In this response to Hankamer and Mikkelsen (H&M) 2021, we clarify the meaning of the definite article the in out-of-the-blue occurrences of English light verb constructions such as make the claim. While H&M view these as purely uniqueness-requiring determiners (as opposed to purely anaphoric ones in non–light verb constructions), we classify them as instances of Carlsonian weak definites (e.g., Carlson et al. 2006), which presuppose neither uniqueness nor anaphoricity. This clarification casts doubt on H&M’s idea that the D in light verb constructions selects the descriptive CP, which serves to uniquely specify the intended referent. Crosslinguistic data (from the Dravidian language Kannada) also serve to question the relationship between D and CP claimed by H&M. We conclude that D does not directly select the CP in light verb constructions. Nevertheless, these CPs do empirically behave like syntactically selected complements. We suggest that this is because, if the light verb construction is taken as a whole—that is, the light verb + the weak definite nominal—its complement selection properties altogether parallel those of the corresponding lexical verbs. We propose a compositional analysis that reinforces this conclusion.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.