang, James 1982. Move wh in a language without wh-movement, Linguistic review, 369-416
- Ross, J.R. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax, doctoral dissertation, MIT (published as 'Infinite syntax!' Ablex, Norwood (1986)).