Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-13-2019






This study presents a description and analysis of an instance of syntactic microvariation, which I call the like that construction. In this construction, an embedded CP is apparently introduced by two complementizers or complementizer-like elements, as in I feel like that we’re going to win the game. This construction is found to be acceptable to speakers from all over the US, with no apparent geographic constraints, while it is also unacceptable to many speakers. Using judgments from a consultant who accepts this construction as well as examples drawn from the Internet, I show that the syntactic properties of like that are similar to the properties of like alone, but not identical; for example, like that shows that-trace effects and is ungrammatical in quotatives. This microvariation presents an opportunity to investigate the structure of the CP. Building on the analysis in Rizzi (1997), I ultimately argue that like is not a complementizer but a preposition. We can explain the difference between speakers who allow and disallow the like that construction as a difference in the selectional property of this preposition—in most speakers it requires a CP headed by ∅, but for some speakers it my also allow a CP headed by that.

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