English Middles as Categorical Sentences

  • Published : 2001.12.01


Stroik (1992, 1995, 1999) argues for the syntactic approach to English middles. His argumentation is heavily dependent upon the occurrence of a for-phrase in middles. However, many native speakers of English judge middles containing a for-phrase awkward or at best marginal. In addition, some other adverbials show a trait of a very similar nature. These two observational facts seem to justify the Genericity Constraint on Middles (=GCM). Yet a third observational fact that middles in the past tense can be sporadic nullifies GCM. In the present article, based upon several pieces of evidence, I show that the subject of the middle is a topic. In addition, it is argued that the Topical Subject Constraint on Middles can explain away the three observational facts.