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As far as I've been able to figure out, in the CaGEL* framework, complements are items that are licensed by some other element (generally the head), so that if an item has to be licensed, it is per definition a complement. But if I've got this right, then how come degree modifiers aren't complements? I mean, they elaborate on a feature that is only found with a subgroup of heads, just like any complement?

*Huddleston, R., and Pullum, G. K., 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • That is very weird. Are you saying that very is a complement of weird because weird is a matter of degree and thus licenses very? Aren't complements required not merely licensed? – TRomano Mar 17 at 10:54
  • No, a degree modifier like "very" can occur with many adjectives. Complements, by definition, can be required or permitted. – BillJ Mar 17 at 11:06
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    A small request: In its index the CGEL has several entries for degree modification and even more for complement. It would be helpful (at least for indolent CGEL users such as me) if you could tell us the page(s) you are referring to. – Shoe Mar 17 at 11:06
  • @TRomano Well, I'm not saying it is, since I know it isn't – I'm asking why it isn't, considering the definition of complements as something that is licensed by a subgroup of heads only. And no, as far as I've understood it, complements aren't necessarily required. – Hannah Mar 18 at 7:43
  • @BillJ with many, yes, but far from all. So I don't quite see the difference really between a feature of degree, which is limited to a subgroup of heads, and a feature of, say 'goal', as found with goal complements, found with a subgroup of verbs. – Hannah Mar 18 at 7:45

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