Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Elena Benedicto

Committee Member 1

Felicia Roberts

Committee Member 2

Elaine Francis


This thesis focuses on a unique and, as of yet, unstudied particle verb construction in English, referred to as the `X it up' construction (e.g. I partied it up last night). Syntactic and sociolinguistic perspectives are taken to explore this phenomenon. In the area of syntax, it is proposed that the `it' in the construction is non-referential and that `it' is an (object) expletive. It is further proposed that the construction is unergative. These hypotheses are confirmed via syntactic tests, and a potential syntactic representation based on Basilico's (2008) particle verb analysis is offered as a structure in which the expletive can occur. Additionally, the particle `up' is proposed to be distinct from other `up' particles in the English language, which serves as a possible explanation for the construction's contrastive structure from other particle verb constructions. Shifting to the sociolinguistic dimension of the study, possible social factors that may influence the usage of the construction are investigated. Results indicate that this construction is influenced primarily by age and that younger age groups (18-35) might use the construction more frequently in casual conversation. Additional factors such as gender and social media usage are also considered; however, these are not shown to have any significance on the usage of the construction.