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ISSN : 1226-3206(Print)
Studies in Modern Grammar Vol.101 pp.91-109

Verbal ‘RATHER’: No Verbless Finite Clause in English

Sungshim Hong**
** Professor, Chungnam National University


This paper aims to discuss an English parochial construction, ‘would rather [CPthat [...]],’ in “I’d rather that you didn’t mention the price” and “My wife would rather that we didn’t see each other any more” Assuming that rather is an adverb as defined in all English dictionaries available commercially as well as on-and off-line, ‘would rather CP’ construction renders an intriguing issue with respect to the clausal type, since the matrix TP obviously lacks a lexical verb, yielding a verbless finite clause with a fully embedded CP in it. Swan (1980: 519), Quirk, et. al (1985: 1183), Huddleston and Pullum (2002: 1003), Carter and McCarthy (2006), Klippenstein (2012), and Wood (2013), Merriam-Webster (2016: 490) as well as many on-line sites including Barron TOEFFL (2011) grammar units have all presented the construction ‘would rather CP...’ and provided with the meaning, usages, and its idiomatic status. Based on the data from Klippenstein (2012) and Wood (2013), this paper proposes a SubjunctP above the lexical VP which is occupied by a V rather. The lack of lexical verb in this construction is accounted for so that the generalization still holds that there is no verbless finite clause in English. The lexical V, with a null spell-out, retains the categorial feature V with the semantic residue of the verbal rather. The etymological and historical evidence backs up the categorial status of rather. Furthermore, since the verbal ‘rather’ is used normally with Subjunctive in meaning, it is argued to project as SubjunctP with [±Subjunct] features so that it affects Tense/Aspect/Mood of the embedded clause.