Maria asked I read which book

This sentence is ungrammatical.

  1. Is this because an IP I read cannot be a complement or sister to a V asked
  2. Is there a CP in this ungrammatical sentence?
  • 4
    The sentence is ungrammatical because asked is a predicate that subcategorizes for an indirect question, and indirect questions begin with the wh-expression. Stated in other terms, the predicate asked takes an interrogative expression as its immediate dependent. May 9, 2020 at 16:27
  • 1
    More simply put, the interrogative NP which book was not displaced to the front of the _Wh-_complement clause; _Wh-_Movement did not take place as it should have.
    – jlawler
    May 9, 2020 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


The ungrammaticality is not related to the fact that V cannot take IP as complement. This fact is evidenced by (1) and (2) (hence your first question):

(1) She wants [IP to leave]
(2) She wants [IP him to leave]

The ungrammaticality is related to the strong wh-feature [+wh] which is left unchecked. The object which book of read, after assigned a theta-role and a case from this verb, it has to move to check another wh-feature of the complementizer CP (hence, your second question- yes there's a CP):

(3) [IP Maria [VP V asked [CP {+wh} [C ∅ [IP I read [DP which book]]]]]]

  • 2
    Your answer is complex and assumes a lot (e.g. to leave is an IP, checking occurs, theta-role assignment occurs first). Why not just state that the interrogative predicate asked subcategorizes for an indirect question? May 9, 2020 at 16:29
  • 1
    This is the simplest way I could put it :D
    – Tsutsu
    May 9, 2020 at 16:56
  • @Tsutsu What do you mean by "unchecked" and "check"?
    – V.Lydia
    May 10, 2020 at 5:29
  • @V.Lydia Movement of wh-object which book is not vacuous, it's feature-driven. There's a feature that it checks. Features are linguistic properties of lexical items. CP (interrogative) has a wh-feature (for questions, whether direct or indirect) that must be checked. If movement does not take place, this feature gets no value and derivation crashes (ungrammaticality). Checking=valuation of a feature.
    – Tsutsu
    May 10, 2020 at 10:16

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