Thor's Technical Linguistics
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Purposive Constructions in English Thorold May 1990

Australian Journal of Linguistics, (1990:Vol. 10,1 )


© Thorold May 1990


    Abstract: This thesis* explores some of the syntactic & semantic properties of Purposive Constructions in English. The term "purposive" is recognized as a semantic concept which finds regular expression in a small range of syntactic configurations. Purpose Clauses (PCs) and Rationale Clauses (Rat.Cs) are examined in some detail. Briefer reference is made to several other configurations, notably Because Clauses, So-That Clauses and Infinitival Relatives. In general Purposive Constructions comprise rather fuzzy semantic categories. Nevertheless, the main syntactic features are fairly clear. Interpretation of the constructions requires a systematic account of the control of empty slots (ellipted NPs) by thematic elements in the matrix clause. General conditions of Government and Binding appear adequate to predict the distribution of gaps in most Purposive Clauses. However, the relationship between propositions predicated of a common argument in these constructions is found to sometimes require matching conditions too subtle for syntax alone to predict. A concept of Thematic Coextensiveness is introduced to account for such matching.


Table of Contents :

Abstract // Chapter I : Standard Purpose Clauses // Section 1. Standard Identification of Purpose Clauses // 2. Attempts to Define Purpose Clauses // Purposive Constructions: Statement I // 3. The Syntactic Status of Purpose Clauses // 4. The argument for both Spaces and OPCs as sentential adjuncts // 5. The Predication of PC Adjuncts // 6. The Control of Purpose Clauses by a Matrix Agent or Patient // 6.1 Thematic Hierarchy Condition // Purposive Constructions, Statement II // 6.2 Unmarked thematic assignment to Subject and Object //Purposive Constructions: Statement III // 6.3 Variations on the Subject-Agent / Object- Patient paradigm // 6.4 Ambiguity of thematic co-reference for Object gaps // 7. Resultant States // 8. Constructions related to Purpose Clauses // 8a. NP + BE + PARTICIPLE as a Matrix to TVP Clauses // 8b. Purpose Clauses as a sub-set of TVP Clauses // Purposive Constructions, Statement IV // 9. Caveats on The Condition of Manifested Intent // Purposive Constructions, Statement V // 10. Summary of the Properties of Purpose Clauses // Purposive Constructions, Statement VI // 11. The Classification of Matrix Verb Environments // 11a. Environment I // 11b. Environment II // 11c. Environment III //

Chapter II : Possible Variations on Standard Purpose Clauses // Section 12. Some Specific Purpose Clause Environments // 13. HAVE Expressing Obligation // 14. HAVE Expressing Possession // 15. "Transitive Verbs Involving Continuance or Change of State" // 15a) Comment :"Positive" Adjuncts // 15b) Comment : Continuance and Change of State // 16. Some Problems in Thematic Control // 17. Instrumental Purpose Clauses // 18. Purpose Clauses Controlled by an Intransitive Matrix //

Chapter III : Rationale Clauses // Section 19. Types of Rationale Clauses // Purposive Constructions, Statement VII // 20. Temporality and Factivity // 21. Thematic Properties of Rationale Clauses // 22. Cohesion in Rationale Clause Environments // Purposive Constructions : Statement IX -  Semantic properties of "in order" Chapter IV : Infinitival Relative Clauses // Section 23. The Definition of Infinitival Relative Clauses // Conclusion // Final Comment //

Appendix : Thematic Relations // Inherent Thematic Relations // Relational Thematic Properties //

Bibliography // Acknowledgements // History of this document //

Key : S~ = S bar  


The aim of this thesis is to re-examine existing notions of Purposive Constructions, with particular attention to Purpose and Rationale Clauses. It will be shown that they can be accounted for as possible structures of English at two levels of the grammar. Syntactic principles preclude certain structures and control paradigms. However these alone are not sufficient to constrain the range of acceptable sentences. In addition a semantic level comes into play in ways which are sometimes only marginally linguistic. It will emerge that conventions of pragmatic construal, particularly those relating to an Agentive Source for action, must be applied in order to predict linguistic outcomes. Such conventions depend effectively upon knowledge of the world and control many of the interpretive possibilities of what I generically call Purposive Constructions.

  1. Standard Identification of Purpose Clauses

    A Purpose Clause (as identified by Bach, Chomsky, Jones and others) has the following forms:

a) Object Purpose Clause

^1 They brought Johni along [e to talk to ei].

b) Subject Purpose Clause

^2 They brought Etheli along [ei to talk to the children]

A Rationale Clause has the following forms :

^3 Maryi bought Bill a book [(in order) ei to help him].

^4 Mary bought Bill a book [in order for him to succeed].

  2. Attempts to Define Purpose Clauses

"Purpose" is a semantic concept which has been attached to some generally recognised syntactic configurations. This is a familiar procedure (Causation is another example) but it can lead to considerable analytic ambivalence. Nowhere is this more evident than in the papers of Bach and Jones which I refer to extensively below.

Bach in particular seeks a wider semantic perspective, without, however, exploiting it very successfully. He feels that "...the meaning of Purpose Clauses is to be explicated within a general account of purposeful activity and our language about it..."(Bach 1982:53). Williams (1980), who briefly examines Purpose Clauses in his study, Predication, and Chomsky (1980), who mentions them in On Binding, have an essentially syntactic perspective. That is, grammatical explanation, even Logical Form (semantics), is seen as a matter of mutually relating lexical configurations rather than of relating form to psychological meaning.

This thesis on the other hand presumes a skepticism about the autonomy of syntax in the unmapped territory of mind, and the slant of explanation accordingly embraces a wider cognitive base. The more focussed work on Purpose Clauses starts from defined configurations, enquires about the nature of their syntax, and may then posit various kinds of semantic facts as a rationale.

The following
Statement I, a description by Jones (1985:105), makes a useful starting point, although it turns out to be neither sufficient nor quite accurate; (n.b. nine Statements are distributed throughout this thesis. They are loose working hypotheses. Eventually, some are not sustained by the investigation). Purpose Clauses are of two main types :

    Purposive Constructions : Statement I

    1. "Subject Purpose Clauses ... have an obligatorily controlled gap in subject position".
    2. "Object Purpose Clauses ...have an obligatorily controlled gap in object position and an empty subject position".


3. The Syntactic Status of Purpose Clauses

It has been argued that Subject Purpose Clauses have a fundamentally different syntactic structure from Object Purpose Clauses. Williams proposed that some PCs (OPCs, though he didn't call them that) are dominated by S~, while others (SPCs) are dominated by S only. The Object gap in OPC was to be a trace governed by "WH Movement" while the Subject gap, and the gap in SPCs, would be governed by Control (i.e. co-indexed with a matrix NP). Thus : ^5 [OPC]


Williams' theory of predication claims that S in VP is a predicate controlled by the matrix Theme. This has some relevance to our later discussion of PC Environments (Section 11).He links the control of S to the control of the gap in PCs. Although his model of predicates is open to challenge, the final link between the matrix Theme and PC gaps is beyond question. In terms of Chomsky's Binding Theory, PRO2 in ^5 is assigned control by it in the matrix (Minimal Distance Principle), while PRO1 is allowed to be indexed to matrix NP1 once control by V1 on PRO2 has been exercised (Chomsky 1980:42;1981:77). The innovation of PRO2 indexed to a trace is necessary to overcome an Opacity Condition in this model.

    The Williams/Chomsky analyses may have some problems. Chomsky's very brief treatment of Purposive Constructions overlooks the differences between Purpose and Rationale Clauses. The WH slot of 1980 vintage is later conceived of as a general complementiser slot fronting all clauses, and (pruning apart) would seem to be as applicable to ^6 as to ^5 (refer to Williams' distinction between S~ and S Purpose Clauses). Another of Williams' examples, ^7, seems to illustrate the more general paradigm, where the lexical insertion or ellipsis of for governs the possibility of a lexical Subject in the lower sentence. It will be interesting to observe in the chapter on Rationale Clauses that where the COMP slot is governed by the complex conjunction, in order then there is no possibility of a trace (i.e. of ellipsis) in the Object position of the lower sentence. Note incidentally that ^7 is an OPC whose Subject theta position is not empty, contrary to Jones' definition in Statement Ib: ^7 S

The main task of any syntactic model applied to PCs is to account for control of the "understood", non-lexical elements in their structures in a regular way. The PRO insertions of ^5, ^6 and ^7 are model-specific. We might dispute them. Thematic elements such as Agent, Patient or Theme (theta roles) are less controversially assigned by verbs, and if we accept something like Chomsky's Projection Principle, must find representation in the grammar. The possibility, first proposed by Jackendoff (1972), that thematic relations govern the application of control rules, will strongly influence the present analysis.

