Russian constructions with semi-auxiliary verbs and adjectives: The puzzle of complement clause.

2018. №2, 7-28

Alexander B. Letuchiy
National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation;
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 119019, Russian Federation;


The paper focuses on Russian constructions like Mne pokazalos’ strannym, čto Fedja ne priexal ‘It seemed strange to me that Fedja did not come’. More precisely, I consider syntactic properties of the instrumental case form strannyj, analyze its argument structure, and address the question of its part of speech characteristics. I show that this unit combines properties of predicatives like stranno (it is compatible with an argument clause, which is not characteristic of full forms of adjectives) and those of adjectives like strannyj (it is marked for instrumental case, while predicatives are usually thought to lack case distinctions). I claim that a possible solution that allows to explain these mixed properties is to describe a semi-auxiliary like pokazat’sja ‘seem’ + an instrumental case form as a single syntactic unit (the fact that the instrumental form disfavours separation from the matrix verb and contexts where the verb is elided seem to confirm this analysis). At the same time, alternative ways of analysis are also considered.