More on the Anaphor Agreement
This article provides additional evidence for the universality of Rizzi’s
(1990) anaphor agreement effect, under which the ungrammaticality
of nominative anaphors in English, Italian, and Icelandic is due to the
presence of agreement. Languages without agreement are shown to
allow nominative anaphors. Objective anaphors cannot be associated
with agreement, unless the agreement is a special anaphoric form.
Superficial counterexamples to Rizzi’s proposal are shown not to be
problematic. The relative merits of two formal accounts outlined by
Rizzi (1990) are discussed. Finally, it is suggested that the anaphor
agreement effect can be a diagnostic for the presence of covert agree-
anaphora, agreement, reflexive, reciprocal, binding, coref-
Rizzi (1990) proposes that the reason why anaphors are barred from the subject position of tensed
clauses in examples such as (1) is that anaphors cannot agree.
(1) *They think that each other are nice.
According to Rizzi, this
anaphor agreement effect
‘‘holds quite systematically in natural lan-
The anaphor agreement effect
Anaphors do not occur in syntactic positions construed with agreement.
Rizzi supports his claim with Italian and Icelandic examples involving nominative subjects and
nominative objects, showing that with both, the presence of agreement precludes a nominative
anaphor. In this article I provide additional evidence for the universality of the anaphor agreement
effect. Further, I show that there is one well-defined class of exceptions not discussed by Rizzi:
anaphors can agree when there is a special anaphoric form of agreement.
If Rizzi’s hypothesis is correct, the ungrammaticality of nominative subject anaphors has
nothing to do with the fact that they have nominative Case (contra Brame 1977, Koster 1978,
Anderson 1982, Maling 1984, Everaert 1991) and nothing to do with the fact that the anaphor is
I would like to thank Lee Baker, Barbara Bullock, Maria Nella Carminati, Vicki Carstens, Dan Finer, Lyn Frazier,
Kyle Johnson, Jo
´ hannes G. Jo
´ nsson, Kiyomi Kusumoto, Howard Lasnik, Regina Moorcroft, Luigi Rizzi, Peggy Speas,
and Elisabeth Villalta for very helpful discussions of the issues in this article. I would also like to express my appreciation
to Kathryn Carlson and Pat Deevy for proofreading and commenting on an earlier draft. Finally, I want to thank the
reviewers for their valuable comments.
Linguistic Inquiry, Volume 30, Number 2, Spring 1999
1999 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology