ILINCA CRĂINICEANU

ELEMENTS OF ENGLISH MORPHOLOGY

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Descrierea CIP a Bibliotecii Naţionale a României CRĂINICEANU, ILINCA Elements of english morphology, Ilinca Crăiniceanu – Bucureşti, Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine, 2007 Bibliogr. 200 p.; 20,5cm. ISBN 978-973-725-759-8 811.111'366

© Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine, 2007

Redactor: Andreea DINU Tehnoredactor: Marcela OLARU Coperta: Marilena BĂLAN Bun de tipar: 5.02.2007; Coli tipar: 12,5 Format: 16/61×86 Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine Bulevardul Timişoara nr.58, Bucureşti, Sector 6 Tel./Fax: 021/444.20.91; www.spiruharet.ro e-mail: contact@edituraromaniademaine.ro 2

UNIVERSITATEA SPIRU HARET
FACULTATEA DE LIMBI ŞI LITERATURI STRĂINE

ILINCA CRĂINICEANU

ELEMENTS OF ENGLISH MORPHOLOGY

EDITURA FUNDAŢIEI ROMÂNIA DE MÂINE Bucureşti, 2007
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3. 3. Introductory Remarks ………………………………………… 1.. Number Recategorization of Mass Nouns into Countable Nouns 6. Morpho-syntactic Reflexes of the Number Category …………. 1. 19 20 20 21 21 22 23 26 26 27 28 29 29 30 32 34 5 11 12 12 12 14 15 16 17 18 ..2.4..1.2.0. Distributive and Collective Plurals ………… 3.. Sortals vs. 2.3.…………………….……….1.1. ON LEXICAL AND GRAMMATICAL CATEGORIES THE LEXICON 1.2. 2. What does Morphology study? ………………………………. Agreement Patterns …………………………………….0..1. On Morpho-Syntactic Properties of Sortals/Non-Sortals ……… 2. 5.………………….1.0.2. Syntactic Phrases ………………………………. 4.CONTENTS 1. 1.……………. Non-Sortals ………………………………………. Collective Nouns in the Plural …………………………. Inflectional Morphology ………………………………. Properties of Collective Nouns ………………………….1.3. 3. Classifiers ……………………………….. General Terms with No Corresponding Mass Lexicalization …. Non-Sortals …………………………………………………… 2.. Lexical Categories vs. The Morpho-syntactic Nature of Functional Categories ………. 2. The Lexicon ……………………………….. Morphologically Defective Nouns …………………………….1.1.. 3. Singular-Plural Opposition..2.2.1. Derivational Morphology ………………………………. Functional Categories ………………….3.1. 3. 1. 3.1.0.0.1. THE CATEGORY OF NUMBER 1.0. Sortals ………………………………………………………… 2. Collective Nouns and Predicates ………………………. The Morpheme ……………………………….. Collective Nouns. 2... The Plural Morpheme ……………………………….1. 3. Countable-Uncountable Distinction 1.1. 3..……………….1.

5. 5. 4. 6 34 37 38 43 44 45 45 45 45 46 46 47 47 47 47 49 49 50 51 51 51 52 52 53 53 55 55 56 58 58 58 59 59 60 60 60 61 . Plurale Tantum Nouns ……………………………….………. The Deictic / Gestural Use of Definite Descriptions …….. 5.2.2.…..1. Proper Names in the Form of Definite Descriptions ………….1.0.…………… 4.0.……………. The Cataphoric Value/Use of the Definite Article 5. The Values/Uses of Demonstrative Descriptions ……………… 4.0.. Semantic Differences between Indefinite DPs and BPs ……… 10.1. Classes of Determiners ……………………………….1. THE CATEGORY OF DETERMINATION 1.2.. A Note on Bare Plurals (BPs) ……………………………….3.3.. 3.1.1.………... Non-specific Readings …………………. 8. 5. General Characteristics ………………………… 5..…………….. 2. 5. The Emotional Value ……………………………….….……….3. 5.4.3.. Definite Descriptions ………………………………. 3.2. The Epiphoric Value of Indefinite Descriptions ………………..1..1.0. The Deictic/Gestural Value ………………………………. 7.. 8. The Non-Referential (Attributive) Use of the Definite Article … 6.0 Indefinite Descriptions ……………………………….…………. The Cataphoric Value ………………………………. 4..…. 10. 3.2.2.………….1. The Generic Value of Indefinite Descriptions ………….2.1.2.3.1.2.0. Indexicals or Deictic Elements ………………………………. The Values/Uses of Definite Descriptions ……………………. 5. 4.…………….2.0.. General Remarks ……………………………….……..3..3.3.3. 9.2. The Numerical Value of Indefinite Descriptions ………. General Remarks ……………………………….….1.. 5. 7.2. 8.0. Resource Situation ……………………………….2.7. 5.… 10..3. 7.3. The Anaphoric Value ………………………………. Specific vs. Generic Sentences ………………………………. 10. The Anaphoric Value/Use of the Definite Article ..1.. 3.0... Anaphoric Processes ………………………………. Discourse Functions of Definite Descriptions: the Anaphoric and Cataphoric Functions ……………….0... The Symbolic/Deictic Use of Definite Descriptions ……. Characteristics of Indexicals ………………………………..….. The Generic Function of Definite Descriptions ………………. Philosophical Background ………………………………. The Ambiguity of Indefinite Descriptions ……………… 8.1.0. 4. 4.1. Non-deictic Functions of Demonstratives …………………….1. The Values/Uses of Indefinite Descriptions ………………….3.2... The Symbolic Value ……………………………….

Temporal Structure and Aspectual Situation Types …………… 4. THE CATEGORY OF ASPECT 1. 11.. 4. Structural Cases ……………………………….0.0. Grammaticalizations of the Perfective – Imperfective Aspectual Opposition …………………………………. Situation-Type Aspect ………………………………………… 3. On the Relevance of Theta-Roles in Syntax and Morphology …. 5. Indefinite Article Generic Sentences ………………………… 4. 3. 1.3. Semantic Fields of Several Verbs of Motion and Location ……. 5. Introductory Remarks ………………………………………… 1.3.0. 2.2. THE CATEGORY OF CASE 1. 2.. THE CATEGORY OF GENDER 1.0..1..10.1. The Perfective – Imperfective Grammaticalized Aspectual Opposition ……………………………………………………. 2.1. Case as a Conceptual Notion: Case Grammar ………………… 4.2.1. Predicates and their Argument Structure ……………………… 4. 4. 61 62 63 64 66 67 67 69 70 72 73 74 79 79 79 82 83 86 87 87 88 88 89 90 90 90 91 92 7 .1. 2. 11. 2.. 11.1.………………. Predicates that Occur only with BPs …………………. The Temporal Structure of the Perfective – Imperfective Aspectual Opposition ………………………………………….……………. Situation-Type Aspect versus Grammatical Aspect …………… 4. Referential Gender ……………………………………………. States …………………………………………………… 4. The Gender of Male/Female Beings ………………………….0. 6. Nouns that Lack Gender Specification …………………. 3.0.4.2.…………….. Processes/Activities ……………………………………..1.1.1. Remarks on the English Cases in Traditional Grammar ……….1.0.1..3.0. 6..1. Bare Plural Generic Sentences ……………………………….1.. General Remarks ……………………………….0.0.3. General Remarks ……………………………………………… 4. Conceptual Features of Situation Types and Grammatical / Viewpoint Aspects …………………………………………….1.1. General Remarks ………………………………. The Gender of Animate Entities ………………………………. 4.2.. Definite Article Generic Sentences …………………………. Events …………………………………………………. Formal Configurations: Government and Agreement.

. 4. 3.. 4.1. 8.0. Aspectual Recategorization / Shift ……………………………. 9. The Imperfective Viewpoint and Aspectual Situation Types …. 9.. Compositionality ……………………………………………… 7. General Remarks ……………………………………………… 1. The General Classification of Temporal Adverbs and Their Temporal Specification ………………………………………. 3. The Perfective Viewpoint and Aspectual Situation Types …….. 3.0. States. 8. Bennett and Partee’s (1972/1978) Formalization of the Progressive Aspect ……………………………………………. Events in the Progressive Aspect ……………………………… 7. General Characteristics of the Imperfective Grammatical / Viewpoint Aspect …………………………………………….4.. States in the Progressive Aspect ……………………………….0.2.3... 8. Activities and Events in the Perfective Aspect …………. 9. Temporal Values of the Main Tenses in English ……………… 4.4.2. 6.1.. 11. 2. Other Values/Uses of the Simple Present Tense ………………. Reference Time and Event Time . The Historical Value of the Simple Present Tense ……… 8 93 93 93 94 94 98 98 99 100 100 101 103 104 106 109 110 113 113 115 119 119 122 122 122 123 123 127 128 128 129 130 . 4. [± Duration] …………………………………………………. Frequency Adverbs ………………………………………….1...2.. 3.0.0.. Duration Adverbs ……………………………………………. 3. [± Stativity] …………………………………………………… 6.0. General Characteristics of the Perfective Grammatical / Viewpoint Aspect ……………………………………………..1. The Notions of Speech Time.6.4. 9.0. 9...0.1.1. The Instantaneous Use of the Simple Present Tense ……..0. On the [+Perfective] Feature of English Simple Present Tense .3. Completive Adverbs ………………………………………….2.2. Locating Adverbs (or Frame Adverbs) ……………………….4..3... Jespersen’s (1933) View on the Properties of the English Progressive …………………………………………………….1.. The Notion of Axis of Orientation ……………………………. 4... Generic and Habitual Sentences in the Simple Present Tense 4. 10. THE CATEGORY OF TENSE 1.0. 12.4.4. General Properties of the English Simple Present Tense ………. [± Telicity] …………………………………………………… 6. 4.3.3. The Imperfective Paradox (Dowty 1979) …………………….. Activities / Processes in the Progressive Aspect ……………….4.

Be Going To …………………………………………………. 4.0.0.. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Simple Present Perfect Tense 6. 6.5..4. Introductory Remarks ………………………………………… 2.0.0.0.2.3.0. General Properties of the English Present Perfect Tense ……… 6.. 8.5.5.. 6.5. Morpho-syntactic Properties of Modal Verbs ………………….4.3. Means of Expressing Future Time …………………………….2. The Values / Uses of the Simple Present Perfect ……………… 6. 5.3.4.1. 10. The Current Relevance Theory on the Present Perfect ………… 6... The Extended Now Theory on the Present Perfect …………….0. MODALITY AND MODAL VERBS 1. The Simple Past Tense Referring to Present Time ……………. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Past Perfect …………….0. CAN …………………………………………………………. 6. The Simple Past Tense with Deictic Value ……………………. 5.6.1. 9. 10. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Simple Past Tense ………. On Root and Epistemic Meanings of Modal Verbs …………… 3.5.7.1. The Indefinite Past Theory on the Present Perfect ……………. 11. Temporal Adverbs with the Present Perfect and the Past Tense . 8. 5..0. 6.3. The Future Value of the Present Perfect ……………………….1. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Future Perfect Tense …….. 10.1.1.0. The Present Progressive with Future Time Adverbs …………… 10. More on the Deontic Meaning and Epistemic Meaning and the Shift from One Meaning to the Other Meaning ………………. The Future of Past Situations …………………………………...5.. Will and Shall plus the Progressive Infinitive ………………….0. The Simple Past Tense with Past Perfect Value ………………. Other Temporal Uses of the Present Perfect …………………… 7.2. The ‘Hot News’ Value of the Present Perfect …………… 7... 5.1. 5. 6.. The Habitual Value of the Simple Past Tense ………………… 5. 5..2. 9.. 10.5.. Will and Shall plus the Infinitive ……………………………… 10.0. The Non-Deictic Use of the Simple Past Tense ………………. General Properties of the Past Perfect Tense in Complex Sentences 10. General Properties of the Past Perfect Tense in Simple Sentences 9.2. The Resultative or Continuative Value of the Present Perfect …………………………………………………. General Remarks ……………………………………………… 131 131 133 133 134 134 135 135 137 138 139 140 140 141 142 142 142 143 146 146 146 147 147 148 148 149 150 150 151 152 153 155 159 163 168 168 9 . General Characteristics ………………………………………. The Simple Present Tense with Future Time Adverbs ………… 10. The Existential Value of the Present Perfect …………….

3.1. Hypothetical SHOULD ………………………………… 9. Power WILL (root meaning) ………………………………….1. Hypothetical COULD …………………………………. 8..1..0. 11.2.0.3. Volition WILL (root meaning) ……………………………….0. A Parallel between CAN and MAY ………………………….2.. General Remarks ……………………………………………… 9. 5.2.. 12.1.1..... Negation of Obligation MUST …………………………. 9. 8..4. Hypothetical DARE …………………………………………. Ability CAN (root meaning) ………………………………….. 7. 6. Hypothetical WOULD ………………………………….2. 8. Obligation MUST (root meaning) …………………………….. Possibility MAY (epistemic meaning) ……………………….. Weak Necessity OUGHT TO (epistemic meaning) …………..0.0..1..3.. Probability.. 5.1. Hypothetical SHOULD ………………………………… 10.3.2.4. MUST ………………………………………………………… 7.1. 11.1. Hypothetical MIGHT …………………………………. 8.2. Hypothetical COULD …………………………………. MAY …………………………………………………………... SHALL ………………………………………………………. 6. Prediction SHALL (epistemic meaning) …………..1.. 8.1.1. Probability WILL (epistemic meaning) ……………………….1.2.4. 8.1. 7. 6. 9.5. References ………………………………………………………… 170 172 174 174 175 176 176 177 177 178 178 179 179 181 182 184 184 185 186 187 187 188 188 189 189 189 190 191 191 192 192 193 194 194 195 196 197 10 .. NEED ……………………………………………………….1..0.. 10. OUGHT TO ………………………………………………….1. Permission MAY (root meaning) ……………………………. 8. 5. Obligation NEED (root meaning) …………………………….1. 6. 6. 6. WILL ………………………………………………………….2.1. Hypothetical MIGHT ………………………………….. Necessity MUST (epistemic meaning) ……………………….3. 9. Hypothetical WOULD ………………………………….3. 12. 9. 7. 8. Obligation SHALL (root meaning) …………………………….1. Habitual WILL (root meaning) ………………………………. DARE ………………………………………………………. Permission CAN (root meaning) ……………………………… 5. Moral Obligation OUGHT TO (root meaning) ……………… 10. Possibility CAN (epistemic meaning) …………………………. Hypothetical WOULD ………………………………….0.1.2.4..

1. below) and syntactic phrases make up sentences. the morphological level. In turn.. strings of morphemes make up syntactic phrases (e. the semantic level) and that there are relations that hold between these levels of language. In turn. Cornilescu 1995). People speak languages. walk + s..g. An individual linguistic unit (e. “Like any science. words are made up of sounds (more technically of phonemes) whose properties are studied by one of the branches of linguistics. the + boy. languages are made up of words that combine to form sentences. Roughly speaking. below). Phonetics and Phonology. a word.g.. Introductory Remarks Linguistics is the science that studies language. The general conception is that language is organized into hierarchical levels (e.. and linguistics is the empirical science that describes them in terms of their various properties. the syntactic level. The relation between linguistics and grammar is intimate.g.2. ON LEXICAL AND GRAMMATICAL CATEGORIES THE LEXICON 1. see section 3. The properties that a language evinces are outlined in the grammar of that language. it attempts to systematize and explain a domain of the empirical world” (Cornilescu 1995:17).g. childhood) are decomposable into other linguistic units called morphemes (e. recursive sets of rules that operate in a language.0.g. Thus. the phonological level. a sentence) has linguistic significance only if it is the constitutive part of an immediately higher level of analysis. Grammar is interested in the general. child-hood) (see section 2. the phoneme is of linguistic interest because strings of phonemes make up words and words themselves (if they are complex. e.2. as in current opinion grammar is associated with teaching practices (cf. 11 . a phoneme. viz.

walk. boy is a noun and boy-s is also a noun..1.. gender. the phonological level. heartbreaking.1. Derivational words and compound words are lexical items listed separately (in dictionaries).g.. morphology is the branch that studies the structure of words.Generalizing.. As can be noticed.g. which are changes in the word that indicate case. For example. For example. rational) or complex (e. the syntactic level) in an atomistic fashion. the morphological level. Inflectional Morphology Inflectional operations.2. the concern of linguistic analysis will not be the description of linguistic levels (e. ir+rational). number. derivational markers can change/shift the lexical class of the base. happy – unhappy). walk+ed. girl. Similarly. What does Morphology study? Morphology is the branch of science that deals with the form and structure of an organism or its parts (etymologically. Derivational Morphology Derivational operations are processes such as prefixation (e.g.. 1. tense.g. professor is a noun while professional is an adjective. The complexity of word structure is due to two morphological operations: derivation and inflection. aspect. Linguistic analysis will be concerned with the study of the relations of compatibility and isomorphism (defined as something identical with or similar to something else in form or structure) between these levels in a holistic perspective on language (cf. In linguistics. 1..g. 1.g. it is a Greek word: morph– + logie (-logy)).1.1. sense is a noun while sensational is an adjective. mood and comparison markers do not shift the lexical class/category of the words to which they attach. 12 . suffixation (e. jump is a verb and jump-ed / jump-ing are also verbal forms. sense – sensation – sensational) and compounding (e. sunflower). Both operations add extra elements (called markers) to the ‘naked’ word. person. Words may be simple (e. Ştefănescu 1984). girl+s. realize is a verb while realization is a noun. which is called the base.

and am / are / is / was / were are said to be suppletive forms of go and be. inflectional morphology is organized in paradigms while derivational morphology registers many irregularities and idiosyncrasies. each English verb exhibits a paradigmatic set that contains four verbal inflected forms: (1) V V-s V-ed V-en V-ing jump jumps jumped jumped jumping sing sings sang sung singing Nearly all English nouns exhibit a number paradigmatic set of two inflectional forms (singular-plural): (2) N house N-s houses In English. there are few exceptions to this tight paradigmatic organization of inflected forms. go: went / gone. The following examples show that after the attachment of an inflectional element to a word no other inflectional or derivational element can be attached to that word: (3) (4) boy boys jump jumps boyhood *boyshood jumps *jumpsed In sum.g. Moreover. The forms went / gone. mumps – *mump. e. one or several forms of some elements in the paradigm are not phonologically related to the other forms in the paradigm. One of them is suppletion. respectively. The second important property that characterizes inflectional morphology is that an inflectional element once attached to the base form of a word closes off the respective lexical item. inflection elements. Firstly. e. the number paradigm: measles – *measle.g. be: am / are / is / was / were. technically called inflection markers or grammatical markers attach to lexical items. Grammatical markers are 13 ...Two important properties distinguish inflectional morphology from derivational morphology. That is. For instance. trousers – *trouser. it may contain elements that lack one of the forms. a paradigm can also be defective that is.

e. feminine) while verbs are 14 . ‘accidents’). plural) and gender (e. in connected speech. suppletive forms are listed separately and each suppletive form is specified for the context in which it occurs (e. in terms of their form. Functional Categories Aristotle and his followers labelled both lexical and grammatical items ‘categories’. Lexical Categories vs. when we learn to speak a language we learn both words (lexical categories) and their specific grammatical markers. Aristotelian ‘substances’ were classified with respect to their ‘accidental’ properties that is.. From another perspective... jump belongs to the category verb if it is marked by –ed or –ing (jumped. The categories of substance were later on assimilated by traditional grammarians to the parts of speech (nouns. in modern grammar the parts of speech are called lexical categories (Chomsky 1965.. as substances or accidents. nominative. These lexical classes of words are what traditional grammars called parts of speech. masculine.. 1981. Of course. Language words signified things according to their modes of ‘being’. lexical items fall into four major classes: nouns (N). Certain ‘accidental categories’ were considered to be typical for particular parts of speech: nouns are inflected for case (e.1. For instance. In recent studies of linguistics they are referred to as lexical categories (beginning with Chomsky’s “Aspects of the Theory of Syntax” 1965). 1995). grammatical markers attach to lexical categories and. On formal criteria. the past tense of the verb go). The parts of speech have ‘meaning’ and they designate ‘objects’ in the physical world. 2. accusative). adjectives and prepositions).g. one cannot function in the absence of the other.not separately listed in dictionaries since they do not function independently from lexical items. verbs. The naïve assumption was that the structure of language reflects the structure of the world and that language consists of elements (i. number (singular. verbs (V).e. In sum. inflection markers are formal markers that help us identify the lexical class a word belongs to (in terms of form not meaning). went. 1970. After all. adjectives (A) and prepositions (P). jumping) but it is a noun if it is preceded by the article the (the jump). As already said.g. ‘substances’) which have certain properties (i.g.

• Lexical categories have descriptive meaning.. In spite of the fact that both lexical items/lexical categories and grammatical markers/functional categories are designated by the term category. In the Aristotelian line of thought. quantifiers (e. For example. ‘Accidental’ categories are abstract categories and they do not have ‘meaning’. there are great differences between lexical categories and functional categories. the differences between the lexical and grammatical categories are: Lexical Categories: • They form open classes of items: the number of lexical categories is very large and can be made even larger by borrowing and word formation processes. The Aristotelian accidental categories are what we call today grammatical markers or functional categories (Chomsky 1981). • They lack descriptive meaning and are very idiosyncratic. but) known as minor parts of speech did not signify anything by themselves. Functional Categories: • They form closed classes of items. Baciu 2004). verbs. They merely contributed to the total meaning of the sentence by imposing upon it a certain ‘form’ or ‘organisation’ (cf. adjectives. prepositions and particles) were truly meaningful. adverbs. while the other parts of speech (determiners (e. few. this.g.. 2. a). number or person. the definite article the and the indefinite article a are distributionally very different and no meaning can be attached to them in isolation. Only the major parts of speech (nouns.g. For instance. and.. much. a few). In a nutshell. For example. the.2.g. traditional grammarians also distinguished between major and minor parts of speech. The morpheme is the minimal unit endowed with constant form (acoustic 15 . the number of tense markers is limited to -s and -ed in English. many. as they do not designate ‘objects’ in the real world. conjunctions (e.inflected for tense. The minor parts of speech are nowadays assimilated to the class of functional categories as well. The Morpheme The basic unit of analysis in morphology is the morpheme. nouns designate classes of objects while verbs designate classes of events.

Some of these properties cover aspects of phonology and morphology.. shall).. Bound morphemes never occur in isolation (for example. read.. From this perspective. The Lexicon is the mental dictionary of a language: it contains the lexical and grammatical items of a language and information about them.1.e. Lexical and grammatical items include a collection of properties. 3.g. The fact that book is pronounced /b ü k/ and run is pronounced /r^n/ or the fact that the plural form of book is books and the present tense of run is (he) runs are specific to English. a. Lexical items also list their properties with respect to the categorial features they have: for instance. Let us see how this ‘functioning together’ works. Chomsky 1995).g. write (V). When we know to use the word book as a noun we necessarily know what it means (i. -s. can. For instance.. the lexical category N has Determiner (Number and Case) as functional categories. it designates a certain kind of object) and when we know what run means we know that it designates a certain type of activity.g. on (P)). morphemes that form the classes of prefixes such as un-. Free morphemes can occur in isolation (e. It is the case that to each lexical category there corresponds at least one functional category. ir– and suffixes such as -s. Take. which are language specific. The lexical category V has Auxiliary as a functional category. Lexical items also include information with respect to their semantic properties. we said above that in discourse lexical categories function together with functional categories. the lexical items book and run.image) and constant meaning. Morphemes can be bound or free. However. This knowledge is stored in our mental Lexicon. in grammar. We illustrate the collection of properties evinced by some lexical items (cf. The Lexicon When we know a language we know when and how to use both kinds of morphemes. boy (N). the. and thus idiosyncratic. lexical and grammatical. girl. -ed). red (A). may. for instance. the fact that the lexical item book has the categorial feature noun [N] and that the lexical item run has the categorial feature verb [V]. -ing) and lexical morphemes (e. the auxiliary contains the markers of Tense. we speak of grammatical morphemes (e. Aspect and Mood of the verb 16 . -ed.

