This is an exercise from "Introducing syntax" by Olaf Koeneman & Hedde Zeijlstra, 2017. The chapter this exercise is taken from deals with "Merge".

  • This could be closed as a "make syntax trees" question, but I'm tentatively not voting to close, because I think it can be answered in a more general way as a question about Merge rather than a specific tree.
    – Draconis
    Apr 3, 2022 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


You've got a noun with two modifiers here ("expensive" and "from Italy"), and Merge combines two constituents, not three.

So one option is to Merge "shoes" and "from Italy" first (expensive (shoes from Italy)), and another option is to Merge "expensive" and "shoes" first ((expensive shoes) from Italy). This difference may or may not have any significance at all, depending on your theory. But regardless, you do have to pick an order: you can't Merge three constituents together at the same level. One of them has to attach higher than the other.

  • 1
    It's really just a matter of what the constituents are, which has nothing to do with Merge or parentheses or trees in particular; those are just ways we use to indicate the constituents.
    – jlawler
    Apr 4, 2022 at 15:56

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