Pronoun Substitution Test for Nominals

A nominal is a structure that fills a NP slot. To determine whether a structure is acting as a nominal, try the pronoun substitution test:

Replace the structure you think may be a nominal by by the appropriate pronoun.

For example, we know that to live in Mexico
in the sentence Alice wants to live in Mexico
is a nominal infinitive

because it can be replaced by the pronoun something

Compare this sentence with an adverbial infinitive:

Alice saved her money to live in Mexico.

note: the infinitive CAN'T be replaced by a pronoun:

*Alice saved her money something.

Similarly, a nominal clause can be replaced by a pronoun.

In the sentence
That you hate spinach is deplorable.

the nominal clause that you hate spinach
can be replaced by the pronoun it .

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Comments to: Sara Kimball
Last updated January, 2001