Wherewithal Construction

1. General

1.1. Label

The Wherewithal Construction

1.2. Reasons for construction status

The construction does not exhibit any peculiar structural properties but transports contents that cannot be inferred from the meaning of the parts (Fillmore 2008:280).

1.3. Examples

I don't have the money to take a vacation.

I don't have the money for such luxuries.

We lack the staff to take on such a job.

Where can I find the cash to buy something that expensive?

Do we have the resources to manage our new assignment?

Do we have the resources for such an undertaking?

We don't have the fuel to make it to the next town.

I hope they give us the funds to carry out the project.

(examples from Fillmore 2008:280)

2. Language Information


2.2. Language


2.3. Variety

It appears that the construction does not belong to a particular geographic, social, situational, or stylistic variety or to a particular genre.

2.4. Speech Community

The construction is not restricted to a particular speech community.

2.5. Language Contact

2.6. Time Period

2.7. Stage of Acquisition

3. Form

3.1. Syntax


  1. There is no easy explanation for the presence of the final infinitive VP, or the purposive for-phrase, at the end of the sentences in (1). That is, there is no lexical head that would independently, i.e., in other contexts, be described as selecting an infinitive complement. This is in sharp contrast to a noun like intention in I had the intention to take a vacation, since that noun needs an infinitive phrase to complete its meaning.
  2. The governing verbs in these sentences have meanings in the general domain of 'having' (including 'not having', 'coming to have', 'causing to have', 'causing not to have': have, lack, find, give, provide, deny)
  3. The noun is construed as representing a resource, and the interpretation of the sentence concerns the sufficiency of this resource for enabling the activity indicated in the complement.
  4. The 'possessor' entity in the semantics of the verb (the subject of have or lack, the recipient entity with give, provide or deny) is construed as controlling the subject of the infinitive VP, and that VP is otherwise complete.
  5. The noun is preceded by the definite article, yet all of these sentences can be used in contexts lacking any previous mention of the resource in question (the money, the staff, etc.).
  6. The apparent NP constituent, e.g., the cash to buy something that expensive, is not a self-standing NP capable of being interpreted on its own. The sentences below are unacceptable on the interpretation that the bracketed phrases are NPs:

a. *We wasted [the time to finish the job].

b. *I spilled/ignited [the fuel to take us to the next town].

c. *We fired/praised [the staff to do the job].

7. A particularly important feature of this construction is the omissibility of the infinitive (or for-phrase) complement under anaphoric recoverability conditions. In familiar conditions of anaphoric omissibility, there is some lexical head which licenses the omission of one of its valents.

3.1.2. Internal Valency

see 3.1.1. Constituency

see 3.1.1.

3.1.3. External Category

The construction constructs a whole sentence. Structural Position


3.2. Morphology


3.2.2. Internal Morphological Properties of Elements

The Object NP has to be specified by means of an infinite VP or a _for_-phrase. These phrases can only be omitted if they are contextually activated.

3.2.3. External Morphological Properties of Construction

4. Meaning

4.1. Semantics


The construction concerns the availability of certain resources, which is why it is called the wherewithal construction.

4.1.2. Internal Frame

The meaning of the construction concerns the availability of certain resources. Thus it might be related to the possession frame. Event Participants

Participants in the construction are an agent/possessor and certain resources. Truth-Conditional Information

The construction concerns the availability of certain resources. Negation

The construction can be negated. Scope

4.1.3. External Semantic Class Relation to Construction-External Semantic Elements Truth Relations Semantic Presuppositions Semantic Entailments

4.2. Pragmatics


4.2.2. Internal

4.2.3. External Indexical Properties Deixis

The Object NP has to be specified by means of an infinite VP or a _for_-phrase. These phrases can only be omitted if they are contextually activated, for example:

a. Is your office going to take on the new project?

b. No, we can't. We don't have the staff.

a. Can you join us on the trip to Hawaii?

b. Where am I going to find the cash?

a. Do you think he's ready to face down the boss?

b. Nah, he doesn't have the guts.

(Fillmore 2008: 282) Intertextuality

none Interpersonal Function

none Speaker attitude Speech Act Function

declarative Rhetorical Function Style Pragmatic Presuppositions / Implicature

4.3. Discourse Properties

4.3.1. Internal Turn Constructional Status

The construction constitutes a TCU. Within-Turn Position

4.3.2.External Sequential Context Position in Text- and Dialogue-Structure Sequence Type

4.4. Information Structure

4.4.1. Internal Topic - Comment Focus

4.4.2. External Signaled Information Status Information Status Requirements

4.5. Data

4.5.1. Introspection

introspective data used

4.5.2. Authentic data Source data properties Methods of Analysis

traditional linguistic analysis

4.6. Literature

Fillmore, Charles J. (2008): Wherewithal: eine verborgene Konstruktion. In: Stefanowitsch, Anatol and Fischer, Kerstin (eds.): Konstruktionsgrammatik: Von der Konstruktion zur Grammatik. Tübingen: Stauffenburg 2008.

5. Relations to other constructions

5.1. Subtypes

5.1.1. Diachronic

5.1.2. Synchronic

5.2. Supertypes

5.2.1. Diachronic

5.2.2. Synchronic

5.3. Paradigmatic Relations

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