What are some simple cases of V or Verb Phrase gaps?

For instance: I love the location and the apartment.

Is this considered a gap (missing 'love' in the second conjunct)?

If not, why not?

What about this one: There were also trainings of horse-riding, art of war, handwriting and calligraphy, athletics and martial arts.

From my understanding, there's a gap with a missing 'were'.

I have read some academic papers, the Wikipedia Gapping page, and quite a bit on the issue, but I can't seem to understand why the above would not be a gap.

The sources of information I read seem to pick the most 'obvious' examples, such as:

Mary loves coffee, and John tea.

(a subject and an object without a verb)

But from what I understand, the definition doesn't rule out the first and second examples I have provided.

I know that:

  1. A gap will occur in the non-initial conjunct
  2. At least elides a verb
  3. The first and the gap-conjunct should be separate events (not certain on this part)
  • Are you talking about the syntactic rule of Gapping, or are you talking about some other concept for which the metaphor of a "gap" is used in somebody's theory, like "parasitic gaps", which I have to say is one of my favorite technical noun phrases, because it's both eerie and dangerous-sounding, and also impossible to explain to a non-linguist.
    – jlawler
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 20:21
  • @jlawler I am talking about the syntactic rule of gapping (sorry for disappointing, I too love the dangerous-sounding name), and while the thread you linked is interesting, it doesn't really answer my question. Commented May 7, 2021 at 5:52
  • I asked because Gapping is limited to deleting repeated transitive verbs, like Mary ordered coffee, and John tea. That's Gapping; the other examples are not Gapping, but a different rule called Conjunction Reduction, which is much more common than Gapping, and occurs in many more contexts.
    – jlawler
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 15:12
  • @jlawler If that's the case, then the following sentence is not a gap either, right? "It seems to me we’re not really going to get anywhere until we can take criminality out of the drug business and the incentives for criminality out of it." This is also a case of conjunction-reduction? If so, what do you think of Tim Osborne's answer? Commented May 7, 2021 at 16:06
  • Yes. Notice the conjunction and joining the two clauses, with the repeated material until we can take deleted in the second, reducing the clause into two noun phrases linked only by the deleted material. That's Conjunction Reduction. There are lots more syntactic rules; here's a short list.
    – jlawler
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


The question is concerned with the potential analyses of the given coordinate structure. These analyses are illustrated next (the hyphens -WORDS- are used to indicate elided material).

(1a) I love [the location] and [the apartment].

(1b) I [love the location] and [-love- the apartment].

(1c) [I love the location] and [-I love- the apartment].

The analysis given as (1a) assumes the smallest conjuncts possible. Such small-conjunct analyses should be preferred whenever possible since they are simplest, not involving ellipsis or deletion in any sense. The analyses given as (1b) and (1c) assume larg(er) conjuncts and necessitate that ellipsis or deletion occur and are therefore more complex. Gapping always involves large conjuncts, since the conjunct-internal presence of the shared material forces an analysis in terms of ellipsis or deletion.

There are concrete reasons why one should prefer small conjuncts whenever possible. One of these reasons concerns agreement. Observe:

(2a) *[Has Bill -arrived-] and [-has- Fred arrived]?

(2b) Have [Bill] and [Fred] arrived?

Plural agreement is obligatory in this case, yet on the large conjunct analysis indicated in (2a), one would expect the singular has to be correct. Since have is obviously required, though, the small conjunct analysis given as (2b) is the better analysis.

While one should prefer small conjuncts whenever possible, at times the large-conjunct analysis is forced. Observe:

(3a) [I love the location], and [-I love- the apartment, too].

In this case, the presence of two distinct intonation curves as indicated by the use of the comma and the presence of the additive particle too support the gapping analysis shown.

Thus, the most direct answer to your question is that your example can be analyzed in both ways, with or without gapping, but if the gapping analysis is chosen, then one should include the indicators of gapping, namely the comma and perhaps an additive particle as well.

  • If the example would be: I love the location and the apartment too. (no commas), would the analysis still be valid? I understand why the particle forces us to analyze the sentence as a gap, but why the comma? Also, are there other indicators of gapping (specifically verb / verb phrases)? Can you link me some reading materials? Commented May 7, 2021 at 14:49
  • Distinct intonation curves are characteristic of gapping. Without distinct intonation curves, the analysis as non-gapping coordination is usually better. The presence of the comma is just suggestive in this regard. Concerning relevant literature, do a search for "Left Node Blocking" for a relatively recent article on coordination, including much discussion of the nature of gapping. Or see the sources from me listed in the Wikipedia article on coordination. Or write to me directly ([email protected]); I will share some relevant sources with you directly. Commented May 8, 2021 at 9:00

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