Question formation involves the phenomenon commonly known as subject-auxiliary inversion, a change in word order in which the auxiliary moves in front of the subject.
(a) Here we shall describe this phenomenon in terms of movement of the element under INFL into COMP position.
(b) According to this analysis, what looks like an exchanging of positions between the subject and auxiliary (or INFL element, in GB terms) is actually the movement of the INFL element past the subject position into COMP.
(c) INFL-to-COMP movement seems to be triggered by the presence of the [+WH] feature in COMP.
(i) If there is a [+WH] feature in COMP, then it must be 'supported' by a word.
(ii) If no complementizer is base-generated in COMP, then either the modal auxiliary or auxiliary have or be will move from INFL to COMP.
(iii) A clause containing neither of these elements will receive a periphrastic do
, which will move from INFL to COMP.
Anne will buy a new car. Will Anne buy a new car?
Anne has bought a new car. Has Anne bought a new car?
Anne bought a new car. Did Anne buy a new car?
(iv) Movement of elements from INFL to COMP:
a. is possible only if COMP is not already filled by a word:
* Will that Anne has bought a new car? (the complementizer that is base-generated in COMP)
b. will leave a trace in INFL, preventing INFL from hosting any new elements:
* Will Anne does/can buy a new car?
Example: Movement of will from INFL to COMP
Will Anne buy a new car?
Exercises on Movement / Questions