A0. Swimming in the pool is fun).. which contain lexical categories but lack functional categories to articulate them in discourse. The V designates a class of events (e. 17 . In syntax. Let us illustrate this with some examples. The N ‘horse’ designates the class of objects that have the property of being horse. V (walk) – VP (walked)).e...(e. the term functional category designates the characteristic inflectional variation/paradigm of a certain part of speech. prepositions and particles are characterized by no inflectional paradigms. we refer to one particular event of swimming that took place last night. the + horse). Thus. *Child be hungry. each lexical category (word) grows (better said projects) into a syntactic phrase.. 3. the lexical item horse ‘functions’ together with the functional category Determination (i. The functional category for verbs is Auxiliary.e. N0. When we utter a sentence such as: I swam in the pool last night.g. which includes Tense. The lexical category A has Degree words as functional category (e.2. The properties of a head determine the structure of the phrase.. the lexical category N projects as an NP syntactic category (e. number. N (boy) – NP (the boy)) while the lexical category V projects as a VP syntactic category (e. the + horse) fixes the object we speak about in the class of ‘horse’. Syntactic Phrases Lexical categories together with their specific functional categories form syntactic phrases (annotated as P(hrases)). The functional category Det (i. adjectives and adverbs are characterized by the category of comparison. Nouns are characterized by the paradigms of the categories of case. That is. The property of lexical heads to project as syntactic phrases is not a property specific to English but holds for all languages spoken by people. the tallest). Thus.e. are ill formed: *He break glass.g. the following sentences. He has come. Thus. aspect and mood. For instance..g.. V0. gender and determination. For example. P0) that is. as obligatory constitutive element of a phrase. functional categories close off lexical categories making it possible for lexical items to function in discourse..g. P and Prt have nothing as functional category. verbs are characterized by the paradigms of the categories of tense.g. lexical categories are taken as heads (i. He may come).

g. 3. for instance.. the Extended Standard Theory (1970). tense. the verb give triggers the presence of accusative and dative cases on its objects (to give something to somebody).The property of lexical categories to grow (project) into phrases is important not only because this is how connected speech functions but also because meaning is attached only to syntactic phrases... 18 . processes (e. the Minimalist Program (1995)). V. John ate an apple (VP)).g. the category of tense. the category of determination. John is tall (VP)) or individual objects (e. AP. number. the category of gender. Another example is case marking on nouns. P). A. only full syntactic phrases (NP.3. PP) correspond to semantic categories not just lexical categories (N. aspect. In other words. Principles and Parameters (1981). For instance. the category of case. the presence of singular or plural number morpheme on the noun that syntactically functions as subject determines singular or plural form on the predicate (e. John is a young man (DP)). it is syntactic phrases that are in a relation of correspondence with semantic aspectual categories such as events (e.g. gender... the category of aspect and the category of modality and modal verbs. In other words. mood inflectional morphemes) encode abstract syntactic information about the relations among lexical categories when they occur in sentences. 3.g. It provides a detailed description of the following functional (morphological) categories: the category of number. As we are going to see when we discuss the category of aspect or the category of number. The Morpho-syntactic Nature of Functional Categories It is also important to notice that functional categories are morphosyntactic in nature: some syntactic relations that a word contracts with another word in a sentence trigger a change of inflectional form of that word. John ate apples (VP)). For example.4.g. functional categories (case. states (e. determination. The girl has called me / The girls have called me). VP. respectively. The present textbook in morphology adopts the theoretical framework of various versions of Generative Grammar (Chomsky’s Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965).

e. any part of the entities designated by iron. gold and ice is still iron.2. Singular-Plural Opposition.g. common nouns such as iron. Traditional grammars deal with the category of number as reflected in (i) the opposition singular – plural (e. They do not have a characteristic shape in space. house. For example.0. 19 . Moreover. Countable-Uncountable Distinction The category of number is related to the various ways that language uses to individuate entities. and rabbit have characteristic spatial shapes and are bound in space.. house. Countable nouns denote entities that can be divided and thus counted while uncountable nouns denote entities that cannot be divided and thus cannot be counted (Baciu 2004). gold or ice. a man’s arms or legs do not constitute a man). and rabbit designate entities that can be individuated and counted. boy – boys) and in (ii) the distinction between countable – uncountable (mass) nouns (e. table/tables – wine). gold and ice designate entities that are continuous in space and cannot be individuated. THE CATEGORY OF NUMBER 2. The semantic feature of the category of number is [+divisibility]. The entities designated by man.g.. The first opposition is ‘grammatical’ in nature: one of the two terms of the opposition. common nouns such as man. The second distinction closely related to the first. Notice that parts of these objects do not constitute the object itself (i. On the other hand. is ‘semantic’ in nature and has to do with the way nouns denote entities in the physical world. namely the plural one carries a morphological marker (usually -s)..

house and rabbit are also anti-additive.. and rabbit are also called SORTALS. Non-Sortals Common countable nouns like man.1. Sortals such as man. Baciu 2004)..2. several men do not form a larger man. 1979: 19). Uncountable / mass nouns like iron. “The purpose of the sortal distinction was to be able to apply number to it in a definite manner and not to permit any arbitrary division of the sortal term. • subject-verb number agreement (e. I have seen the boys.. There are two other properties that distinguish sortals from nonsortals. The sortal / non-sortal distinction corresponds to the COUNT / MASS distinction of nouns.e. the division of a lump of gold will result into smaller lumps of gold (the property of subdivisibility of non-sortals) and the addition of a lump of gold to another lump of gold will form a larger lump of gold (the property of additivity of non-sortals). legs and nails does no longer result into a table (the property of anti-subdivisibility). the division of a sortal / count entity such as table into its top. these boys). i.g. For example. Sortals vs. gold and ice are also called NON-SORTALS.g.g. They were running in the street) (cf. this boy vs. Those cars are blue) and • pronoun-antecedent number agreement (e. In contrast.. 1. 20 . house. Non-sortal (mass) nouns evince the properties of subdivisibility and additivity while sortal (countable) nouns evince the properties of antisubdivisibility and anti-additivity. Morpho-syntactic Reflexes of the Number Category There are at least three morpho-syntactic reflexes of the category number on a countable nominal: • number concord between the noun and its determiner (e. That car is blue vs. Nonsortals do not allow number to apply to them and arbitrary division into parts is an identification test” (Pelletier.1.

2.0. On Morpho-syntactic Properties of Sortals/Non-Sortals The semantic properties that distinguish between sortals / non-sortals have significant morpho-syntactic reflexes (cf. Ştefănescu 1988, Baciu 2004). 2.1. Sortals Sortals (i.e., countable nouns) co-occur with: • the indefinite article a • the plural morpheme –s • the quantifiers each, every, many, few • take cardinal numerals • they trigger plural verb agreement and plural anaphoric pronouns (1) a. Please, tell me isn’t there a ghost? b. Many girls seem to be so ignorant. c. Isabel, bending towards one picture after another, indulged in little exclamations. d. They have broken their promises. The most important semantic property of countable nouns is that they have individualized reference (since they can occur with the indefinite article a). The fact that sortals divide their reference accounts for the application of number to them. Notice however that it is not number alone that individuate countable nouns. Individuation is the combined function of the quantifier count nouns occurs with (e.g., a, each, every, many, few, several) and of the category number (Cornilescu p.c.). Neither quantifier alone nor the plural marker by itself can individualize entities. Consider the following examples: (2) a. What does he do for a living? b. John writes books. c. In the classroom there were zero students.
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In (2a) a living, in spite of the fact that it co-occurs with the indefinite article (quantifier) a, a does not have an individuation function. Similarly the plural countable nouns books in (2b) and students in (2c) do not individualize their referents. In (2b) the plural marker on books does not guarantee that there is any book John has written. Countable or sortal nouns are also known as general terms (Quine 1960). They are set in contrast with singular terms such as mother, John, the chair I sit on. While general terms name classes of objects, singular terms name unique objects (Quine 1960). 2.2. Non-Sortals Non-sortals (i.e., uncountable nouns) have the following morphosyntactic properties: • resistance to pluralization • resistance to co-occurrence with the indefinite article a • co-occurrence with (amassive) quantifiers such as much, little, a lot of, an amount of • singular agreement with the verb and singular anaphoric pronouns (2) a. Water was brought to the rescued party. b. She has little confidence in him. c. I have had some cold meat / Was it good? Conceptually, uncountable nouns designate indivisible substances such as gas, water, footwear, gold, sugar, etc. Uncountable / non-sortal nouns do not have criteria of individuation (they are only subdivisible and additive). Uncountable nouns do not show number variation. As a rule, they exhibit only the (unmarked) singular form. They can be individuated with the help of classifiers (e.g., a drop of water, a lump of sugar, a stock of hay, etc) (see section 2.3. below). From a semantic point of view non-sortal/mass nouns are distinct from both general terms and singular terms. Unlike general terms, which individuate their reference mass terms do not individuate their reference. The opposition between mass terms and singular terms (e.g., London, the book on the table) is established with respect to their ability to name a
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unique object: singular terms do name unique objects while mass terms are unable to do so. 2.3. Classifiers Not all languages have morphologically marked number (e.g., Chinese, Japanese or Korean). To individuate entities languages that have no morphologically marked number make use of classifiers. Consider the following examples from Chinese: (3) a. Yi li me one CL rice ‘one grain of rice’ b. Yi ge ren one CL person ‘one person’

(-count) (+count)

Languages like English (and Romanian) use classifiers for dividing into parts uncountable nouns (e.g., a grain of rice, un bob de orez). It is clear that the meaning of morphological number is the same as the meaning of the classifier. A classifier shows that a given substance can be partitioned out into units of a certain type (Cornilescu p.c.) As already shown, conceptually, countable nouns/sortals have criteria of individuation while uncountable nouns/non-sortals lack criteria of individuation. In English, uncountable nouns/non-sortals make use of classifiers (roughly paraphrased as ‘part of’ a substance) to yield units of a certain type; for instance, portions of water are individuated by means of lexical items such as a lake, a sea, a pool, a drop. In terms of morphological marking we have seen that only the plural member of countable nouns is morphologically marked (usually by -s). Being morphologically marked the interpretation of plural countable nouns becomes fixed (i.e., they cannot be reinterpreted as uncountable nouns in a different context). In exchange, the singular, countable unmarked member of the singular-plural opposition becomes flexible in interpretation (Borer 2004). This flexibility makes it possible for singular, countable nouns to appear in two different configurations. Consider the following examples:
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(4) a. There are two apples on the table. (+count) a’. There is too much apple in the salad. (-count) b. There was a cat on the road. (+count) b’. There was much cat on the road after the accident. (-count) The conclusion is that the distinction [+/-count] is independent from any objective division of structure (Borer 2004). The same structure can be named either by a [+count] or a [-count] noun and conversely, the same noun has [+/-count] interpretations. For example, shoes, sandals are countable nouns while footwear, which designates the same objects is uncountable. Predominantly, [-count] nouns can be made [+count] acquiring predictable interpretations (e.g. wine – wines (= kinds of wine)). Conversely, [+count] nouns in the singular can be made [-count] (e.g., There are two chickens in the backyard – There is too much chicken in my soup) (see the sections below for a detailed discussion of the types of shifts in countability interpretation). Thus, the contrast between [+count] vs. [-count] lies in the terms used and not in the stuff they name (cf. Ştefănescu 1988). “There is clearly no difference between noodles and spaghetti that can be held responsible for the fact that noodles is a plural countable noun but spaghetti is a mass noun, nor is there any difference between garlic and onions or between rice and beans. The same entities can be described as footwear or as shoes, as furniture or as chairs” (McCawley 1975: 314). Jespersen (1931) noticed that one and the same noun can evince both general term behaviour (i.e., + countable noun) or mass behaviour (i.e., -countable noun). Consider the following examples set in parallel columns: a tin of sardines two big cheeses a tall oak various matters were discussed various noises some sorrows/joys all these dangers are past many experiences
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an alloy of copper and tin a little more cheese a table made of oak the relation of matter and space a great deal of noise some sorrow/joy there is little or no danger much experience

b. respectively. an article/piece of furniture. (7) a. uniquely identified. 25 . the addition of classifiers. The same individuating effect is obtained: a certain ‘portion’ of the stuff/substance is intended. this. Butter is healthy. a piece of luggage. a pile/heap of rubbish. a piece of evidence/information. b’. which individuate a certain portion of the intended stuff/substance. Here are a few examples: (5) a lump/piece of sugar. a’. These other means are pluralization and the use of the indefinite article a. In (6) two coffees and a beer are elliptical for ‘two cups of coffee’ and ‘a glass/a bottle of beer’. There are other means of turning a mass term into a count term that do not involve classifiers.. a cup of milk. I had a beer for lunch. a pang of jealousy. that with mass terms turns them into singular terms. a stroke of luck. There are cases when the classifier is elided and the mass noun appears in the plural or preceded by the indefinite article a: (6) a. a sheet/piece of paper. a piece/item of news. On the other hand.e. they trigger semantic differences between the interpretation of the mass term and the newly formed count term (see section 5). a flutter of excitement. Gold is a precious metal. a loaf/piece of bread. the use of determiners such as the. a bar/cake of soap. a grain of rice. contributes to the recategorization of mass terms into general terms. a word of advice. the partitioning expression) can occur in the plural. b. a fall of snow. an act of kindness It is clear that the classifier (i. That/the gold was found in the other room. a strip of land. I had two coffees this morning.Moreover. This/the butter is stale. a reel of thread.

Several English words do not make any formal distinction between the singular and the plural sheep – sheep. shrimp – shrimp while others still retain the Old English plural form child – children. radius – radii. mirrors. it is pronounced /z/ after voiced consonants (e. government. For example. ministry. All the plural affixes exemplified above are allomorphs of the same morpheme (which stands for the feature [+plural]). They consist of individualizable elements but their morphological form is singular. diagnosis – diagnoses. cabinet. beliefs). millenium – millennia. dogs) and after vowels (e. trade and industry. etc (cf. Baciu 2004): (a) Politics: assembly.. Foreign Office.. criterion –criteria. symposium – symposia are words of Latin origin. buses. press. focus – foci. senate. pieces. The list of collective nouns below reflects the most significant socio-cultural groupings of society as found in the area of politics. party. sizes). council. pens. curriculum – curricula.g. books. pots. air-force. House of Commons.0. minority. quail – quail.g. Some examples of Greek words are analysis – analyses.1. 26 . cactus – cacti.3. are discussed in the subsections below. opposition. #s is pronounced /s/ after voiceless consonants (e. religion. congress. days. countable nouns form the plural by adding the inflectional morpheme #s whose pronunciation varies function of the final consonant/vowel of the word it attaches to. The Plural Morpheme As a rule. thesis –theses. Distributive and Collective Plurals Collective nouns such as class. Collective Nouns. mass. Ştefănescu 1988... either morphologically marked or not. sports. ox – oxen. 3. alumnus – alumni. Other problems raised by plural nouns. phenomenon – phenomena. government can be defined as nouns designating a whole class of individuals. majority.g. audience. axis – axes. Many words entered into English from Latin or Greek and retained their plural forms from the respective language.g. rays) and it is pronounced /iz/ after hissing sibilant consonants (e. fish – fish.

mob. parish. poultry. audience. the EU. group. society. money. clergy. school. management. though these nouns are usually interpreted as singular terms. household. ministry. crew. etc. flock. the BBC. etc. proletariat. This Government is trying to control inflation. This Government are trying to control inflation. nobility. club. public. pack. mess. department. media. gang. Others: family.(b) (c) (d) (e) jury. aristocracy. company. Trade / Industry: firm. Education / Sports: class. people. choir. Consider some more examples that illustrate the distributive and collective readings of collective nouns (Poutsma 1926): 27 . data. squadron. When collective nouns in the singular designate the individual members of the set they acquire a distributive interpretation and agree with the verb in the plural (as in (8b)).1. army. staff. team. b. they are singular nouns (ii) from a semantic point of view these nouns designate sets of individuals In English (but not in other languages such as Romanian) collective nouns in the singular evince a bizarre property: they can be used to denote either the individual members of the set or the whole set as a body or group. fleet. When collective nouns in the singular designate the whole set as a body or group they acquire a collective interpretation and agree with the verb in the singular (as in (8a)). To this list we can add the names of many organizations which also display the behavior of inherently collective nouns: the NATO. etc. Properties of Collective Nouns There are two important properties that characterize collective nouns: (i) morphologically. police. crowd. 3. (8) a. union. etc. troop.1. etc Religion: congregation. proportion. herd. since they refer to one unique body. livestock. board. committee. flight. etc. sales division. swarm.

(+ coll.(9) a. the examples in (8) and (9) also show that the subject is in the singular but triggers either singular or plural agreement on the verb. The audience. who were all waving their arms above their heads. The audience. was in its place by 7 p. notice that the number value of co-referential pronouns in (9 a. -dis) 3.1.b. As a matter of fact.+dis) c. The board has issued its new rules for the equipment of vessels at sea. depending on the subject’s collective or distributive meaning.m. Agreement Patterns The examples in (8) and (9) illustrate one match agreement pattern and also two-mismatch agreement patterns characteristic of singular collective nouns (Kim 2004). were clearly enjoying themselves. The examples in (8) show that the subject noun always matches/agrees in number with its determiner.2. However.e. (+ coll.. Kim 2004) as illustrated in the schema below: (10) Morph-syntactic agreement Det noun verb… Semantic agreement 28 .c) also varies function of the collective noun’s interpretation as collective or distributive. -dis) b. (-coll. Moreover. which was a large one. These disparate agreement patterns in sentences with singular collective nouns can be explained if we hypothesize that English determiner-noun agreement is morpho-syntactic in nature while the subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent noun agreement are semantic in nature (Wechsler and Zlatiċ 2000. was / its place in (9a). the number value of co-referential pronouns is the same as the number value of the verb (i. were / their arms above their heads in (9b) and has / its news in (9c)).

In these cases as well. Collective nouns in the plural also allow for a double semantic interpretation: either a collective or a distributive reading. force a collective reading. be a couple. + coll) The examples in (11a. be numerous. Many gangs will be shaken by this law ⇒ Each gang will be shaken by this law. These predicates have a collective reading and obligatorily require semantically non-singular subjects (Hausser 1974). The four armies gathered their men to meet the enemy. the predicate is true of the sets of individuals). – coll) a’. (+pl. Many armies are admired for their courage all over Europe.e. Collective Nouns in the Plural Collective nouns can also appear in the plural.3. This interpretation is required by the predicate be admired. the predicate is the one that forces one of the two possible readings. outnumber. gather. be a trio. (+pl + coll) b. (+pl. – coll) b’. 11b) receive a distributive reading. Predicates like be admired or be pleased force a distributive reading of collective noun subjects. Collective Nouns and Predicates The collective or distributive readings of singular collective nouns generally depend on the predicate of the sentence.e. Consider the examples below: (11) a.1. Many gangs gathered in the same room.3. (+pl. This interpretation is imposed by the predicate of the sentence. There are cases when the predicate may render a plural noun ambiguous between the two possible readings: 29 . 3. all plural nouns. in (11a’. As a matter of fact. Intransitive predications like be dispersed. be alike. collide. not only collective nouns display a collective or distributive reading. 11b’) we have to do with a collective interpretation (i. namely gather. the predicate is true of each member of the set).1. The predicate be admired applies to each army (i.4.⇒ Each army / navy is admired for its courage.

The cars collided / gathered in the parking lot. Verb agreement is either in the singular or in the plural. they are countable nouns and their morphological irregular behavior is explained in terms of their historic. 4. In fact. There are several deer/sheep grazing peacefully in the distance. In (12c) the subject can be given either interpretation.2.(12) a. 4. the sentence may mean either: (i) each man lifted the piano in turn (distributive reading) or (ii) all the men lifted the piano together (collective reading). In (12a) the plural noun in subject position has a distributive reading since the predicate is true of each member of the set of cars while the subject of (12b) has a collective reading since the predicate is true only of the set. They do not evince the singular – plural contrast. His reindeer are from Lapland. They are countable nouns and have count properties. Nouns like deer. The domestic swine fairly dotes on snakes. sheep and swine have their plural form identical with their singular form. In terms of verbal agreement. They co-occur with cardinals and plural anaphoric pronouns. diachronic evolution. All the men lifted the piano (Cornilescu.1. (+ coll) c. They take all the articles and quantifiers (plus cardinals) that characterize bona-fide countable nouns: (13) a. All the cars have a petrol gauge ⇒ Each car has a petrol gauge.0. Nouns that designate wild animals. except for the lack of plural marker on the noun. the verb is always in the plural: 30 . wild fowl and fish have the unmarked (singular) form used for both singular and plural contexts. 4. b. which is again explained in terms of the diachronic evolution of English. (– coll) b. Morphologically Defective Nouns Other classes of nouns are plural in meaning but are morphologically defective. 1986: 303). c.

