Skip navigation

David Pesetsky

David Pesetsky is Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT. He is the author of Zero Syntax: Experiencers and Cascades and Phrasal Movement and Its Kin, both published by the MIT Press. Pesetsky is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was recently elected a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America.

Titles by This Author

In this book, David Pesetsky argues that the peculiarities of Russian nominal phrases provide significant clues concerning the syntactic side of morphological case. Pesetsky argues against the traditional view that case categories such as nominative or genitive have a special status in the grammar of human languages.

This study investigates the types of movement and movement-like relations that link positions in syntactic structure. David Pesetsky argues that there are three such relations. Besides overt phasal movement, there are two distinct types of movement without phonological effect: covert phrasal movement and feature movement. Focusing on wh-questions, he shows how his classification of movement-like relations allows us to understand the story behind wh-questions in which an otherwise inviolable property of movement—"Attract Closest"—appears to be violated.

Experiencers and Cascades


The analysis and theory developed in Zero Syntax is an important contribution to the understanding of Universal Grammar. The overriding theme is the notion that the availability and syntactic positioning of arguments is not a matter of chance but arises from laws governing the structure of lexical entries and from laws governing syntactic structures themselves. Along the way, Zero Syntax also examines issues of broad significance to current theoretical linguistic research in syntax and lexical semantics.