Syntax of Russian comparative constructions

2017. № 1 (33), 116-141

Pavel V. Grashchenkov, Lomonosov Moscow State University / Moscow State University of Education / Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Moscow, Russia; Ekaterina A. Lyutikova, Lomonosov Moscow State University / Moscow State University of Education; Moscow, Russia


The paper establishes structural and semantic differences in Russian morphological and analytic comparatives. Superficially very similar, the two types differ drastically with respect to their syntax. Only morphological comparatives license a genitive DP of the standard of comparison, and only analytical comparatives are licit as prepositive modifiers within the noun phrase. Semantically, analytic comparatives but not morphological comparatives trigger the presupposition that the positive adjective is true of the standard of comparison. The paper claims that this asymmetry in the distribution of the two comparative forms is due to differences in syntax. Analytical comparatives are structurally identical to the long or short form of the adjective they are built on; morphological comparatives have a special structure projected by the comparative functional head.