6 The fused relative construction

An initial illustration of the range of constructions belonging to the fused relative category is given in [1]:

[1]         SIMPLE SERIES                        -EVERSERIES
  i a. I spent what he gave me.         b. I spent whatever he gave me.
 ii a. I gave him what money I had.     b. I gave him whatever money I had.
iii a. I’ll go where you go.            b. I’ll go wherever you go.

On one dimension we have a contrast between the simple series and the -ever series, the latter being marked by a relative word ending in -ever. Cutting across this is the major category contrast: the fused relatives are NPs in [i-ii], PPs in [iii]. And within the NP category we have a further distinction according as the relative word is a pronoun, as in [i], or a determinative, as in [ii]. (CGEL,p.1068)

Considering that they are calling before in this sentence, I saw him before he left, a preposition (p.58), I can tell why they are calling the clause, where you go: in [iii], prepositional. What I want to know, now, is, if there are any persons other than the CGEL’s writers who call this where usage a preposition. Are there any others?

  • 2
    You say "They are calling the clause .... in [iii] prepositional". Where do they say it is prepositional?
    – fluffy
    Jul 11, 2014 at 7:50
  • @fluffy PPs is an abbreviation for preposition[al phrase]s. It can be found in the middle of the explanation after the table: Cutting across this is ... PPs in [iii]. Jul 11, 2014 at 9:27
  • 1
    CGEL doesn't call where a preposition but a PP, which is what it 'stands for', just as they call what an NP, because that it is what it stands for. Jul 11, 2014 at 11:54
  • 4
    The 2002 CGEL considers "where" to be a preposition, and considers the expression "where you go" in [1.a.iii] to be a preposition phrase. On page 1050 fn 6, the authors of CGEL explain that traditional grammars classify "where" as an adverb.
    – F.E.
    Jul 12, 2014 at 4:53
  • 2
    @F.E.: Thank you; that is informative, and I retract. Jul 14, 2014 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


I can offer you one respectable grammarian who follows this usage: Bas Aarts, in the Oxford Modern English Grammar.

At 3.7 Prepositions and prepositional phrases, Table 3.19 Prepositions he marks when with the sign ‘intr’, which he glosses “Prepositions marked ’intr’ do not take a Complement”. The context is a discussion of transitive and intransitive prepositions; Aarts defines intransitive prepositions as those which “can stand on their own as Heads of prepositional phrases which typically function as verbal Complements” [my emphasis].

However, he does not give an example of such an intransitive use of where, and I suspect he intends the intr in a sense which anticipates Clauses functioning as Complement in prepositional phrases and Table 5.14 English conjunctive prepositions: there he includes where among those “conjunctive prepositions” which take only clauses, not NPs, as Complement.

At Free relative clauses he gives

103 However, you can move your money [when you like] ...

among examples of free relative clauses headed by free relative conjunctive prepositions, arguing that

the bracketed strings can be paraphrased, though not always equally easily, by a Head noun + relative clause structure. Thus (103) can be paraphrased as in (107).

107 You can move your money at a time [clausewhen you like].

  • I have Bas Aart’s ‘English Syntax and argumentation’ Korean Version. After reading your answer, I've leafed through it again. The book is translated and I’m poor in English, it would not be delivered well, but this is what I can abbreviate it as: (1) He calls relative clauses, both non-restrictive and restrictive, adjuncts. (2) So if ‘that’ leads a complement clause, he calls it complementizer; it ‘that’ leads a adjunct, adjunctizer.
    – Listenever
    Jul 14, 2014 at 4:43
  • . (3) Recently, there are assertions that all the adjuncts needs to be sorted into prepositions, and it is to be welcomed by him: even in both ‘They live ‘there’’, ‘He won’t live ‘now’’, there and now are prepositions. (4) None of analyses could be final, and they would not agree what a person arrived at. Consequently for seeking best analysis itself would be encouraged.
    – Listenever
    Jul 14, 2014 at 4:44

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