The construction cannot help -ing and its rivals in Modern English
This paper describes the history and present status of a family of constructions containing two older (obsolescent and recessive) members, cannot choose but + bare infinitive and cannot but + bare infinitive, and two younger ones, cannot help -ing and cannot help but + bare infinitive. It is shown that cannot help but + bare infinitive constitutes an American-led innovation and that even today the type is distinctly more common and versatile in American than British English. In addition, the paper explores some major distributional constraints distinguishing between cannot help -ing and the three but-types. These involve differences between individual text types, the lexical diversity of the non-finite verb, and certain non-basic, especially Low Transitivity structures.
Cited by 3 other publications
. Testing two processing principles with respect to the extraction of elements out of complement clauses in English
. English Language and Linguistics
pp. 463 ff.
Ruohonen, Juho & Juhani Rudanko
. Factors Bearing on Non-finite Complement Selection: A Case Study of Accustomed with Data from Hansard
. In Infinitival vs Gerundial Complementation with Afraid, Accustomed, and Prone
pp. 99 ff.
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