I'm looking at this example of Extraposition from Wikipedia:

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Then under Theoretical Accounts (of discontinuity in general) it is written that "[m]odern theories of transformational grammar ... assume a movement or copying procedure".

It is my understanding that:

  • The subject is never dominated by the VP node.
  • Nodes can move up the tree but not down.

If this is correct, how can movement account for this kind of extraposition? As I see it, either the subject something to take seriously has to start under the VP node and its head has to move up (is it even possible that only the head moves?), or the CP to take seriously of the subject has to move down the tree. Either way one of these constraints is violated.

So how do "modern theories" account for this kind of extraposition?

  • mark baltin has a good review article on the analysis of extraposition in generative grammar. if you can get access to that article it would probably be helpful: Baltin, M. (2017). Extraposition. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Syntax, Second Edition, 1-33. Jun 12, 2020 at 13:58
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    That's not extraposition, but postposing. Most extraposition constructions have the dummy subject "it" and a postverbal subordinate clause, e.g. "It is fortunate that you could come".
    – BillJ
    Jun 12, 2020 at 15:10
  • @BillJ this type of thing is also called extraposition, as least in generative grammar. for instance ross's dissertation calls this extraposition Jun 12, 2020 at 15:18
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    @BillJ There are two phenomena that are denoted with extraposition, the one in the question and so-called "it-exptraposition", which is what you are pointing to. The two phenomena are related, but also distinct to an extent. Jun 12, 2020 at 15:38
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    @Keelan I have corrected the Wikipedia trees in the article on extraposition. Have a look: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraposition#Theoretical_analyses Jun 13, 2020 at 4:46

1 Answer 1


I talked to my teacher, and apparently this is more advanced than what I should be trying to do right now. However, he explained that there are broadly two ways to deal with this:

  • Accept that only part of the node moves up, and leaves a copy for the remainder to connect to.
  • Allow downward movement of the verb.

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