The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.613-628
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2019
Received 10 Oct 2019 Revised 01 Dec 2019 Accepted 18 Dec 2019

Auxiliary Verbs and VP Ellipsis in English

Myung-Kwan Park ; Sunjoo Choi**
Dongguk University
**Dongguk University

** Park, Myung-Kwan is the first author, and Choi, Sunjoo is a Ph.D. candidate in English Linguistics.


This paper investigates the interaction of auxiliary verbs with VP ellipsis. Park (2017) initially notes that what he calls Copular Phrase Ellipsis (CoPE), a VP ellipsis containing the copula ‘be’ is allowed when T-to-C movement applies in the matrix clause with object wh-extraction, but it is not in the embedded clause with object wh-extraction but without T-to-C movement. After examining more relevant data, we find that Park’s analysis cannot successfully account for them. Taking the empirical generalization of the issue here to be that a modal auxiliary verb in T needs to be followed by another auxiliary verb in the periphery of VP ellipsis, we attribute this restriction to Albrecht’s (2010) distinction between ellipsis licensor and ellipsis trigger. If available, the additional auxiliary verb as an ellipsis trigger following the modal in T as an ellipsis licensor is recruited to locally permit the elision of VP. But when T-to-C raising applies, the syntactic relation that triggers it (the relation between T and the moving wh-object at the edge of VP ellipsis) can in turn directly allow the elision of VP.


VP ellipsis, copula verb, head movement, T-to-C raising, ellipsis licensor/trigger


We are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers of this journal for their helpful comments and suggestions. All the remaining errors are, of course, ours.


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Myung-Kwan Park, ProfessorDepartment of EnglishDongguk University30, 1-gil, Phil-dong-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 04620, KoreaE-mail:

Sunjoo Choi, ProfessorDepartment of EnglishDongguk University30, 1-gil, Phil-dong-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 04620, KoreaE-mail: