home edit page issue tracker

This page pertains to UD version 2.

expl:impers: impersonal expletive

The relation expl:impers is a sub-class of expl, specific for the impersonal use of the reflexive clitic pronoun. While the default function of a reflexive pronoun is to signal that the subject applies a transitive action to itself (i.e., the reflexive pronoun is an object coreferential with the subject), the impersonal construction can be used with any verb, transitive or intransitive. The clitic is formally identical with a reflexive object but it does not fill the object slot in these constructions and if the verb is transitive, its real object still occurs in the clause and fills the slot. The reflexive clitic is not a subject either; in fact there is no subject at all, which is the defining property of impersonal constructions. If the verb must express subject agreement, it will take a default form (this depends on the language, a typical example would be 3rd person singular).

Impersonal constructions should be distinguished from reflexive passives, in which the reflexive clitic is attached as expl:pass. They are constructed for transitive verbs: The object is promoted to subject, the verb stays in its active form (although agreement morphemes may have to be adjusted to the new subject), and the object slot is filled by the reflexive pronoun.

[it] Si prevede che viaggerà. “He is expected to travel.”

Si prevede che viaggerà . \n REFL expects that will-travel .
expl:impers(prevede, Si)
expl:impers(expects, REFL)
punct(prevede, .-5)
punct(expects, .-11)
ccomp(prevede, viaggerà)
ccomp(expects, will-travel)
mark(viaggerà, che)
mark(will-travel, that)

In Italian, if there’s a clitic in a construction with a modal or an auxiliary verb, then generally it is an impersonal construction.

[it] Si può procedere a sequestro. “Seizure can be carried out.”

Si può procedere a sequestro . \n REFL can proceed to seizure .
expl:impers(procedere, Si)
expl:impers(proceed, REFL)
aux(procedere, può)
aux(proceed, can)
punct(procedere, .-6)
punct(proceed, .-13)
obl(procedere, sequestro)
obl(proceed, seizure)
case(sequestro, a)
case(seizure, to)

In the following Polish example, wystawę archeologiczną “archaeological exhibition” is in the accusative case, hence it is still the object and not a subject, hence it is a reflexive impersonal construction and not a reflexive passive.

[pl] Przygotowuje się również wystawę archeologiczną. “An archaeological exhibition is also being prepared.”

Przygotowuje się również wystawę archeologiczną . \n Prepares REFL also exhibition archaeological .
punct(Przygotowuje, .-6)
punct(Prepares, .-13)
expl:impers(Przygotowuje, się)
expl:impers(Prepares, REFL)
advmod(Przygotowuje, również)
advmod(Prepares, also)
obj(Przygotowuje, wystawę)
obj(Prepares, exhibition)
amod(wystawę, archeologiczną)
amod(exhibition, archaeological)

Compare the Polish example with Czech where the archaeological exhibition switched to the nominative, it became the subject and thus we are dealing with the reflexive passive construction instead.

[cs] Rovněž se připravuje archeologická výstava. “An archaeological exhibition is also being prepared.”

Rovněž se připravuje archeologická výstava . \n Also REFL prepares archaeological exhibition .
punct(připravuje, .-6)
punct(prepares, .-13)
expl:pass(připravuje, se)
expl:pass(prepares, REFL)
advmod(připravuje, Rovněž)
advmod(prepares, Also)
nsubj:pass(připravuje, výstava)
nsubj:pass(prepares, exhibition)
amod(výstava, archeologická)
amod(exhibition, archaeological)

expl:impers in other languages: [it] [qpm] [u]