Binding theory is a module of the grammar that deals with the appropriate interpretation of the italicized NPs in sentences like the following:
- Mary likes her.
- Mary hurt herself.
- Mary claimed that she had slept.
- Mary expected her to be attentive.
- She expected Mary to be attentive.
- They expected each other to be attentive
- She claimed that Mary had slept.
We distinguish three types of NPs:
- full NPs such as Mary, Fred, etc. We will call them "R-expressions", "R" for referential
- pronouns such as she, they etc.
- reflexive and reciprocal elements such as herself, himself, each other, etc. Reflexives and reciprocals are collectively called "anaphors."