Research Article Open Access

The Grammaticalization of the Spanish Complement-taking Verb without a Complementizer

Jiyoung Yoon1
  • 1 University of North Texas, United States


This study examines authentic data samples taken from the Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA) in order to uncover any semantic trends that can be commonly observed in verbs taking a sentential complement without the complementizer que in Spanish. In doing so, special attention is given to the grammaticalization process that can account for epistemic fragments in which the semantic meaning of the verb becomes attenuated and where the main verb alone without a complementizer functions like an adverbial phrase. Four semantic groups of verbs with a zero complementizer are analyzed: (i) Verbs of cognition/mental act (e.g., creer ‘think’); (ii) verbs of communication (e.g., decir ‘say’); (iii) verbs of volition and desire (e.g., esperar ‘hope’); and iv) verbs of emotion (e.g., temer ‘fear’). These verb groups allowing a zero complementizer show differences with respect to (i) the subjunctive and indicative use in the embedded clause, (ii) the formal Vs. informal registers and (iii) the use of the complement-taking verbs as a fragment/parenthetical or an epistemic marker (in order to capture the degree of grammaticalization). This study proposes that not all the verbs that allow for the omission of the complementizer undergo the same degree of grammaticalization, but the semantics of the main verb interacting with all those factors play a role in determining the likelihood of the omission and the possibility that the main verb can actually be used as a floated parenthetical with a more subjective meaning that involves a more active process of grammaticalization. It is also shown that the degree of grammaticalization differs from verb to verb, as well as from verb class to verb class.

Journal of Social Sciences
Volume 11 No. 3, 2015, 338-351


Submitted On: 11 March 2015 Published On: 12 September 2015

How to Cite: Yoon, J. (2015). The Grammaticalization of the Spanish Complement-taking Verb without a Complementizer. Journal of Social Sciences, 11(3), 338-351.

  • 2 Citations



  • Spanish
  • Zero Complementizer
  • Grammaticalization
  • Parenthetical
  • Epistemic Marker