Arguments and Adjuncts: at the Syntax-Semantics Interface


  • Roxana-Maria Barbu Carleton University
  • Ida Toivonen Carleton University


There is a clear and intuitive distinction between arguments and adjuncts, yet the exact nature of this distinction has been difficult to characterize. We report the results of an experimental study that indicates that there is not only a difference between arguments and adjuncts, but also between semantic and syntactic arguments. The study consisted of two tasks. The first task elicited speakers’ semantic intuitions, based solely on the meaning of specific verbs, and the second asked speakers to create sentences with the same verbs. We focused on verb classes controversial with respect to their argument structure. We specifically considered verbs that possibly require more than three arguments, instrument verbs, and motion verbs.