Donati – The syntax of relative clauses

The syntax of relative clauses (Intermediate)

Relative clauses are a class of embedded clauses that have attracted considerable attention in syntactic studies, for being at the same time

  1. a) extremely robust cross linguistically
  2. b) variable but clearly within well defined ranges
  3. c) a paradigmatic instance of a « difficult » yet grammatical structure.

The aim of this class, which is meant as an intermediate class not presupposing more than some general linguistic knowledge, is to review the typology, the analytic challenges, and the open issues concerning relative clauses.


  1. A typology of relative clauses
  2. The raising analyses : arguments and problems
  3. The matching analyses : arguments and problems

4 . A comparison and a synthesis

  1. The linker problem


Selected References

Arsenijević, B. and M. Gračanin-Yuksek. 2016. Agreement and the structure of relative clauses. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 1(1): 17. 1–16, DOI:

Arsenijević, B. 2009. Clausal complementation as relativization. Lingua119 :39-50.

Bhatt, R. 2002. The Raising Analysis of Relative Clauses: Evidence from Adjectival Modification. Natural Language Semantics, 10:43-90.

Bhatt, R. and R. Pancheva. 2004. Late Merger of Result Clauses.Linguistic Inquiry35, 1-45.

Bianchi, Valentina 1999. Consequences of antisymmetry: Headed Relative Clauses.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Bianchi, V. 2002. Headed relative clauses in generative syntax. Glot InternationalVol.6, no.7, pp.197-204 and no.8, pp.1-13.

Donati C and C. Cecchetto. 2011. Relabeling heads : a unified account of relativization structures. Linguistic Inquiry42 : 519-560.

Hulsey, S. and U. Sauerland. 2006. Sorting out relative clauses. Natural Language Semantics14:111–137.

Kayne, R. S. 1994. The Antisymmetry of Syntax. MIT Press.

Lebeaux, D. 1991. Relative Clauses, Licensing and the Nature of Derivations, in Phrase Structure, Heads and Licensing, S. Rothstein and M. Speas (eds.), Syntax and Semantics25, Academic Press.

Sauerland, U. 2004. The interpretation of traces. Natural Language Semantics12. 63-127

Sportiche, D. 2017. Relative clauses. Promotion only. In steps. MS. Lingbuzz.