(14) a. Fresh-water fish are more valuable for the sport they provide than for the market. b. Are these duck or mergansers? c. Did you get many salmon after I left? d. Between four and five moose are annually eaten at the forts. These nouns are also called ‘collective singular’ nouns (Poutsma 1926). Some of these nouns such as fish, trout, carp take the plural marker -s when reference is made to varieties of fish. The use of the singular form of the noun is the general tendency but there are also exceptions to the rule: (15) a. You may kill a few antelope. b. The true antelopes you saw are remarkable for the graceful symmetry of their bodies. The collective use of the singular form of these nouns is found particularly with the shooting jargon. Compare: (16) to shoot duck vs, to raise ducks to shoot waterfowl vs, to keep fowls 4.3. Other countable nouns form their plural by Ablaut (or vowel change): foot – feet; goose – geese; tooth – teeth; louse – lice; mouse – mice; man – men; woman – women. Again, Ablaut preservation in plural formation is explained on historical grounds. Compounds of ‘man’ change to ‘men’ as in fireman – firemen, postman – postmen. Similarly, compounds of ‘woman’ form the plural by using ‘women’ as in house-woman – house-women, chairwoman – chairwomen. Anglicized foreign derivatives of –man such as German, Norman or Roman form the plural according to the general rule by adding the suffix -s: Germans, Romans (Poutsma 1926). Other survivals from Old English are a few nouns that form the plural in -en: child – children, ox – oxen, brother – brethren. The plural forms brethren (confraţi, from the singular brother) is nowadays used in religious contexts: (17) The persons least surprised at the Reverend’s deficiencies were his clerical brethren.
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4.4. Nouns such as cattle, livestock, poultry, people, folk, vermin are morphologically not marked for plural (but are understood as designating sets of individuals) and agree with the verb only in the plural. These nouns lack the singular – plural contrast: (18) a. These cattle belong to John. b. *This cattle belongs to John. Another peculiarity of these nouns is that they cannot occur with low numerals but only with high numerals (as in (16a,b)). Moreover, distinct lexical items must be used when individuation takes place (as in (19a)): (19) a. *four cattle vs. four cows b. two hundred cattle, poultry Instead, the nouns folk and people can be used with low numerals: (20) These seven people/city folk. When the noun people means popor it displays regular singular – plural forms: (21) a. The people of Romania. b. The peoples of Europe. 5.1. Number Recategorization of Mass Nouns into Countable Nouns We turn now to the description of the classes of uncountable / mass nouns that undergo number recategorization, usually with a change in meaning. In this case pluralization and the use of the indefinite article a trigger number recategorization of mass nouns into countable nouns. 5.1.1. Some mass nouns can be recategorized as count/general terms when they occur in the plural but they mean ‘kinds of x’: wine – wines, tea – teas, gas – gases, steel –steels, fruit – fruits, coffee – coffees, fashion – fashions, etc. Consider the following examples: (22) a. Four wines were served at dinner. They were dry wines. b. Many different wines were served at dinner. c. In the Customs list, all fruit is divided into three parts: dried fruits, green fruits and nuts. d. There was some gas left in the bag. Air is a mixture of gases.
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The newly formed terms in (22) are count terms since they have plural form, the verb agreement is in the plural, the quantifier is a count quantifier (22b) and the anaphoric pronoun is plural in form (22a). Proper names like Murfatlar, Bordeaux, Malaga, etc., represent lexicalizations of ‘kinds’ of wine. Syntactically and semantically these ‘names’ function as mass terms: (23) He drank too much Bordeaux; it went straight to his head. 5.1.2. Another class of mass terms that can be recategorized into count terms contains mass terms, which through pluralization denote an act / an instance / an occasion of the mass term. The act / instance / occasion count terms have the quality of the mass term. Here are some examples: attention – attentions, confidence – confidences, regard – regards, curiosity – curiosities, novelty – novelties, tin – tins, paper – papers, rubber – rubbers, silk – silks, implication – implications, mentality – mentalities, respect – respects: (24) a. He shouted in order to attract attention. They showed the old lady numerous attentions. b. She showed much confidence in life. The two girls were exchanging many confidences. c. He has lost all feeling in his leg. Are your feelings the same for me? As shown by the examples in (24) the recategorized plural nouns evince count properties as they take count quantifiers and the agreement with the verb is done in the plural. 5.1.3. There is another class of mass nouns that have a corresponding plural form but this time the newly formed noun is also a mass term. What is peculiar of these newly formed mass nouns is that the sense of the singular mass term includes the sense of the mass plural term. Here are some examples: water – waters, snow – snows, sand – sands, wit – wits, salt – salts. These plural mass terms differ from their corresponding singular term in that they trigger plural agreement with the verb (due to the plural form of the noun), plural anaphoric pronouns but mass quantifiers:
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(25) a. Water is a liquid. The waters of the Nile are essential for the country’s agriculture. They make life possible. Much of them make life possible. b. There is plenty of snow in the Alps. The snows round the Aiguilles are the least trodden. 6.0. General Terms with No Corresponding Mass Lexicalization It is a well-known peculiarity of English that those count/general terms which name animals have mass noun correspondents that designate their meat: (26) pig – pork; sheep – mutton; deer – venison; calf – veal; cow – beef However, the overwhelming majority of general terms have no corresponding mass lexicalization, i.e., the same noun is used in both cases: (27) a. I saw many chickens in the garden. We had cold chicken for dinner. b. How many apples do you want? Put some more apple in the salad. c. There are two oaks in the garden. The table is made of oak. d. The baby has two teeth. There is too much tooth about her. 7.0. Plurale Tantum Nouns 7.1.1. The term ‘plurale tantum’ is Latin in origin and is the singular of ‘pluralia tantum’, which is roughly translated as plural-only. The nouns that belong to this class have one single form, the plural one but their morpho-syntactic behaviour is that of mass nouns. According partly to their meaning and partly to their origin, pluralia tantum nouns have been divided into: 7.1.2. Names of certain physical or mental illnesses such as: creeps, hysterics, jerks, measles, mumps, shakes, shivers, megrims, tantrums, sulks, shingles etc. These nouns have the behavior of mass nouns, except for the plural marker:
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But still they are not womanly pursuits.4. linguistics. classifiers): a series of (sulks).3. acoustics. athletics. as a profession. in this instance.e. mechanics.(28) a. Mumps is a disease.. c. b. Politics. checkers. This subclass of pluralia tantum nouns. they haven’t done so as yet in your case. cards. mathematics. physics. marbles. ninepins. However. Do mathematics make one’s manners masculine? Well. quarrels and revolts. Shingles has severe complications. draughts. Mathematics is the science of quantities. which are mass nouns. was of importance to him. Nouns that name certain games such as: all fours. statistics. optics. Economics has come out into the open. c. The whole of her first year was one continual series of sulks. It was those infernal physics that I have always neglected. These nouns are basically mass nouns. there are cases when the verb is in the plural. billiards. They don’t interest me. b. It is infectious. d. ethics. their individuation is possible by specialized lexical expressions (i. This subclass of pluralia tantum nouns triggers singular agreement with the verb and singular anaphoric pronouns.1. I hope. tactics. What is it? Nothing about politics. triggers singular agreement with the verb and singular anaphoric pronouns. c. d. Nouns that name sciences such as: aesthetics. They have mass noun behavior except for their plural marker: 35 . its students are mathematicians. Ethics is the science of the laws that govern our actions as moral agents. dialectics.1. the mass noun is contextually changed into a count/general term that designates ‘kinds of N’: (30) a. Statistics show that moderate consumers of alcoholic drinks live considerably longer than drunkards and total abstainers. 7. economics. 7. However. phonetics. (29) a. politics. a fit of (hysterics). b.

She took out a pair of scissors. Nouns that name certain articles of dress (which consist of two symmetrical parts): breeches. tongs. These nouns evince count properties. b. pantaloons. Marley in his pigtail. nouns that name parts of the body (made up of two parts) such as: bowels. The lungs. c. qualifying as general terms: (34) a. tit – tits.1. compasses. 7. usual waistcoat. eyeglasses. forceps.6. trousers. 36 . eyelash – eyelashes. pants. whiskers. they are count/general terms and their individuation is done with the help of classifiers (e. c. buttock – buttocks. scissors.(31) a.e. He was dressed in a tarnished green traveling jacket and a pair of overalls. b. Billiards is played in England. binoculars. tights and boots turned up late. (32) a.1. lungs. All these nouns have count behavior: they trigger plural agreement with the verb and in order to individualize the lexical expression (i. shorts. hence. 7. 7. tights. He had a large pair of bellows with long slender nozzle of ivory. Brooke stuck his eyeglasses on nervously. are eaten as parts of the pluck or fry. they divide their reference. entrails. suspenders. overalls. knee-shorts. bellows.. braces. When reference is made to one of the two parts that make up the respective body part some of these nouns also have a singular form: lung – lungs.g. whisker – whiskers. a pair of). This subclass of pluralia tantum nouns triggers singular agreement with the verb and singular anaphoric pronouns. Nouns that name instruments formed of two parts such as: scales. chains.7.1.5. spectacles. Mr. jeans. Finally. John has given me a lesson in all fours. or as they are vulgarly called lights. b. guts. pliers. Ninepins requires great skill. loins. Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels but he had never believed it until now. These nouns also display countable properties.. pajamas. b. classifier) a pair of is used: (33) a.

b. THE CATEGORY OF DETERMINATION 1. • article-like quantifiers (i.g. The boys will all/each/both/*some/*every get a prize. which modify the noun they occur with just as the adjective new does. little. those book/s. All/both/some/*each/*every boys sat down. a man. few.g.. three. many. a little. two. much (wine).g. the indefinite article a / an (e. every..e. Determiners are words like this in this new car.g. which book/s. The following groups of items are generally included in the category of determiners (Jackendoff. any. 37 . quantifying elements that have the syntactic position of articles): e. Determiners have abstract meaning and are extremely idiosyncratic. all. that. several (book/s). each. • cardinal numerals.3. the man). what. these. the second. a few.. 2006. c. an umbrella) and the negative indefinite article no (e. They have specific distributional and interpretative properties: (1) a. • demonstrative articles: this. Classes of Determiners The category of determination is another functional category of the lexical category noun.g.. no man). some.. The category of determiners meets the two criteria for qualifying as a functional category: (i) this category includes a limited number of members and (ii) these members do not have descriptive meaning of their own. *All/*both/each/every/some boy sat down. Cornilescu 1995.0.. 1977. ordinal numerals and lexical quantifiers: e. another. the third. Baciu 2004): • articles: the definite article the (e.

This boy is tall / Those boys are tall.g. The act of referring is accomplished by using expressions such as (i) proper names 38 . Philosophical Background 2. the dog).The determiner is the most important morpho-syntactic element in the nominal group. determiners play a crucial role: they close off the lexical category noun and make it possible that nouns (which designate classes of objects. In this way.. determiners are also carriers of case and gender features: (2) Nom / Acc: un băiat (m) Gen / Dat: unui băiat un scaun (n) unui scaun o fată (f) unei fete Semantically. things. semantic and pragmatic description of the English definite and indefinite articles. Moreover.1. Natural languages contain expressions with the help of which people refer or point out to individuals. nouns can function in discourse (e. The house belongs to John / *House belongs to John. Our presentation focuses mainly on the syntactic. e. For example. In spite of the fact that these articles belong to the same paradigm there are important differences between them (see the examples in (1)). times or places.g. the determiner can dictate number agreement with the noun and the verb (e. In a language such as Romanian their role is even more conspicuous: besides determining agreement with the noun and the verb.. thus being able to occur with any kind of noun (except for proper names and the abstract nouns nature and mankind) whereas the indefinite article a(n) occurs only with countable singular terms. As we have already seen (see the Category of Number) the definite article the is neutral with respect to the opposition countable-uncountable or singular-plural. 2. a developed from the numeral one (Chesterman 1992.0. Baciu 2004). historically. the two articles have distinct sources: while the developed from the demonstrative this. The dog is in the backyard / *Dog is in the backyard). dog) have a fixed referent (the house. house..g. Modern research on the English class of determiners is deeply grounded on the results philosophers achieved in their studies on the relation between (linguistic) definiteness and (extra-linguistic) reference. All students in my class have got a prize / Every student in my class has got a prize).

(v) adverbs like here. the student. a student.e.e. 2. John Brown. etc. (iv) pronouns like I. expressions that consist of an indefinite determiner like a/an or some and a nominal: a clever man. A student called this morning. the house. (iii) indefinite descriptions (i.). etc. human beings are also able to meaningfully talk about entities (that have referents) in terms of their non-existence: 39 . Roughly speaking.2. (These definite descriptions acquire discursive referents. The problem is whether these referring expressions unambiguously refer to an identifiable thing or individual in all circumstances. my dog. etc. expressions made up of a definite determiner and a nominal) such as: the clever man. a house.g. On the other hand. human beings can talk meaningfully about things that do not have a referent: (4) He is seeking the Golden Mountain / the round square / the Fountain of Youth. the book on the table. Hyde Park. b.. In his seminal article “On Denoting” (1905) Russell tried to identify the exact ‘meaning’ of definiteness.g. Elizabeth. The student called this morning. Hampton Court. On the one hand. the definite descriptions in (4) can be resumed by it: John is seeking the Golden Mountain but he hasn’t found it). etc. Mary. this house.. a house. some boys. (ii) definite descriptions (i.like Fred. not extra-linguistic referents. a window) do not unambiguously identify the object or individual they refer to: (3) a. the window) unambiguously identify the object or individual they refer to while indefinite descriptions (e.. yesterday. Just like any definite description that has a referent in the world..g. she.. (The following discussion on the philosophical tradition of definite descriptions draws on Cornilescu p. As we are going to see below. the great difference between the and a is that definite descriptions (e. he. there. In view of such examples Russell concludes that one meaning dimension of definite descriptions is uniqueness of the referent. you.c. definite descriptions can be resumed by anaphoric definite pronouns such as it: e. John is looking for the pen but he hasn’t found it. a book.

b or c in (8)). in The King of France is not bald if one conjunct is negated (i. Russell’s conclusion is that the other meaning dimension of definiteness is the existence of the referent (which can be negated). an assertion (e. According to Strawson. The King of France is bald) presupposes an act of reference. not negates the King of France’s existence and implicitly his uniqueness. we cannot use the sentence communicatively and we cannot say whether the sentence is true or false. in Russell’s view. Indeed. for the whole sentence to be false.g. Strawson’s account of definiteness in “On Referring” (1950) raises against the view that The King of France is not bald means that there is no King of France. (and) c. The King of France is bald. the in the definite description the King of France is used to abbreviate two statements: the uniqueness statement and the existential statement: (6) a. (uniqueness statement) In Russell’s view. In a negative sentence like The King of France doesn’t exist. If there is no referent.(5) a. The blackest man in the world doesn’t exist. Russell argues. is analyzed in terms of three assertions related by the conjunction and: (8) a. (and) b.e. (8c)) then the properties of existence and uniqueness of the King of France are also negated. The King of France doesn’t exist... In a sentence like The King of France is not bald. b. There is a King of France. it is enough for not to negate one assertion in (8). In view of these examples. (existential statement) b. In other words. Thus. namely (8c). There is only one King of France. When we negate a conjunction it is enough to negate one conjunct (a. There is only one King of France. a sentence such as: (7) The King of France is bald. an act of identifying the entity about which we assert something. the statement in (7) may well have been true in AD 1670 and false in 1770 but in 1950 the statement cannot 40 . There is a King of France.

e. However.e. Although Russell’s analysis of sentences that contain definite descriptions and not is incorrect his interpretation of the definite article the as meaning both existence and uniqueness of the referent has proved extremely valuable and has been retained by modern analyses of definite descriptions. Strawson’s analysis of definite reference is pragmatic in nature. It refers to the unique but unknown individual that has the attribute of having invented the computer.. Due to the non-existence of a King of France in 1950 the question of the truth or falsity of sentence (7) does not even arise. Axiom of identification: the hearer must be given sufficient means to identify the object from the speaker’s utterance of the expression (Searle 1969:82). (Strawson does not discuss the truth conditions of sentences such as The King of France does not exist). always refer to the same individual in all contexts of use: their reference remains constant and is ‘rigid’ (i. Russell). Kripke (1973) argued that proper names different from definite descriptions. Definite descriptions and proper names fell in the class of definite descriptors. they are ‘rigid 41 . Of late. In this case. the definite description has one and only one known referent). the definite article the does not have a referential interpretation but an attributive interpretation (Donnellan 1966). philosophers have also become aware that definite description expressions can be used not only on a referential interpretation (i. Searle (1969) offers an analysis of definite descriptions close to Strawson’s: he postulates two axioms that must hold for a speech act of definite reference to be successful: Axiom of existence: there must exist one and only one object to which the speaker’s utterance of the expression applies. for long time philosophers believed that definite descriptions are used to refer to objects/individuals in the same way as proper names do (Frege.sensibly be said to be either true or false. In the example below: (9) I’m grateful to the inventor of the computer. the definite description the inventor (of the computer) is paraphrased as meaning (I’m grateful to) ‘whoever invented the computer’. Furthermore..

2. definiteness is defined in relation with the notion of ‘familiarity’ of the referent (Heim 1982) in the ‘resource situation’ on the side of both the speaker and of the hearer. 2. This assumption can be tested in counter-factual statements of the form: (10) If John Smith were taller he could touch the ceiling. In a given communicative situation the set of objects in relation to which the reference of an expression is established is called ‘resource situation’ (Barwise and Perry 1983) or ‘shared set’ (Hawkins 1978). In the counter-factual circumstance (world) in (10) the individual designated by the proper name John Smith is the same as the individual designated by this name in the actual world. function of the year: the man of the year (2003). For instance. Kripke’s analysis of definite descriptions is also Russellian in spirit as definite descriptions convey uniqueness and existence of the referent. the conventionally implies that there is a set of entities in the universe of discourse which is mutually manifest to speaker and hearer (i. In other words.1.designators’). The insights of these analyses will prove crucial in the characterization of the linguistic values/uses of the definite article. the man of the year (2004) or the man of the year (2005). 42 . the same goes for the most beautiful girl (in Romania). familiarity) and within which the definite referent exists and is unique (cf. the man of the year (2004) is used referentially when it has a unique referent that also exists and is known. In present-day studies in linguistics. the most beautiful girl (in France). Baciu 2004).e. The same goes for superlatives.. only the referent may change according to circumstances (worlds). It follows that the reference of proper names is constant and does not change function of circumstances (worlds). which can vary in space: the most beautiful girl (in Romania). the referent of the definite description the man of the year refers to different individuals. In contrast. definite descriptions are non-rigid designators and their reference can vary in time and space. Of course. In all these examples we have to do with the attributive use of definite descriptions identified by Donnellan (1966).

now. a new referent (a student) is introduced in the universe of discourse (i. are expressions that have a constant linguistic meaning but acquire different interpretations each time they are used by different people at different times or locations (Kaplan 1973 in Baciu 2004). yesterday. For example.. In a sentence such as: (11) A student called in the morning. etc. Moreover.e. this.0.. in negative sentences the indefinite description may refer to no object (i.2. In (13) we interpret a farmer and a donkey as forming pairs (a farmer-a donkey) but a is not interpreted as meaning ‘if one farmer has one donkey he beats it’ but as ‘if all farmers have donkeys they beat them’. Characteristics of Indexicals As can be noticed. and yesterday constantly points to the day 43 . determiners. (Kaplan 1973). In contrast with definite descriptions (which are associated with familiarity of the referent to both speaker and hearer) indefinite descriptions (e. also called deictic elements. a chair) are associated with the pragmatic idea of ‘novelty’ (Heim 1982) on the part of the hearer. a student. the resource situation) a referent which may be known to the speaker but is unknown to the hearer and cannot be uniquely identified by the hearer. exemplified above with definite/indefinite determiners may acquire a different interpretation function of the context in which they are used. that. there are contexts where the indefinite a doesn’t mean one (Heim 1982): (13) If a farmer has a donkey he beats it. However.g.2. on the one hand a constant meaning independent of the context in which it is used: the use of I is to point to the speaker of the utterance. Indexicals. The paraphrase of the sentence in (12) is not that there is a specific book that John didn’t read the whole summer but that the set of books John read is zero. a sentence like I was insulted yesterday has.2.e. In this respect they are very much like indexicals. 3. has no referent): (12) John didn’t read a book the whole summer.. which are items such as I. then.

the central time is the time at which the speaker produces an utterance and the central place is the speaker’s location at utterance time. different people) in which the respective expression is used. there). The traditional deictic categories are person deixis. 3. In other words.1. tomorrow. As Levinson (1983:54) remarks “communication has an egocentric organization which is encoded or grammaticalized by deictic elements”: the central person is the speaker. deictic elements. that and adverbs of place like here. then and tense markers) and with respect to the place where the conversation takes place (grammaticalized by demonstrative pronouns like this. time. Discourse deixis deals with the relations between the deictic elements of an utterance that is located in a written or spoken text. To these deictic categories discourse deixis has been added (Levinson 1983). 44 .. ‘what is said’ by the utterance depends on who the speaker is and when the utterance is said. with respect to the time when the conversation takes place (grammaticalized by adverbs of time such as now. i.e. Thus.before speech time. ‘what is said’ depends on both the meaning of the expression used and also on the context (place. linguistic expressions (e. yesterday.g. The components of the context of use are (Barwise and Perry 1983): • indexicality or deixis • resource situation We briefly discuss them below. Indexicals or Deictic Elements The term deixis is of Greek origin and can be paraphrased as ‘pointing to’ or ‘indicating’ something. time deixis and place deixis. last year. I will point to the ever-changing speaker who says the utterance. On the other hand. All languages grammaticalize (or encode) information with respect to the persons that take part in the conversation (encoded in English as I and you).. the class of determiners) have constant meaning but their interpretations may vary function of the context of use. yesterday acquires different interpretations depending on the day the utterance is made.

the function of the demonstrative article is symbolic. b. (15) This city is really beautiful when it is not dirty.e. place and time in a given communicative situation. This book is the one you should read. This/that dog cannot walk. The Deictic/Gestural Value When the speaker has direct access to the resource situation and the object referred to is close (+proximal) to him the demonstrative articles this/these are used.2. (14) a. The reference of this city is identified on the basis of common knowledge of both the speaker and the hearer (it may be Bucharest if both 45 . When the object referred to is at a certain distance from the speaker (+distal) the demonstrative articles that/those are used. These objects may also be indicated with a gesture. That building is the British Embassy. 4. The set of objects within which the reference of an expression is established is called ‘resource situation’ (Barwise and Perry 1983).3. c. demonstrative descriptions have different values or uses. The resource situation is available to the speaker and/or the hearer in various fashions: • by being directly perceived by the speaker and/or the hearer • by being the object of common knowledge about the world • by being built up by previous or subsequent discourse 4. establish the reference of) an individual. The Symbolic Value If the speaker uses a demonstrative article that exploits some common knowledge shared by him and the hearer about the world they live in.1. Resource Situation Deictic elements are expressions that identify (i.. The Values/Uses of Demonstrative Descriptions Depending on the type of resource situation available. 4.0.2.

In this case. the demonstrative expressions display discourse/textual functions. which becomes the resource situation. known as ‘antecedent’.of them are in Bucharest. 4. (anaphor) b. The syntactic requirement for anaphoric processes is the relation of co-reference: the antecedent and the anaphor refer to the same individual/object. it may be Amsterdam if both of them are in Amsterdam. (16) a. The Anaphoric Value The term anaphora is a Greek loan and means ‘backward looking’ or ‘pointing backwards’. What looked like a white lace poncho covered him from head to foot. Levinson 1983). These two functions are syntactic in nature because the objects or individuals referred to by demonstratives are located at the level of discourse: in this case. demonstratives serve as expressions that connect the speaker/reader to the discourse. 4. (antecedent) This statement confirmed the speculations of many observers. Bush made his long-awaited announcement yesterday. i. If the demonstrative expression exploits a resource situation built up on previous or subsequent discourse. which are non-deictic functions. 46 .).e.3. etc..3.1. The gestural and symbolic values of demonstratives are subsumed under the general term ‘deictic’ value (Fillmore 1971. Beneath this he was wearing a shirt. To be or not to be: that is the question. c. Non-deictic Functions of Demonstratives The non-deictic or discourse/textual functions of demonstratives are the anaphoric and the cataphoric functions. demonstratives function as ‘anaphors’ since they point backwards to an individual/object already introduced in the previous discourse. to previous discourse.

What do you think of this idea: let’s take them all fishing. (17) a. Cataphoric uses are also syntactic in nature as they involve the presence of a specification in the subsequent discourse that ensures the possibility of pointing to the intended element. Definite descriptions. The Cataphoric Value The term cataphora is also a Greek loan but it may be paraphrased as ‘pointing forward’. personal pronouns and proper names function as singular terms.. This king had three daughters. the definite article is neutral to the opposition singular-plural or countable-uncountable. i. the dog. This restriction of occurrence is 47 .3.4. The use of a demonstrative of distance shows lack of interest on the part of the speaker in the identification of the referent: (19) And how’s that leg doing? 5.1. As already mentioned. It can attach to any kind of nouns except for proper names. What I want to say is this: drive carefully! b.3.e. The Emotional Value Another textual value of the demonstratives is their emotional value. the butter in the fridge is always associated with the notion of familiarity of the referent on both the speaker and the hearer side in a communicative situation. Definite Descriptions 5. 4. alongside demonstrative descriptions.0.3. General Remarks The meaning of definite descriptions such as the girl.2. In the examples above the demonstrative pronoun and the demonstrative article point forward to subsequent information. The use of a demonstrative of proximity shows interest or emotional involvement of the speaker in the identification of the referent: (18) Once upon a time there was a king. to subsequent discourse. The reference of a definite description also implies existence and uniqueness of the referent.

a evince lack of interpretive independence and are called quantifiers. Every student has read ‘Syntactic Structures’. b’. There is a further pragmatic restriction on the use of definite descriptions. Consider the examples below: (21) a. not necessarily the same’. 48 . Elements such as every. as in (20b’). every / each / all / no) do not have interpretive independence and they do not uniquely identify the individual/object referred to: (20) a. Everyone came in. Hawkins (1978) shows that definite descriptions refer ‘inclusively’ to the totality of objects that satisfy the referring expression in the pragmatically delimited set of the resource situation. b. Syntactic Structures) that every student has read. all. each. If the hearer brings in only five of them. Definite descriptions. b’’. The sentence in (20b) is ambiguous between two interpretations. which shows coreference and referential identification. Similarly. i. In (21a) the wickets refer to all the six wickets necessary for a game of cricket. as in (20b’’). I must ask you to move the sand from my gateway. Every student has read a book by Chomsky.. *He sat down. a double presence of the semantic feature of uniqueness.. In (20a) everyone does not introduce a new referent in the discourse and it cannot be resumed by the definite pronoun he. Other items. The second reading is ‘every student has read some book by Chomsky. the presence of the on a proper name would lead to redundancy.e. Bring the wickets in after the game of cricket is over! b.e. the expression the sand in (21b) refers to all the sand that is in front of my gateway not just part of it.semantic in nature: since both proper names and the have the role of uniquely identifying an individual.. have ‘interpretive independence’ in the sense that there is no ambiguity as to the referent (the identified individual/object) designated by the respective expression.g. which also belong to the category of determiners (e. just like proper names. Every student read the assigned book. The first interpretation/reading is ‘there is a particular book by Chomsky (i. the speaker is not satisfied.

