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Extraposition is originally a movement rule that moves CPs and PPs to the right periphery of the sentence.


in (ii) the relative clause which I like is extracted from the subject NP and moved to the right. PPs can be extraposed as well: in (iv) the PP about the Sovjet Union is extraposed.

(i)    [NP Many paintings of young artists [CP which I like]] are on sale
(ii)   [NP Many paintings of young artists t] are on sale [CP which I like]
(iii)  [NP Many books [PP about the Sovjet Union]] will appear soon
(iv)   [NP Many books t ] will appear soon [PP about the Sovjet Union]

In general, extraposition is optional and clause bound. In Dutch, complement clauses undergo extraposition obligatorily, as shown by the contrast between (v) and (vi).

(v)   * Kees heeft [CP de prijs  aan te nemen] geweigerd
        Kees has       the prize prt to accept refused'
(vi)    Kees heeft t geweigerd [CP de  prijs aan te nemen]
        Kees has     refused      the prize prt to accept
        'Kees has refused to accept the prize'

Finite complement clauses have to be extraposed as well:

(vii)   Kees heeft t besloten [CP dat hij de prijs zal weigeren]
        'Kees has     decided     that he  the prize will refuse'

Often the term 'extraposition' merely refers to the state of being in a right peripheral position.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Chomsky, N. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding, Foris, Dordrecht.
  • Evers, A. 1975. The transformational cycle in Dutch and German, diss. Utrecht University, distr. by IULC.
  • Ross, J.R. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax, doctoral dissertation, MIT (published as 'Infinite syntax!' Ablex, Norwood (1986)).
  • Rutten, J. 1991. Infinitival Complements and Auxiliaries, Diss, UvA, Amsterdam.

Other languages

German Extraposition (de)