The causal value of 'cómo': factivity, mirativity and illocutionary forces


  • Bernat Castro López Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona



factivity, mirativity, left periphery, interrogative elements, illocutionary force


The interrogative element cómo ‘how’ of Spanish has a double meaning: that of manner and that causal. With the former, it behaves like a typical interrogative element, but, with the latter, its behavior manifests the specificities of por qué ‘why’. Two analyses are proposed, always in cartographic terms: one for sentences with cómo with a causal value and another one for sentences in which cómo with this value appears in front of es que ‘is that’ (cómo es que). Indeed, the conditions for embedding for these two types are different (much more restricted for the first one than for the second one). It is proposed that sentences with cómo without es que have an exclamative illocutionary force with an interrogative component, while the force of sentences with cómo es que would be a variant of the interrogative one (interro-exclamative force). In both cases, their factual and mirative nature is syntactically relevant. The general analysis proposal is finally applied to a poorly studied element, que cosa que (Ripacurtian Catalan and Aragonese).

Author Biography

Bernat Castro López, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Centre de Lingüística Teòrica




How to Cite

Castro López, B. (2019). The causal value of ’cómo’: factivity, mirativity and illocutionary forces. Borealis – An International Journal of Hispanic Linguistics, 8(1), 107–142.