Close the door. catch the jailbird! c. For one reason or another the hearer has no direct perception of the dog in question. The utterance could be spoken on the radio by a policeman who instructs his colleague to chase an escaped prisoner. please! b. Don’t come into this house my friend or I’ll set the dog onto you! d. The example in (22c) illustrates the case when only the speaker has direct access to the object designated by the definite description.1. There are several sub-cases that can be distinguished. The Deictic / Gestural Use of Definite Descriptions The deictic / gestural value of definite descriptions is based on both the speaker and hearer’s perception of the resource situation. PC 48. The speaker cannot see the intended unique individual but can instruct the hearer to locate and catch him.As in the case of demonstrative expressions. Don’t feed the deer! In (22a) the definite description is used gesturally / deictically to point to the unique door identifiable in the resource situation by the speaker and the hearer. The Values/Uses of Definite Descriptions 5. Consider the following examples: (22) a. 5. the uniqueness of reference of definite descriptions is ensured by the different fashions in which the resource situation becomes available for exploitation: • by direct perception • by being the object of common knowledge about the world • by being built up on previous or subsequent discourse In what follows we briefly describe the values/uses of the definite article the (and implicitly of definite descriptions).2. (The sentence can be used as notice in a zoological garden). The example in (22b) illustrates the case in which only the hearer has direct access to the resource situation. The example in (22d) illustrates the situation in which the individual designated by the definite description may be invisible for the hearer.2. The speaker 49 .

Consider the following examples: (23) a. the unique church in the village. the bride-maids in (23d)) the definite article still has unique reference. only this time the referent is made up of more members (the speaker and hearer share the general knowledge that weddings have bride-maids along the bride.e. while the definite article does not have a visibility condition on its use” (Hawkins 1978:114).2.. In the case of plural definite descriptions (e.. However. the unique Prime Minister in the country). The Prime Minister has just returned from a visit in the countryside. the definite article is more abstract than the demonstrative article since the hearer need not actually see the designated object/individual. the unique town hall in the town. In all the examples above the can be replaced by the demonstrative articles this with more or less the same meaning..g.instructs the hearer to uniquely identify an individual (i. 50 .2. the bridegroom. Who are the bride-maids? In all the above examples the use of the definite article is based on the speaker and hearer’s mutual knowledge of the existence of certain unique objects/individuals in certain resource situations (i. 5.e. In the case of singular definite descriptions the definite article refers inclusively to the totality of the objects in the pragmatically relevant set which happens to be made up of one (unique) member. c. “The use of the demonstrative requires that the hearer is actually able to see the object in the immediate situation. Can you give me a lift to the town hall? b. The Symbolic/Deictic Use of Definite Descriptions The symbolic/deictic use of definite descriptions is based on both the speaker and hearer’s exploitation of the resource situation as province of common knowledge of the world (or part of the world). the best man). Where is the church? d. the deer) that exists among the individuals that make up the resource situation. In these examples the function of the definite description is to instruct the hearer to locate the intended object/individual in the resource situation.

When she entered the office she saw a little man. Thus. Besides the pure anaphoric use of the definite article there are other.3. (anaphor) b.b) the indefinite descriptions a child. The uniqueness of reference of the definite description is ensured by the singleton meaning of the article a that precedes it.2. the little man. Discourse Functions of Definite Descriptions: the Anaphoric and Cataphoric Functions 5.2. Unlike the deictic functions of the definite article. The linguistic discourse acts as resource situation for both anaphoric and cataphoric functions of the definite article.1.2. a little man function as syntactic antecedents to the anaphors expressed by the corresponding definite descriptions the child. (antecedent) The child was baptized Jesus. which is later on resumed by the use of a definite description. Consider the following examples: (24) a. The Anaphoric Value/Use of the Definite Article The anaphoric use of the definite article the is based on the relation between an antecedent nominal and an anaphor. The little man was sitting in her armchair. 5. In (24a. more complex uses of ‘associative’ anaphora with several sub-species (Christophersen 1939 in Baciu 2004). the role of an indefinite description is to introduce a new individual (referent) in the domain of discourse. scratching his nose.2.3. General Characteristics The discourse functions of definite descriptions are the same as those of demonstrative descriptions. They are related to whether reference by means of definite descriptions relies on previous discourse (the anaphoric use) or subsequent discourse (the cataphoric use).5. The sub-species of ‘associative’ anaphora are based on: 51 . which depend on the possibility of relating the use of linguistic expression to the world. its discourse functions are syntactic in nature. Once upon a time a child was born in Bethlehem.3.

The comment of the publisher was completely at fault. The pants had a big patch on them.e. the definite article signals the presence of a post-modifier. c.2.3..3. the comment). 5. The role of the post-modifier relative clauses in (28a.2. 52 . (iii) the semantic relation of synonymy (a sense relation): (27) Fred was wearing trousers.b) and that of the post-modifier of the publisher is to license the definite article which helps us uniquely identify the objects in discourse (the man.(i) the semantic relation of partonymy (i. the milk. The milk you bought yesterday turned sour. Ian inherited a house but unfortunately he could not make it his house since the roof was leaking and the windows needed repairing. (ii) the semantic relation of hyponymy (an inclusion relation): (26) Bill was working at a lathe the other day. I’ve still got a book of nursery rhymes I had as a child but unfortunately the cover is torn. a book has a cover and pages. (Definite descriptions that occur in generic sentences are discussed in detail in section 11. In this case. The Cataphoric Value/Use of the Definite Article The cataphoric use of the definite article is also based on the linguistic context that acts as resource situation. b. The man who stands in the corner is my brother. All of a sudden the machine stopped working. etc.). b.3. 5. The Generic Function of Definite Descriptions Definite descriptions may also have a generic function. Associative anaphora of this type is based on our encyclopedic or conceptual knowledge of the world we live in (whole objects have constitutive parts: a house has a roof and windows. a part-whole relation): (25) a. Consider the following examples: (28) a. below).

the Roman Empire. Consider the following example (cf. and administrative divisions function as proper names preceded by the definite article.. (the referential interpretation of the definite description) b). 6. etc. the House of Lords. I’m grateful to the inventor of the computer) (Donnellan 1966). Baciu 2004): (30) Mary believes that the man who lives upstairs is insane.4. There are even contexts where a definite description is ambiguous between a referential interpretation and a non-referential/attributive interpretation. the Ritz. the Holy Virgin. However.g.1. the Empire State Building. definite descriptions.). geographical or political conventions (e. Mary believes that whoever it is that lives upstairs is insane. definite descriptions do not have only a referential use but also a non-referential (attributive) one (e. The dog is an intelligent animal. political. historical and cultural institutions. 5. proper names cannot be used with definite articles (*the London / *the John) because of the double presence of the semantic feature of uniqueness: both proper names and the definite article have the role of uniquely identifying an individual/object. The Non-Referential (Attributive) Use of the Definite Article As already mentioned above. 6. The lion is a noble beast. The speaker uniquely relates them to his resource situation. namely the man who lives upstairs (say John Brown) is insane. the Atlantic Ocean. Mary believes that a certain individual.(29) a.g. the British Museum. Proper Names in the Form of Definite Descriptions In principle. administrative. which name geographical areas. This sentence may mean either a) or b) below: a).. based on his cultural. 53 . (the non-referential interpretation of the definite description) The non-referential interpretations of definite descriptions are created by ‘opaque’ linguistic contexts. historical. b. In (30) the verb believe engenders referential opacity.0.

---some of them can occur without the nominal (elliptical definite descriptions): the Atlantic. d. etc. 6. The definite article is almost regularly used before names of hotels. e. The definite article is also dropped before names of streets. not the Napoleon who died on Saint Helena. etc. etc. the Thames. Soho Fields. etc. the Flood. The Bonnets were engaged to dine with the Lucases. the Savior. ---some others may keep or drop the definite article. This is a Ford. Ştefănescu. garden(s): Finsbury Circus. b.This class of unique objects that function as proper names evinces many idiosyncrasies. We mention below the following (Poutsma. the Globe Theatre. cross. the Devil. the Virgin. museums and theatres: the Clarendon Hotel. There are instances when definite/indefinite articles and cardinals can precede proper names. bridges and other structures: Buckingham Palace. 6. I am referring to the Napoleon who lost the battle of Sedan. 1926. c. Magdalene College. 1988): ---some of these definite descriptions have the nominal in the plural: the Rocky Mountains. Russell Square. etc. they behave like countable/sortal nouns and they are interpreted as designating two or more individuals or as collective nouns (with family names in the plural): (31) a. the Baltic. Hyde Park. the United States.2. the Tate. I met two Maries at the party last night. Covent garden. He has a Rembrandt at home. Oxford Street. the South Kensington Museum. the Court Theatre. Charing Cross. The following classes of common nouns are used without the definite article and they designate unique objects based on our everyday. Westminster Abbey. squares. London Bridge. the Lord. the Zoological Gardens. 6. the Bronx. In this case. the Low Counties. 54 . Lincoln’s Inn. Victoria Station. the Basque Provinces. the Acropolis. parks or proper names containing nouns such as circus.4.3. The definite article is mainly dropped before names of buildings. St. Paul’s Cathedral. filed(s). There is also a small class of common nouns that are recategorized into proper names on our cultural and historical basis: the Book.

e. the indefinite article a is compatible only with countable singular nouns (e. (v) morning. (iii) bed. Fred bought a book from Heffer’s. spring. some children is associated with the notion of novelty of the referent on the part of the hearer. It follows that there are other members that belong to the same set but which are not included in the reference of indefinite descriptions. dinner. c. church. He was dismayed to find that a page was torn. Indefinite Descriptions 7. supper. indefinite descriptions refer ‘exclusively’ to a member or a subset of members of the objects accessible to the speaker. 7. evening.. autumn. school. college. (ii) breakfast. Indefinite descriptions introduce new discourse referents. As already mentioned. brother. at another at market. noon. b. of the potential referents of the referring expression” (Hawkins 1987:187). Pragmatically.0. and at home when respectable men should be at home / Dinner is served ! / I slept undisturbed till morning / Aunt was always at law with her tenants. The necessary condition for the use of a/some indefinite descriptions is that there must be at least one more such object in the resource situation whose usage is excluded.e. i. The nominal some pages refers to a subset of the set of pages that make up the book introduced in (33a). When using an indefinite article the speaker “refers to a proper sub-set. (iv) winter. a dog. sunset.. not-all.g. a boy. summer. sunrise. Consider the following examples: (32) We went to bed at midnight / I remember Allworthy at college / At one hour he was sure to be at church. dawn. A book or a page refers to only one member (arbitrarily chosen) of the set of objects pragmatically relevant (i. in his office at a third. daybreak. sister.1. harvest. the set of books in a bookshop. market. *a milk). night. home. General Remarks The meaning of indefinite descriptions such as a girl. He was dismayed to find that some pages were torn. midnight. lunch. dusk.. (33) a. father.routine basis (i) mother. 55 . the set of pages in the book).

In this case. John caught a fish and ate it for dinner. In this case. b. *I decided not to buy the house because a roof was leaking. Fred bought the / *a bigger dog of the two. the indefinite article is viewed as the unstressed variant of the numeral one. one. In (35b) the indefinite pronoun one indicates that John and Susan caught two different fish. any. no) are ambiguous between a specific and a non-specific reading/interpretation. little. d.e. the speaker has a particular fish in mind and the hearer can identify this referent despite the indefiniteness of reference. much.. Speakers may use other linguistic means to disambiguate between a specific vs. The possibility of choosing at random just one member out of the relevant set of objects without uniquely identifying it points to the close relationship of the indefinite article a with the numeral one. many. we have to do with the non-specific reading of the indefinite description a fish. we have to do with the specific reading of the indefinite description. The / *an only girl at the party was Sue.. The pragmatic notion of ‘exclusiveness’ of indefinite descriptions explains the ill formedness of the following examples: (34) a. Indeed.1.1. c. In (35a) the indefinite nominal a fish introduces a new referent in discourse and may be referred to later on as it or the fish John caught (a fish functions as an antecedent for the definite pronoun it). John caught a fish and Susan caught one too. *Fred lost a nose in the war.Whenever the set consists of only one member the indefinite article cannot be used. Consider the following examples: 56 . reference to a unique object/individual can only be achieved by using a definite description. e. nominals prefixed by determiners like a. b.e. The / *a prettiest girl at the party was Sue. The Ambiguity of Indefinite Descriptions It has been noticed that indefinite nominals (i.. 7. some. non-specific reading of an indefinite description. i. i.e. Consider the examples below: (35) a.

Moreover. On the specific reading (also called referential) the speaker has a particular individual in mind about which the sentence is true. There is a certain Norwegian that Susan wants to marry. Every time opacity creating elements such as quantifiers (e. On the non-specific interpretation (also called existential) the indefinite expression only asserts the existence of whatever entity applies to it. 57 .. The speaker does not have a particular individual in mind and any individual that satisfies the description will do (cf. Cornilescu 1986). John needs a shirt. a. Baciu 2004). In (38) and (39) the a) sentences have a specific reading while the b) sentences have a non-specific interpretation.. b. every. Mary played a certain sonata last night. b. c. Susan bought a certain book on flowers. (37) Susan bought a book on flowers. Mary played a single sonata last night. Susan wants to marry any individual who is Norwegian. want. b. think). Susan bought a single book on flowers. a. Give *it / one to him. a. Every day John reads another book. expect or negative contexts (Cornilescu 1986) favour the non-specific interpretation of indefinite descriptions: (40) a. wish. verbs of propositional attitude (e. owe. You must make *it / one right away.g. In (36) and (37) the specific reading of the indefinite description is effected by the expression a certain sonata/book while the non-specific reading is drawn by the expressions a single sonata/book.g. You owe me an apology. b. they give rise to ambiguity between a specific and a nonspecific reading (Cornilescu 1986. many). Bill doesn’t have a car. There is a certain book that John reads every day. may. b. (39) Susan wants to marry a Norwegian. a. (38) John reads a book every day.. can. but he will have *it / one next year. modal verbs (e. would) are used with indefinite descriptions.(36) Mary played a sonata last night.g. contexts that contain verbs such as need. believe.

He was armed with a rapier and a dagger. As it grew dark.1.1.) (42) John met a friend at the opera. speaker’s specificity) (41) A cousin of mine called this morning.e. On its epiphoric use the indefinite article has a specific reading: it functions as an antecedent for a definite description (see the examples above).0.c.. In (42) a friend is specific to John but not necessarily to the speaker or the hearer. 8.2. The Epiphoric Value of Indefinite Descriptions Since the article a is mainly used to introduce a new referent in discourse its main function/use is epiphoric: (43) a. The Values/Uses of Indefinite Descriptions 8. the dagger in his left. epistemic specificity.. but not necessarily to the speaker or the hearer (i. a ruddy glare came out on the hilltop. 58 .7. The speaker has a certain object / individual in mind and this object / individual is easily identified by the hearer with the help of the subsequent definite description.1. but not the hearer (i. it is the speaker who knows the reference of the indefinite description. As a rule.e. the rapier he held in his right hand. Quite often specificity is a matter of pragmatic context. 8. It may also be the case that the reference of the indefinite description is known to another participant in the event. These two men offered a contrast – the contrast no so much of generations (although Appleby was by full twenty years younger) as of two epochs of English life. The Numerical Value of Indefinite Descriptions Given the affinity between the indefinite article and the numeral one (the indefinite article a/an is the unstressed variant of one) its second value/use is the numerical value. and out of the glare the diminished commotion of the flare. Farcas 1995 in Cornilescu p. b. c.2.

.0.(44) a. Since generally. The Generic Value of Indefinite Descriptions The indefinite article can also be used with a generic value (to be discussed in detail in section 11. A symphony has several parts. The dog is intelligent. Generic Sentences The subject of a generic sentence can be a definite description. b. The numerical / counting value of the indefinite article gives rise to a non-specific interpretation of indefinite descriptions: the identity of the referent is arbitrary to both speaker and hearer. c. 8. He had learned a routine but he was essentially untrained and unspecialized. Generic sentences have the following main properties: The subject noun in generic sentences has a non-specific interpretation (i. A dog is intelligent. a sentence such as Dogs are intelligent is true if there is a significant 59 .3. c. b. I need a new dress.1. The predicate in generic sentences designates a property of the subject individual. Mary offered John a cigarette. usually. typically (called adverbs of quantification) which may but need not be lexically realized. That is. Generic sentences are ‘atemporal’: they do not specify a particular moment or interval of time at which the property predicated about holds. typically are different in interpretation from the universal quantifier always. They always contain adverbs such as generally. an indefinite description or a plural noun with null determiner (called Bare Plural): (46) a. it does not refer to a particular individual).3. 9. it follows that a generic sentence has to be true in a significant number of cases (not necessarily always). b. Dogs are intelligent. below): (45) a. The predicate is always used in the generic present. A lion is a noble beast. usually.e.

b. A mammal bears live young. 10. tigers or men. Anaphoric Processes It is known that indefinite descriptions may have two anaphoric pronominal correlates: it (which is anaphorically used) and one (which is not anaphorically used): (49) a. Semantic Differences between Indefinite DPs and BPs 10. Mammals bear live young. b. 10.1. Traditional grammarians called these expressions nominals with zero or null determiner in the strong belief that the ‘zero’ article is the plural counterpart of the indefinite article a(n): (47) a. Kelly is seeking a unicorn and Millie is seeking one too. b.1. the two have different semantic properties.number of dogs that are intelligent and the fact that my dog is not smart does not make the sentence false.1. 60 . in (50) them is not used anaphorically: it is not the case that Queenie and Phil are looking for the same unicorns. pillows. However. They are nominals with plural nouns that lack a determiner (Carlson 1977). A Note on Bare Plurals (BPs) The term ‘bare plural’ is used to designate individuals / objects such as dogs. Consider now a sentence that contains a BP: (50) Queenie is seeking unicorns and Phil is seeking them too. cats. in spite of the above pairings between an indefinite noun phrase and a BP. Spot is a dog. Kelly is seeking a unicorn and Millie is seeking it too. It was also noticed that both the indefinite singular nouns and bare plurals (BPs) have generic uses: (48) a. Spot and Collie are dogs.0. Although them is the plural of it.

A dog is sitting on the lawn. BPs) are not the plural counterpart of a(n) nominals. b.10. The sentence in (51) below. In what follows more arguments against treating BPs as the plural counterpart of a(n) nominals and further characterizing properties of BPs are presented. 10.3. *A cat is common / extinct / widespread / in short supply Carlson (1977) suggests that what all BPs have in common is that they are proper names for kinds of objects. On the specific reading of (51) Millie wants to talk with a particular psychiatrist who is young. be indigenous to. Specific vs. On its non-specific reading. Millie wants to talk with any psychiatrist who is young. sentence (52). Rather. which contains a BP is not ambiguous in interpretation: only the non-specific reading is possible: (52) Millie wishes to talk to young psychiatrists. Non-specific Readings Another difference between indefinite descriptions and BPs has to do with their distinct specificity interpretations. the plural counterpart of a(n) + noun are nominals containing some + nominal: (53) a.2. Predicates that Occur only with BPs There is a specific class of predicates that combines only with BPs but not with indefinite descriptions: be widespread. Kinds are proper names for classes of individuals because both proper names and kinds share several 61 . Some dogs are sitting on the lawn. Consider the following examples: (54) a. be extinct. which contains an indefinite description. However. come in many sizes. is ambiguous between these two readings: (51) Millie wishes to talk with a young psychiatrist. All these semantic differences between indefinite descriptions and BPs clearly show that plural nominals with null determiner (i.. be common. be everywhere.1.1. be in short supply.e. Cats are common / extinct / widespread / in short supply b.

For instance. BPs (which always designate kind classes of objects) have two possible interpretations: a) as expected. BPs occur in several structures where the noun kind can be used: (57) a. Harriet caught this kind of animal yesterday and Max caught it earlier today. b. Tigers are ferocious. both BPs and proper names can be substituted by so: (56) a. 62 . In (58a) and (58b) the reading of the definite pronouns it and them is non-anaphoric. 11. b. b. Harriet caught cats yesterday and Max caught them earlier today. Birds fly. Cardinals are so called because of their colour. The linguistic fact that led Carlson (1977) call classes of objects/individuals kinds is the close similarity in behaviour between kinds and the noun kind. b. Moreover. Cats were / This kind of animal was seen everywhere. Whales are intelligent. both BPs and proper names can occur in generic/habitual sentences: (55) a. Bare Plural Generic Sentences When used in generic sentences. Jack is a drunkard. b. John repairs cars / this kind of car for a living. structures with kind evince the same anaphoric phenomena as BPs: (58) a. Slim is so called because of his slender build.1. Moreover. among other shared properties. BPs receive a generic reading when they occur with predicates (in the present tense) that designate permanent properties of the objects that realize the kind: (59) a.distrubutional properties.

. d. The generals usually get their way. The airlines charge too much. it designates temporal stages of the kind ‘whales’). c. 11. The lions are noble beasts. Cornilescu. two children / Americans have. The American has. when BPs occur with predicates that do not designate permanent properties of the objects (that realize the kind) and these predicates are not in the present tense. on the average. then the sentence containing the BP has an existential reading: (60) Whales have attacked the ship on several occasions. the BP whales is still a kind designating expression but it is slightly different from the BP in the generic reading (i. In sentence (60). on the average. There is a slight difference in interpretation between bare plural generics and definite article plural generics (cf. Note that the sentence in (60) implicitly contains the existential quantifier some and it is bound in time and space. They are called definite article plural generic sentences: (62) a. Somewhat surprisingly we come across generic sentences where the definite article is followed by a noun in the plural.e. 63 . most whales are intelligent / most tigers are ferocious).The explicitly or implicitly present quantifier generally quantifies over the objects that realize the kind (i. 1986). Definite Article Generic Sentences The sentences below unambiguously show that definite article generics are kind level constructions: (61) a. b.2. b. The wolf is getting more rare as you move north / Wolves are getting more rare as you move north. The dog is widespread / Dogs are widespread. Generic definites show ‘conceptual’ uniqueness. The Italians are lazy.. c. b).e. d. two children. The tiger is striped / Tigers are striped.

b. Nunberg (1976) claims that the generic property ascribed to an indefinite generic nominal holds by virtue of class membership. A unicorn has a single horn. Indefinite Article Generic Sentences Indefinite article generics raise many intriguing properties. therefore. Moreover. but the individual acquires it in virtue of its class membership: (66) a. A symphony has four movements. A baby-sitter gets $ 2. (63b) involves a pragmatic restriction of the definite reference. 11. “The former is more damning than the latter. (essential property) b. Indefinite article generics do not involve ordinary indefinite reference. By contrast. generally refers to fewer individuals than Italians” (Hawkins 1977:217) (i. (essential property) c. A pork chop is tender (indefinite generic = a pork chop) b. (63a) claims that laziness is an inherent attribute of Italians. (accidental property) 64 . The property may be essential or accidental. Italians are lazy. In the generic sentence below: (64) A good teacher loves all students.3. the Italians are lazy).00 an hour. a paraphrase of sentence (63b) would be ‘out of the group of workers.e. The Italians are lazy.Hawkins (1977) makes the following comment on the difference between his examples in (63): (63) a.. indefinite article generics cannot be anaphorically resumed by definite descriptions: (65) a. *The pork chop is nourishing (definite description = the pork chop) The question is what property of indefinite descriptions makes it possible that they receive a generic reading since they usually refer to one individual. the indefinite article generic expression a good teacher has no reading in which a specific teacher is referred to. The Italians.

c. *?Any pork-chop is tender. The sentences in (68a) and (68b) tell us only how a Christian and a pork-chop are expected to be. a Christian proves to be non-forgiving in his acts. Generic sentences like those in (69) cannot be falsified in case it turns out that. the sentences are not well formed). they do not allow exceptions. for instance. Moreover. since the indefinite generic does not allow a particular individual but an arbitrary one to be picked out of the set. A Christian is forgiving. an individual that is chosen at random or arbitrarily by virtue of class membership. Consider the following contrasts (Nunberg 1976 in Cornilescu 1986): (68) a. A true Christian is forgiving.Christophersen (1939) and Hawkins (1978) make the insightful remark that a singular indefinite generic in the examples above still involves reference to one individual (as opposed to the whole class). Generic sentences with indefinite noun phrases also allow a prescriptive interpretation. This is because this type of generics acquires a prescriptive interpretation. A pork-chop is tender. *?Any Christian is forgiving. 65 . A good programmer is smart. a’. These sentences are understood as similar to sentences that involve explicitly evaluative expressions as in the examples below: (69) a. b’. and hence. A good pork-chop is tender. (The any-sentences are descriptive. the indefinite generic can be used when the existence of individuals satisfying the description is not presupposed: (67) A / every perpetual machine runs forever. b. b.

