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On the morpho-syntax of possessive constructions

Judy B. Bernstein
p. 55-76


Possessive constructions in English, Spanish, and French differ in several ways. This article considers variation in word order, in the expression of agreement, and in the appearance of a preposition. The article generalizes to Spanish and French Bernstein & To r t o r a ’s (2005) analysis of English possessive constructions, particularly the idea that the prenominal possessive constructions are distinct from the postnominal ones. All three languages display a prenominal possessive form that cannot co-occur with an article, supporting the idea that these forms must (eventually) occupy a DP-internal position. Postnominal possessive constructions display various patterns crosslinguistically. That of is required in English is consistent with the idea (see Kayne, 1993) that the movement assumed is DP internal. This also applies to Spanish and French possessive constructions with lexical DPs, which display de. In Spanish, no preposition appears with postnominal possessive pronouns, which display properties of predicative adjectives. The analysis assumes a reduced relative structure with a possessive adjective and suppressed C (not D). In French, à appears with a non-possessive pronoun. Nevertheless, there is some support for the idea that the French construction is derived parallel to the English one.

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Judy B. Bernstein, « On the morpho-syntax of possessive constructions »Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes, 34 | 2005, 55-76.

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Judy B. Bernstein, « On the morpho-syntax of possessive constructions »Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes [En ligne], 34 | 2005, mis en ligne le 22 décembre 2006, consulté le 30 mars 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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Judy B. Bernstein

William Paterson University

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