Lightning talk: The plural agreement of morphologically singular and semantically plural nouns in Spanish

The goal of this project presentation is twofold. From an empirical perspective, it is shown that, in Spanish, morphologically singular nouns that denote collectivities [let us use collective nouns] (población ‘population’, equipo ‘team’, familia ‘family’, etc.) can trigger singular or plural agreement with the verb when appear in subject position (contrary to what is claim in prescriptive grammars, cf. NGLE). An original study of naturally occurring data (extracted from the Internet) specifically designed to find this type of non-standard structures showed that plural agreement exists (La familia tienen un papel muy importante en la sociedad ‘The family havepl an important role in the society’), also when these nouns are inserted in partitive constructions (El resto de la familia tienen secretos ‘The rest of the family havepl secrets’). From the theoretical perspective, it seems different subkinds of collective nouns trigger plural agreement to a different extent (as Fält 1972 already noted); for example, uncountable nouns like gente ‘people’ trigger more plural verbal agreement than strictly ‘collective’ nouns (like equipo ‘team’) or ‘aggregate’ nouns. Moreover, gender patterns must be considered to fully understand the agreement properties of these nouns (La mitad del equipo está lesionado ‘Halffem of the teammasc issg’, La mitad del equipo está lesionada ‘Halffem of the teammasc issg’, La mitad del equipo están lesionados ‘Halffem of the teammasc arepl’). Ultimately, the agreement properties of these nouns in Spanish challenge current theories of agreement within generative models, that must be refined to account for these patterns.


-FÄLT, GUNNAR 1972. “Sujetos colectivos”, en Tres problemas de concordancia verbal en el español moderno. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Romanica Upsaliensia, 76-149.

-REAL ACADEMIA ESPAÑOLA-ASOCIACIÓN DE ACADEMIAS DE LA LENGUA ESPAÑOLA 2009. Nueva gramática de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa.


Day: 2020-11-19
Start time: 15:15
Duration: 00:10
Room: Odille Morison
Track: Theoretical Linguistics
Language: en



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