PRO-subject of the German Participle Clauses in the Syntactic Role of Adjunct

© The Editorial Council and Editorial Board of Linguistic Studies

Linguistic Studies
Volume 40(1), 2020, pp. 

PRO-subject of the German Participle Clauses in the Syntactic Role of Adjunct

Borovska Olena

Article first published online: December 01, 2020 

Additional information

 Author Information: 

Borovska Olena, Assistant of Department of German Philology at Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, PhD Student of Kyiv National Linguistic University, 10.02.04 – Germanic Languages. Correspondence:

Borovska, O. PRO-subject of the German Participle Clauses in the Syntactic Role of Adjunct [Text] // Linhvistychni Studiyi / Linguistic Studies : collection of scientific papers / Vasyl' Stus 
Donetsk National University; Ed. by Anatoliy Zahnitko. Vinnytsia : Vasyl' Stus DonNU, 2020. Vol. 40(1). Pp. 50-64. ISBN 966-7277-88-7


Publication History:

Volume first published online: December 01, 2020
Article received: July 01, 2020, accepted: August 01, 2020 and first published online: December 01, 2020


У статті досліджено референцію нульового PRO-суб’єкта в німецьких партиципних клаузах. Проаналізовано ознаки наявності PRO-суб’єкта в партиципних клаузах у синтаксич¬ній ролі ад’юнкта; визначено умови вибору антецедента для PRO-суб’єкта; розглянуто ме¬ханізми контролю PRO (обов’язкового та необов’язкового контролю PRO). Наявність нульо¬вого PRO-суб’єкта в партиципних клаузах є необхідною вимогою Теорії зв’язування та тета-критерію. Для визначення механізмів контролю PRO-суб’єкта залучено методику І. Ландау, що передбачає перевірку на дотримання ознак обов’язкового та необов’язкового контролю.

Keywords: clause, participle clause, adjunct, null categories, PRO-subject, PRO control, obliga¬tory control, non-obligatory control.



Olena Borovska

Department of German Philology, Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi Vinnytsia State Pedagogical Uni­versity, Vinnytsia, Ukraine


Background: The sentence belongs to the central concepts of syntax and is its basic unit, around which other types of syntactic categories are grouped. Researcher focus their attention mainly on syntactic categories that have a material expression. However, most natural languages turn out to have a number of elements that are phonologically empty (latent, eliminated, or overt) in certain syntactic environment.

In generative linguistics, non-finite verb forms are considered to have a clause status. The verbal character of these forms is explained by their ability to form their own clause similar to the finite verb. The predicate center of such clauses is a non-finite form of the verb; the subject is always empty, that is, phonologically unexpressed. In this respect, the study of syntactic and functional features of the overt PRO-subject of а nonfinite clause is an especially significant issue within the generative grammar.

Purpose: The purpose of the research is to outline the functional nature of the PRO-subject in German participle clauses.

Results: In the analyzed material the obligatory control of the PRO-subject in participle clauses is performed by the subject of the matrix sentence. PRO-subjects in clauses with passive matrix sentences, with participles II of transitive verbs and with an implicit argument in the matrix sentence as an antecedent for PRO are as well obligatory controlled.

Some participle clauses show evidence of non-obligatory controlled PRO-subjects: the antecedent for PRO can be interpreted as generic or the antecedent for PRO can correspond to the whole matrix sentence. Verification of all non-obligatory control criteria is problematic for such participle clauses, as it is not always possible to assign the property [+human] to the antecedent for PRO. This issue needs further study.

Discussion: A phonologically unexpressed PRO-subject is a quite strict limitation for participle clauses in the role of adjunct. The author explains the presence of an overt subject in participle clauses in the terms of the Theory of Binding and Theta Criterion. The PRO-subject in participle clauses has no phonological form, but is syntactically active. The prospects of the research are in the further study of the inner structure of German participle clauses.

Keywords: clause, participle clause, adjunct, null categories, PRO-subject, PRO control, obliga­tory control, non-obligatory control.


Olena Borovska is Assistant of Department of German Philology at Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, PhD Student of Kyiv National Linguistic University, 10.02.04 – Germanic Languages. Her areas of research interests include generative linguistics, func­tional linguistics and text linguistics.





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