This thesis refutes the generally accepted claim within Generative Grammar
that English there is an expletive (meaningless element) that is only
present to satisfy a syntactic requirement. Instead it is argued that there
is a proform that picks up a situation (or location) from the context.
There is a part of the predication structure in existential sentences,
which state about the situation that it contains an individual (or amount
of a property) specified by the postverbal noun phrase.
New data that are relevant for the definiteness effect are presented and it
is demonstrated that we need to distinguish between two types of
there-sentences: the results of a Magnitude Estimation Experiment for
example show that these so-called there-BE and there-V sentences behave
differently with respect to whmovement (among other differences).
Therefore, the two construction types are analysed differently: in there-BE
sentences, there is proposed to function as the subject of predication,
whereas it functions as the predicate in there-V sentences (just like in
the locative inversion construction). The thesis concludes with applying
the result of the investigation of English there to German da, and shows
that also da is a proform that can pick up locations, times and complex
situations in the context.
The study offers new insights into the analysis of existential sentences
and has implications for the analysis of potential subject positions, the
EPP, and the classification of expletives in the Germanic languages. It is
therefore interesting for scholars working in these fields and syntax in