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Rection (from Latin regere , to control) is a grammar term and describes a relationship between a word (regens) and a dependent, governed part of a sentence ( dependens , more rarely rectum ). In administrative relations, grammatical features such as case can be assigned to the governed element.

Rection in traditional grammar

In traditional grammar, the term rule has a comparatively narrow meaning and describes the assignment of a case to your arguments using verbs, adjectives or prepositions, and more rarely nouns . For example, the verb order rules the accusative of its object and the preposition with the dative as a supplement:

  • He ordered acc [one en pancakes] with Dat [an em small salad].

Further examples:

  • The verb to give requires that the object denoting the recipient is in the dative (this is the indirect object of the sentence): "I give the man the ball."
  • The adjective foreign can rule a supplement in the dative : "an idea foreign to him"
  • The preposition because of its addition assigns the genitive, through the accusative.

Status rection

Analogous to the concept of case rectification , infinite verb forms that are required by auxiliary verbs are also described as cases of rectification. Gunnar Bech (1955/1983) coined the term “status reaction” for this, as he referred to the various infinitive forms as “verbal status”. These ruling-assigned infinitive characters are:

  • the mere infinitive ending in -en ,
  • the infinitive with too
  • or the so-called participle form.

Examples are the two variants of the auxiliary verb are as passive and future auxiliary verb. That these are two different auxiliary verbs can only be seen from the fact that they govern different features, i.e. This means that different infinitive forms are assigned to the accompanying main verb:

Passive : requires the participle form of the main verb (Bech: "3rd status of the infinitive")

"If he someone to ge displayed t is"

Future tense : requires the bare -en -infinitive (Bech: "1st status")

"If he the man Ad s will"

Rection in generative grammar

In formal theories of syntax , e.g. B. the government binding theory , one describes a structural relationship between two units in a sentence, which can be accompanied by case assignment, but does not have to be.

Government as a structural relationship

The directional relationship can be explained using the structure tree shown in the picture . The preposition with has here as a supplement ( complement ) the phrase a salad from the garden . This forms a noun phrase or "noun group" (NP), because its head , i. H. their core ingredient, the noun salad .

Tree diagram of a PP with an embedded complex NP

From salad in turn another phrase depends on the preposition of is as a head, and therefore a prepositional phrase (PP). So this is an attribute of the noun salad . In the structure given, there is now a rule relationship (blue arrow) between the preposition with and the noun phrase around the noun Salat , because these units meet the requirements of the following definition (a simplified formulation of the form common in government binding theory):

An expression α governs an expression β if and only if:
  1. α is a head
  2. The phrase whose head is α also contains β
  3. There is no further head between α and β whose phrase would already contain β.

The last condition is necessary in order to restrict relations in the sentence to certain distances. In the example given, the following applies:

  • Let us choose α = with and β = NP with the head N = salad . Then the preposition rules with the NP, because (i) P is a head, (ii) which generates a phrase (PP) which contains the NP and (iii) there is no other head in between that has the same property.
  • Let us choose α = with and β = NP with the head N = garden . Then the preposition the NP does not rule the garden . Because conditions (i) and (ii) are fulfilled again, but between with and the garden there is the preposition off , and its PP already contains the NP dem Garten (gray box). There is a governing relationship between aus and the garden , but not with the preposition with . The latter can therefore not rule into the gray area.

Rector and case assignment

In the example above, the ruling heads, the prepositions, are case assigners, they both assign a dative to their complement. Case assignment is now understood as a process that is possible when there is a governing relationship in the structure and when the head assigns a case. The above definition also ensures that the NP can only get its dative case from the garden , not from a preposition that is further away.

Rector without case assignment

Relationships without a case are used in the generative syntax e.g. B. used to model the grammar of bound pronouns or empty categories, i.e. v. a. in the binding theory and in the Empty Category Principle (ECP) of the government binding theory. An example is the analysis of the passive : Here the nominative subject of the passive clause is understood as a supplement that is still essentially (i.e. in the deep structure ) an object, and the rejection relationship with the object also continues. But the passivated verb can no longer assign a case to its object, so the passive object is "raised" in place of a nominative subject. Thus the direction and case assignment for verb and object are separated here.

See also


  • Gunnar Bech: Studies on the German verb infinitum. Volume I (= Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernas Selskab, Historisk-filologiske Meddelser 35, no. 2), København 1955. Reprint: Niemeyer, Tübingen 1983.
  • Helmut Glück (Ed.), With the collaboration of Friederike Schmöe : Metzler Lexikon Sprache. 3rd, revised edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-02056-8 .
  • Geoffrey Poole: Syntactic Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2011, ISBN 978-0230243941 .


  1. This is only one of several possible analyzes; one alternative is classification as a determinant phrase .
  2. The tree shown is a simplification compared to the classic X-bar theory , as it does not use an empty projection; if, on the other hand, a structural distinction is to be made between complements and adjuncts, the attribute would have to stand next to an unbranched N'-node instead of next to N ° .
  3. ^ After Poole (2011), pp. 101ff. in connection with p. 129.