THE CATEGORY OF GENDER 1. stick/it – neuter). man/he – masculine. Modern English has basically semantic gender. inanimacy and sex manifested in language.g. Gender information is incorporated in the lexical information of certain words (e. un/o in Romanian). reflexive pronouns (himself/herself) also encode gender information. possessives (his/her book). For instance. woman/she – feminine.. This division reflects the concepts of animacy. Indo-European languages evince roughly two types of gender: semantic gender (where the natural sex of an entity matches grammar) and grammatical gender (where the natural sex of an entity is not necessarily the criterion according to which a noun belongs to a certain gender). Indo-European languages distinguish three genders of nouns: masculine. and it). feminine and neuter.0. in Romanian covrig is grammatically masculine. Other languages such as Romanian. Grammatical gender distributes gender according to other criteria: there are morpho-syntactic markers of gender such as the quality of the stem of the word (consonant or vowel) and the system of determiners (e. determination and case.. General Remarks Gender is another functional category of the lexical category noun alongside number.g. Languages that have grammatical gender do not observe gender classification of nouns in terms of the sex distinction animate (male-female) versus inanimate (neuter).4. French or German have grammatical gender (given in the dictionaries). Moreover. le/la in French. she. In German das Fräulein and das 66 . the systems of anaphoric pronominal reference by personal pronouns (he. corn is grammatically neuter while sentinelă is grammatically feminine.

the discussion of gender in English mainly concerns listing nouns that evince semantic gender. The gender of Male/Female Beings Nouns that designate human beings that are marked for gender are organized in pairs: one member of the pair designates the male being and the other the female being. 2.0. 2. The gender of Animate Entities Nouns that denote human beings and animate entities may or may not contain gender information. the distinctions between animate / inanimate and human / non-human cut across the classification of nouns according to gender. Jespersen (1931) offers the following divisions of gender in Indo-European languages: (1) Nature (sex) male beings female sexless things Grammar (gender) masculine words feminine neuter In what follows. Several of these nouns have a third member that designates either member of the pair but is unmarked for gender. (The description draws on Ştefănescu 1988).Mädchen are grammatically neuter. Consider the list below: (2) man husband father boy son lad king bridegroom bachelor woman wife mother girl daughter lass queen bride spinster/old person/human spouse parent child child youth sovereign/monarch maid 67 . In English.1.

the adjectives male/female or proper names to indicate sex (as in the (4d) list below): (4a) stallion bull ram boar stag cock mare cow ewe sow hind hen horse sheep pig/swine deer fowl 68 . Other nouns denoting animals use the male animal to designate either sex (illustrated in the (4b) list below). #ette. Consider the list below: (3) prophet – prophetess peer – peeress poet – poetess host – hostess baron – baroness lion – lioness executor – executrix czar – czarina count – countess shepherd – shepherdess heir – heiress prior – prioress god – goddess prince – princess hero – heroine suffragette / usherette Nouns that denote animals are also organized in pairs: one member of the pair designates the male animal and the other the female animal. Other nouns use the female animal to designate either sex (as in the (4c) list below) while still other nouns make use of compound nouns with the pronouns she/he. #(t)rix. Several of these nouns have a third member that designates either member of the pair but is unmarked for gender (illustrated in the (4a) list below).brother uncle nephew lord master monk/friar wizard sister aunt niece lady mistress nun witch sibling Other nouns that denote human beings bearing gender information form the feminine member by adding specific suffixes: #ess. #ina.

partisan. Consider the lists below: (5) a. American. enemy. 69 . a reflexive or a possessive (see the examples in (6)). artist. inhabitant. Mohammedan. member. foreigner. prisoner. For these nouns gender information is attributed at the level of the sentence generally by the presence of a personal pronoun. servant. etc. cook. liar. (6) a. thief. student. chairman.1. stranger. relative. guest. musician. neighbour. engineer. candidate. friend. republican. b.1. The teacher praised her students.(4b) dog ruff (4c) gander drake (4d) otter fox cat ass goat hare rabbit pheasant pigeon bear bitch reeve goose duck dog-otter dog-fox tom-cat jack-ass billy-goat buck-hare/jack-hare buck-rabbit cock-pheasant cock-pigeon he-bear dog ruff goose duck bitch-otter bitch-fox/vixen tabby-cat jenny-ass nanny-goat doe-hare doe-rabbit hen-pheasant hen-pigeon she-bear 2. b. etc. Lutheran. professor. etc. criminal. European. atheist. Dane. teacher. which does not contain gender information: the same noun is used to denote both males and females. They asked me to send them to the author if I should hear who she was. democrat. heathen. Nouns that Lack Gender Specification There is a large class of nouns that designate human beings. Londoner. Christian. fool. c.

ay! as large as life. airplanes. informal speech people may either upgrade or downgrade a non-human entity. A non-human entity is upgraded when it is referred to either as he or as she instead of the normative it. being used to her. watches. Almost everything can be upgraded: ships.1. pipes. pieces of furniture. A mare with her young b. she and it. 3. 3. Downgrading indicates various degrees of negative involvement on the part of the speaker. Upgrading indicates various degrees of positive involvement on the part of the speaker. The bride was not pretty nor was she very young. I can understand why they took the silverware.1. animals.0. football teams. kites. The dogs of the house take no notice of this deer. Referential gender In what follows we discuss the problems raised by referential gender: the anaphoric use of the third person singular pronouns he. But why did it take my piggy bank? c. (8) a. she and it are used anaphorically to point to a noun with which these pronouns agree in gender. “Dear me”! said Bengsington “that’s a cousin of the Prime Minister. balloons.2.3. He/she are used for human beings while it is used for objects.2. A ship is classed according to its tonnage. 3. The fly…there was no courtesy in him. In colloquial. and missy played the hostess.2. c. “Ay. informal speech and literary style. What a conceited doll it is”! 70 . In the normative pattern the third person singular pronouns he.2. etc. 3. isn’t it”? b. Consider: (9) a. b. c. steamers. The normative pattern of the third person singular pronouns used anaphorically is often disregarded in colloquial. When people colloquially make use of it to refer either to human beings or to objects that have previously been upgraded we have to do with downgrading. Dan must demonstrate what he really wanted. boats. Consider: (7) a.

church. Crime…she is not the child of solitude.3. Names of celestial bodies are masculine or feminine: Mars is masculine. c. The world was opening her arms and calling to Michael . Music with her silver sound. liberty. In many cases the gender of nouns when used in literary style depends on the nouns’ corresponding gender in Latin (Kruisinga 1931). I love wisdom more than she loves me. Jupiter is masculine while Venus is feminine. b. Names of towns are also feminine when used in literary style: (11) Paris was herself again. In literary English. The wind ceased from her whirling about continually. great lamp. Consider some illustrations below: (12) a. science. Nouns such as wisdom. moon is feminine like the names of the seasons. Sun is masculine like time and year.3. 71 . music are feminine: (10) a. c. life.e. she is like a great. crime. I haven’t seen such a moon for years. names of abstract nouns are generally referred to as he or she (i. b.. they are personified). Oxford taught me as much Greek and Latin as she could. fate. nature.

General Remarks The Category of Case has a long history in the grammatical study of human languages. him/his. and the distinction is only binary: nominative (I. Georgian. While. the morphological shape of a given nominal is also determined according to the structural position of a nominal in the sentence. Generative Grammar takes the aforementioned differences among languages with respect to the overt / covert marking of case to be superficial and attributed to some parametric variations in morphology. it is only for pronouns that English makes the distinction in terms of their morphological shapes. Since Chomsky (1965). it. It is well known that languages differ in terms of their way of expressing morphological case on nominals.g. like Latin. Generative Grammar) it came to refer to the expression of relationships between morphological forms of nominals and the interpretational relations they bear in a sentence. THE CATEGORY OF CASE 1. etc. For example. you/your. many languages of the world (Russian. Traditional grammar was primarily concerned with providing answers to questions such as: “how does the variance of the morphological forms of case yield a difference in meaning?” In modern linguistics (e.5. non-nominative (me/my. etc. Still more curiously. you. in Latin every noun has six forms of case. 72 .). there is simply no morphological distinction of case. grammatical relations have been taken to be structurally determined. each of which is expressed by declining its stem. so. It stems from the Classical Greek word that means declension or modification of nominal categories (nouns. However.. Romanian. pronouns and adjectives). it/its. she. Finnish.) have morphologically distinct forms of case for all nominals.) vs. in languages like Chinese or Thai. he. etc.0.

The important point is that, whether it is overtly displayed or not, case should be present in all nominals at a more abstract level. This abstract notion of case as a theoretical construct is called “abstract Case” (with capital C) to contrast it with the morphological forms of case (with small letter c). Under this view of Case and case, the morphological shape of a given nominal is regarded as the morphological realization of Case, an abstract feature assigned to that nominal by some rule. The point we have to retain is that all nominals that appear in a sentence must bear Case in all languages. Cases appear on a nominal because they are assigned to it by another element in the sentence and this assignment of Case happens due to some specific configuration the nominal and the other element occur in. Cases that are assigned under specific structural configurations are called structural Cases (i.e., Nominative Case, Accusative Case, Dative Case and Genitive Case) while Cases that are due to the contribution of certain lexical items are called inherent cases or lexical cases (e.g., Ablative Case, Instrumental Case, Dative Case). The cases of English nominals are Nominative Case, Accusative Case, Genitive Case and Dative Case and they are all structural cases. 2.0. Formal Configurations: Government and Agreement. Structural Cases The basic formal configurations that relate the terms in structural Case assigning process are government and agreement (concord) (cf. “Government and Binding” 1981, “The Minimalist Program” Chomsky, 1995). Government is a notion inherited from traditional grammar. For instance, William Cobbett (1819) stated that “nouns are governed, as it is called, by verbs and prepositions; that is to say, these latter sorts of words cause nouns to be in such or such a case”. The two elements involved in a government relation are a head and a dependent term (in our case, the noun that is assigned Case) in a fairly local relation called government relation. For instance, a prototypical example of government is government of a nominal by a head verb in a structure such as: see him (Accusative Case): (1) I saw him.
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Since Acc Case is assigned under government, it is a structural case. Thus, the transitive verb see in (1) assigns Acc case only because it enters the structural configuration of government with a subcategorized constituent; otherwise, see can also be an intransitive verb meaning ‘to understand’ (e.g. I see!). Dative Case (when preceded by the prepositions to or for) is also assigned under government: (2) a. Sue gave the album to him. b. John did it for her. In (2a,b) the preposition to or for assigns Dative Case to the pronoun. As far as Genitive Case is concerned we assume following Abney (1987) that nominals are headed not by the noun itself (N) but by D (determiner), which is the functional category responsible for the inflection within nominals: (3) John’s strong belief that Mary loves him In the nominal John’s strong belief the possessive determiner ’s has the ability to assign Genitive Case to John under government. Nominative Case is assigned under agreement relation of the subject and the agreement features on the verb. Take the following example: (4) He loves her. In sentence (4) the verb love assigns Acc Case to her under government. What element in the sentence assigns Nominative Case to the subject he? Notice that the inflection –s on the verb signals not only the Present Tense but also agreement with the subject he in the singular. If we say They love her, the verb agrees with the subject in the plural. In English, the process of subject agreement / concord is also a process of Nominative assignment. 3.0. Remarks on the English Cases in Traditional Grammar 3.1. In traditional grammar, linguists tended to associate case inflections with certain semantic values. For example, Nominative Case inflection (if any) was attached the sense of designating the actor of an action:
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(5) a. John is running now. b. The girl wrote an essay. c. Adrian left. The actor – action characterization of the Nominative case was also associated with the feature of animacy of the subject. However, there are hosts of examples that do not conform to these characterizations: (6) a. The envelope contains the bill. b. I owe you 10 pounds. c. John had a shock. Since actor – action generalization failed, grammarians described Nominative Case inflection in terms of the syntactic functions of noun phrases in order to attain some generalization: Nominative Case is characteristic of the subject of a sentence, of a predicative noun phrase as well as of appositive noun phrases: (7) a. The Reformation affected every country in Europe. b. John is a teacher. c. This is a book by Chomsky, the linguist. 3.2. Accusative Case inflection was described as designating the person or thing on which the action of the verb is performed; the noun in the Accusative case has the syntactic function of a direct object and occurs after a transitive verb: (8) a. John beats Paul. b. John burnt the papers. However, the semantic characterization fails again to acquire generality. In a sentence such as: John fears the man, John, in the Nominative Case is the affected entity while the man in the grammatical Accusative is the cause of his fear and not the person on which the action of the verb is performed. Grammarians reached the conclusion that “the accusative has no meaning at all…but varies according to the infinitely varying meanings of the verbs themselves” (Sweet, 1891): to kill the insect / to kill a bottle / to kill the conversation / to kill the evening; to run a risk / to run a business; to miss the train / to miss somebody; to throw a ball / to throw a fit / to throw a party.
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3.3. In Modern English Dative Case is marked by the prepositions to and for and by word order: (9) a. I gave flowers to Mary. b. I gave Mary flowers. c. I bought a book for John. d. I bought John a book. Nouns in the Dative Case function as indirect objects. In Middle English, the Dative inflection disappeared and it was replaced by the directional preposition to, which began to acquire an abstract locative sense also associated with a change of possession meaning: (10) a. We sent a book parcel to London. b. We sent a book parcel to our aunt. In (10b) the animate object designates the person who will come into possession of the parcel, while London in (10a) simply represents a destination point. This semantic difference has a syntactic correlate: only in (10b) can the indirect object invert with the direct object in a well formed sentence while in (10a) it can not: (11) a. We sent our aunt a parcel. b. *We sent London a parcel. Dative Case is assigned to noun phrases by verbs alone in a very idiosyncratic way or by the prepositions to or for. Not all verbs that assign Dative Case occur in both constructions illustrated in (9). There are verbs that occur only in prepositional dative constructions while other verbs occur only in prepositionless dative constructions. Thus, verbs like donate, transfer, select, mention, describe, explain, propose occur only in constructions where the preposition to is present: (12) a. We donated $10 to UNICEF. a’. *We donated UNICEF $10. (13) a. We transferred some money to Bill. a’. *We transferred Bill some money. (14) a. The waiter selected a French wine for us. a’. *The waiter selected us a French wine. (15) a. He mentioned the secret to Mary. a’. *He mentioned Mary the secret.
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What is of interest to us is under what conditions one form is preferred and if there are cases in which only one of them is admitted. For example. Furthermore. The Genitive Case was roughly paraphrased as meaning belonging to. 77 . We gave $10 to UNICEF. (21) a. a’. Lexical Dative case idiosyncrasies are also manifest in many other languages (e. which never occur with prepositional indirect object: (19) a. a’. namely Dative: cel bogat nu crede celui sărac. *Measles germs give measles to you. a’. connected with or associated with. The construction with the preposition of is sometimes used as equivalent to inflectional genitive. give somebody a kiss etc. (17) a. *Bill gave a kiss / a little pinch to Sue.. German and Romanian). *John allowed a peek to his sister. (18) a. give somebody a cold. We sent some money to Bill. a’. Measles germs give you measles.As already said. these verbs’ near synonyms give. We sent Bill some money. a’. there are verbs in expressions such as allow somebody a peek. These examples show that Dative Case is sometimes a structural case (when it is prepositional) and sometimes a lexical case (when it is assigned by certain lexical verbs). John allowed his sister a peek. a’. Bill gave Sue a kiss / a little pinch. send or choose do permit both constructions: (16) a.. Genitive Case in English is realized as inflectional genitive / synthetic genitive (‘s) and as prepositional genitive (the construction with the preposition of).g. give someone a pain in the neck. 3. The waiter chose us a French wine. give someone a punch in the nose. (20) a. it is difficult to predict that a Romanian verb such as a crede assigns not only the structural Accusative Case (a crede pe cineva) but also a lexical case.4. The waiter chose a French wine for us. We gave UNICEF $10.

The wings of a butterfly. Albans. John’s blue eyes. The egg of a robin. Israel air force. museum. child study. doctor degree and afternoon tea are instances of an implicit genitive construction. house are deleted the of construction cannot be used: Old St. After the analogy with these implicit genitives (without a distinctive genitive ending) many nouns dropped their genitive ending. Longmans. the process is extremely productive especially in journalese. they make the agreement with the verb in the plural: Harrods are offering bargains these days. Ive’s town. when proper names are coordinated or the noun phrase is complex the of– construction is the rule: the father of John and Mary. unmarked form: Mary’s arm. However. His horse’s tail / The tail of his horse. St. was a new shock to him. Ives are derived from: Harrod’s shop. shop. St. When the noun phrase is preceded by the definite article the two constructions are possible but the construction with of is perceived as more emphatic: Illness prevented him from attending the bishop’s funeral / The death of his uncle.(i) Inflectional genitive is preferred with proper names: John’s father. Cook’s shop. coming almost immediately afterwards. the reign of James the Second. (IV) When nouns such as church. (ii) When the nominal is preceded by the indefinite article the only possibility is the construction with of: He was a great admirer of Shakespeare. There was a tobacconist’s at the corner. 78 . cathedral. Shakespeare’s plays. Alban’s town. St. St. Cooks. (V) Nouns such as Lady Chapel. Longman’s store. Harrods. student hostel. Moreover. With large and familiar animals inflectional genitive is preferred but with smaller ones or less known species of animals prepositional genitive is preferred: The elephant’s trunk / The trunk of the elephant. Nowadays they look like plural nouns due to the dropping of the apostrophe in spelling such that the s inflection is directly attached to the noun. Paul’s burnt down in 1666. Would you like to visit Madam Tussaud’s?. store and town. (iii) With nouns that express characteristics and part-whole relationships inflectional genitive is the usual. For example. The implicit genitive construction favored the development of noun phrases in which the inflectional genitive is deleted together with nouns such as: shop. the works of William Shakespeare. I am dining at my uncle’s tonight.

in sentences such as the following: 79 . Jackendoff (1987. Case Grammar deals with predicates and their participant structure. the syntactic function of subject. Therefore. last year’s prize. Case as a Conceptual Notion: Case Grammar 4. In what follows we try to show that all the three levels of analysis are indeed connected and grammatical levels of analysis are not autonomous components but highly condition each other. direct object. Arguments are subcategorized constituents.e. Emonds (1989). For example. a twenty minutes’ delay. Levin and Rappaport (1988) among others. measure phrases and calendar partitions occur with the inflectional / synthetic genitive construction: today’s paper. 1990).. Dative Case) and it is also related to the syntactic component of grammar (i.. a moment’s regret.e. this month’s edition. Fillmore (1971. case inflections that indicate Nominative Case. The question is whether information provided by the morphological and syntactic components is related to the semantic level of analysis (i. General Remarks We have already seen that Case is related to the morphological component of grammar (i. a three days’ trip.. 4. a pound’s weight. Predicates and their Argument Structure “Case Grammar”. indirect object of noun phrases). A sentence always contains a predicate (an expression denoting an activity or an event) and at least one participant in that action or event. as initially proposed by Gruber (1965). in two year’s time. 4. An expression denoting the participant in the activity or the event is called the argument of that predicate.2.0. It is clear that these levels of grammatical analysis are interconnected and information from the morphological component can be used in the description of the syntactic component and vice versa. Accusative Case.e. is a semantic theory concerned with the structure of events function of their participants. meaning) as well. yesterday’s deadlock.1. 1977) and later on developed by Anderson (1971). Givon (1976). a five miles’ distance.(VI) Furthermore.

Chomsky.. from being alive it became dead) while the argument everybody in (22b) is semantically interpreted as the Agent of the activity who is volitionally doing the act of laughing and who does not suffer any change. The Minimalist Program. 80 . there is a difference between these verbs. All the sentences in (22) are propositions (i. laughing and arresting are the predicates’ arguments (i. everybody. [Everybody] laughed c. semantic cases are called roles (e. In (22c) the policeman is the Agent of the predicate as he is the person who performs the act of arresting while the suspect is the Patient of the predicate as he is the person who suffers the consequences of the act. [The policeman] arrested [the suspect] the italicized verbs are predicates and the bracketed expressions are their arguments. The speaker’s knowledge of lexical concepts includes knowledge of the semantic interpretation that noun phrases have in constructions with a verb.. the policeman. they describe the semantic content of the clause) and the participants in the events of dying. In (22a) we semantically interpret the argument the dog as the Patient that undergoes a change (i. the suspect). 1995).. Even if the verbs die in (22a) and laugh in (22b) are both intransitive verbs and the dog / everybody are their subjects. 1981. This type of knowledge is stored in our mental lexicon. subject.e.e. object. Notice that the Patient in (22a) bears Nominative Case and is the subject of the sentence while the Patient in (22c) bears Accusative Case and is the direct object of the sentence. the dog.g..).e. The combination of cases that may be associated with a given predicate is called the role-structure of the predicate or argument structure of the predicate. etc. etc.(22) a.. Chomsky. The theory of thematic relations is concerned with the description of the lexical structure of a predicate. are not to be confused with morphological case or with the syntactic function of a noun phrase (i. Particular theta roles (such as Agent. the dog in (22a) plays the role of a Patient) or better thematic roles or theta roles (from the Greek letter theta: θ-role). In more recent models of grammar (Government and Binding.e. [The dog] died b. Semantic cases such as Agent. Patient. function of the semantic interpretation of its argument noun phrases.

SOURCE: the entity from which something is moved as a result of the activity expressed by the predicate. Other authors amalgamate the roles PATIENT and THEME under the unique role of THEME. LOCATION: the place in which the action or state expressed by the predicate is situated. GOAL: the entity towards which the entity expressed by the predicate is directed. it is always animate. (23) c. THEME: the person or thing moved by the action expressed by the predicate. Some types are.) are read off from the meaning of verbs. AGENT/ACTOR: the one who intentionally initiates the action expressed by the predicate. Instrument. Location etc.Experience. (23) g. BENEFECTIVE/BENEFICIARY: the entity that benefits from the action expressed by the predicate. however. (23) f. John gave the detective story to Jane AGENT THEME BENEFECTIVE/GOAL (25) b. PATIENT: the person or thing undergoing the action expressed by the predicate. Goal. Source. Beneficiary. Patient. Jane had been cold all day EXPERIENCER 81 . Yet. EXPERIENCER: the entity that experiences some psychological state expressed by the predicate. Theme. The ball rolled towards the foot of the hill THEME GOAL (25) d. generally distinguished: (23) a. (24) THEME2 : the entity affected by the action or state expressed by the predicate. (23) d. John rolled the ball towards Jane AGENT THEME GOAL (25) c. (23) h. there is no agreement about how many such specific thematic roles there are and what their labels are. (23) e. (23) b. Several thematic roles are illustrated in (25) below: (25) a.

