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Measure phrases as modifiers of adjectives

Roger Schwarzschild
p. 207-228


In some languages, measure phrases can appear with non-compared adjectives : 5 feet tall. I address three questions about this construction: (a) Is the measure phrase an argument of the adjective or an adjunct? (b) What are we to make of the markedness of this construction *142lbs heavy? (c) Why is it that the markedness disappears once the adjective is put in the comparative (2 inches taller alongside 2lbs heavier)? I claim that because degree arguments are ‘functional’, the measure phrase has to be an adjunct and not a syntactic argument of the adjective. Like event modifiers in extended NPs and in VPs, the measure phrase predicates of a degree argument of the adjective. But given the kind of meaning a measure phrase must have to do its job in comparatives and elsewhere, it is not of the right type to directly predicate of a degree argument. I propose a lexically governed type-shift which applies to some adjectives allowing them to combine with a measure phrase.

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Roger Schwarzschild, « Measure phrases as modifiers of adjectives »Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes, 34 | 2005, 207-228.

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Roger Schwarzschild, « Measure phrases as modifiers of adjectives »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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Roger Schwarzschild

Rutgers University

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