    A point on notation : in this thesis, where a thematic role has no lexical correlate, I normally mark a slot "e" (empty) at an appropriate point in the lexical string. In most cases I avoid any direct judgement about the model-theoretic status of "e" as PRO, trace or whatever. Where PRO or trace are labelled as part of the argument, the general sense intended is as in LGB Theory. However, generative models are shaky in so many aspects of convention and detail that I have used them as an aid rather than an orthodoxy, and deviated where necessary. The explanation of "e" slot control will partly turn on the constituents in which thematic roles are seen to be embedded. While Williams and Chomsky assume that all PCs have the constituent structure of sentences within a matrix verb, Jones considers SPCs to be sentences and OPCs to be VPs. Jones' approach is to suggest that the NP slots in PCs are empty because they are assigned no Case. In SPC there is no [+TENSE] element to assign Case to Subject position, and "...Object-Case absorption by V (in OPC) goes hand in hand with VP's inability to assign an external theta role;" (Jones 1985:111).I find these linkages a bit obscure.

"Object Case Absorption" seems to be an unsupported notion. The Object theta position in PCs is certainly governed (by the verb, or the particle to). The argument for TENSE to assign Case to the Subject theta position has a longer history. For an independent discussion of grammatical relations pertaining to Subject, see Williams (1984). If SPCs cannot assign Case to Subject position, then neither can OPCs since neither are tensed. Most analysts assume an ungoverned PRO in the empty Subject slot of such infinitival phrases. It is therefore not obvious why SPC should be treated as a sentence and OPC as a verb phrase.

    My own intuitive feeling about both ^5 and ^6 is that give and hold do assign an external, Subject position theta role whose coreference is controlled by thematic rather than strictly syntactic considerations. Above I mentioned "understood" elements in PCs, rather than using the more precise term ellipsis. Although the arguments of a verb are not lexically present, and may even be precluded by the surface syntax, a speaker may still interpret their effect. Consider ^8:

^8. We brought himj along [ei to talk to ej ].

The Theme of ^8. is indexed to ej while ei is "free" but must have an implicit or explicit (co)referent : probably we in this case. Ellipsis normally implies that a reduced structure has a full lexical analogue which is entirely synonymous. A difficulty with this argument for treating PCs as conventionally ellipted sentences is that the insertion of lexical material sometimes changes the PC into a Rationale Clause, which has different properties :

^9. We brought him along (in order) for you to talk to him.

    Therefore if PCs are "sentences" (clauses), then sentence here means something more than the surface behaviour of lexical strings in clauses. The word sentence is applied rather to the subcategorized pattern of thematic relationships which define a verb. A sentence would minimally be said to exist in a string when the thematic relationships defining some verb could be uniformly interpreted for (co)reference in the string by competent users of that language. Grammars may have many applications, and not all of them may need to engage thematic concepts. However thematic roles are important explanatory tools for the job at hand.

  4. The argument for both SPCs and OPCs as sentential adjuncts

Both types of Purpose Clauses can be characterized as sentential adjuncts, rather than strict complements to a matrix verb phrase. The terminology is rather fluid here. A prepositional phrase or a restrictive relative clause in a NP is clearly an adjunct modifying a head. It sharpens the specificity of the head, or put in another way, it is presumed to be non- controversial information (Grice's sense; 1981) defining a topic. On the other hand, adjuncts such as PCs in a VP are frequently much more complement-like, adding information to the comment- element of the discourse. The truth value of such adjuncts in a VP may well be challenged. Thus although PCs are syntactically optional (a defining property of adjuncts), their analysis lends itself to the kind of machinery usually reserved for regular (syntactically obligatory) complements.

      5. The Predication of PC Adjuncts

Williams in his study, Predication,(1980) recognized that any category can be a predicate. He observed that predicates could be either thematically or grammatically governed, although the former were said to all involve predicates in the VP, and the predication was always of the Theme of that VP. However Williams does restrict the notion of predication to what he calls Obligatory Control by a lexically defined co-referent. I ultimately find it more productive to think in terms of semantic predicates whose substance and antecedents are propositions rather than clauses.
Propositions may be explicit or implicit. It is not our task here to challenge Williams' original argumentation in detail, but it will emerge that the government of predicates in adjuncts like PCs can be a very slippery matter. See especially Section 8 below, where it turns out that the antecedent of a semantic predicate can be a non-lexical exophoric referent (which nevertheless determines the grammaticality of sentences).

    Jones (1985:107) develops an argument that Purpose Clauses are predicates to the whole of their matrix verb phrase, and not merely the matrix verb itself. His evidence for this proposal is based here on a semantic, not a syntactic, observation : that successful attachment of an adjunct depends upon the total meaning of the main verb phrase rather than any single lexical collocation with the matrix verb. For example,

^10. I sent John out of the room to call the children.

^11.* I sent John out of the room to talk to later.

Further instances would be ^12 and ^13 :

^12 I poured the moet to complement the cheese .

^13 *I poured the Moet down the drain to complement the cheese.

The verb pour, it is argued, cannot determine subsequent agentivity by itself since it is primarily the interpretation of the whole matrix complement's meaning (e.g. the meaning of pour + the moet + down the drain ) which determines the matrix verb's power to link that complement with any adjunct (e.g. a Purpose Clause) expressing the intent of the matrix Agent. However the difficulty with ^13 seems to me to arise from a violation of conventional inferences between connotations in the matrix complement and the adjunct, rather than any "incompleteness" in the volitional scope of pour. That is, pour down the drain suggests waste, a negative purpose, while to complement the cheese suggests pleasure, a positive purpose. If anything, the infelicity of ^13 proves that pour (and hence the matrix Agent) must control and reconcile both phrases simultaneously.

Perhaps we can hypothesize from ^13 that any class of structures which retains a constant semantic label (such as "purpose" or "cause") is going to be susceptible to clashes of semantic felicity in complex environments. Pragmatic, normative proposals can be made about such felicity constraints, but they probably relate to "communicative competence" rather than "linguistic competence" in the narrower sense used by Chomsky. More formally, for a sentence to be felicitous and coherent, the arguments of its main verb must be semantically compatible.


6. The Control of Purpose Clauses by a Matrix Agent or Patient

6.1 Thematic Hierarchy Condition

The initial description of PCs as constructions with an obligatorily controlled gap must now be expanded by adding a thematic explanation. Where there are two gaps (OPC), what I will call a Hierarchy of Thematic Control Condition generally applies:


  Purposive Constructions : Statement II

The THEME of the matrix clause controls that gap in a PC adjunct which is the optimum available selection from a thematic hierarchy of INSTRUMENT > PATIENT > AGENT.

In a typical PC adjunct containing a transitive verb, the Object of that verb (V2) will be the Patient of the clause, and if lexically empty will be the optimum match for the matrix Theme. Hence Jones' description of OPC behaviour. Where the Object position of V2 is not empty and control defaults to an empty Subject position (SPC), other thematic properties such as Agency may have an influence; (e.g. see the Condition of Manifested Intent later in this thesis). The thematic behaviour of an Instrumental phrase creates special conditions, also dealt with later.

    I assume a definition of Theme roughly comparable to that of Fillmore (1968) : that it is the element which moves with respect to a verb of motion, or which in general is acted upon by the behaviour of the verb. Thematic properties are discussed in more detail in the Appendix.

Thematic hierarchies have been proposed in many studies of "deep case" or "thematic relations" (Fillmore 1968, Jackendoff 1972, et al). It has always been possible to find exceptions to such rules. Sentences ^18-^20 pose difficulties for the present Hierarchy of Thematic Control Condition. With this in mind I think it best to treat all such formulations as statements of pragmatic tendency. Why would such a tendency exist ? I suspect that discourse coherence has something to do with it. In a sentence such as

^14 I brought himi along e to talk to ei.

... there is probably a natural assumption that the Theme of the matrix will persist as a Theme in the discourse, all other things being equal. That is, talk to in the PC adjunct of ^14 also subcategorizes its Object position as Theme. Where the theta position is empty, it will tend to take the matrix Theme as coreferent. The thematic hierarchy itself no doubt reflects the pragmatic probability of a matrix Theme assuming various semantic roles in the extended discourse.

      6.2 Unmarked thematic assignment to Subject and Object

It has been argued that in English, and evidently in most other languages, the unmarked thematic assignment on verbs (i.e. the assignment to theta position) is Agent in Subject position and Patient in Direct Object position; (e.g. Jones 1985:111). It is certainly common to a large number of verbs, and especially those active matrix verbs most associated with Purpose Clauses. Later I will question the precision of these thematic notions, and the value of such a presumed association with verbs as a class. Jones tried to establish an interpretive framework for defining and accounting for Purpose Clauses. The assumed canonical distribution of Agent and Patient was said to supply this as follows.

      Purposive Constructions : Statement III

In PCs ….

a) "The Subject gap is controlled by a subsequently possible Agent".

b)" The Object gap is controlled by a subsequently possible Patient".

"Subsequently possible" turns out to be a fairly pragmatic idea in which possibility is somewhat extended by metaphor or the linguist's imagination. More on this later.

The core of the notion is that subordinate verbs, like all verbs involved in PCs (the assumption goes) will have Agent and Patient type argument places. Where one of these argument places corresponds to a gap it will be coreferent with an NP in the matrix clause. The appropriate matrix NP will have the semantic potential to be a proxy Agent or Patient for the empty theta position, subsequent to the action of the matrix verb.

      6.3 Variations on the Subject-Agent / Object-Patient paradigm

We can begin qualifying the proposal for an unmarked association of Subject/Agent by noting that the subject gap of an adjunct may have an argument which is ambiguously coreferent with either the Subject or the Object of the matrix, both being possible subsequent Agents.

