Projection Principle

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Projection Principle is a principle which says that

  1. representations at each level of representation are projections of the features of lexical items, notably their subcategorization features, and that
  2. if F is a lexical feature, it is projected at each syntactic level of representation (D-structure, S-structure, Logical Form).

The Projection Principle entails that sentence (i) cannot have the structure in (ii).

(i)  I believe him to be a fool
(ii)   I believe [NP him] [S to be a fool]

The NP him is the subject of the embedded sentence at the level of D-structure, so it has to be analyzed as its subject at all syntactic levels of representation, even though it has objective case. See also Extended Projection Principle.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Chomsky, N. 1986a. Knowledge of language: its nature, origin and use, Praeger, New York.
  • Chomsky, N. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding, Foris, Dordrecht.