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Taking time with the tough-construction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2021

Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas 1541 Lilac Lane Blake Hall, Room 423 Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, United


I provide a syntactic analysis of the take-time construction (It took an hour to complete the test). The investigation provides insight into well-known issues concerning the related tough-construction. Using a battery of standard syntactic diagnostics, I conclude that the take-time construction and the tough-construction require a predication analysis of the antecedent-gap chain, not a movement analysis. I also conclude that the nonfinite clause is in a modificational relationship with the main clause predicate, not a selectional relationship. Broadly, this study expands the class of tough-constructions, illustrating crucial variation among predicates, and pointing the way to a unified analysis. The investigation also reveals undiscussed aspects of English syntax, including the fact that English has a high applicative position.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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I sincerely thank Dominique Sportiche and Tim Stowell for generous feedback on earlier drafts of this work. I also thank audience members at LSA in Washington DC in 2016. Finally, I thank the three anonymous reviewers for the Journal of Linguistics, whose invaluable comments have made this a better piece of research.



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