Verb movement

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Verb movement is a movement of a verb to a c-commanding head position, e.g. I ( INFL) and C ( COMP). In many languages the verb moves to I to pick up morphological inflection ( tense and/or agreement).


In Dutch (i) the uninflected verb kus is moved to I, and adjoined to it, to pick up the affix -t, and the resulting complex subsequently moves to COMP.

(i) a  [CP [C' e [IP Jan [I' [VP Margriet kus ] [I -t] ] ] ] ]
    b  [CP [C' [I [V kus]k [I  -t]]j [IP Jan
       [I' [VP Margriet tk] tj ] ] ] ]

An alternative to (i) is the movement of a fully inflected verb to (and possibly substituting for) an empty I position in order to 'check' the tense and/or agreement features. Verb movement is sometimes called 'verb raising' in distinction to the lowering of the I to the V-position (e.g. in English). Verb movement is an instance of head movement. A special case of verb movement is Verb raising.



  • Belletti, A. 1991. Generalized Verb Movement, Rosenberg Torino
  • Pollock, J.-Y. 1989. Verb movement, Universal Grammar, and the structure of IP, Linguistic Inquiry 20, pp.365-424
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