In chapter 9 of Syntax: A generative Introduction (2nd ed), Carnie shows that we can solve some problems by generating subjects in Spec of VP and letting them move to Spec of TP. In the first challenge problem set, he shows that this also allows for a nice analysis of floating quantifiers, by considering the two examples:

  1. All the men have gone.
  2. The men have all gone.

The D-structure tree for this sentence is:

enter image description here

The claim is that either DP could be moved to Spec of TP, yielding sentence 1 and 2 depending on which is moved.

But what about:

  1. The men all have gone.

(I am not a native speaker and this seems kind of odd, but "the men all have" gives plenty of exact hits on Google. According to this—not sure how reliable—this construction is allowed with the verb to be.)

It seems that here, "all" has become an adverbial adjunct of TP:

enter image description here

Is that correct? Which rule allows this movement?

A secondary question I have is that with this apparently over-simplistic presentation in the assignment, "all" should not really be called a floating quantifier: it does not float but stays in the same position. Only with my analysis of (3) is there any movement of the floating quantifier. And, of course, on the surface level "all" seems to float if you just compare (1) and (2) (and (3)). So where does the term "floating quantifier" come from, and is it really accurate?

  • 'The men all have a hat' (..all have a noun) is fine. 'The man all have gone' (..all have verb-ed) sounds, as you say, odd. Aug 29, 2020 at 11:19
  • ‘The men all have gone astray’ sounds correct & British & beautifully poetic, whereas ‘The men have all gone astray’ sounds more American & pedestrian. They both are correct and mean something different than ‘The men have gone all astray’. Jan 29, 2022 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


'The men all have a {noun}' is fine, but 'the men all have {verb}ed' is not.

The rule is probably the same one as the one that has us say 'they/we have all {verbed}' rather than 'they/we all have {verbed}'. Also, the other way around for a noun, 'they/we all have a {noun}' rather than e.g. 'they/we have all a hat'.

  • The scenario with a plural pronoun may not be precisely the same as the scenario with a plural noun. I say this because it is considerably easier to pull examples from various corpora of “We/they all have [ᴠᴇʀʙ, ᴘᴀꜱᴛ ᴘᴀʀᴛɪᴄɪᴘʟᴇ]” than it is to find corresponding examples of “[ɴᴏᴜɴ, ᴘʟᴜʀᴀʟ] all have [ᴠᴇʀʙ, ᴘᴀꜱᴛ ᴘᴀʀᴛɪᴄɪᴘʟᴇ]” in them.
    – tchrist
    Aug 30, 2020 at 16:04
  • @tchrist what is the deep structure of "we all" though? Is it the same as "all the men"?
    – Keelan
    Aug 30, 2020 at 17:05
  • "The men all have {done something}" seems perfectly grammatical to me. Nov 1, 2022 at 9:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.