Resumptive Pronouns in Language Comprehension and Production

Aya Meltzer-Asscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although the grammatical status of resumptive pronouns varies from one language to the other, these elements occur in spontaneous speech cross-linguistically, giving rise to a long-held intuition that resumption has a processing function, facilitating production and/or comprehension. In this review, I examine the central threads of thought related to resumption and processing and consider the prominent theories and findings that have shaped the discussion on this issue. I review grammatical and grammaticalization-based approaches to resumption and present the evidence suggesting that resumptive pronouns are a production artifact as well as the evidence that speaks in favor of or against the idea that resumptive pronouns aid comprehension. While the theory that resumption aids the producer receives straightforward support, the findings backing the claim that resumption helps the comprehender are much more equivocal, suggesting that in some cases resumption is not helpful and may even be detrimental to comprehension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-194
Number of pages18
JournalAnnual Review of Linguistics
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2021


  • filler-gap dependencies
  • resumptive pronouns
  • sentence comprehension
  • sentence processing
  • sentence production
  • syntactic islands


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