Revisiting “verbal agreement”: The case of Israeli Hebrew

Leon Shor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper questions the adequacy of the notion 'verbal agreement' with respect to the inflectional marking of person in verbal paradigms, using Israeli Hebrew (IH) as a case study. With regard to IH, the paper argues against the agreement interpretation of the inflectional affixes of the person-inflected paradigms in general, and against the assumption that third person verbs are not marked for person in particular. Adopting a usage-based and a synchronic intra-paradigmatic perspective, it is suggested that the inflectional affixes in IH should be treated as referential elements ('bound pronouns') that are uniformly marked for person. More broadly, the validity of the concept of verbal agreement is questioned based on its incompatibility with observed cross-linguistic data and its historiographical origin. In this respect, the notion verbal agreement presupposes the primacy/naturalness of a particular clausal format - a bipartite structure in which the lexical subject NP and the predicate are present and morphologically independent. As this presupposition essentially reflects a logico-philosophical perspective of the clause originating in the works of the first Greek grammarians rather than a usage-based linguistic one, it is argued that the term 'verbal agreement' is inadequate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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