Control in Romanian and Se constructions

Katie Vandyne, Jonathan E. Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we account for different patterns found in complement clauses of se constructions in Romanian and Spanish. In Romanian, a se construction cannot host an infinitival complement, an apparently controlled clause, whereas in Spanish a se construction can. However, when an additional se is added to the complement clause (a “double se construction”), the Romanian structure becomes grammatical, while the Spanish equivalent becomes ungrammatical. The Romanian patterns have been previously argued in Giurgea & Cotfas (2021) to be cases of control, with a failed agreement relation forcing the obligatory presence of se in the complement. We propose an alternative based on two major differences found in Romanian and Spanish. First, in se constructions, Spec, Voice is saturated by the external argument in Spanish, but it is unsaturated in Romanian. We argue that this prevents the external argument in Romanian from acting as a controller. Second, Romanian infinitival clauses appear to share properties with finite clauses, in contrast to Spanish. We argue that the grammatical Romanian double se construction is not an instance of control and suggest that it is the finite nature of the infinitival complement that allows for a double se construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • control
  • finiteness
  • implicit agents
  • Romanian
  • se constructions
  • Spanish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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