This is a reply to Caponigro 2019, which argues that the phrase structure theory proposed in Donati and Cecchetto 2011 and Cecchetto and Donati 2015 falls short of accounting for the attested patterns of free relative clauses. Caponigro questions the reliability of the data supporting D&C’s hypothesis that ever-relatives introduced by a phrase (ever+NP relatives) should not be assimilated to free relatives. This reply reports the findings of four controlled experiments in English and Italian and discusses five properties that set free relatives apart from full relatives (occurrence with a complementizer, occurrence with a relative pronoun, infinitival use, absolute use, adverbial use). Crucially, ever+NP relatives do not pattern like free relatives in any of these five domains, either in Italian or in English. This clearly shows that ever-relatives are not a counterexample to D&C’s phrase structure theory. Another potential counterexample, Romanian free relatives, is also discussed. As for ever+NP relatives, in Italian they are shown to be garden-variety headed relatives, while in English they are headed relatives that involve a D-to-D movement that is responsible for the syntactic formation of the complex determiner what+ever.

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