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SYNTAX: structural relation between a governor (a head or maximal projection) and a governee. Government is usually considered to be a necessary condition for case-marking and for proper government (see ECP). A range of near-identical definitions have been proposed, with slightly different empirical predictions in these and other areas. (i) is a typical example of such a definition.

(i) alpha governs beta iff alpha  c-commands beta 
    and there is no  barrier for beta that
     excludes alpha 
The core case of government is the relation between a head and its complement; this case is captured by every existing definition. Thus, in (ii),
(ii)	XP
  	| \   
	X  YP
 	  / |
        ZP  Y'
            | \
            Y  WP
	      / |
            UP	W'
X governs its complement YP, hence can case-mark it (if X is a case-assigning head) and properly govern it (if X is a lexical head). Depending on the definition of barrier, X may or may not govern ZP (with possible consequences for the treatment of Exceptional Case Marking). The definition of government will usually exclude X governing UP (allowing UP to be an (ungoverned) PRO subject), but sometimes allows ZP to govern UP (allowing ZP to properly govern UP, if they are coindexed). The c-command (sometimes m-command) clause prevents W from governing ZP, with consequences for the proper government of subjects.
LIT. Aoun, Y. & D. Sportiche (1983)
Chomsky, N. (1986b)
Chomsky, N. (1981)