Source. Consider: (26) a.3. Goal. These semantic fields constitute conceptual configurations and show the way concepts are stored in the mental lexicon. John bought the book AGENT THEME (25) h. as they depend on the meaning of the respective verb. For example. In what follows we try to provide answers to two questions: (i) Why are theta roles important to grammar (see section 4. In fact.) 4. Semantic Fields of Several Verbs of Motion and Location With the help of theta roles linguists managed to identify several semantic fields of a great number of verbs and their arguments with a high degree of generality. Theme Source Goal 82 . Love stories please John THEME EXPERIENCER (25) g. Theme. rather than the syntactic relation they bear to the predicate. there is no systematic correspondence between theta roles and their morphological cases or syntactic functions. the field of movement and location (which involve Theme. John is in London THEME LOCATION As already said above. The letter went from New York to Philadelphia. John likes love stories EXPERIENCER THEME from Jane SOURCE (25) f. Cause) are just two of the many semantic fields that verbs and their arguments generally form. Location) and the field of human action and causation (which involve Agent.3. theta roles acquire substance only in relation to the predicate that requires them. Arguments are identified according to the semantic.(25) e.4.) and (ii) How is the semantic interpretation of argument nouns related to the morphological component and to the syntactic component of grammar (see section 4. Let us illustrate and briefly discuss the field of movement and location.

other generalizations may be set up. come. fly. walk. There are dozens of non-causative (intransitive)/causative (transitive) pairs of verbs of movement and thus. The general prepositions are FROM for Source and TO for Goal. We emptied water from the tank. run. The blast / the stick rolled the ball down the hill. roll. b. travel. which changes location from a Source constituent towards a Goal constituent. the Theme is selected as subject. etc. Agent Theme c. Theme Source Goal Intransitive verbs such as go and travel imply the presence of a Theme.b. The plane flew. For intransitive verbs of movement. 4. The ball rolled down the hill. Consider: (27) a. the verb empty evinces an alternation in its argument structure: (30) a. On the Relevance of Theta-Roles in Syntax and Morphology To see the relevance of semantic/theta roles to syntax and morphology consider the examples below that are near paraphrases. He rolled the ball down the hill.. Theme b. She was flying a kite. We emptied the tank of water.) form the concept of movement and location by using precisely these thematic roles and not others. His voice lowered to a whisper.g. swim. (29) a. go. move. Source Th 83 . The message traveled from Bill to Alice. With transitive verbs of movement and location it appears that movement of the direct object Theme is induced by an Agent / Instrument / Cause. b. Th Source b.4. float. Cause Inst Theme (28) a. He lowered his voice to a whisper. The generality we obtain is that the vast majority of intransitive verbs of movement (e.

The sentences are subtly distinct: in (30a) we understand that some water was removed from the tank (change of location of water = change of location variant) while in (30b) we understand that all water was removed from the tank (change of state of the tank: from full of water it became empty of water = change of state variant). The key opened the door. crack. John opened the door.. a representation that allows arguments to be identified in terms of the semantic relations they hold to the verb is preferable for capturing the near paraphrase relation. the two sentences are not distinct either. However. Another piece of evidence that shows the relevance of semantic/thematic roles to syntax is provided by the various argument structures evinced by verbs such as: break. in (30b) the tank is the direct object while of water is the prepositional object. syntactically. Thus. Thus. drain). However. morphologically and syntactically. bend. fold. Th c. cleanse. Consider: (31) a. The door was opened. Moreover. In both sentences the verb empty is followed by a direct object and by a prepositional object: in (30a) water is the direct object while from the tank is the prepositional object. melt and many others. the two sentences are not distinct. Instr Th 84 . Syntactically. shutter. the near paraphrase relation of the two sentences in (30) is captured only if we notice that the arguments that follow the verb bear the same semantic relations to the verb empty in both constructions (as indicated in 30) and that the meaning of (30b) (the change of state variant) includes the meaning of (30a) (the change of location variant). other verbs that describe the same process of removing some substance from a location evince the same alternation and the same argument structures as the verb empty (e. clean.g. both in (30a) and in (30b) the verb empty is followed by a nominal (water in (30a) and the tank in (30b)) that is followed by a prepositional group (from the tank in (30a) and of water in (30b)). Ag Th b.

Fillmore (1968) noticed that for each class of verbs there is a preferred or ‘unmarked’ subject choice: “if there is an Agent.” Moreover. otherwise. if there is an Instrument. 85 . it becomes the subject. otherwise. the subject is the Theme. we notice that once theta roles are assigned to arguments by the verb they are preserved. irrespective of the syntactic configurations/positions in which arguments occur (compare 31a with 31b). all sentences must have subjects and secondly. it becomes the subject. some theta roles are more prominent than others are and grammatical processes (such as passivization) are sensitive to the relative degree of prominence of roles.The examples in (31) show two important things: firstly.

as completed. Tense (the grammaticalized form of time. 86 . a present moment of time in mind with respect to which George’s leaving can be located. THE CATEGORY OF ASPECT 1.6. the past tense and the future tense) locates events in time with respect to the moment of speech. roughly the present tense. We do not know when John began reading the book or whether he finished reading it – we only know that his reading was unfolding in time when the phone rang/at 3 o’clock. as a whole. The sentence in (1a) presents the situation in its totality. For example a sentence such as George left yesterday cannot be interpreted unless the hearer has a ‘today’. John was reading a book (when the phone rang / at 3 o’clock). This means that we cannot conceive of a past or future event unless we have a present moment of time in mind. Aspect is not a deictic category. John read a book.0. Introductory Remarks The functional category of aspect and the functional category of tense are tightly related as they both pertain to the domain of time. Tense is a deictic category (it is oriented towards the time of the speaking ego): it relates different kinds of events to the speech time and structures them by the relations of simultaneity and sequence (see the Category of Tense). They are exclusively verbal categories. Let us consider the following pair of sentences: (1) a. b. The difference between the sentences in (1) is not in terms of tense (both are in the past tense) but in terms of aspect. while the sentence in (1b) presents only some internal phases/stages in its development.

the Romanian present tense and imperfect tense signal imperfective aspect and present and past tense. 1.1. In English. irrespective of their size. is conspicuously defined in terms of its temporal structure. Below we shall see that the aspect of a situation. For instance.. disappeared). The perfective aspect in (1a) provides a holistic. the prepositions. summarizing or unifying view upon the event. The imperfective aspect (instantiated in English as the progressive aspect and illustrated in (1b)) is concerned with presenting the event as divided up into internal phases. the grammatical markers of aspect have fused with those of tense). there being no concern for the whole situation. respectively while tenses such as the perfect compus. the contemporary English form He is working (be + V-ing) developed historically from He is on/at working (in time. English and Dutch avail themselves of syntactic means to signal the opposition: for instance. Both tense and aspect pertain to the domain of time as situations. The Perfective – Imperfective Grammaticalized Aspectual Opposition In traditional grammars. French or Old Greek make use of syncretic means to signal the opposition (i. Languages like Romanian. Progressive aspect is signalled by distinct 87 .e. 1. the notion “aspect” was used with respect to the perfective-imperfective opposition expressed by inflectional morphemes on the verb (as illustrated in (1) above). For instance. the perfect simplu.1. Grammaticalizations of the Perfective – Imperfective Aspectual Opposition There are various ways in which languages grammaticalize the perfective / imperfective aspectual opposition. the mai mult ca perfect signal perfective aspect and various sub-species of past tense.2.Intuitively. the opposition perfective / imperfective has not been fully grammaticalized but the opposition non-progressive – progressive is compatible with it. aspect predicates about the size of a situation (the whole of it or only parts of it) while the contribution of tense is to locate that situation in time. Russian and Chinese use different affixes to distinguish between the two aspects. just like its tense. occur in time. reduced to a or o.

1. contain aspectual information. 3. intuition fails us quite often and that is why we need principled grounds on which to identify the aspectual import of situations. This inherent aspectual dimension of the whole predication is called in modern linguistics situation-type aspect (Carlota Smith 1991).g. 88 .. In contrast. the category of aspect does not reduce to grammatical aspect only.. the verb drink designates the activity/process of drinking but drink a cup of coffee necessarily contains a processual part (that of drinking coffee) and an endpoint (the cup of coffee is empty at the end of drinking). Situation-Type Aspect However. For instance. It was long ago noticed that verbs themselves. as lexical items. grammatical aspect is “overt” as explicit morphological markers signal it. Thus the aspectual interpretation of a verb is modulated by the contribution of its arguments (in our example that of the direct object argument of the verb drink). Perfective aspect (also called “simple / indefinite aspect”) is rendered by the simple temporal form of the verb with no distinct morphological marking (e. Smith 1991). Below we shall see in detail that the aspectual interpretation of a sentence is not decided by the meaning of the verb alone.morphological marking: be – ing (e. However.1. Human beings decide on the situation-type aspect of various constructions on perceptual and cognitive grounds. Situation-Type Aspect versus Grammatical Aspect Situation-type aspect is “covert” as it lacks explicit morphological marking and it is semantic in nature since its detection is based on the semantics of various verbs and their argument structure. He is/was singing).g. We shall see below that both grammatical aspect (the perfective / imperfective aspectual opposition) and situation type aspect are defined and identified by using the same means of characterization: their temporal structure (C. He sang). 2. The perfective / imperfective aspectual opposition instantiates grammatical aspect.

In the current literature. They intended to devise a classification of verbs alone in various aspectual classes. they were highly aware of the obvious contribution of the verb’s arguments (subject and object) in aspectually classifying verbs. whether or not they have endpoints) (C. However. Temporal Structure and Aspectual Situation Types Language philosophers (Ryle 1949. Vendler 1957/1967 among many others) classified verbs in terms of their aspectual import and provided grammatical and logical criteria to distinguish among them. activities and events (which. make a chair. We adopt Zeno Vendler’s (1967) aspectual classification of verbs into states. Examples illustrating Vendler’s categories are given below: (2) States: believe. state. have. recognize.e. deliver a sermon. in their turn split into accomplishments and achievements). the aspectual system of languages is made up of two components: the aspectual situation type component and the aspectual opposition perfective / imperfective (C. Smith 1991). be tall Activities: swim. 89 .e. love. reach The criterion that lies behind this aspectual classification of verbs is their temporal structure: their duration (i. whether or not they have internal stages/phases) and their endpoints (i. resemble. live in London.In sum. Smith 1991). recover from illness Achievements: realize. find. breathe Accomplishments: draw a circle. own. lose. walk. process/activity and event aspectual situations are also referred to as eventualities (Bach 1981) 4. push a cart. desire. Kenny 1963.. The aspectual situation type component is made up of three aspectual situations: state aspectual situations.. process (or activity) aspectual situations and event aspectual situations. spot.1.

The result/outcome signals a change of state as the house changes from being under construction into a finished house. drink. if John is swimming his swimming is made up of successive strokes in time and he may arbitrarily end his swimming when he is tired. find) are instantaneous events that consist of a single stage. upshot).1. 4.2.1. 4.1. The change into or out of a state is determined by an external agent and these changes do not pertain to the state itself.3. talk. Achievement verbs (such as recognize. States At an intuitive level.2. result. love. For instance. run. For instance. Again at an intuitive level. believe. They are also homogeneous eventualities. write.3. desire. which constitutes a change of state. lose. or walk) consist of successive stages that unfold in time over an interval. run a mile. Activities contain arbitrary endpoints.1. if John is tall he is tall over his adult lifetime and irrespective of whether he stands up or sits down. with successive stages and a natural endpoint (or outcome.1. dig. 4. They are homogeneous eventualities. live in London) hold over an undifferentiated period of time and they do not contain endpoints. state verbs (such as be tall. which results in a change of state.1. Events Events are of several subspecies. mainly accomplishments and achievements.3. dig a hole. accomplishments (such as build a house. 4. drink a cup of coffee. if John lives in London his living in London holds over an undifferentiated period of time (it may be up to the end of his life) but this state changes if he decides to move over to Manchester.4. leave. Processes/Activities Again at an intuitive level process/activity verbs (such as swim. For example. In the same line.1. if John built a house his building of the house consists of the proper activity/process of building and we can truthfully say that he built the house only when the result of building is attained: the house stands erected. kill) are bipartite events: they consist of a processual part. 90 .

embodied by the perfective / imperfective aspectual opposition. processes/activities and events). grammatical aspect contributes to the visibility of the whole or only part of a situation/predication. not only some of its internal stages. three main classes of verbal predicates and sentences are distinguished: events (i. Smith (1991) also uses the term “viewpoint” for 91 . whether or not the two aspects contain internal stages and endpoints) (C.0. In contrast. characterized by de Swart (1998) as in the chart below: HOMOGENEOUS NON– HOMOGENEOUS / QUANTIZED state STATIVE process event DYNAMIC 5. The Temporal Structure of the Perfective – Imperfective Aspectual Opposition Just like aspectual situation types (states. when we say a sentence such as John found a penny in the street. Events (both accomplishments and achievements) are nonhomogeneous or quantized eventualities. it aspectually means that John has the penny in his pocket the instant he finds it but not before. Such an instantaneous event is a change of state. Thus. the perfective / imperfective aspectual opposition can also be characterized in terms of temporal structure (i.. The entire situation is predicated of. the imperfective/progressive aspect in a sentence such as Mary was writing a novel focuses on some internal stages of the event of writing that includes neither its beginning nor its end.For example.e. states and processes. At the most general level of classification. That is why C. Grammatical aspect. as a whole. focuses either the entire situation (the perfective aspect) or only parts/stages of it (the imperfective aspect). including both its initial and final endpoints. accomplishment and achievements). Smith 1991). Grammatical aspect tells us about how much we see of a situation. as John did not have the respective coin before he found it but he had it after he found it.e. In a sentence such as Mary wrote a novel the perfective aspect presents the situation as completed.

In the sections below we shall analyze in detail the compatibility or lack of compatibility between each aspectual situation type with the two grammatical aspects/viewpoints. they can select for the progressive aspect/viewpoint. *John is knowing Latin.grammatical aspect: in her system. the temporal schema of process/activity situation type (which presupposes arbitrary endpoints) is compatible with the closed interpretation conveyed by the perfective aspect/viewpoint. When the duration of a state situation is perceived as limited. e.. However. “Continuing the analogy of a viewpoint with the lens of a camera.0.g. so viewpoints are necessary to make visible the situation talked about in a sentence” (C. which I shall call visibility. aspectual situation types and grammatical aspects / viewpoints. On the other hand. processes and events) and between the grammaticalized aspectual opposition (perfective / imperfective).g. which are temporally unbound (with no endpoints) cannot occur in the progressive as in English the progressive aspect/viewpoint shows limited duration.. the state can occur in the progressive.” (Smith 1991:99) It is essential to understand that the two components of aspect. 92 . Mary swam yesterday. Conceptual Features of Situation Types and Grammatical / Viewpoint Aspects The following semantic features are assumed to define and distinguish among situation types (states. i. Situations are the objects on which viewpoint lenses are trained.g. For instance.e. we shall say that the part focused by a viewpoint is visible to semantic interpretation. perfective aspect is called perfective viewpoint while imperfective aspect is called imperfective viewpoint. compare John is silly with John is being silly. they interact in language. e.. 6. Smith 1991:91). e. making objects visible to the receiver.. state predications. although independent. What is focused has a special status. processes contain successive stages and so. In Smith’s words “aspectual viewpoints function like the lens of a camera. Only what is visible is asserted…. Mary was swimming. And just as the camera lens is necessary to make the object available for a picture.

without endpoints. but rather an arbitrary final point: they can stop or be terminated at any time.e. as do the single stage of achievements. John broke the stick in a second) (Ramchand 1999).e.. involving causation (which includes both agentive and non-agentive subjects).2. they have an inherent culmination point. They consist of stages/phases rather than undifferentiated moments. When the goal is reached a definite change of state occurs and the event is complete (Garey 1967) i. 6.3. i. they are dynamic.g. Telic eventualities are directed towards a goal / outcome.1. Activities / processes and states are atelic situations. It follows that telic events are bounded events. [± Stativity] The feature that is crucial in the characterization of situation types is the feature [±stative]. it attains a final/resultant state. Cognitively this distinction between ‘stasis’ and ‘motion’ (change) is fundamental. As shown by Ross (1972) non-statives are ‘doings’. From a temporal point of view. Atelic eventualities are simply processes. The feature of stativity divides situation types into the classes of states and non-states (Parsons 1990). accomplishments are durative) others are instantaneous (achievements). the final point must be specific. which is an inherently telic verb (e. Atelic eventualities have no (inherent) endpoint. 6. Non-stative situations form the natural class of ‘events’ (activities and events proper). activity and change. The goal may be intrinsic to the event and in this case the attainment of the goal constitutes the natural endpoint of the event. one automatically ceases running.e. 93 . states. i. States are the simplest of the situation types. which are realized as soon as they begin. [± Telicity] Situation types are also characterized as [±telic]. [± Duration] The feature [±durative] also categorizes aspectual situations: some take time (activities. if one doesn’t continue running. they consist only of an undifferentiated period of time. The successive changes of activities and accomplishments over time reflect dynamism.6. For example. A good example is the verb break.

4. The aspectual center of a sentence is the verb but it is not the only factor of importance. = walk [+activity. illustrate the interaction between the inherent aspectual values of a few verbs with the contribution brought in by its arguments. +telic] build the house: V [+telic] + Nom [count] = VP [+event. = build [+event. The suggestion put forth by C. the verb and all the other elements present in the sentence). +telic] John built a house. 1991)..e. the resultant aspectuality of the predications is calculated compositionally: (3) Mary walked. This is due to the fact that the aspectual meaning of a predication is calculated compositionally: it is given by the aspectual value of the verb in conjunction with the aspectual contribution brought in by the other lexical items present in the sentence.6. Aspectual Recategorization / Shift Aspectual recategorization or aspect shift refers to the process by means of which the aspectual interpretation of a sentence may change and be different from the aspectual class of the verb in the sentence.e. taken from Smith (1991:73).. since situation types are associated with verb constellations (i. Filip 1999. subject and object) and adjuncts (elements that are not either subject or object) (Dowty 1979. Compositionality Another crucial aspectual property of all sentences is that the aspectual interpretation of a sentence is established compositionally (cf.0. The examples in (3). In what follows we analyze several such recategorization processes or aspect shifts brought about by the type of arguments of the verb (i. Rothstein 2004). Smith. -telic] 7. Smith (1991) is that the aspectual feature of the verb may be overridden when combined with other linguistic forms in a sentence. 94 . -telic] walk to the park: V [-telic] + PP [directional] = VP[+event. +telic] build houses: V [+telic] + Nom [mass] = VP [+activity. -telic] walk the dog: V [-telic] + Nom [count] = VP[+activity.

However. The viewpoint of the situation is perfective. John ran last Sunday. The viewpoint of the situation is perfective. b. in the park does not express telicity). Only situation type aspect can shift but not grammatical aspect because only the former is not grammatically encoded. Consider the following examples that contain the activity verb run: (5) a. perfective) (accomplishment. closed situation that does not involve a goal (i. a natural endpoint (signaled by the expression to school). (perfective / event) (imperfective / activity) (perfective / activity) Example (4a) presents an event that has a ‘goal’. The progressive form of the verb indicates that only a partial view of the situation is perceived. c. Mary walked to school.e. 7.2.. John ran to the park..7. Consider the aspectual information conveyed by the following predications: (4) a. As can be noticed aspectual information is given by the linguistic forms of the sentence: situation type is signaled by the verb and other items (i. John ran a mile. c. perfective) Sentence (5a) illustrates the basic aspectual feature if run: it is an activity verb of motion.1. Mary walked in the park. completed at a time prior to ‘now’. when this activity verb of motion occurs with a locative of destination (as in (5b)) or an adverb of extent (as in (5c)) the whole 95 . b.e.. The presence of the progressive marker changes the aspectual interpretation of the verb + to school – the predication becomes an activity predication (i. Example (4b) presents the same situation but it does not convey whether the goal was reached. The situation is described as closed. Example (4c) presents a completed. The whole predication is an activity predication and due to the presence of the simple past tense it is also perfective. he was in the process of going to school). Mary was walking to school. The viewpoint of the situation is imperfective. perfective) (accomplishment. in (4) by the verb and the prepositional groups) while grammatical viewpoint/aspect is signaled by grammatical morphemes.e. (activity.

perfective) In (8b) the direct object of the verb eat is a mass noun (i. Consider the following examples: (10) a. Similarly. (activity) b. John discovered fleas on his dog for (*in) six weeks. sentences that contain event verbs of the achievement type may shift in interpretation function of the type of direct object or subject these achievement verbs occur with. kites). (achievement) b. One of the tests that distinguish between activities and events is their restriction of occurrence with time-span adverbs such as ‘for an hour’ and ‘in an hour’. Activities select ‘for x time’ adverbs while events select ‘in x time’ adverbs: (6) a. (activity. John swam for an hour. However. (accomplishment. (accomplishment. when a sentence contains an event (accomplishment) verb such as eat something or build something and a time-span adverb. (activity. perfective) (9) a. accomplishments). popcorn) and in (9b) the direct object of the verb build is an indefinite plural (i. b. *John swam in an hour. John built kites for (*in) an hour. *John discovered that quaint little village for years. Tourists discovered that quaint little village for years. John built the kite in an hour. John built the kite in an hour. John discovered the buried treasure in his yard in two days.e. 7.predication is interpreted aspectually as an event due to the semantic contribution of the prepositions (i. the aspectual interpretation of the whole sentence depends on the grammatical type of the direct object of the verb (Dawty 1979). (7) a.e.. Consider the contrasts below: (8) a. (activity) (11) a. John ate a bag of popcorn in an hour. perfective) b. John ate popcorn for (*in) an hour. 96 . perfective) b.. *John built the kite for an hour.. b.3. These features of the direct objects shift the aspectual interpretations of the sentences in (8) and (9): from basic accomplishments as in (8a) and (9a) into activities as in (8b) and (9b).e.

*The frogs croaked to the pond. which are aspectually derived accomplishments: (12) a.. it is only one of them that can be ‘fitted’ into the directionmotion construction. So. There are also cases when intransitive activity verbs can occur in transitive resultative constructions. Similarly. b. because aspect is to be considered a complex sentential property” (Verkuyl 1989:40). in (11a) the indefinite plural subject (i. Mary drank John under the table / sick / dizzy. Filip 1999). As Verkuyl remarks “aspect is not a matter settled at the verbal level. although its aspectual contribution is central. Yet. The elevator wheezed to the seventh floor. the conclusion we draw is that the aspectual properties of a predication are decided at the level of the whole sentence and does not depend exclusively on the aspectual class of the verb. aspectual category shifts are not always available. 97 . John’s perpetual discovery of fleas qualifies as an activity not instantaneous achievement. qualifying as accomplishment: (13) a. tourists) of the achievement verb triggers aspectual recategorization of the sentence: since various tourists discovered the little quaint village for years on end these ‘multiple instantaneous discoveries’ shift the interpretation of the sentence into an activity.4. b. and subsequently to the sentence because the nature of the subject appears to be a determinant of aspect as well. the basic idea is that the verb needs to be specified as to its having a specific meaning element engaged in the composition of aspect. the crowd cheered the huge gates open. For instance. At the opening of the new parliament building. but this feature cannot be identified with aspect itself.Sentence (10b) recategorizes as activity predication and it is well formed because John discovered different fleas (not the same flea) for six weeks in a row. However. I propose that aspect be ‘taken away’ from the verb and be assigned to higher levels of sentential structure: first of all to the VP [verbal phrase/group] because this node dominates the verb and the object. In sum. the verbs wheeze and croak are both characterized as ‘sound emission verbs’ which denote activities (Levin and Rappaport 1995.e. 7.

