Particle Verb Construction

1. General

1.1. Label

The Particle Verb Construction

1.2. Reasons for construction status

Particle and verb form a close unit, which in some cases has non-transparent meaning. Some particle verb combinations have an argument structure that differs from the argument structure of the base verb.

1.3. Examples


(1) a. He looks up the information.
    b. He looks it up.


(2) a. Er lacht  los.
       he laughs PART
       `He starts to laugh.'

    b. Er lacht  ihn an.
       he laughs him PART(towards)

2. Language Information


(comments on the variety to which the construction belongs)

2.2. Language

German and English

2.3. Variety

no particular geographic, social, situational, or stylistic variety or to a particular genre

2.4. Speech Community

no particular speech community

2.5. Language Contact

the generel construction is not influenced by constructions from another language

2.6. Time Period


2.7. Stage of Acquisition


3. Form

3.1. Syntax


(general comments on the syntactic properties of the construction) German: Particle and verb are usually serialized adjacent to each other in verb final clauses. In verb initial clauses the particle is stranded and only the base verb is put in initial position. However, it is also possible to separate the particle from the verb in verb final cases. The particle may be fronted (positioned in the Vorfeld) or may be serialized non-adjacently among arguments/adjuncts of the verb (in the Miffelfeld).

The verb and the particle enter a tight relation which is comparible to the one between resultative predicate and main verb in resultative constructions and the reletion between two verbs in verbal complexes.

3.1.2. Internal Valency

The particle may contribute arguments to the valence of the particle verb:

(3) a. * Er lacht ihn.
         he laughs him
    b.   Er lacht ihn an.
         he laughs him PART Constituency

(description of the constituent relationships inside the construction)

3.1.3. External Category

(category label) Structural Position

(syntagmatic relationships with other constructions (but see also 4.3))

3.2. Morphology


Particle verbs have a syntactic live. The particle and the verb can be separated.

Particle verbs also enter derivation (adjectival passives, bar-derivation, nominalization).

3.2.2. Internal Morphological Properties of Elements

(morphological properties of elements)

3.2.3. External Morphological Properties of Construction

(morphological properties of the construction itself)

4. Meaning

4.1. Semantics


there is no common meaning to all particle verbs, however for certain transparent forms one can assign meaning to the particle and the meaning of the particle verb combination can be computed compositionally. Example: loslachen = `start to laugh', loslaufen = `start to walk'

4.1.2. Internal Frame

(frame evoked) Event

(event type) Participants

depends on the respective verb Truth-Conditional Information

depends on the respective verb Negation

nothing special Scope


4.1.3. External Semantic Class

(semantic category) Relation to Construction-External Semantic Elements

depends on the respective verb Truth Relations

depends on the respective verb Semantic Presuppositions

depends on the respective verb Semantic Entailments

depends on the respective verb

4.2. Pragmatics


depends on the respective verb

4.2.2. Internal

depends on the respective verb

4.2.3. External Indexical Properties Deixis

(linguistic and extralinguistic domains indexed) Intertextuality

(intertextual links evoked) Interpersonal Function

(politeness, other-self, etc.) Speaker attitude

(modality, epistemic, emotion) Speech Act Function

(illocutionary force) Rhetorical Function

(rhetorical potential) Style

(stylistic features) Pragmatic Presuppositions / Implicature

(modality, epistemic, emotion)

4.3. Discourse Properties

4.3.1. Internal Turn Constructional Status

(status as TCU) Within-Turn Position

(turn-initial, -medial, -final position, etc.)

4.3.2.External Sequential Context

(position in sequence) Position in Text- and Dialogue-Structure

(position in larger discourse structure) Sequence Type

(type of sequence)

4.4. Information Structure

4.4.1. Internal Topic - Comment

(contribution to topic-comment structure) Focus

(placement of focus)

4.4.2. External Signaled Information Status

(status of information as given, new, inferable, etc.) Information Status Requirements

(information status requirements)

4.5. Data

4.5.1. Introspection

introspective data used

4.5.2. Authentic data Source data properties Methods of Analysis


4.6. Literature

Booij, Geert E. 2002. Separable Complex Verbs in Dutch: A Case of Periphrastic Word Formation, In Nicole Dehé, Ray Jackendoff, Andrew McIntyre und Silke Urban (Eds): Verb-Particle Explorations, Interface Explorations, Nr. 1, Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pages 21-41

Müller, Stefan, 2002. Syntax or Morphology: German Particle Verbs Revisited, In Nicole Dehé, Ray Jackendoff, Andrew McIntyre und Silke Urban (Eds): Verb-Particle Explorations, Interface Explorations, Nr. 1, Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pages 119–139.

Müller, Stefan, 2002. Complex Predicates: Verbal Complexes, Resultative Constructions, and Particle Verbs in German. Studies in Constraint-Based Lexicalism, Nr. 13, Stanford: CSLI Publications.

Müller, Stefan, 2003. The Morphology of German Particle Verbs: Solving the Bracketing Paradox. Journal of Linguistics 39(2), pages 275–325.

5. Relations to other constructions

5.1. Subtypes

5.1.1. Diachronic

some particles developed from adverbs or prepositions

(I would not call this a super or subtype construction)

5.1.2. Synchronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction)

5.2. Supertypes

5.2.1. Diachronic

5.2.2. Synchronic

5.3. Paradigmatic Relations

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