^15 I brought JBi along [ei to impress the board].

^16 Ii brought JB along (in order)[ei to impress the board].

This ambiguity is resolved by the insertion of in order in ^16, demonstrating that the sentence contains a Rationale rather than a Purpose Clause. Note that although JB can be the primary Agent controlling ei in ^15, the Intention of I is also entailed. ^15 is actually reminiscent of Saksena's (1980) description of the Affected Agent, a condition which is marked morphologically in Hindi, and thus more susceptible to a convincing syntactic explanation.

Affected Agents in Hindi are those which upon causativization of a complement (rather than an adjunct as in our problem) in the environment of certain verbs (only) are marked with the suffix -kao, all other Agents taking -see :

^17 a) mai-nee-ram-koo/*see khaanaa khil-aa-yaa
              I-AGT  Ram-OBJ/AGT        food         eat-DC-PAST
                I-CAUSE [Ram to eat food]
              I fed Ram

^17 b) mai-nee-ram-see/*koo peer kat-aa-yaa
            I-AGT Ram                           tree cut-DC-PAST
             I made Ram cut the tree

The point of the Hindi analogy here is that a particular language may formalize a semantic distinction through morphology or configuration. It is then amenable to syntactic "explanation". In Rationale Clause sentences like ^16 there is a formal control relationship between the Subject/Agent of the matrix verb and the putative Subject of the adjunct's verb. However the syntactic signals become vague when in order is excluded as in ^15, and we seem to have no reliable syntactic marking in English for semantic concepts such as Affected Agents. To explain what is going on in the grammar in such environments we may have to go beyond purely syntactic explanation.

      6.4 Ambiguity of thematic co-reference for Object gaps

It is also possible (rarely) for the Object gap to be ambiguous about the thematic coreferent. The situation may arise when the verb and its NPs are exceptionally neutral about relationships, as in

^18. Theyi had a planej [ei to catch ej].

^19 They had friends [ei to advise ej].

^20 They employed counsellorsi [ei to advise ej].

The unmarked version of ^18 seems to require that both of its gaps be controlled by matrix arguments. The unmarked reading of ^19 probably parallels that in ^18, neither sentence being purposive. That is, ^19 has ej coreferent with friends, although the other, purposive, interpretation is certainly possible.

Have seems to permit alternative value assignments to its theta positions, which must throw serious doubt on the generality of Jones' rule for associating Agent with the Subject gap and Patient with the Object gap. Sentence ^20 on the other hand definitely marks counsellors as the advisers (ei), while leaving the reference of ej as arbitrary, and perhaps typically substituted by a lexical noun. In other words, ^20 is an unusual SPC, not an OPC, and it is ei rather than ej which is subject to obligatory control.

      It is interpretive convention and pragmatics which link ei in sentence ^18 to the matrix Subject. Imagine (hard!) where ei could have exophoric reference, as in the case when they (the company) had planes available for us (ei) to catch. This sense of have available (rather than have = obligation) would render ^18 and OPC with ei under arbitrary control. By a similar vigorous exercise of imagination, note how they in ^19 could be the Mafia who have friends (ei) to advise defaulting debtors (ej). The shift in control of ei from the matrix Agent to the Theme would render ^19 an SPC.

The difference between these exotic versions of ^18 and ^19 is influenced by the verb in the adjunct and discourse context. However, the default to SPC or OPC is determined by the possibility of the matrix Theme acting as an Agent in the subordinate clause. Clearly it cannot do this in ^18. Thus even configurational contrast in the syntax of SPCs and OPCs is not invariant; ultimately it is tied to semantic interpretation.

The exceptions just discussed do not weaken an argument that the interpretation of PC gaps is linked in a principled way to the distribution of thematic arguments in the matrix clause, but they do show that interpretation is not restricted to a particular thematic type predetermined by structural dominance amongst the constituents (as Case is determined in English). The examples reaffirm that obligatory control affects one gap; (the literature says only one gap, but there are always bothersome sentences like ^19). Furthermore, the matrix argument which exercises obligatory control in Purpose Clauses is invariably the Theme.

      7. Resultant States

The notion of Resultant State is developed by Bach to describe the kind of semantic evidence which shows that an Agent in matrix Subject position may exercise Intent and retain control over subsequent events in the conjunct of a sentence.

^21 Johni went to New York for three days (but ei only stayed for two).

Resultant State" of control over events in the conjunct:

^22 Dinosaursi appeared on earth for three million years (*but only stayed for two million).

From Bach's examples we see that what are broadly called Action verbs (as opposed to Stative verbs) may lead to a "Resultant State" of the Agent. To me it looks more generally, and more simply, like a pragmatic matching condition between verbs in the respective clauses of the conjunct sentence. A critical element in this case seems to be that the verbs must imply an Effect through volitional action. Appear in ^22 implies no volition or purpose. ^21 itself does not contain a Purpose Clause, although it is purposive in meaning. The term "resultant state" is a bit unfortunate since both John and the dinosaurs enter into a state which differs from their inceptive condition. Perhaps what needs to be isolated is an Induced Result. The significance of Verbs of Induced Result for PCs will be developed a little later.

      Jones, diverging from Bach, adopts Resultant State to label the status of a Theme in the context where it exercises control through its matrix verb over the theta position of the lexically null argument in a PC. Thus the Resultant State of a matrix Theme is said to meet the condition for PCs when the lower theta role that it controls represents a "subsequently possible" Agent\Patient (depending upon the PC gap).

Note that the matrix Theme itself is normally found in Object position, but with a verb like BE, as in ^23, may occur in Subject position (assuming that we accept such sentences as PC constructions). The Resultant State of the books in ^23 seems to derive from the entire matrix predicate. Sentence ^23 is borrowed from Jones, who does accept it as a PC.

           THEME     PREDICATE        BENEFICIARY          THEME2(?)
^23 The booksi are ready [for the children to receive ei]
                                                               Resultant state

Although ^23 has many of the structural characteristics of a PC, it seems to me that there are good grounds for believing that it is semantically quite different, at least from the kind of "purpose" that we have been considering. The matrix is a stative copula sentence, and although there might be a pragmatic inference of Agency somewhere, that is fortuitous to the context of situation. The copula does not signal any induced condition. Note the analogous sentence ^24 below in which there is no necessary inference of Purposive Agency related to the matrix at all.

^24 The corn is ready to harvest.

Sentence ^23 again demonstrates the perils of trying to assign theta roles like Patient and Agent within an unexceptional framework of constituent structure. Detailed subcategorization in the lexical component may be more promising.

If there is anything like a Patient in the traditional sense in the adjunct of ^23, then it must be the children, for this is more or less how receive subcategorizes its argument structure here. Beneficiary is actually a better description. Therefore the books is not a "subsequently possible Patient", but rather whatever it is that we want to call the argument in the Object gap of the OPC, if it is an OPC : Theme again? Transfer Element?.

      Our starting analysis, Purposive Clause Statement III divided the Sentient particles in PC environments into Agents and Patients. These roles were assigned mechanically, according to constituent structure. The procedure has proved unsatisfactory.

The purely syntactic assignment of thematic elements might render them semantically empty (hence redundant). The preceding examples from Bach and Jones fail, perhaps, to exemplify purposive properties very well, but they do show that the semantic interpretation of syntactically empty slots turns upon the matching semantic properties in associated verbs.

Existing formulations of "resultant state" are not adequate then to capture the essential nature of Purpose Clauses. It is true nevertheless that some kind of semantic/interpretive condition is needed to filter these constructions.

      8. Constructions related to Purpose Clauses

We have already seen that one necessary criterion for identifying Purpose Clauses is the matrix Theme's control of an argument (theta position) in the lower construction. This is not a sufficient condition of course since many other kinds of sentences conform to such a pattern.

      8a. NP + BE + PARTICIPLE as a Matrix to TVP Clauses

BE as a matrix verb to TVP clauses offers some firm evidence that PCs are merely a special variant of a wider class of syntactic phenomena. What all such TVP clauses seem to have in common interpretively is a sensitivity to the control of one or more of their theta positions by the matrix Theme. Although I use the term "control" here, it often describes no Volitional or Causative relationship. It is more like a coherence factor, defining the likelihood of an actor, object or event participating in a certain way in two propositions. It is sufficient in many models to simply define control as co- indexing. The kind of graduated semantic constraints on co- indexing found in Peterson's sentences (Section 9) mean that our view of control in this analysis has to be more delicate. It is worth taking a little time to explore some examples of the wider set of TVP sentences. Only in this way is it possible to see what is unique to Purpose Clauses. Consider the following sets of sentences, which could not really be called purposive without diluting the meaning of that term to the point of insignificance.

^25 Pengi is exciting a) e to talk to ei                                 

b) for us to talk to ei                                 

c) * ei to talk to us.

^26 Pengi is excited

a) * e to talk to ei                                

b) * for us to talk to ei                                

c) ei to talk to usi

^27 Pengi is too excited

a) e to talk to ei                                      

b) for us to talk to ei                                      

c) ei to talk to us

Sentence sets ^25 and ^26 seem to be in some kind of complementary distribution, so what is going on ? Firstly, for the purposes of this exercise, BE is a syntactic predicator, but probably not part of the semantic predicate; (eg. refer to Huddlestone 1984:182). My real concern here is with the structure of propositions, so "predicate" shall refer to semantic predicates.

