This paper outlines an analysis of existential there-constructions. It highlights several properties of these constructions that have thus far remained unexplained and others that have been resistant to analysis. The core facts that this paper sets out to explain concern the failure of non-nominal property-type expressions and count bare singulars to appear in there-existentials (e.g. *There is blue, and *There is professor of philosophy at Yale), as well as certain non-agreement facts (There's kids in the room). The main contention is that there-existentials involve secondary predication, and that the constraint requiring the postverbal expression to be larger than an NP is imposed by minimal syntactic-semantic constraints on predication, namely that, as the subject of a secondary predicate, the postverbal expression must be of an appropriate syntactic and semantic type.
Proceedings of the 26th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Charles B. Chang and Hannah J. Haynie
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