To Have the Empty Theta‐Role

Peter Ackema and Marijana Marelj

in The Theta System

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199602513
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739200 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

To Have the Empty Theta‐Role

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


Show Summary Details


In this chapter we argue that the semantically vacuous theta-role is not a conceptual artifact of Reinhart's Theta System, but that certain light verbs specify it as their basic theta-role. We focus on have and argue that - in all its guises – it is a light verb. The assumption that have assigns a semantically vacuous theta-role allows us to account for the array of constructions in which have occurs. The formalization of the light verb's thematic structure by utilizing the null cluster can account for the often-noted intuition that light verbs “do not predicate like main verbs” but predicate nonetheless. Positing a null cluster is a way of explaining why some sort of “Predicate Composition”/“Argument Fusion” has been argued to be obligatory in all instances that involve light verbs.

Keywords: light verb; HAVE; semantically vacuous theta-role; theta-merger; auxiliary verb

Chapter.  10961 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.