      Next, it is necessary to consider what the matrix predicate is predicated of. Williams (1980:208) assumed the antecedent of all predicates to be a lexical category. We will see that this is not necessarily so. In the case of ^25, exciting is a state predicated of some other actor (possibly the speaker) relative to Peng. In the case of ^26, excited is an involuntary state predicated of Peng. Finally in ^27, too excited is a state predicated of Peng, but the attributing Agent is vague, possibly the speaker or possibly Peng himself. Thus since the ^25 sentence set has a matrix predicated of an exophoric referent, its adjuncts must do likewise. ^25c, which tries to assert a predication of Peng, is uninterpretable. Conversely, the ^26 set of sentences is predicated of Peng, so its adjuncts cannot be predicated of any exophoric referent, as ^26a) & b) would have to be. The vague predication of the ^27 set of sentences permits all interpretations.

The consequences of these differences in predication are reflected in the acceptability of the various subordinate clauses. A common thread seems to be that the matrix predicate of TVPs must be attributed to the same referent as the predicate of the second clause. There is a further familiar pattern : it is always the Theme which controls an empty argument place in the lower clause. The properties discussed here we have also been attributing to Purpose Clauses.

      The preceding section considered some examples of Resultant State taken from Bach, and using the verb ready. Such structures are subject to the same controls on predication as excite, which does not of course make them PCs :

^28 Unaisii says shei is ready

a) * e to talk to ei                                              

b) * for us to talk to ei                                              

c) ei to talk to us.

As with ^26, the adjuncts in ^28 a) & b) are predicated of an exophoric argument while the matrix predicate is predicated of the matrix lexical Theme in Subject position : an unacceptable disjunction. Sentence ^28 c) is no problem of course since the matrix and adjunctive predicates are predicated of a common argument (Unaisi) .

      8b. Purpose Clauses as a sub-set of TVP Clauses

The adjectival constructions just surveyed had matrices rather different from PCs, although the control properties turned out to be rather similar. Even without straying too far from the notion of "purpose", it seems that some matrix verbs are rather idiosyncratic in subcategorizing for particular kinds of "Purpose Clauses" :

^29 We brought himi along [e to talk to ei].

^30 * We asked himi along [e to talk to ei].

^31 We asked himi along [ei to talk to us].

Sentence ^31 above illustrates what appears to be a Purpose Clause but which can only occur in SPC, not OPC form. This is not characteristic of other instances of Purpose Clauses : a matrix verb accepting one kind of PC will normally accept the other. With the sentences above, some might argue that the TVP in ^29 is an adjunct whereas the TVP in ^31 is a complement of the matrix verb. This looks more plausible with ^32 ,^33, ^34 although the judgment is murky.

      Below are sentences containing three more matrix verbs which seem unable to accept OPC-type adjuncts, although SPC-type adjuncts are fine. However two of these verbs can scarcely be conceived to generate "purposive" semantic environments. Sentences ^32 to ^34 are more examples of syntactic configurations with which PCs have much in common. The extent to which grammaticality is constrained by interpretive criteria within this syntactic commonality is therefore instructive.

^32 We invited him [e to talk to us\*e].

^33 We expected him [e to talk to us\*e].

^34 We wanted him [e to talk to us\*e].

The behaviour of the verbs just mentioned can be clarified somewhat by exploring their factive implications.

^35 *We brought him along, but he didn't come.

^36 We asked him along, but he didn't come.

It seems that for an adjunct or complement ( such as those found in ^29 to ^34) to accept the matrix Theme as controlling Subject/Agent for itself, the effect of the matrix verb on its own direct Object/Patient must be induced. In other words the matrix THEME must be Affected so that its "resultant state", as projected into the theta role of the PC, matches the Intent of the matrix AGENT. A verb such as invite is not subcategorized to induce an EFFECT on the Theme. It merely projects a possibility.

Consider ^29. Him is the matrix Theme. The condition of him is induced by brought along. While this interpretation stands, him can be projected into an empty theta role (Object position) of the adjunct verb talk. The Condition below tries to formulate the semantics succinctly.

      Purposive Constructions : Statement IV



In Purpose Clauses a lexically empty theta role may be controlled by the matrix Theme if that Theme is induced to manifest the Intent of the matrix Agent.

coda : Thematic control implicitly imposes a temporal condition on PCs. The projected action of V2 in a PC must always be subsequent to the presupposed action of the matrix verb V1.

The Condition of Manifested Intent successfully excludes sentences ^30 to ^34 from the typology of standard PCs. It captures the useful elements of Jones' and Bach's "resultant states" without the complications. It also assigns a very clear function to the notion of Agent in the grammar. The status of being "manifested" entails a factive presupposition for the matrix (except where it is in the future aspect).

      9. Caveats on The Condition of Manifested Intent

Peter Peterson (private communication) has observed that PC- type constructions such as

^37 *? The housei was painted [e to selli]

are more or less unacceptable despite "a pragmatic inference of Agency", and despite having Themes manifesting an Induced Effect. However the difficulty here has less to do with the deleted passive Agent than with what we might call "the domain of control" exercised from the matrix clause into the purposive adjunct. Compare these three sentences :

^38 a) Wei painted the house (in order) [ei to sell it].

^38 b) *? Wei painted the housej [ei to sell ej].

^38 c) Wei built the housej [ei to sell ej] Sentence

^38a) is a Rationale Clause; ^38c) is an OPC; ^38b) can be neither. What seems to be going on here is that the matrix Agent in ^38a) and ^38b) exercise only selective Effect on the Theme/Patient, house, through the matrix verb, paint, but a more holistic Effect into the adjunct theta position ei through sell. It is a bit hard to express this notion coherently, but it seems clear that sell and build Effect the totality of an object in a way that paint does not. The grammatical consequences of the difference are intriguing.


  Purposive Constructions : Statement V

Where the influence of the Agent exercised through both verbs is Thematically Coextensive, then the Object of the second verb may be deleted provided that it (the second Object) is coreferential with the Object of the first verb. However, where the Agent's influence is not Coextensive, then the Object of the second verb has to be represented by at least a lexical pronoun.

The preceding discussion certainly adds a semantic slant to so-called Equi-deletion. Thematic coextensiveness is open to subtle, and perhaps idiosyncratic interpretation, but it is an effective constraint. Note that it is directly applicable to the earlier discussion on Resultant States. A couple of important conclusions seem to derive from these examples.

Firstly, the thematic terms such as Agent and Theme which we have been dealing with are meta-labels for internally complex phenomena whose compositional nature may differ significantly in different environments.

Secondly, the kind of analysis of Purpose Clauses which is attempted here is not comprehensive. Working at a finer level of delicacy, semantic constraints of the kind just noted are likely to keep cropping up. This is also good evidence of course that an entirely "syntactic" analysis (in the traditional sense) is not likely to capture these finer distinctions either. Similar phenomena are endemic in the grammar. Elsewhere (May 1987) I have explored subtle changes in the value of controlling Themes in other environments with similar results.

  10. Summary of the properties of Purpose Clauses

It may be useful at this stage to summarize some properties of standard Purpose Clauses.


Purposive Constructions : Statement VI

1. Purpose Clauses are a subset of the class of TVPs (infinitival verb phrases);eg. compare with sentences ^31- ^36.

2. Purpose Clauses are sentential adjuncts to the matrix sentence. See Section 4.

3. Every PC has at least one lexically null NP position. OPCs normally have two lexically null NP positions; (that is, if they are interpreted as sentential adjuncts in TVP constructions).

4. A matrix verb which can accept SPCs can usually also accept OPCs, and vice versa, according to most analyses, but see sentence ^31.

5. One theta-role of a PC is controlled by the matrix Theme. Refer to Section 6, and the discussion on ^18-^20.

6. A Hierarchy of Thematic Control Condition normally applies in PCs such that the Theme of the matrix clause controls that gap in a PC which is the most nearly optimum thematic selection from a hierarchy of Instrument> Patient > Agent; (refer Section 6.1; see also Section 17 below).

7. The Theme-controlled theta-role in a regular PC is subject to an interpretive Condition of Manifested Intent; refer to Statement IV).

8. The projected action of V2 in a PC is always subsequent to the presupposed action on the verb in the matrix; (refer Statement IV).

9. In a purposive construction, the ellipsis of the Object of the verb in the adjunct is only possible when the matrix verb and the adjunctive verb subcategorize for semantically co-extensive Themes;(refer to Statement V). We might add a tenth point, more pragmatically determined :

10. The second lexically null position in an OPC takes the matrix Agent as controller by default;(see sub-section 6.1 for a pragmatic explanation of this). The pragmatic context of situation can override this default when appropriate; for example, see the discussion of sentences ^18-^20. See also the discussion on "purposeful possession", Section 14 below.

The first part of this thesis has identified the typical formulations of PCs. As adjuncts they always occur in association with matrix constructions, but not with all matrix constructions. It will therefore help to orientate the analysis if some attempt is made to identify relevant matrix environments.

