Spanish subjects can be subjects: Acquisitional and empirical evidence


  • Julio Villa-García


Overt subjects, left periphery, wh-questions, dislocations, acquisition


The paper provides novel converging acquisitional and empirical evidence from Spanish in support of the hypothesis that preverbal subjects in Spanish can, but need not, be left-dislocated constituents in the CP layer; they can occupy the canonical subject position, Spec,TP, contrary to what is often assumed in the literature. On the basis of acquisitional and statistical evidence gathered from a longitudinal study of five children, the paper argues against Grinstead’s (1998 et seq.) claim that overt subjects emerge in development concurrently with less controversially CP-related phenomena such as wh-questions and dislocations. Moreover, based on the different distributional behavior of genuine subjects and dislocations/foci in the context of desiderative/exhortative sentences introduced by que ‘that,’ the paper argues that Spec,TP/AgrSP is indeed available in Spanish and can only host bona fide subjects to the exclusion of non-subject XPs.


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How to Cite

Villa-García, J. (2014). Spanish subjects can be subjects: Acquisitional and empirical evidence. IBERIA: An International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics, 4(2), 124–169. Retrieved from



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