In this paper I use the feature [+/–animate] to distinguish unaccusative [verb+preposition] structures where the verb projects the internal argument from structures where the preposition projects the internal argument. On the proposed approach, which aims to be a refinement on the original work by Hoekstra (1988), the preposition selects for the internal argument whenever the latter is [–animate]. The analysis is supported by the observation that unaccusative prepositional structures are typically [–animate], by contrast with their non-prepositional counterparts, and by a principled analysis of the differences existing between sequences with march-type verbs vs. sequences with verbs like whistle or eat. By contrast with current works in the literature, the preposition is argued to project two Spec positions in eat-type sequences, and a pP-shell configuration is proposed to match the derivation of unaccusative [verb+preposition] structures that feature one or two arguments internal to the prepositional projection.
Unaccusative structures; Verb; Preposition; Internal argument