Syntax


WH-movement


Questions differ from declarative clauses in that they are introduced by an interrogative pronoun (or WH-element).

(a) We assume that the interrogative pronoun replaces a phrasal constituent (e.g. the DP, PP or AdvP that is asked for) and is moved to the specifier of CP from its base-generated position.

Anne will buy a new car. What will Anne buy?
(what = DP; base-generated as a complement to V)
Anne will buy a new car in London. Where will Anne buy a new car?
(where = PP; base-generated as adjunct in VP)
Anne will buy a new car tomorrow. When will Anne buy a new car?
(when = AdvP; base-generated as adjunct in VP)

(b) WH-movement is triggered by the presence of the [+WH] feature in COMP.

(i) If there is a [+WH] feature in COMP, its specifier is licensed as a "landing-site" for moved XPs.
(ii) Movement of interrogative pronouns to the specifier of CP :
a. is possible only if COMP is not already filled by a complementizer:
*What that Anne has bought?
*What whether Anne has bought?
b. will leave a trace in the position in which it is base-generated (e.g. what in the example below leaves a trace in the complement position of VP; where leaves a trace in the VP-adjunct position):
Whati has Anne bought ti?
Wherek will Anne buy a new car tk?

Example: WH-movement
Where will Anne buy a new car?


Exercises on Movement / Questions