      11. The Classification of Matrix Verb Environments

Because verbs play such pivotal roles in the construction of strings of natural language, and have as a consequence a multiplicity of functions, there are many ways in which they can be classified. For example, Bach, in speaking of "verbs of choice and use" (Section 16 below) attempts some sort of classification on the basis of participation in purposive-type constructions. If the overall analysis in this thesis shows anything, it must be that such classification can never extract more than fuzzy categories. It is with this caveat in mind that I propose a series of verb environments which vary in their hospitality to purposive expression. These environments centre on the subcategorization of matrix verbs. Note that it is likely (if other lexical behaviour is any guide) that certain lexical verbs will participate in more than one environment.


Environment I matrix verbs subcategorize a matrix Theme which has extensible reference: the Theme may be supplemented by a subordinate adjunct. "Extensible reference" means that an argument of the verb (Theme in this case) has its own, optional, extended argument set (in this case, an adjunct). This is a way of referring to the notion of control from another perspective. The matrix Theme in such constructions will exercise control into the adjoined construction. There is an implication, in standard purposive examples of the environment, of Volition-at-Source (which might not be lexically explicit). Examples of verbs eligible for Environment I are :

bring, buy, choose, use, be, have, propose, invite, marry, build, want …

Sample Environment 1 sentences might be :

^39 a) We used a hatchet. (..unextended THEME)

^39 b) We used a hatcheti [ei to strip the saplings] (..extended THEME)

Semantically, the extension of the Theme has the effect of modifying its condition or scope relative to the matrix verb.


Environment II matrix verbs subcategorize a matrix Theme which has terminal reference. "Terminal reference" means that the arguments of the matrix verb fully satisfy the unmarked semantic implications of the verb in a relevant context. This is vague, but so are semantic parameters.

By way of illustration, we typically ask of an instrumental verb like use, which has extensible reference : "What for?", ...while no such query is normally implicit in a verb like eat. Standard purposive examples in the environment imply Volition at Source (which might not be lexically explicit).

The matrix of verbs with Terminal Reference may be supplemented by a conjoined string with an independent structure. The matrix Theme cannot exercise control into such a conjoined structure (the Agent might) and any empty category may be of a PRO form. An example of such a structure would be a Rationale Clause. Thematic coreference for these verbs may also be supplemented by devices such as relativization and prepositional location. Examples of verbs eligible to participate in Environment II are:

read, eat, see, come, leave, kill, enjoy (where volition can be inferred).

Verbs eligible for Environment I are generally eligible for Environment II also, but the reverse is not true. Sample Environment 2 sentences might be :

^40 a) Jezebel eats ginger. (..THEME with terminal reference)

^40 b) *Jezebel eats gingeri [ei to flavour everything] (..THEME not extensible)

^40 c) Jezebeli eats ginger [in order ei to keep the doctor away]. (..Conjoined supplement to S1)

Environment I really defines (although not sufficiently) where Purpose Clauses may be found, while Environment II is congenial to Rationale Clauses.



Environment III is a collective description for the bulk of matrix types which obligatorily take so-called Sentential Complementizers : THAT, FOR-TO & POSS'-ING.

In Environment III the matrix clause cannot exist independently. The matrix verb makes obligatory transclausal reference to arguments in the complement construction.

Where particular verbs are able to operate in simple sentences (i.e. NP+V+NP) as well as Environment III, then they may have different meanings for each application. For example:

^41 a) Harry likes that woman.

^41 b) Harry likes that woman to work for him.

Examples of verbs eligible to participate in Environment 3 would be:

like, want, believe, know, order, force, tough...


12. Some Specific Purpose Clause Environments

Bach (1982: 38) lists a number of environments to which he claims PC matrices are restricted, although by the criteria established in the last section he is not sufficiently restrictive. It will be productive to examine some of these environments. Note that I turn them in ways which the author never intended.

    13. HAVE Expressing Obligation

Bach describes typical purposive environments for have and be as being "... in place, on hand, available, at one's disposal, in existence." The following examples are Bach's:

^42 Mary has her motheri [to consider ei].

^43 War and Peacei is available [(for X) to read ei] to the students.

If ^43 is purposive (which is debatable) it is certainly no ordinary PC. Sentence ^43 is comparable in most ways to the adjectival construction, ^27: the predicator of the matrix and subordinate clauses is a vague attributing Agent. It is true that things are usually "available" for a purpose while too excited is not a volitional condition. In this instance however, the semantic distinction seems to have no material bearing on the well-formedness or interpretive felicity of the sentences.

There are good reasons for believing that ^42 is not a Purpose Clause at all. Recall that a necessary condition for PCs was that the matrix and subordinate verbs be sequenced in terms of action. Consider is not subsequent to have, but part of the same concept. That is, have (X) could almost be called a modal property of consider. The have in ^42 thus expresses Mary's obligation, a traditional modal function. An intriguing facet of this quasi-modal role for have is that it does affect the syntax of the subordinate clause by making it more complement-like than adjunct-like. In this it differs from possessive HAVE.

      14. HAVE Expressing Possession

There is a sense of have which seems amenable to an interpretation of "latent Agency", and that is its possessive use. A possessor in some way has "command" of an advantage which may be exploited, and a Purpose Clause can express the nature of that potential exploitation.

^44 Maryi has her motherj [ ei to talk to ej].
^45 The troops have enough suppliesi [ei to last them through winter].

The objection might be raised that in these sentences also, have and V2 exhibit no sequence. However it seems to me, on reflection, that possession does have an ontological priority to V2 in both ^44 and ^45. Furthermore, the subordinate constructions are adjuncts, not complements, a syntactic property evidently stemming from the semantics of the situation. Some short texts may make this more obvious :

^46 + Can Lisa come ? * No, she has her mother. [OBLIGATION]

^47 + Will the child be cared for ? - Yes, he has parents. [POSSESSION]

The one property which is missing here is any surface expression of active purpose itself. It is normally the Intent and active Volition, the Agency, of NP1 relative to the adjunct which leads us to talk of Purpose (and Rationale) Clauses. This is not to say that a purposive phrase (with quite arbitrary reference) can't be read into the sentences :

^48 Mary has her mother [serving the purpose of someone] to talk to. ^49 The troops have enough food [for the purpose of] lasting them through winter.

The periphrastic insertions in ^48 and ^49 suggest perhaps that the Theme of have in these sentences is presupposed to manifest the Intent of the matrix Subject, which thereby assumes Agentive overtones. That is, we reinterpret have in this context to imply something more than possession.

  15. "Transitive Verbs Involving Continuance or Change of State"

Bach's description of on type of PC environment (1982: 38) referred to : "... transitive verbs which involve continuance or change in the states of affairs indicated in (the matrix) and are of a "positive" sort...". "Positive" seems to mean that the action expressed in the adjunct is not contrary to the purpose implied by the matrix. As examples he gives sentences such as the following :

^50 We always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen [to use e in case of fire].

^51 I got it [to prop up the porch with e ]. Precluded sentences lacking the necessary "positive" qualities were said to be :

^52 ? I sent him out [for us [to talk to e ]].

^53 ? I keep it out of my office [to manage my students with e].

      15a) COMMENT :"Positive" Adjuncts

The first thing to say about the category of phenomena instanced here, if it is a category, is that sentences such as ^52 and ^53 are strange for non-linguistic reasons. With a little imagination it is possible to find pragmatic contexts which will accommodate them. (In ^52, for example, he could be helping to test a new intercom system). I think we can disregard the notion of "positive" as a systematic criterion for Purpose Clauses. As we saw in Section 5, sentence ^13, there are always pragmatic factors like this which will influence communicative felicity in a given context. Perhaps thematic coextensiveness (Statement V) has something to do with what Bach is trying to express. Note however that Thematic Coextensiveness is systematic in a way that the arbitrary collocations of ^50-^53 are not.

      15b) COMMENT : Continuance and Change of State

The concepts of continuance or change of State cannot in themselves identify a purposive situation. Either condition may come about non-volitionally, as in :

^55 It kept raining.

^56 It stopped raining.

Purposive action will of course be intended to bring about either the continuance of a desired State or a change to a new State. Therefore immutably stative matrix verbs (there aren't many) are not congenial to Purpose or Rationale Clauses.

^57 ?* Fred knew Harry to annoy him.

But even with a verb like KNOW the language is apt to acquire idiosyncratic purposive meanings :

^58 Fredi knew Harryj [ei to talk to ej].

There is not necessarily Manifested Intent here. The construction is also awkward in modern English as an SPC :

^59 Fred knew Harryi [ei to talk to the trees]

We have to admit though that ^58 has the syntactic and control properties of a PC, as with a number of previous examples. It is also common for usually Experiential (hence non-Volitional) verbs to acquire a Volitional patina in the environment of Purposive Phrases:

^60 Meg enjoyed herself [just to spite her husband].

Bach's general criteria involving State must therefore be treated with extreme caution. It seems that State relates to one description of how verbs might typically behave, but that there are almost always contexts available in which the typical stative- degree of a given verb may be varied.

      16. Some Problems in Thematic Control

    Matrix "verbs of choice and use" constitute another category of PC environments identified by Bach. Examples which he cites are:

^61 I chose War and Peacei [to read ei [to the students]].

