For each of the following sentences I have been asked to: 1) State which binding principle applies to all relevant elements 2) Identify the antecedent (If none then state so) 3) State if the element is bound or free. If it is bound, is it bound locally? 4) State where there are any controlled PROs and what they are controlled by. (where there are 2 grammatical readings, analyse both using indices to disambiguate)

Sentences: a)I think the student loves herself b)Peter claimed that he likes himself c)Lucy tried to promote herself d)John suspected that she misled him

For a) I believe that the reflexive 'herself,' conforms to Binding Principle A because it is bound in its binding domain and the antecedent for this is 'the student'/'student' with it being bound locally.

I need help going through some of the other ones as I am finding binding principles quite confusing

1 Answer 1


(a) The antecedent is 'the student', which 'locally binds' 'herself' conforming to Principle A of BT (Reflexives must be locally bound/governed).

(b) There two binding properties: (i) The anntecedent is 'he', which 'locally binds' 'himself'=Principle A, and (ii) The antecedent is 'Peter' bidning the pronoun 'he', Principle B=pronouns must be bound oustdie their governing domain (CP).

(c) There's a PRO element which is 'optional', it can either be controlled by the matrix subject 'Lucy', or be free. It can also bind the reflexive 'herself', Principle A. I vouch for the second option here.

(d) The antecedent is 'john' binding 'him', principle B of BT, no local binding.

  • Understood, thanks for the help.
    – Dave
    May 14, 2019 at 17:40
  • However, in (d) 'John suspected that she misled him,' is it possible that the pronoun 'him,' is referring to a external object. So not referring back to John but rather to something else. This may be going into R-expressions but I am not sure if that applies to pronouns.
    – Dave
    May 14, 2019 at 17:42
  • It cannot be. The principle B says that pronouns MUST BE governed by antecedents in a non-local domains. The governer/binder cannot be implicit, whereby an overt argument (i.e. John) is available in the sentence. Remember that Binding Theory is a semantic more than a syntactic mechanism. If we don't bind 'him' by 'John', we would face massive ambiguity, as you predicted, so syntax dictates that binding must be by an element already mentioned in the discourse. This is what I think.
    – Tsutsu
    May 15, 2019 at 11:31

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