That is.0. These pairings are not always straightforward and may acquire a variety of interpretations. Smith 1991): 98 .All the examples above show that shifts in aspectual situation types are to a large extent systematic and predictable as they are based on the inherent lexical meaning of the verbs and on the properties of the linguistic contextual elements that induce the shift.e. The sections that follow present a detailed analysis of these pairings. Semantically. activity and event situation types conveyed by the constellation of the lexical elements present in the predication co-exist with the grammatical / viewpoint aspect (i. 8. activities and events) as we are going to see below. The Perfective Viewpoint and Aspectual Situation Types Before we proceed with the analysis of aspectual meaning shades of situation types in the perfective aspect we briefly resume the main properties of the perfective aspect. The perfective viewpoint is the dominant viewpoint since it is available with the entire range of situation types (states. perfective aspect is identical in form with the past tense of the verb: (14) Mary talked with her father. the perfective / imperfective aspectual opposition) conveyed by grammatical morphemes. In English. General Characteristics of the Perfective Grammatical / Viewpoint Aspect The presence or absence of grammatical morphemes overtly signals grammatical / viewpoint aspect. state. The temporal schema of the perfective viewpoint is presented in (15) (C. As noticed above. aspectual situation types do not occur independently from grammatical (viewpoint) aspect..1. 8. in language. its temporal structure is characterized by two properties: (i) the situation made visible by the perfective aspect includes both endpoints of the situation and (ii) the situation is not presented as durative.

Activities and Events in the Perfective Aspect In English the perfective viewpoint interacts with all situation types but its span depends on the endpoint properties of situation types. statives in English are compatible with both a closed and an open interpretation.b. activity b. accomplishment c. stative sentences with a perfective viewpoint. There are nevertheless slight differences among these situations function of the endpoint properties of each situation type. States. 8. the ‘stop’ and ‘finish’ tests distinguish between the two types of endpoints. achievement d. The sentence in (16a) presents a terminated eventuality since the activity described qualifies as atelic.c) the situations are presented as closed. depending on 99 . stop kicking the ball) while telic events felicitously occur with ‘finish’ (finish writing the report). The sentences in (16b. Compare: (16) a. Moreover.(15) I………………F /////////////////////// (perfective viewpoint) The slashes indicate the part of the situation that is focused by the perfective viewpoint.2. Informationally. Since stative situation types do not conceptualize endpoints in their temporal schema. states do not standardly occur in the progressive viewpoint). state Pluto chased a car (*and is still chasing it) Susan wrote the report (*and is still writing it) The plane landed (*and is still landing) Sam owned several apple orchards (and he still owns them) Sam owned several apple orchards (but he no longer owns them) In the examples (16a. Atelic predications felicitously occur with ‘stop’ (stop chasing the car. the situation cannot continue after its endpoint.c) present intrinsically completed situations since these events describe telic situation types. The perfective includes both the initial point (I) and the final point (F) of the situation. perfective viewpoint presents situations as ‘closed’ or ‘completed’. illustrated in (16d) are flexible in interpretation (as known. In contrast. in principle.

this reading can be conveyed by conjoining stative sentences with negative present tense sentences. the perfective viewpoint with non-stative situation types makes visible for semantic interpretation the whole situation. 9.. Statives also allow for a closed interpretation i.the context. The progressive viewpoint is felicitous with situation types that are temporally characterized as having internal stages. with no information about its endpoints. Mary was sleeping/running/walking (when I arrived) b.e. the state has ended. 100 .e. On the open reading the state continues into the present and such sentences naturally conjoin with present tense affirmative sentences as the example above indicates. namely activities/processes and accomplishments: (18) a. The English progressive is independently realized as the auxiliary BE plus the present participle of the verb: (17) Mary was talking with her father (when I entered). 9. Informationally. the progressive presents eventualities from an internal perspective. the progressive viewpoint does not linguistically present closed situations.0. The progressive viewpoint makes visible only part of the situation. focusing on the internal stages of non-stative predications.1. before analyzing the shades of meaning of aspectual predication types in the imperfective aspect we first discuss the general characteristics of the English imperfective. General Characteristics of the Imperfective Grammatical / Viewpoint Aspect The English progressive is the imperfective viewpoint pendant found in Romance and other languages. Susan was writing a report/eating an apple/drawing a triangle (when I arrived) c. In sum. *Susan was loving me (when I asked her) Basically. The Imperfective Viewpoint and Aspectual Situation Types As above. sentences in the progressive form are open i.

a state). which may or may not be expressly indicated. in the middle of something. The plane was landing c..e. in English the progressive cannot standardly occur with states (e. “The chief use of the expanded tenses [progressive aspect] is to serve as a frame round something else. Era frumoasă). As we are going to see below. he was.The temporal schema of the progressive proposed by Smith (1991) is offered below: (19) I …… //////////….. the Romance imperfective includes the meaning of the English progressive but it spans much larger intervals. Smith 1991). some achievements can occur in the progressive when the progressive focuses on the preliminary stages of the event as illustrated in (20b. instantaneous achievement predicates cannot occur in the progressive because they do not contain internal stages as illustrated in (20a).g.. 9. denoted by the substantive 101 .g. This is easily understood if we start from the old phrase he was on hunting. Again in principle. some protracted action. busy with hunting’. (20) a. F [+stage] States are disallowed from occurring in the progressive unless they acquire a marked interpretation of dynamism and volition (see the sections below) (Comrie 1976.e. *She was being beautiful) but it does in Romance (e.2.. Jespersen’s (1933) View on the Properties of the English Progressive Jespersen (1933) detected the essential properties of the English progressive by means of analyzing the sentence: He was hunting. engaged in hunting. which meant ‘he was in the course of hunting. *John was finding a penny in the street (when I saw him) b.c). The English progressive is not the exact counterpart of the Romance imperfective. First of all. C. Dahl 1985. as it were.. an activity or an event) and changes it into a homogeneous situation (i. However. John was dying The progressive is viewed as an operator: it operates on nonprogressive sentences that denote a non-stative situation (i.

hunting.. Thus. The progressive itself focuses only on a “framed interval” (i. Essentially. going. The action or state denoted by the expanded tense is thought of as a temporal frame encompassing something else which as often as not is to be understood from the whole situation…”. at five o’clock). the progressive focuses a ‘framed interval’ (i. a-thinking. Thus. this element of relative incompletion is very important if we want to understand the expanded tenses. but was not completed at the time mentioned or implied in the sentence. Here on became phonetically a …. called Reference Time (RT)). Let us take a closer look at these properties.. protracted action (i.e.e. in Jespersen’s view the properties of the progressive are: • • • it shows a durative. If we say he was (on) hunting.e. it is temporary). in isolation. exactly as in other phrases: burst out on laughing. although her making coffee usually lasts longer. etc. agoing. the meaning of the sentence He was hinting is roughly He was hunting (when I saw him). we mean that the hunting (which may be completed now) had begun. a-laughing. set the clock on going. From another point of view we can say that the main clause ‘Susan was making coffee’ (the framing interval) establishes the interval against 102 . Mary was making coffee. this is also the meaning we attribute to a state sentence such as: She was here (when he called me). the action is incomplete. From sentences such as those in (21) we understand that Mary’s making coffee is true at least at the RT (when John came home. laughing/ fall on thinking. The intuition developed by Jespersen is that the progressive situation takes place at an extended “framing interval” (i.. thinking. is informationally incomplete.and a was eventually dropped.e.. even if it is not equally manifest in all cases. Other examples that illustrate the important role played by RT in the understanding of the English progressive are offered below: (21) Mary was making coffee [when John came home]RT [at five o’clock]RT The role of RT is to ‘anchor’ in time the situation described in the progressive clause for a complete temporal understanding of the whole sentence. it is durative). called Event Time (ET)).

4.. 4. As such. This is the ‘incompletion’ property of the progressive. the progressive describes eventualities that are durative / protracted and at the same time ‘temporary’ (i.e. the progressive focuses on internal stages of the eventuality and it excludes initial or final endpoints. RT. cases when a progressive sentence does include a final endpoint and yet the sentence is well formed: (23) a. while I stands for the interval focused on by the progressive. Bennett and Partee’s (1972/1978) Formalization of the Progressive Aspect Bennett & Partee (1972 / 1978) formalize this intuition as in (22): (22) The progressive sentence is true at an interval I just in case there is an interval of time I’ that properly includes I. It is surely uncontroversial that the ‘protracted action’ denoted by a progressive sentence began before the time stated or implied by RT. 5. Kearns. they hold at least at the RT). it does not include endpoints) is more intricate than that. if we associate I’ with the string of numbers 1. Jespersen definition also includes another important intuition. 5.. Proper inclusion refers to the fact that no element from the interval I coincides with the endpoints of the interval I’. 9. However.. John was watching TV when he fell asleep b.e. 6 but not 1 or 7). 3. 2. namely that the ‘protracted action’ denoted by the progressive sentence had begun before the time stated or implied in the sentence (before RT).3. 1991). According to the formalization proposed by Bennett and Partee. (For instance. properly included strings of numbers in I’ are: 2. 7.which the event of ‘John’s coming home’ (the framed interval) is set (cf. 6. John was crossing the street when a truck hit him 103 . i. There are. the main clause is the background against which the foreground information is asserted (when John came home / at five o’clock). the ‘incomplete’ property of the progressive (i. 3. In sum. however. it does not contain an initial endpoint. The interval I’ stands for the extended Event Time (ET) interval.e.

possible worlds.. The Imperfective Paradox (Dowty 1979) This type of sentences are related to another problem raised by the progressive. 9.. Modal operators point to the existence of ‘alternative’ states of affairs. she may have been interrupted and may not have finished crossing the street / building a house. logically imply) the truth of the simple sentences Mary danced / swam / slept / played the violin (i. Consider: (24) Mary was dancing/swimming/sleeping/playing the violin entail (activities) Mary danced/ swam/slept/played the violin (25) Mary was crossing the street/building a house/playing a Mozart sonata (events) do not entail Mary crossed the street/built a house/played a Mozart sonata The progressive activities in (24) entail (i. etc. Possible worlds in which things go in the normal or expected way 104 . Dowty noticed that the truth conditions of the progressive are sensitive to the aspectual situation type of the simple sentence (activity or event). As in (23b) above.It is clear that John stopped watching TV / stopped crossing the street after he fell asleep or after the truck hit him.. It means that we have to formalize the intuition that even though John didn’t cross the street in the actual world. the progressive events in (25) do not entail the truth of the simple sentences Mary crossed the street / built a house / played a Mozart sonata. “the imperfective paradox” (Dowty. respectively (Dowty 1979). That is the “imperfective paradox”: it arises mainly with progressive accomplishment situation type. viz. It looks as if the event/accomplishment described by the progressive in (23b) can remain forever incomplete since the progressive focuses on internal stages but tells us nothing about its endpoints (Portner. 1979).4. possible circumstances (worlds). Dowty’s solution to the “imperfective paradox” is to say that the progressive is not just a temporal relation (i. ET includes RT) but also a modal relation. In contrast.e.. he did cross it in some non-actual. modality involves paying attention to what occurs in non-actual. 2005).e. if Mary was dancing / swimming / sleeping / playing the violin she also danced / swam / slept / played the violin).e. That is.

1979). since in (23b) we want to describe what came out of what John meant to do – cross the street – rather than what he actually did – get killed (cf. 2005). φ stands for the simple nonprogressive form of the sentence. Progressive accomplishments such as ‘Mary was crossing the street / building a house / playing a Mozart sonata’ entail the truth of the simple sentences ‘Mary crossed the street / built a house / played a Mozart sonata’ in some possible world. Since there are many possible worlds. I’ extends into some ‘possible futures/worlds’ of I and φ is true at I’. This is useful as a theoretical notion. PROG is viewed as an operator: it operates on non-progressive sentences that denote a basic non-stative situation types (activities and events) and changes them into 105 . Notice that the actual world is a world in which things may go in the normal or expected way (as in the situation in which Mary may have finished crossing the street/building a house/playing a Mozart sonata in the actual world). How does Dowty solve the “imperfective paradox” of both activities and accomplishments in terms of the entailment relations stated above? He does it in the following way. Portner. I’ ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ [ ←⎯⎯⎯⎯→ I [ ] In the truth conditions stated in (26). time is no longer linear but branching. in Dowty’s system. the truth conditions for both progressive activities and progressive accomplishments formulated by Dowty are: (26) PROG φ is true at an interval I if there is an interval I’ including I [and I is not a final subinterval for I’]. Progressive activities such as ‘Mary was dancing / swimming / sleeping / playing the violin’ entail the truth of the simple sentences ‘Mary danced / swam / slept / played the violin’ in the actual world.are called “inertia worlds” (Dowty. Thus. out of which the actual world is an option.

John is a hero. be afraid. be widespread. Consider the contrasts below: 106 . This property holds independently of whether at a given moment of time (and place) John does not prove to be intelligent. be blonde. be green.1. In the examples below the state describes a ‘characteristic property’ of the subject John. States are described as having an abstract quality and an atemporal interpretation. State predicates. This means that in order for a situation to be unfolding at interval I the situation must have started before I (i. the first part of the above definition in (26) states that at interval I (a limited interval) the progressive sentence is true on condition that φ (‘John watch TV’ / ‘John cross the street’) is true at I’. be erudite. state predicates that denote transitory properties of the subject can occur in the progressive (e.e. out of which the actual world is an option. prototypical examples are be scared. at I’).0.g. Dowty’s truth conditions captures all the properties of the progressive noticed by Jespersen (1933). states). John is intelligent. 10. state predicates of this type do not have the property of ‘agency’ (i.e. be available).2. In general. they may finish in the actual world or in some possible world. The second part of the truth conditions roughly corresponds to Jespersen’s notion of ‘relative incompletion’ and accounts especially for the entailments/inferences of accomplishment predicates: the event denoted by the progressive may ‘finish/culminate’ in one of the ‘possible worlds/futures’. States in the Progressive Aspect 10. John is a nice person.e. However. Other examples of state predicates that describe characterristic/inherent properties of the subject are be tall. b. c. Thus. which are characterized as [+stative] are incompatible with the progressive.homogeneous eventualities (i. a nice person or a hero: (27) a.. 10.. in the state predications in (27) John is not the doer of any action) and do not occur in the progressive.

This interpretation allows the use of the progressive with these state predicates and they are described as temporary. they may occur in activity. rest. hence the maintaining of the position requires will or dynamism. Mary is a naughty child. the eventuality is viewed as containing some processual stages/phases (Parsons 1990). They may occur with either agentive or non-agentive subjects. Mary was standing in the doorway (process in progress) when the phone rang. a. remain. rest. perch. (state) When interpreted as accomplishments or activities as illustrated in (29) and (30). In other words. 10. (characteristic property of the individual William) (temporary property. In all the (b) sentences the interpretation is that the subject deliberately or intentionally acts in the way described by the predicative adjective or noun. (process in progress) (30) a. depending on the context. a. William is being a hero. Hence. b. Mary stood in the doorway. 107 . Mary sat down (suddenly) on the chair. b. (activity) a’. Mary is being naughty. these predicates focus on the position or location of an agent. Harry is clumsy. valid only over the interval stated by the progressive) All the sentences in (28a) describe a rather permanent property ascribed to an individual. Harry is being clumsy. (31) a. sprawl. live etc. stand. Locative and position verbs are a sub-class of state predicates that have been characterized as ‘interval statives’ as they hold for an interval larger than a moment (Dowty 1979). The statue stood in the corner.(28) a. Prototypical examples are predicates like lie. sit.3. William is a hero. (accomplishment or achievement) a’ Mary was sitting down when I came in. accomplishment/achievement or state predications: (29) a. b.

The socks are lying under the bed. ??Two trees were standing in the field. Consider some further examples (Dowty 1979): (32) a. b. The examples in (32) show that state verbs of position and location with inanimate subjects can appear either in the simple form of the tense or in the progressive form of the tense. cannot occupy a temporary position or have a temporary location. etc. When these verbs describe relatively permanent states of the subject they occur in the simple form of the tense as illustrated in (32a) sentences. 108 . The rug covers the floor. b. After the storm only two trees were still standing in the field. b. a house. That argument rests / *is resting on an invalid assumption. otherwise the progressive cannot be used. The magazine is lying on the table. b. Compare: (34) a. when they describe relatively temporary states of the subjects they occur in the progressive as illustrated in (32b) sentences. Moreover. Consider the following examples and contrast them with those in (32): (33) a. New Orleans lies / *is lying at the mouth of the Mississippi River. c. The magazine lies on the table. John’s house sits / *is sitting at the top of the hill. a. The rug is covering the floor. a. Dowty (1979) also remarks that the acceptability of the progressive with these verbs may also depend on the context. The socks lie under the bed.Under this interpretation these verbs can occur in the progressive and they focus on a process in progress at a given reference time. An immovable object such as a city. b. there is a further semantic restriction with respect to the use of these verbs in the progressive: the subject of the sentence must not designate a movable object. As the example in (31) illustrates state verbs of position and location can also occur with non-agentive/inanimate subjects.

It was raining heavily when she arrived home. RT). They naturally occur in the progressive and the internal stages/intervals of a process predication are always anchored contextually.Moreover. This time last year I was traveling through Europe. Consider the following examples: 109 . (a flood in progress) 11. The moving observer perceives the stationary objects as being ‘temporarily’ taken into sight: (35) When you enter the gate to the park there will be a statue standing on your right. Processes have been described as being made up of internal stages.. In (37) the process is in progress and it is true at least at the anchorage time (i. (a fact of geography) b. c. and a small pond will be lying directly in front of you. We are traveling now for amusement and instruction. Activities / Processes in the Progressive Aspect 11. Processes are homogeneous and atelic situations. They cannot be used in the progressive when they describe a relatively permanent state or property: (36) a. The river was flowing through the center of the village. in narrative contexts the progressive of these verbs can also be used to describe stationary objects that momentarily come into the observer’s view. The river flows through the center of the village.e. The time of the progressive is said to be definite (Kearns 1999).1. b. Their endpoints are arbitrary. There are cases when the interval of time denoted by a durational adverb is not felt to be shorter than the full progressive situation. (37) a. Motion verbs like flow. run and enter can also be used in the progressive aspect (but not entailing literal motion).2. In the examples below the temporal anchorage is provided by the when-clause or by pure temporal adverbs. 11.0.

(38) a. All through dinner they were talking of nothing else but the match. b. I was knitting for two hours this morning. c. The band was playing, the flags were fluttering and the crowd was cheering as the players ran onto the field. d. Mary was sleeping when I was working. e. They were watching television while we were working. The sentences above describe a situation in which the main clause in the progressive is simultaneous with the event in the subordinate clause (or with the time interval stated by the durational adverb). Durational adverbs like for x time, all morning, etc. are not very common with the past/present progressive, being a survival from an earlier stage of the language. Mittwoch (1988) remarks that we can still find the progressive used with vague or hyperbolic durationals as in (39): (39) a. You were talking on the phone for hours. b. They were working on that project for ages. Leech (1971) described the examples in (39) as containing an element of colloquial hyperbole or exaggeration, their tone being one of amusement or irritation. They are similar in interpretation with the sentences in (40) which contain hyperbolic durationals such as always, forever or constantly: (40) a. My father was forever getting into trouble with the law. b. He is always complaining about money. c. She is always breaking things. d. My car is constantly breaking down. 12.0. Events in the Progressive Aspect 12.1. Event predications (i.e., accomplishments and achievements) are described as telic eventualities. They involve a product, upshot or outcome, which is a definite change of state. With accomplishment predications the change of state is preceded by some activity/process: it is the activity/process that can occur in the progressive. Therefore, accomplishments are complex events. An accomplishment hides a causal structure of type [e1 causes e2] where e1 is the causing activity and e2 is the resulting change of state. In the
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progressive, accomplishments are conceptualized eventualities. Consider the following examples:

are

‘durative’

(41) a. The river was cutting a new channel to the sea, but the men with the sandbags stopped it from doing so. b. Maybe she is making a Spanish omelet. c. Within a stone’s throw of my house they are building another house. All the sentences above contain accomplishment predications that undergo a change of aspectual class due to the presence of the progressive operator: they shift into process predications that are unfolding in time at the a given reference time, the reaching of their goal being ‘suspended’. 12.2. Achievement predications, the other subclass of events, denote eventualities that take place at single moments of time. They are instantaneous events that have no proper internal parts (phases); hence the progressive cannot be applied to them. Achievements focus on the change of state, simply leaving out the causing activity / process and the causing factor: (42) a. My father died. b. My father died (from his wounds in the end). There are however several classes of achievement verbs that can occur in the progressive but they acquire distinct aspectual interpretations. First, we distinguish between the two subtypes illustrated below: (43) a. The plane was landing when the storm started. b. John was dying when the doctors operated on him and saved his life. c. Mary was winning the race when she stumbled and fell. d. He was falling asleep when he heard a noise in the garden. (44) a. We are constantly receiving letters of appreciation. b. New guests were continually arriving. c. He’s been discovering fleas on his dog all morning /*John is discovering a flea. The examples in (43) have already been discussed: in this case, the progressive focuses on the preliminary stages of the actual change of state, rather than on the internal stages of the achievement predicate, as it
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has none. This ‘process’ must be a kind of immediate ‘prelude’ to a certain ‘outcome’ (Kearns 1991). Freed (1979) and Kearns (1991) characterize these achievements in the progressive as ‘derived processes’. In the second set of examples we have to do with achievement verbs iterated in series. The progressive picks out only a subset of the series of events. In the progressive, these achievement verbs are recategorized as processes due also to the cumulative subjects and objects. 12.3. There is finally another group of achievement verbs that can occur in the progressive. They form the so-called ‘degree-achievements’ (e.g., melt, widen, cool, age, sink, rise, fall) and belong to the class of ‘vague predicates’ (Dowty, 1979). Semantically these predicates express changes of state just like other achievements do but different from standard achievements they allow durational adverbs: (45) a. The soup cooled for ten minutes / in ten minutes. b. The ship sank for an hour (before going under completely) / in an hour. c. John aged forty years during that experience. Such predicates are highly compatible with the progressive and in this case they qualify as processes in progress at a given reference point (Smith 1991). (46) a. They are widening the road. b. The tobacco leaves are drying in the sun. These types of predicates refer to situations of gradual change (Dowty 1979).

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7. THE CATEGORY OF TENSE

1.0. General Remarks The category of tense is a functional category of the lexical category verb alongside the categories of aspect and mood. It is signaled by inflectional markers either on the verb itself (e.g., walked) or on the auxiliary verb (e.g., will walk). As we are going to see, beside tense inflections marked on the verb, temporal adverbs as well contribute to the temporal specification of sentences. Tense represents the chronological order of events as perceived by the speaker at the moment of speaking. That is, tense is fundamentally a deictic category as the chronology of events (i.e., their order in time) is always established function of the moment ‘now’ of the speaking ego (i.e., events are present, past or future). 1.1. The Notion of Axis of Orientation At an intuitive level, the speaker is able to place a perceived event in time because he sets it in relation with another event with respect to which the perceived event occurs either before, after or is simultaneous with the other event. An event that serves as orientation event for other events is a ‘source event’ and it is said that it creates ‘an axis of orientation’. There are many kinds of events that serve as ‘source events’ for human beings. For instance, natural cosmic phenomena can serve as source events for public axes of orientation (e.g., the sunrise, the sunset, the nightfall, the stages of the moon). Perceived events can be ordered relative to them: some events occur at sunrise, before sunset or after nightfall. In a similar
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they occur after it) relative to the moment ‘now’ of the speaker. the outbreak of a war.g. which is the moment of initiating a discourse creates the present axis of orientation. private events such as a marriage. The present axis of orientation. A past moment in time is another source event and it creates the past axis of orientation (e. The tenses that serve as source event form the class of absolute tenses (in English. the birth of a child or the death of somebody dear can serve as source events for axes of orientation recognized by the members of the group. an earthquake. By the same reasoning a future event in time can become a source event and other events can be simultaneous with this future event.e. will leave. For example the birth of Christ is the source event for the Gregorian calendar. etc.. Cultural events are also used to play a similar role: the birth of a famous person. can occur before it or after it. may serve as source events for public axes of orientation. However. the past axis of orientation and the future axis of orientation are the basic axes of orientation in grammar. the future event creates the future axis of orientation (e. the present moment is a fleeting moment and as soon as it has been established it inevitably undergoes the change into a past moment: it becomes a past moment of time with respect to which other events are simultaneous with. The moment of speech of the speaking ego serves as source event in grammar. past (i. the 12 points on the face of the clock serve the same role: an event may occur at 5 p. The present moment ‘now’. left.m. the present tense. the flight of Mohammed from Mecca (AD 622) is the source event for the Moslem calendar. would leave).g. they occur simultaneous with it). In this case. The moment of speech ‘locates’ the speaker in time and other events are present (i. At the level of restricted groups.. 114 .way. a catastrophic flood.. occur before it or after it.e. etc... had left..m. they occur before it) or future (i. will have left). before or after 5 p.e. the past tense and the future tense) while all the other tenses are relative tenses. From this description of source events that create various axes of orientation it follows that there are two order relationships between an event and a source event on an axis of orientation: the event is either simultaneous with the source event or the event is sequential to it..

