University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Light verbs constructions like *give a sigh* and *take a shower* have always been analyzed as involving a process of complex predicate formation, where the verb and its complement combine to form a single predicate. In contrast, I argue that light verb constructions are just regular verb-complement combinations. The verb has its usual argument structure and interpretation (which is often quite unspecified), while its complement has the same interpretation it has elsewhere. We only need two things to account for light verb constructions: the fact that NPs can be eventive; and control into NPs. Both of these are needed anyway, outside of light verb constructions. We can therefore dispense with *light verb* as a grammatical category, and do without processes of complex predicate formation in our models of grammar.