Interpretive asymmetries between null and overt PRO in complement and adjunct infinitives in (Colombian) Spanish


  • Kryzzya Gómez LLING-UMR 6310, CNRS/Université de Nantes.
  • Maia Duguine IKER-UMR 5478, CNRS.
  • Hamida Demirdache LLING-UMR 6310, CNRS/Université de Nantes.


Cross-linguistically, control complement clauses have been reported to allow overt pronominal subjects displaying the diagnostic properties of obligatory control (‘Overt PRO’; see Livitz (2011) and reference therein). Building on Gómez (2017), we extend the empirical range of the overt PRO phenomena to para finality adjunct clauses in (Colombian) Spanish. We show that the controlled subject of para-infinitives ―be it null PRO or overt PRO― has the same distribution and interpretive properties as that of complement infinitives. We bring to light unexpected asymmetries in the interpretive properties of overt vs. null PROs which we dub the Overt vs. covert PRO paradox: while they both only allow a bound variable reading under ellipsis, overt PRO, unlike null PRO, also allows a coreferential reading under association-with-focus. Here again, the data are identical in complement vs. adjunct control. We account for this paradox by putting forth the Anaphor Generalizations, which state that (i) both overt and null anaphors must be syntactically bound, and (ii) while null anaphors must be semantically bound, overt anaphors can but need not be semantically bound. We further show how the Anaphor Generalizations can be extended to account for similar patterns of interpretation reported for English and French reflexives.


obligatory control, overt/null PRO, binding, anaphora, (Colombian) Spanish.


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