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Is there a postdeterminer in the English noun phrase?


  • I would like to thank the two anonymous referees for their constructive and stimulating remarks, which offered new perspectives to the development of the ideas presented here. The discussion has further benefited from the generous feed back of Freek Van de Velde, Lobke Ghesquière and especially Kristin Davidse. I am also thankful to the journal’s editor, Dr Paul Rowlett, for his efficient and kind assistance. This research was carried out as part of a postdoctoral scholarship funded by the Research Foundation-Flanders.

University of Leuven
Department of Linguistics
Blijde Inkomststraat 21 PO Box 3308
3000 Leuven


Several functional analyses of the English noun phrase have proposed postdeterminers as a separate element in addition to determiners, modifiers and noun. However, there is no consensus on the definition or the types of item that are considered postdeterminers. Other studies do not distinguish postdeterminers, and some even argue against them. I propose an alternative analysis of Present-Day English (PDE) postdeterminers that incorporates aspects of all the studies cited above. I argue that postdeterminers are not a separate slot. However, they do constitute a distinctive pattern in English with their own semantics and structural properties as suggested in the functional literature. What have been called postdeterminers should be conceived of as part of complex determinatives. Synchronically, this proposal further pursues the distinction of complex versus simple determinatives. Diachronically, I hypothesise that structurally complex determinatives are a natural consequence of the Old and early Middle English developments leading to the definite and indefinite articles as prototypical determinatives in the English noun phrase.