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I am interested in pairs like (1-2). Let's assume that the most embedded occurrence of PRO is controlled by John and Bill. What I'd like to know is whether the reference of the other PRO, the least embedded one, is subject to any further restrictions. I think it can get the arbitrary interpretation (e.g. "the ones that any reasonable person should expect people to be always catering to their needs are John and Bill"). Can they be coreferential to each other (e.g. "the ones that will expect people to cater to their needs are John and Bill")?

(1a) [The ones [PRO to expect [PRO to be catered to _]]] are John and Bill

(1b) [The ones [PRO to expect [PRO to (be able to) meet the band]]] are John and Bill

I think the latter reading may be disambiguated by manipulating tense and adding adverbs as in (2), but there probably is some context in which (2) could still be judged acceptable with an arbitrary reading.

(2a) [The ones [PRO to always expect [PRO to be catered to _]]] were John and Bill

(2b) [The ones [PRO to always expect [PRO to (be able to) meet the band]]] were John and Bill

Anyway, I'd like to know how other people see this.

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  • From a purely semantic viewpoint, yes. “The ones to expect to be catered to are John and Bill” can absolutely be read as “the ones who expect to be catered to are John and Bill” – I read the sample sentence before the first paragraphs (and without paying attention to the brackets and PROs), and that was how I read it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 31 at 13:24

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