Imperatives in concessive clauses

compatibility between constructions

  • Hidemitsu Takahashi Hokkaido University


In his pioneering paper on “Performative Subordinate Clauses,” Lakoff (1984) claimed that subordinate clauses expressing a reason or concession allow imperatives conveying statements (i.e. assertive illocutionary force). While this analysis has gone unchallenged to this day, the present paper shows that Lakoff’s analysis is inadequate, in that reason and concessive clauses show a sharp contrast in the kinds of imperative utterances they permit. Contra Lakoff, concessive clauses with although, though and except (that) do allow imperative constructions conveying directive illocutionary forces to occur, whereas by contrast those with even though tend to disallow both types of imperatives.
These findings can be explained in terms of compatibility between “component” constructions constituting a complex sentence. It is argued that the compatibility between imperatives (both directive and assertive types) and concessive adverbials (excluding even though) can be attributed to the latter’s loose integration into a matrix clause required by the former. Furthermore, it is argued that the incompatibility of even though with imperatives arises primarily from the incompatibility between the tight integration of even though and the loose integration required by imperatives, together with the associated incompatibility between the non-rectifying function of even though and the rectifying conjunction favored by imperatives.

How to Cite
TakahashiH. (2022). Imperatives in concessive clauses: compatibility between constructions. Constructions, 5.