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Ellipsis of ordinary infinitives and to-infinitives

Modal verbs may take a complement without a verb, so that it seems as if the modal directly mediates a predication relation between a predicate and a subject. So the modal verb seems to function as a copula, see also intransitive complementive predication, transitive complementive predication and complementive. In (1) is an example of verb ellipsis governed by a modal:

Example 1

Jouke soe nei Grins ta
Jouke should to Grins to
Jouke was going to go to Grins

In this particular example, the Frisian modal is able to license or give rise to a motional interpretation, rendering the infinitive of the motional light verb gean go optional:

Example 2

Jouke soe nei Grins ta gean
Jouke should to Grins to go
Jouke intended to go to Grins

The same phenomenon is also found inside non-finite clauses, in which the presence of the non-finite complementiser om for can compensate the absence of a (light) verbfor , suggesting that the non-finite complementiser shares some property (say, modality) with modal verbs. There are also verbs disallowing light verb ellipsis inside their complement. It seems that light verb ellipsis is subject to a semantic requirement saying that the verbless complement must be nonveridical. In addition, non-finite clauses resist verb ellipsis in case they have an impoverished representation, which is the case when they are directly governed by the verb.


More details about ellipsis of ordinary infinitives and to-infinitives can be found by following the corresponding links:

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More details can be found in Hoekstra (1997:chapter 6;V(P)-Ellipsis).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1997The syntax of infinitives in FrisianGroningenRijksuniversiteit GroningenThesis