Deriving causation

Elizabeth Ritter, Sara Thomas Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This paper analyzes causative and experiencer have, arguing that this verb has little or no underlying meaning. Have comes to mean cause or experience when it forms a complex predicate with another verb. The addition of have to another predicate has the effect of extending the event denoted by the predicate to include a peripheral cause or effect (experience). This complex predicate formation takes place at the level of argument structure, and the interpretation of the complex takes place at conclude that there is only one ver have, and even though it seems to mean something, the meaning is not part of the lexical representation of the verb, but rather is derived from the syntactic structure. Our analysis also provides new insights into the Japanese causatives and so-called adversity passives, which submit to the same analysis as English have. We analyze all verbs that contribute no thematic information as functor predicates. These verbs get their interpretation from their syntactic function, rather than from their lexical semantics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-555
Number of pages37
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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