^62 I used iti [to slice salami with ei ].

Examples contrary to the type are said to be:

^63 * Ii read War and Peacej [ei to impress my friends with ej].

^64 * He came in to talk to.

It is unclear to me why "verbs of choice and use", of all the possible matrix verbs should form a special category for defining PCs. They are certainly candidates for accepting PCs but they fall into a much broader category of verb types. It is not obvious either why ^63 and ^64 are thought to be specifically contrastive with "choice and use". If we consider Bach's Verbs of Choice and Use ( as well as his other examples) in the light of Environments I and II it becomes clear that they are best subsumed into more general constraints. Nevertheless, it will be instructive to examine the deviance of these sentences.

It turns out that an explanation of the deviance of ^68 has a bearing on that of ^64 (refer Section 18). Sentence ^63 is closely related to the rationale construction ^65.

^65 Ii read War and Peace (in order) [ ei to impress my friends].

Also, note ^66 :

^66 Ii brought War and Peacej in order [ ei to impress my friends with itj ].


^67 * Ii brought War and Peacej in order [ ei to impress my friends with ej ].

^68 Ii brought War and Peacej [ ei to impress my friends with ej]

Sentence ^68 may not be acceptable to all speakers. The semantic properties of the matrix verb are influencing the behaviour of adjuncts in these sentences. It seems that read creates a "closed environment" for its Theme, one in which it cannot act as controller of an adjunct;(see Section 11). Since the matrix Subject of ^63 is therefore the only available controller for theta positions in the construction's adjuncts, the sentence should have the form of a Rationale Clause (as in ^65).

The theta role in the ellipted adverbial phrase in ^63 (with ej) is Instrumental. War and Peace is the only potential Instrumental controller, but the subcategorization of read precludes it from that role. As for ^68, briefly, ej as a trace is bound, and in order governs the COMP position, precluding PRO. This argument will be developed more thoroughly in the section on Rationale Clauses. Bring generates an environment which permits its Theme to act as a controller into adjuncts. This enables (the marginal) ^68 to pass as a kind of Purpose Clause. But what kind of a Purpose Clause is ^68 ? Clearly it does not conform to the existing specifications. I will call it an Instrumental Purpose Clause. Here we need to digress to explore the nature of this new species.

      17. Instrumental Purpose Clauses

Consider these constructions :

^69 Ii brought the Chevvyj [[ei to impress your friends] with ej]

^70 Ii brought the Chevvyj [[ei to impress ek ] with ej]

Here is an adjunct to an adjunct, yet with the lowest theta position still controlled in a way that is strongly analogous to an OPC. In ^70 it may be that a "hierarchy of thematic control condition" selects Instrumental ej over the arbitrary Patient ek or the Agentive ei for control by the matrix Theme. With is often associated with instrumentals anyway (although not always; see the phrase, "with instrumentals", in this sentence itself). Why is it that ^71 is OK but ^72 is excluded ?

^71 I brought the Chevvyi [for you to impress your friends [with ei ]].

^72 * I brought the Chevvyi [in order [for you to impress your friends [with ei ]]].

As the bracketing suggests, I think that there are some important differences between the two sentences. The following paradigms attempt to bring this out :

^73 Ii brought the Chevvyj …

a) ø
b) ei to impress your friends [with ej]
c) for you
d) for you to impress your friends [ with tj ]]

^74 I brought the Chevvy ...

a) * in order
b) * in order for you
c) in order for you to impress your friends.
d) * in order for you to impress your friends with t.

In ^74 c) and d) the lower construction is embedded within the complex conjunction in order. As with ^67, this creates barriers to the control of trace by the matrix Theme;(see Chapter III). A tree structure of ^73d may help to clarify the control mechanisms :

The ^73 constructions have the appearance of a matrix sentence progressively supplemented by adjuncts adding to adjuncts. However, the single adverbial  for-phrase of ^73c is effectively re-analyzed with "extensible reference" into the full sentential adjunct of ^73d.

Note that a pronoun governed by for will always have accusative case marking (e.g. ^75). If we follow the general formulation of LGB, ti in ^73 is able to overcome Opacity because of a PRO in the COMP of S2. Whatever the model conceptualization, the net effect is that the Instrumental anaphor ej is not blocked from control by the matrix Theme.

      18. Purpose Clauses Controlled by an Intransitive Matrix

Now it is appropriate to turn to an explanation of Bach's other quirky sentence:

^64 * He came in [ei to talk to ej ]

The main verb in ^64 is intransitive. Are transitive matrix verbs obligatory to the environment of Purpose Clauses ? The be ready type of sentences (^23,^28) have been accepted by some analysts as purposive constructions, although I have argued against it here. Certainly such adjectival constructions accept lower clauses which look syntactically and behave thematically rather like PCs.

However, where constructions are semantically purposive but intransitive, the Subject/Agent will normally control a Rationale Clause. Rationale Clauses cannot have null Object positions for syntactic reasons. Sentence ^64 certainly cannot be a Rationale Clause since the only available controller would default to control ei, leaving ej as arbitrary. There are a couple of important constructions related to ^64 however :

^75 Hej came in [ for us to talk to ej ]]

^76 Hei came in [ (in order) ei to talk to us ]

Sentence ^76 is a regular Rationale Clause, and what we would expect of an intransitive matrix. ^75 may not be acceptable to all speakers, but it is definitely a possibility for most. The interesting thing about ^75 is that it is a valid Purpose Clause with an intransitive matrix. This unusual combination seems made possible by the governed lexical Subject in the subordinate clause. The matrix Subject is left free to control the Object theta position of the PC.


Rationale Clauses have been mentioned a number of times in the context of PCs, both being purposive constructions. The semantic differences in some discourse contexts may seem ambiguous or even unimportant. Most linguists, looking at the forms more precisely, have chosen to sharply distinguish Purpose and Rationale Clauses on both configurational and thematic grounds. What follows will mostly reflect these distinctions, although later it will be seen that certain sentences exist which incorporate what were thought to be mutually exclusive features from both.

      19. Types of Rationale Clauses

A Rationale Clause conventionally heads an infinitival construction with an optional conjunct, in order, as in :

^77 We study grammar (in order) to plumb the mysteries of the mind.

I can see no reason for not recognizing as, let us say, Type II Rationale Clauses, those which take a that complement:

^78 We study grammar in order that we might understand nature better.

Jones (1985:118) has suggested a selection of Rationale Clause Properties. They are recorded here for reference, although the analysis immediately following demonstrates a far more complex picture.

      Purposive Constructions : Statement VII

a) The Subject gap of Rat.C is controlled by the matrix Agent, if there is one.

b) If there is no matrix AGENT, as in a passive, then Rat.C is controlled by an implied Agent.

c) Rat.C has S-level status, as opposed to the VP status of a Purpose Clause (in Jones' model).

d) Rat.C seems to be an S~.

e) Rat.C needn't have a Subject gap.

The first step in testing the properties outlined in Statement VII is probably to define a configurational context in the syntax for Rationale Clauses. Compound functional units like in order are always difficult to align with traditional word classes. Following Huddlestone (1984:345) I am going to call in order a complex subordinating conjunction. No orthodoxy is claimed for the diagramming below, but it seems feasible to fit in order into a constituent structure as follows : ^77

In these paradigms the conjunction [G1] evidently governs the complementizer for or that [C1]. For may be optionally ellipted. The inability to ellipt that seems to entail a condition that its governor, in order should also be lexically present. In any case, in order may not be ellipted when V2 is intransitive (see ^4). For or that govern a lexical Subject in S2.

When for is ellipted the Subject of S2 must be an ungoverned, empty category, PRO, controlled by the theta role (normally Agent) in the Subject position of the matrix clause.

An ellipted Object is not available in Rationale Clauses because NP2 as a trace would be bound in its governing category with no possibility of being coindexed to a PRO in the COMP slot. In order makes the COMP slot a governed position, and PRO is never governed.

Note that the COMP containing for must govern an untensed S, while the COMP containing that must govern a tensed S.

Finally, the obligatory modal in the that-type Rationale Clauses seems to have something to do with the truth conditions generated by the complex conjunction, in order in a temporally defined environment. The S~ status of in order may be compared to the VP~ status of another purposive marker, the pro-verbal so that.

^79 The car will wait VP~[so that S[we can escape]].

^80 *The car will wait S~[in order that S[we can escape]].

^81 *The car will wait S~[in order for S[us to escape]].

The complement of a so that construction matches the tense of its governing matrix verb, but is opaque to any obvious thematic control from the matrix. A semantic peculiarity of so that Clauses is the effect on them of modal modification. Without a modal their interpretation is typically Causative rather than Purposive :

^82 Lisa came early so that she could practice the piano.

^83 *Lisa came early so that she practiced the piano.

^84 Isabel came late so that she missed the main event.

Rat.C. and PC, in contrast to so that Clauses, remain independent of the tense of the matrix verb (except for Relative Tense : see the next section), but are subject to thematic control by its arguments .

There would thus appear to be a significant complementary relationship between dependencies of tense and thematic dependencies. A close look at Rationale Clauses proves that we must go beyond purely configurational syntax for any reasonable explanation of the influence of factivity and temporality in such constructions.

