Agreement and reconstruction correlate in Swedish: Evidence from tough-constructions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper presents two novel findings: I show (i) that there is a strong connection between ϕ-feature agreement and scope freezing in Swedish, and (ii) that Swedish tough-constructions (TCs) involve movement of the embedded object into the matrix subject position. Scope freezing is shown to take place in adjectival TCs, morphological passives and adjectival raising structures in Swedish, but not in verbal TCs, periphrastic passives or verbal raising constructions. The difference in scope possibilities in adjectival and verbal contexts is captured by analyzing movement induced by ϕ-feature agreement (adjectival cases) as taking place in the syntax, and purely EPP-driven movement (verbal cases) as taking place post-syntactically. Following Sauerland and Elbourne (2002), it is assumed that reconstructed readings do not involve any undoing operation but reflect the position of an element prior to post-syntactic movement. Regarding TCs, I further show that adjectival and verbal TCs in Swedish are uniformly derived via long A′–A-movement of the underlying object into the matrix subject position. Since infinitival clauses in Swedish have been shown to have a smaller structure than a full CP (Engdahl 1986), movement of the object does not violate the Williams Cycle (Williams 2003) and is therefore not an instance of Improper Movement. Swedish TCs thereby share properties both with English TCs (A′-properties) and with German TCs (long movement), placing the Swedish ones in between.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Reconstruction, ϕ-feature agreement, tough-construction in Swedish, Long A′–A-movement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1205
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number4
Early online date2018 Jan 11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 27
Publication categoryResearch