How to become passive

Berit Gehrke, Nino Grillo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this paper, we propose that movement of a stative subevent of a structurally complex event to a discourse-related position at the edge of the verb phrase is the fundamental characteristics of passive constructions. This assumption is supported not only by the semantics of passives but also by the fact that it provides a natural account of many of their syntactic properties some of which are left unaccounted for in previous approaches. More generally we give a principled explanation, based on the availability of a consequent state reading, of why some predicates do not form good passives. Psycholinguistic data provide further arguments to support our hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploration of Phase Theory
Subtitle of host publicationfeatures, arguments, and interpretation at the Interfaces
EditorsKleanthes Grohmann
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-021396-6
ISBN (Print) 978-3-11-020520-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameInterface Explorations


  • syntax
  • semantics
  • voice
  • passives
  • event structure

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