# Why are free relatives problematic for the theta criterion?

The sentences below contain a construction which is called Free Relatives. What conditions must be satisfied in order for the sentences to be grammatical?

a. Mary will eat whatever John cooks

b. My mother likes whatever I draw

c. *Hollie likes with whomever Bill goes out

d. *Bill hates about whomever George gossips.

Why are free relatives problematic for the theta criterion? Which clause of the Theta Criterion seems to be violated? Could you please help me?

• Sounds a bit like homework... You should point out how far you have gotten with a solution, otherwise it might be unlikely that you receive any help. Jan 13 '14 at 17:26
• I agree with @robert - Maybe start by giving a formulation of the theta criterion in your answer, make a hypothesis about how theta-roles are assigned in your example sentences, and then see if any clause of the theta criterion is violated. If you're still confused, i'll post an answer. Jan 13 '14 at 18:08
• Or you could look up Pied-Piping, and ignore thetas. But your teachr wouldn't like that, probly. Jan 13 '14 at 20:02
• Then why not posting it then? That way, we can learn too. Jan 14 '14 at 9:21
• @kiyoshigaang Yep, it's allowed (and encouraged) to post answers to your own questions. Jan 14 '14 at 13:44