      20. Temporality and Factivity

Rationale Clauses not only lack a presupposed factivity, they are unable to assert actual factivity. The matrix sentence of a Rat.C. construction asserts a fact which is speculated to enable the action or event of the Rationale Clause itself. This speculative argument is not located in the speaker's real-world time frame but only relative to the matrix sentence.

In this Rationale Clauses are comparable to Purpose Clauses. A contrast may be drawn with the S-level subordinating conjunction, because. Because, like Rat.C. and PC, is purposive in design, but precisely reverses the chain of causation. In a complex sentence containing because, S1 is always Rta (see below) relative to S2 : its action is subsequent to that of the second sentence.

The truth value of S1 is presupposed in a because-Clause, whereas two levels of truth value are asserted for the coordinated construction as a whole. It can be expressed like this :

^85 There exists S1 such that (S1 BECAUSE (S2 implies S1))

Thus it is asserted a) that S2 is true, and b) that an implication holds between S2 and S1. In a Rationale Clause the truth value of S1 is also presupposed, but the pattern of implication is reversed :

^86 There exists S1 such that (S1 IN ORDER (S1 implies S2))

It follows from the above that in a because construction a temporal relationship between speaker and event (morphological tense) must be expressed in S2 since a) S1 is a consequent of S2, and b) S1 is already presupposed (and thus has an historical time frame relative to the speaker).

In a Rationale Construction however, the presupposed S1 is not a consequent of S2. S2 is not an historical occurrence but a rationale, a "reason for action". Therefore in order-Clauses are either temporally neutral between speaker and event (with for) or conditional (with that).

There is a formal requirement in Rationale Clauses that the ordering of Relative Tense be

S1/Rtb > S2.

Rtb = "Relative Tense before", implying that the action of the matrix verb precedes that of the complement. (Rta = "Relative Tense after"). Relative Tense is discussed in detail elsewhere. See particularly May (1987)).

In order differs from a coordinating conjunction that generates structure in which Rt is merely contingent upon the pragmatic relationships between what the two sentences describe, with the conjoining operator (e.g. and) remaining neutral.

      21. Thematic Properties of Rationale Clauses

Jones' first two characteristics of Rationale Clauses, concerning Agentive control, lead us to direct thematic description. Whereas Purpose Clauses are concerned with a control relationship between a matrix Theme and an adjunct, Rationale Clauses express a relationship between some Sentient Agent and the adjunct. The underlying semantic requirement for a Sentient Agent-Source is absolute.

Some of the examples in the next few paragraphs will demonstrate that the Agent-Source of a Rationale Clause need have no structural representation at all, but without its implied existence such constructions cannot be interpreted. Note however that I have not described this semantic requirement as "control".

Jones' condition (a), that the Subject gap of a Rationale Clause must be controlled by the matrix Agent, if there is one, can be partly predicted from the general function of Rationale Clauses, and the behaviour of Agents in English sentences.

That is, we start from the premise that a Rationale Clause is designed to explain either an Agent's behaviour or something created by an Agent.

Next we observe that the Agent may participate in the linguistic structure at varying depths :

^87 There was a bollard in order that small craft could tie up at the wharf.

^88 There was a buoy in order to facilitate anchorage.

^89 The window concealed a two-way mirror in order to make surveillance easy.

^90 Harry brought cards in order for everyone to have something to do. ^91 Fran brought Allison in order to be popular.

The hand of a sentient Agent is evident in sentences ^87 to ^91. Moreover the Agent must have had an intent specific to the Rationale Clause :

^92 *There was a bollard in order that Fred could tie his boat up, but Jack, who put the bollard there, had never heard of Fred.

It has frequently been observed that the controller of PRO is inherently arbitrary, but tends to be selected according to some thematic hierarchy. This is where Jones' conditions come into play, but they must be modified, especially condition b), that an implied Agent controls Rationale Clauses in the absence of a matrix lexical Agent.

Certainly, in ^91 the matrix Agent (Fran) is controller of e and hence of the Rationale Clause.(It is also relevant to ^91 that English Agents are almost always found in Subject position).

But where the Rationale Clause has a lexical Subject (^87,^90; Jones' condition e]), no clause- external controller is represented in the grammar. Theta position e will also select a lexical controller in the matrix in preference to an arbitrary exophoric Agent-controller, even though the lexical controller is not an Agent (^89) nor even a matrix Subject (^88). That is, the window is controller in ^95 and a buoy in ^88.

Nevertheless, the whole arrangement is still predicated of an arbitrary Agent-Source.

      22. Cohesion in Rationale Clause Environments

The net effect of the factive and thematic properties of in order is that, like for and together with it, it exercises discourse cohesion between conjoined sentences. It is not a "colourless" tie like and. I will make this explicit by saying that in order carries a "cohesive feature". It is really a meta-feature whose semantic properties may be summarized as follows:

  Purposive Constructions : Statement IX



    1. In order carries the cohesive feature, ENABLE (En). This feature condenses the information below :

[S1] ENABLE [S2] ..where the putative action or property of S1 has a sentient origin and can be pragmatically construed as enabling (but not logically presupposing) the action or event of S2.

The "action" of S1 may be pragmatically speculative (e.g. wish to go), but is most often lexically explicit in an activity verb (e.g. go).

Note however that normally stative verbs may be placed in periphrastic phrases where some change of state is anticipated or implied;(e.g. wish to know).

2. An initiator (Agent) of the putative action in S1 may be lexically explicit, or implicit.

^93 They opened the hatch in order to see the cargo.

^94 The hatch was opened in order to see the cargo.

Any initiator of the putative action in S1 must be Sentient.

^95 ?# The tree fell over in order to crush me.

3. Finally, S1 may merely express a circumstance or property which enables subsequent action, but that property must have some source in sentient design.

^96 The carburettor had a window in the float chamber in order to permit inspection.

^97 * The mountain range had a pass at three thousand metres in order for us to traverse it.



23. The Definition of Infinitival Relative Clauses

Under certain conditions a single NP can be the antecedent to an infinitival clause. Such clauses are known as Infinitival Relative Clauses.

^98 A man [e to be nice to her] is what she needs.

^99 These are pillars [e to hold up the porch].

Infinitival Relatives are specifying devices, and therefore may only occur with unspecified nouns. Since proper nouns and pronouns are uniquely specified, they cannot take an Infinitival Relative Clause.

^100 *Harry [e to talk to the children] was asked for.

^101 *He [e to give a demonstration] arrived at noon.

It is thus always possible to establish the relative clause status, as opposed to PC status, of a construction by substituting a definite pronoun for the controlling NP.

^102 I saw the book\*it [e to give to your sister].

Infinitival Relatives usually do have a purposive flavour about them, but it is parenthetic (in the manner of regular relative clauses) to the main intent of the sentence. Nevertheless, even where the overt purpose is Instrumental, as in ^99, interpretation depends upon an Agent\Source at some depth of inference.

If a sentence like ^100 is converted to an active form, we get a construction which may (with an unspecified NP) be ambiguous between a Purpose Clause and an Infinitival Relative. This can be a source of confusion.

^103 They asked for Harry \ a man [e to talk to the children].

Thus in ^103 the interpretation of Harry is clear : matrix Theme followed by a Purpose Clause; but a man may be either Theme before a PC or antecedent to an infinitival relative. The infinitival relative version can be embedded :

^104 They asked for a man [ e to talk to the children] to be there by noon.

Infinitival relatives are a very special subset of TVPs because they are also constrained by the conditions applying to relative clauses. Since the antecedent of a relative clause is so closely defined in configurational terms in English, there is no need or scope to appeal to thematic factors to find the controller of e in the relative clause: it must be the most proximate lexical NP to the left.


This thesis has analyzed a range of purposive constructions in English.

Chapter I attempted to identify syntactic and thematic properties which could be said to define a recognizable class of "standard" Purpose Clauses. These were found to have a typical syntactic configuration but to be dependent for interpretation upon the control of an empty theta position in the PC by the Theme of the matrix clause. Matrix verbs were seen to subcategorize in ways which permitted or inhibited their Themes from controlling sentential adjuncts, including purposive constructions.

Chapter II explored a number of problematic examples of purposive constructions. A special kind of Instrumental Purpose Clause, and an unusual class of OPC with an intransitive matrix, were both found to be explicable within the standard syntactic/thematic framework proposed for regular PCs.

Chapter III investigated the nature of Rationale Clauses. These were found to accommodate the subordinating conjunction in order (sometimes ellipted). It was proposed that in order governed either for or that in COMP. The governor of the complementizer in this way had important consequences for Opacity in the lower construction. In order+for could be ellipted together with NP1 on the lower clause, in which case that empty theta (Subject) position was typically controlled by the matrix Agent.

Rationale Clauses are unable to assume factivity, and this was shown to correlate closely with their temporal properties. Rationale Clauses were found to depend absolutely upon an Agentive Source at some level of inference, although the fact might not be signalled in the syntax at all. In this sense thematic properties were prior to syntactic properties as constraints in the grammar.

Finally, a meta-thematic feature, ENABLE, was proposed to express the role of in order in sustaining discourse cohesion.

Chapter IV very briefly outlined the characteristics of infinitival relative clauses. These were seen to be a special set of TVPs (infinitival phrases), doubly constrained by their purposive status and their status as relative clauses.

      Final Comment

I believe that there are valuable insights to be gained into the nature of natural languages by searching for pattern between syntactic form and human cognition. The kind of analysis attempted here may suggest that the meanings which we communicate through language can be more closely or less closely "boxed in" by syntactic form.

Although the level of syntactic explicitness varies, it seems a justifiable prediction that the control exercised by thematic relations will be much more pervasive. There is no doubt however that thematic relations and some of the constants claimed for the configurational syntax of LGB seemed to mesh nicely in the data examined.

Where thematic relations fail to use syntactic markers (like case) as a vehicle, their effect on language can still be made manifest by virtue of cognitive, perceptual and presuppositional constants shared by the communicators. Thematic Coextensiveness seemed to work at this level.

We might predict more variability in linguistic judgments of "correctness" amongst speakers where syntactic explicitness is diminished.

This study has taken English as its domain. Other languages apply the scaffolding of surface syntax differently. Semantic concepts like Purpose and Cause may be interpreted universally, so there is much scope for exploring how such meaning is preserved with, and without, syntactic form in a variety of environments.

      APPENDIX : Thematic Relations

Considerable reference has been made to theta roles and to Case. The concepts of thematic relations and grammatical relations have been used in linguistics in a variety of ways, not always explicit or consistent.

The research referred to in this thesis mostly employs the term theta role (Ø) to mean thematic relations and Case as a grammatical relation, both broadly in the sense intended by Chomsky (1981).

The term thematic relation itself has been borrowed from Jackendoff (1978). Note that thematic relations have also been called semantic relations (e.g. in van Oosten, 1984) and deep case labels (e.g. by Fillmore, Starosta and many others).

To facilitate the argumentation I adhere in general to the terms theta role or thematic relation, and Case . However my understanding of the basis of thematic relations (in particular) is considerably more explicit than that usually found elsewhere, so it may be as well to offer an abbreviated explanation here; (May, 1988 (ms) has a fuller account).


  a) Inherent thematic properties

Inherent thematic properties like Animacy are validated non-linguistically. They are generalized abstract properties from the class of things which lexical items symbolize, and hence by extension may become "symbolized properties" of lexical items themselves, particularly of nouns.

In cognitive (non-linguistic) terms, inherent thematic properties can also be defining constituents of thematic relations. Hence Intent and Agent incorporate the inherent feature Sentience as a defining condition. These defining conditions become associated, again by the vicarious process of symbolization, with the use of thematic concepts in linguistic grammars.

      b) Relational thematic properties

Relational thematic properties like Intent and meta-categories like Agent are also validated non-linguistically. That is, they are philosophical/ psychological categories.

They are generalized, abstract descriptions of certain relationships that are perceived by human beings to hold between things, acts and events, all of which are symbolized by language.

Note that theta roles are effectively bundles of thematic features and are normally described by meta-labels such as Theme, Goal, Agent, Patient etc., although this compositional nature is not frequently alluded to in generative grammars.

It is also true (as Jones notes) that meta-categories are often not mutually exclusive because their constituents can be drawn from quite different classes of phenomena (locative, temporal, psychological .. and so on).

The linguistic symbolization of cognitive categories is systematic to varying degrees at levels encompassing the language specific, dialectal and even idiolectal. There may also be language-universal characteristics of such symbolization, although that is a matter for investigation.

One candidate for a language-universal mechanism in the symbolization of thematic relations is the role played by verbs and prepositions (or their analogues) in generating semantic coherence by assigning coreferents for thematic relations amongst the constituents of a sentence (or indeed, a text). The description of such a thematic assignment is facilitated by reference to grammatical relations, however these happen to be manifested.

This convenience easily leads to an assumption of co- occurrence restrictions and/or requirements between certain thematic relations and certain grammatical relations. Regularities of this kind are interesting when found, and certainly play a major part in making language learnable and interpretable. However irregularities in grammatical/thematic alignment also suggests that the association may be fairly arbitrary.

It is a mistake to require of a linguistic model categorical regularity of association at this level. Actual linguistic usage has to be the final arbiter.


Bach E. 1982 "Purpose Clauses and Control" in Jacobson & Pullum, op.cit.

Comrie B. 1976 Aspect Cambridge, U.K.: C.U.P. Chierchia G. 1984 Topics In The Syntax And Semantics Of Gerunds, Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Chomsky N. 1980 "On Binding" in Linguistic Inquiry, Vol.11,1 __________ 1981 Lectures On Government And Binding , Dordrecht

Foris Faraci R. 1974 Aspects Of The Grammar Of Infinitives & For-Phrases, Ph.D. thesis, M.I.T.

Fillmore C. 1968 "The Case for Case" in Bach E. & R. Harmes (eds.) Linguistic Theory, New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Grice H.P. 1981 "Presupposition and Conversational Implicature" in P. Cole (ed.) Radical Pragmatics, New York: Academic Press

Gruber J. 1976 Lexical Structures In Syntax And Semantics, Amsterdam: North Holland

Heinamaki O. 1978 Semantics Of English Temporal Connectives, Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club

Horrocks G. 1987 Generative Grammar, London: Longman

Huddlestone R. 1984 Introduction To The Grammar Of English, Cambridge, U.K.: C.U.P.

Jones C. 1985 "Agent, Patient and Control in Purpose Clauses", in CLS 21, Part 2, April 1985; Chicago: Chicago University Linguistics Seminars

Jacobson P. & K. Pullum 1982 The Nature Of Syntactic Representation, Amsterdam: D. Reidel

Jackendoff R. 1972 Semantic Interpretation In Generative Grammar, Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press

Li C. 1976 Subject And Topic , New York: Academic Press

Marantz A. 1981 On The Nature Of Grammatical Relations, Ph.D. thesis, M.I.T.

May T. 1987 "Verbs of Result in the Complements of Raising Constructions", Australian Journal Of Linguistics, 7, 1, 1987: 25-43

_____ 1988 "Inherent Features as Constituents of Grammatical Agency", ms, University of the South Pacific, Fiji

____ 1988 "The Lexical Nature of Thematic Features", ms, University of the South Pacific, Fiji

Nishigauchi T. 1984 "Control and the Thematic Domain" ,in Language, 60,2

Radford A. 1981 Transformational Syntax , Cambridge, U.K.: C.U.P.

__________ 1988 Transformational Grammar, Cambridge, U.K.: C.U.P.

Saksena A. 1980 "The Affected Agent" in Language 56,4, December 1980

__________ 1982 "Contact in Causation" in Language 58,4, December 1982

Starosta S. 1978 "The One Per Sent Solution" in W. Abraham (ed.) Valence, Semantic Case And Grammatical Relations, Amsterdam: John Benjamins BV

van Oosten J. 1984 The Nature Of Subjects, Topics & Agents : A Cognitive Explanation, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley

Williams E. 1980 "Predication", Linguistic Inquiry, 11,1

__________ 1984 "Grammatical Relations" in Linguistic Inquiry, 15,4

    Purposive Constructions in English (c) Thor May 1994; all rights reserved  



Thanks are due to the Linguistics staff at the University of Newcastle, N.S.W., who gave me an intellectual home for so long. In particular, Professor Ray Cattell, Dr. Peter Peterson and Dr. George Horn acted at various times as supervisors during the preparation of this research. Peter Peterson and anonymous referees offered comments on an earlier draft prior to publication in the Australian Journal of Linguistics, (1990:Vol. 10,1 ). Special proxy thanks should also be given to Charles Jones and Emmon Bach whose respective papers, "Agent, Patient & Control in Purpose Clauses" and "Purpose Clauses & Control", I used as stalking horses throughout the analysis, sometimes in ways that might have surprised them.

History of this document

This paper was first published in the Australian Journal of Linguistics, 1990:Vol. 10,1.

* The material was originally written as part of a doctoral dissertation in Theoretical Linguistics (the topic was Grammatical Agency) at the University of Newcastle, NSW. I decided to withdraw from that PhD candidature when I could no longer remain convinced by the linguistic models at its core, such as Noam Chomsky's Government & Binding, or even Joan Bresnan's Lexical Functional approach. This is relevant to interpreting the paper as it is presented here, although the actual issues with which the content deals are, I hope, still usefully clarified by the argumentation.

Administrative policies at the University of Newcastle at that time did not allow for converting any material from the large amount of research I had done into a Masters dissertation. Both my supervisor and I found this unacceptable. Much later, the content of this paper was accepted as a thesis, submitted to the faculty of Greenwich University, Hawaii, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in Formal and Applied Linguistics. Approved: 6 June, 1994. Examiner: Peter Peterson, PhD, Head of Department, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. That is, professor Peterson agreed to act as an adjunct examiner for Greenwich University, Hawaii. (Unfortunately, that institution no longer exists). The PhD which I finally obtained from the University of Newcastle has no relationship at all to this material.

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Note 1: This paper was first published in
Australian Journal of Linguistics, 1990:Vol. 10,1.

Note 2: The content was accepted as a thesis, submitted to the Faculty of Greenwich University, Hawaii, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in Formal and Applied Linguistics. Approved: Date: 6 June, 1994. Examiner: Peter Peterson, PhD, Head of Department, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

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