ET is calculated by taking into account the information brought in by the past tense of the sentence in conjunction with the past temporal value of the adverb last week. In what follows we describe the tense theory proposed by the logician Hans Reichenbach in 1947. Reichenbach’s tense theory takes three temporal entities as basic viz.0. On the other hand. Reichenbach does not explicitly define RT. The Notions of Speech Time.. It is calculated by taking into account the 115 . speech time (ST). However. reference time (RT) and event time (ET). languages do not grammaticalize time in the same way: for one thing. it can be intuitively characterized as standing for the temporal axis (present. i. the moment of utterance/speech. The relation between these two temporal notions is written as ET < ST (the sign < indicates that ET occurs before ST and the point of this sign indicates the temporal entity that temporally precedes the other temporal notion). Event Time is the moment at which the relevant event or state occurs.However. Reference Time and Event Time Reichenbach’s tense theory characterizes all tenses in terms of three basic constitutive temporal entities and as we are going to see below the relations between them define both tense and aspect. 2.. ST is now. Let us calculate the temporal interpretation of the following sentence. past or future) specified in the sentence. Speech Time is the time at which a certain sentence is uttered. These primitive temporal notions are characterized as following. the number of tenses in natural languages varies and the grammaticalized tenses do not have exactly the same values in all languages.e. The question is what primitive/basic elements make up a tense and how a grammar of tense can be devised. we have seen that Aspect is tightly related to Tense as Aspect is also defined in terms of temporal structure. which with minor modifications is the most widely accepted theory of tense in present day linguistics. taking into account two of the temporal notions defined above (namely ST and ET): (1) Mary won the prize last week.

temporal information brought in by the tense of the sentence and by the information of the temporal adverb. RT is the key notion of Reichenbach’s system. we understand that the past event of Mary’s having already won the prize (ET) occurred in the past prior to something else. ET is taken as unspecified as we do not know precisely when it took place in the period of last week. Each tense appears represented as a complex configuration with a characteristic structure whose elements are ST. For instance. without it the temporal specification of perfect sentences cannot be calculated. without which we do not understand the sentence from a temporal point of view. Thus.. ET and RT are taken to be simultaneous (i.e. RT = ET). RT < ST ET = had. which is also past. Indeed. RT and ET to be time moments or time intervals on the time line and tenses are viewed as means of representing events vis-à-vis the moment of speech (Hornstein. RT and ET concatenated by the relations of simultaneity and sequence. The overall interpretation of sentence (1) above is: (1’) ST = now RT < ST ET = RT It can be noticed that Reichenbach’s tense grammar takes ST. Let us take some more examples and see how the proposed theory handles them: (3) Mary is leaving tomorrow. Thus. The event predicated of in sentence (2) is past as it was in sentence (1) but this time. Consider the following example: (2) Mary had already won the prize last week. RT signals this ‘something else’. the temporal specification of the sentence is: ST = now RT = past. 1982). already with respect to RT. in sentence (1) above. 116 . ET < RT It is important to emphasize that the temporal notion of RT has been generalized and enters the calculation of the all sentences.

The ET.ST is now. the time when the cake was decorated. after now (RT > ST. The overall interpretation of sentence (3) is: ST = now ST < RT ET = RT Notice that the tree temporal notions ST. RT is future. is equivalent to ST < RT. the tense form and the temporal adverb point to a time after ST that is. The overall representation of sentence (4) is: ST = now RT = past. which relative to now is past (RT < ST). RT is specified by the tense and by the temporal adverb midnight. i. cf. ET is situated before RT. The ET is left unspecified. in his system the formula of the future tense is RT > ST. 2004)). ST is now. since RT is the key notion in Reichenbach’s tense theory it is RT not ST that is first written in a formula. (In present day tense theories the formula ST < RT is in use (cf. is specified by the preposition before. Demirdache and Etxebarria (2002. This formula. although counterintuitive.e.. that is. In fact. we do not know when the event is scheduled to take place (represented by the formula ET = RT). ET < RT Consider also sentence (5) below where the speaker at now anticipates two events in the future: (5) John will have eaten the cake (by the time you come). on the future axis of orientation (ST < RT). However. The overall interpretation of sentence (5) is: 117 . in Reichenbach’s system) while ET is before the future RT (ET < RT). RT and ET enter temporal calculation in this precise order. ST is now. Consider now the analysis of sentence (4): (4) Joan decorated the cake before midnight. RT < ST ET = before RT. In sentence (4).

the relations holding between ST. past: ST after RT and future: ST before RT). RT = ST ET < RT The above examples point to the very important role ST. RT and ET play in the interpretation of both tense and aspect in a sentence. in English. this expectation is not borne out and “speakers deal with incomplete sentences in a strikingly consistent manner” (Smith. We expect such sentences to be temporally vague and liable to many interpretations. In sum. On the other hand. ET < RT Consider finally the temporal interpretation of the sentence in (6): (6) Bill has met her before. the relations that hold between ST and RT instantiate tense (present: ST simultaneous with RT. an implied now). the relations that hold between RT and ET instantiate aspect (perfective aspect: RT coincides with ET. In fact.ST = now RT > ST ET = before RT. The above examples also clearly illustrate the importance of the temporal values of temporal adverbs in the correct interpretation of a sentence. This is a very welcome result of Reichenbach’s theory as it is clear that tense and aspect are both present and interfere in a sentence. it is known that not all sentences occur with temporal adverbs in everyday speech.. However. The temporal and aspectual formulae presented above form what we call the Abstract Temporal Representation of a sentence (ATR). Yet. RT and ET render both tense and aspect as both tense and aspect are temporal notions. while ET is anterior to now as indicated by have.e. ST is now. 1977:270). progressive aspect: RT is included in ET (is ‘within’ ET). Consider the following examples whose interpretation in isolation is given by the ATRs to the right: 118 . RT is present (i. The overall interpretation of the sentence in (6) is: ST = now RT = present.

Importantly. 1978). etc. Duration adverbs have been defined as: – they indicate the duration of the described event by specifying the length of time that is asserted to take (Bennett & Hall Partee.(7) John played the piano. at night. This is so because. duration adverbs c. Duration Adverbs Duration adverbs include expressions like for three weeks/a month/a day. through August. temporal adverbs also contribute to the aspectual interpretation of sentences. over the weekend. frequency adverbs.1. always. since the war/Christmas. [RT < ST.0. permanently. 3. completive adverbs or containers d. in general. all day/night long. requiring compatibility with the situation type. 3. ET = RT] Although in sentences (7) and (8) the relation between ET and RT is not given they are readily interpreted as past tense sentences rather than past habituals. Together with Tense. 119 .1978) and Smith (1978). we discuss the temporal adverbs of duration and completive adverbs because these types of adverbs also have an aspectual value.1. throughout. from June to/till October. during the war. Temporal adverbs fall into the following classes: a. The classification we adopt has been standardly recognized since Bennett and Hall-Partee (1972. half the afternoon. Smith. all the time. a reading also available in these sentences. locating adverbs or frame adverbs b. for a while. (8) Cousin Judith fed the cat. 1977). temporal adverbs help us locate in time the situations talked about. ET = RT] [RT < ST. First. all day long. all the afternoon. The General Classification of Temporal Adverbs and Their Temporal Specification 3. for hours. a few days. we maximize the amount of information present at our disposal and a specific reading is usually chosen if it is plausible (cf.

which receives a marked interpretation. Instantaneous telic eventualities with durative adverbs (as in (10c)) and durative telic verb eventualities (as in (10a. Whenever the situation type features and the adverbial features are compatible. John knocked on the door for two hours. (?) John wrote a/the report for two hours. However.– they express measures of time that are not specifically confined to future or past (Quirk. That is.d)) there is a clash between the aspectual properties of the situation type and the aspectual properties of the adverbs. Jerry wrote a report for two hours. 1991) The definitions above suggest that duration adverbs have aspectual value: they are compatible with atelic sentences and odd with telics. Andrew swam for three hours. duration adverbs are sensitive to the aspectual character of the eventuality description they combine with.b)) is to locate an eventuality within the stated interval. b. c. the standard interpretation of the adverb is to locate the situation within the stated interval.b)) are reinterpreted as atelic / durative in the context of duration adverbs: (10) a. (atelic) (atelic) (telic) (telic) The role of a single duration adverb with atelic situation types (as indicated in (9a. I read a book for a few minutes. there are cases when telic events can occur with duration adverbs. b. d. Susan was asleep for two hours. They are restricted to occurring with homogeneous eventualities / situations (processes and states) as the examples below indicate: (9) a. De Swart (1998) building on ideas developed by Moens (1987) assumes that the contextual reinterpretation is made possible by the process called aspectual coercion. *The train arrived late for 2 hours. 1985) – they contribute to the location of a situation in time (Smith. The interpretation of the sentences above is that the situation denoted by the verb lasts at least as long as the denotation of the durative adverb. c. Such clashes are possibly resolved by a shift in the value of the verb constellation. Whenever telic events occur in the context of duration adverbs (as in (9c. 120 .

To date the event in the present perfect. the Romanian de-phrase is a dating/definite adverbial as it establishes the ET of the predication and measures its result state. The sentence in (10c) receives an iterative reading (paraphrased as ‘John knocked repetitively on the door for two hours’ such that the instantaneous telic eventuality is interpreted as ‘durative’).b) the events of book reading and report writing are coerced into processes (paraphrased as ‘I read from a book for a few minutes’ and ‘Jerry wrote at the report for two hours without finishing it). (Anagnastopoulou. The Romanian equivalent of (11c) is Ion s-a mutat la Paris de vara trecută. distinct from the Romanian de-phrase by which it is translated.In (10a. since measures the entire time span of both homogeneous (states and activities) and non-homogeneous (events) eventualities and it occurs exclusively with the present perfect tense: (11) a. namely in the fall of 1993. English makes use of another adverb as in (12): (12) Since 1991 I have been to Cape Cod only once. Sentence (11c) means that John’s moving to Paris lies somewhere within the period from last summer to the time of utterance. Thus. John has moved to Paris since summer. b. It means that John moved to Paris last summer and he has been there ever since. different from since. As its name shows. Remark: The English since adverb is an indefinite one. 121 . John has sung since 3 o’clock. Both sentences (11a) and (11b) mean that John arrived sometime around 3 o’clock and has been here ever since or that he began singing around 3 o’clock and has been singing ever since. c. Iatridou and Izvorski 1998) The other duration adverbs mentioned in the list above are not sensitive to the aspectual feature of the eventuality and occur with both homogeneous and non-homogeneous eventualities. and has a different interpretation. John has been here since 3 o’clock. The other duration adverb in English that evinces sensitivity to the aspectual make-up of the situation type is the since adverb.

Specifically. 3. on Sundays. in five minutes.3.d) are ill-formed. whenever. *Mary believed in ghosts in an hour. d. every week/month/year. The situation talked about in the sentence 122 . Samuel cycles to work most days/every day. b. The assumption then. iteration: (14) a.3. daily. 3. Mary wrote a sonnet in ten minutes. never. which as a whole make a state of the habitual type. etc. Completives denote an interval within which the situation occurred or took place and they are well formed with events. once a week. they indicate the recurrent pattern of situations within the reference interval.2. Examples of frequency adverbials are frequently. Aspectually. The atelic situations in (13c. within two months. 1978). Their role is to locate a situation/eventuality at an interval during which the event is completed/culminates.4. Locating Adverbs (or Frame Adverbs) This type of adverbs contributes to the specification of RT and ET. b. *Bill swam laps in an hour. completive adverbs are telic. The examples below confirm this assumption (Smith 1991): (13) a. c. Such sentences express a series of individual events. sometimes. The adverbial expression of frequency reinforces the notion of repetition. We always/often went to the mountains in wintertime. monthly. As the name ‘frame adverb’ indicates they refer to ‘an interval of time within which the described action is asserted to have taken place’ (Bennett & Hall Partee. often. seldom. John drew a circle in five seconds. Frequency Adverbs Frequency adverbs also give information that contributes to the temporal location of a situation (Smith 1991). Completive Adverbs Completive adverbs are also known as containers (or adverbs of the interval (Smith 1991) and include expressions like in 2 hours. is that they are compatible with telic eventualities and odd with atelics. usually.

on Christmas. etc. According to the time of orientation they indicate we can distinguish three subclasses: (i) Deictic adverbs: which are oriented to the time of utterance. and just like tense they mirror the three possible temporal relations: simultaneity. in 1997. frame adverbs require an orientation point. Frame adverbs have the role ‘to locate situations in time by relating them to other times or to other situations’ (Smith. (iii) Referential adverbs which refer to a time established by clock or calendar (Smith. etc. 1971) and actual being at now. Deictic adverbs are ‘anchored’ adverbs. the day after tomorrow. in March. 4. Time adverbs that are explicitly related to the time of utterance are known as ‘anchored’ adverbs. in the evening. which is ST but most of them give only the ‘maximal boundaries’ of the time span(s) in question (Klein. such as at six. As can be noticed.e. two years later. 1978).fills all or part of the time specified by the adverb (Smith. 1991). August 19. before. etc. General Properties of the English Simple Present Tense The Present Tense is essentially a deictic tense (i. 1978) such as until. all adverbs in this class refer to some specific time (span) that is related to some other specific time. last week. In this case too. It enjoys both psychological being at the present moment (Leech. at lunchtime.. Such adverbs are represented by the following expressions: now.e. already. 123 . early. till. on Sunday. Temporal Values of the Main Tenses in English 4. tomorrow.0. tonight. next week. they are not anchored to the utterance time and their interpretation is made possible by an orientation point other than the time of utterance. this week / year. today. at night. The last two classes are known as being ‘unanchored’ i. last Sunday. we have to do only with the ‘maximal boundary’ of the time span in question. a week ago.1. 1992). Just like Tense. in three days. 1991). anteriority and posteriority. it is always oriented to the moment of speech and the speaking ego). (ii) Anaphoric adverbs include time expressions that ‘relate to a previously established time’ (Smith.

(state) (accomplishment) (activity) (achievement) (state) (accomplishment) (activity) (achievement) The state predications in (15. its ATR is [RT = ST. From the very start it is important to notice a peculiarity of the English present tense: predicates belonging to the accomplishment and activity classes do not allow a continuous. ongoing / imperfective interpretation of the present tense (Giorgi and Pianesi 1997). Again. present tense sentences. 16’) and the activity predications in (17. activity or event). (16’) Ion mănâncă un măr.1. 4. an activity and an achievement predicate in the simple present tense in English and Romanian: (15) John loves Mary. The English accomplishment predication in (16) does not mean that John is presently engaged in an ongoing activity of eating an apple as it does in Romanian (see the accomplishment predication in (16’)). The present tense is incompatible with perfectivity. (17) John runs. (15’) Ion o iubeşte pe Maria.Informationally. (18) *John finds a book. the English activity predication in (17) does not mean that John is presently engaged in the activity of running as it does in Romanian (see 124 . Thus. (16) John eats an apple. (17’) Ion aleargă. a present tense sentence can not include the endpoints of the situation. must be states (Smith. This is in sharp contrast with the other Germanic languages or Romance languages. There are no interpretative differences between English and Romanian. Consider the following examples that contain a state. 15’) in the simple present tense mean that a certain state holds of the subject at ST. The accomplishment predications in (16. it means that John is an apple-eater. 1991). 18’) are ill formed in both languages. irrespective of the situation type (state. In Reichenbachian terms. an accomplishment. The achievement predications in (18.1. In English. ET = RT]. 17’) receive sharply distinct interpretations in the two languages under study. (18’) *Ion găseşte o carte.

1. ST. The sentences in (16. Interestingly. Italian. Italian.. In German. In order to obtain the continuous reading in English the progressive must be used: (19) John is eating an apple. they mean that at ST a complete event of eating an apple or a complete action of running have been performed) and their time is not directly related to the ST of the speaker. Giorgi and Pianesi (1997) state the following universal principle valid for ST: 125 . can be conceptualized as punctual. German. 16’) and (17.the activity predication in (17’)). present tense accomplishment and activity predications can express habituality and genericity (see below for more details): (21) John eats an apple every day.2. 17’) can also be used as commentary on a picture or a movie or when uttered by a radio commentator (see below for more details). a. Romanian and English the eventualities are described as perfective (i. b. English too admits this interpretation of the simple present tense. 4. it means that John is a runner. Intuitively. (habitual reading) (generic reading) In what follows we try to find a principled explanation for the sharp contrast between the English present tense and the present tense in other languages as evinced by accomplishment sentences (16 and 16’) and activity sentences (17 and 17’). As already argued. English is not different from other Germanic or Romance languages as far as the other possible interpretations of accomplishment and activity predications are concerned. the temporal interpretation of a sentence involves the anchoring of the event denoted by the verb to the ST. functioning as an anchoring point for the sentence. The punctuality of the ST amounts to its being devoid of internal structure. In English and other languages. (22) Dogs bark. Romanian and other languages admit the so-called instantaneous or reportive reading of accomplishments and activities in the present tense. (20) John is running. In English.e.

in English (and Romanian) only activities and accomplishments undergo the progressive test and prove to have internal structure. they can’t occur in the progressive (in neither language). which has no internal structure).(23) The anchoring event ST is punctual. the incompatibility is signaled by the presence of the deictic acum). Galton (1984). in principle. 126 . It is known that accomplishment and activity predicates do have internal structure. We conclude that only eventualities that are either processes or contain a processual part have internal structure (and occur in the English progressive). The most common test to detect whether an eventuality has internal structure (i. which should be compatible with the punctuality of the ST (the internal structure of accomplishment and activity predicates could include the punctual ST..e. States have internal stages but they are temporally undifferentiated. Consider: (24) *John is loving Mary * Ion o iubeşte pe Maria acum (25) John is running Ion aleargă (26) John is eating an apple Ion mănâncă un măr (27) *John is winning a race *Ion câştigă o cursă (state) (on the intended reading) (activity) (accomplishment) (achievement) As can be noticed. let us consider in more details the accomplishment and activity predicates. those that do not occur in the progressive do not have an internal structure. they are all the same and states can’t occur in the progressive. All eventualities that can occur in the progressive evolve in time and have internal structure. (In Romanian the sentence is still ill formed but Romanian has no morphologically marked progressive aspect. Haeksema (1984)). Achievements have only one internal stage and. is a process or has a processual part) is ‘the progressive criterion’ (Mourelatos (1978). In view of this universal principle that characterizes ST.

verbs are always complex words. all activity / accomplishment predicates in English are closed / perfective eventualities. 4.e.. a visa / vis. 127 . consisting of a lexical morpheme plus inflection and the verbal inflection is distinct from the nominal one (e. it can be the 1st. a dansa / dans). dress. 1993). Giorgi and Pianesi (1997) argue that the [+perf] feature on the English verb helps to identify the verb as a lexical category (i. such as dream. Giorgi and Pianesi (1997) notice that English verbs are well-formed words even without the addition of any inflectional morphology (see also Roberts. The big difference between the English simple present tense and the simple present tense in other languages lies in the morphological properties of the English verb.3. the 2nd person singular. For instance. the ongoing interpretation of activity and accomplishment predicates is obtained only when these predicates occur in the present progressive form. In other words. This is not the case in Romanian (and other Germanic and Romance languages) where eventive predicates are not closed and hence can be mapped on the punctual ST. verb). the 2nd or the 3rd person plural. The [+perfective] feature on a verbal form entails perfectivity. fall.The above facts show that Romanian eventualities that have internal structure (activities.. In English. In Romanian and other languages. Many English words are even categorially ambiguous in that they can either identify ‘an object’ or ‘an action’. Giorgi and Pianesi (1997) hypothesize that English associates the aspectual value [+perfective] to all eventive predicates. etc. it can be the 1st. On the [+Perfective] Feature of English Simple Present Tense In this section we consider a possible explanation of the impossibility of English simple present tense eventive verbs to have a continuous/on-going interpretation (which contrasts with Romanian and other Germanic languages). accomplishments) can be simultaneous with ST (which has no internal structure/is punctual but is included in their time span) and an imperfective / ongoing interpretation is obtained. a word such as eat is ‘a naked’ form and can express one of the following verbal values: it can be a short infinitive. If these predicates are closed they cannot be interpreted as simultaneous with the punctual ST. want.g. dance.

1. 1997). perception verbs take as their complements either the ‘naked’ form (Acc + short infinitive) or the Acc + ing. John saw Mary eat an apple. (generic reading) (34) Dogs bark. The complement verb in (28b) refers to a non-closed event – we do not infer that the apple was eventually eaten. which invites to a non-closed/ongoing interpretation: (29) Ion a văzut-o pe Maria mâncând/*a mânca un măr In sum. 128 . Consider: (28) a.Additional evidence in favour of the idea that English verbs denote closed events comes from perceptual reports (Giorgi and Pianesi. In English. b. in English and other languages.4. Note that in Romanian. The ‘naked’ form allows only the perfective reading (we infer that Mary ate the whole apple).4. John saw Mary eating an apple. (33) John smocks cigars. Generic sentences do not occur with frequency adverbs but implicitly contain the adverb always as in (33) and (34). present tense accomplishment and activity predications can express habituality and genericity: (31) John eats an apple every day. Generic and Habitual Sentences in the Simple Present Tense As mentioned above. Other Values/Uses of the Simple Present Tense 4. (habitual reading) (32) John goes to the cinema twice a week. This property of the English eventive predicates is captured by what Giorgi and Pianesi call the ‘Punctuality Constraint’: (30) A closed event cannot be simultaneous with a punctual event 4. Habitual sentences explicitly contain a frequency adverb that conveys the meaning of repetitivity as in (31) and (32). the only corresponding form to the two possibilities in (28) is with an embedded ‘gerunziu’. present tense English activity and accomplishment predicates denote closed / perfective events that cannot be simultaneous with the punctual ST.

As a matter of fact. when the audience can see what is happening. become open informationally and are interpreted as states. 4. The instantaneous use of the simple present tense occurs only with events (not with states) in certain easily definable contexts: ---in sports commentaries on the radio where the commentator is reporting something that the listeners cannot see: (35) Napier takes the ball and runs down the wing. the demonstrator is reporting the activity performed as perfected at the moment now. which by means of iterativity. are perfective/closed can be states in habituals and generics. the acceptability of habituals and generics in the present tense is due to the fact that the conflict between the punctuality of the ST and the closure of the event denoted by the predicate does not arise. he shoots. Once again. More often than not.2. Thus. Attwater beats two men.4. The question that arises now is why present tense activities and accomplishments. a habitual/generic sentence only requires that ST be a temporal part of the interval where the habitual/generic sentence holds. along the present axis of orientation. The Instantaneous Use of the Simple Present Tense This use of the present tense portrays an event that looks simultaneous with the present moment now although the event (which has intrinsic duration) is treated as perfective. According to Giorgi and Pianesi (1997). It’s a goal! ---it is used in demonstrations. this use of the present tense acquires a dramatic value and its duration is ‘telescoped’ to a point. He passes the ball to Attwater. This is because habituals and generics are understood as asserting the occurrence of a series of events that includes the ST.Both habitual sentences and generic sentences predicate of states of affairs that hold true at the moment of speech and aspectually they are states. I take this cart from the pack and place it under the handkerchief – so! ---it is used in stage directions: 129 . which we have argued. The use of the simple present tense is the only appropriate form in this context: (36) Look. habitual/generic predicates denote closed/perfective events.

puts on his spectacles. whereby past happenings are imagined as if they were going on at the present time. by an adverbial expression indicating past time: (39) Last week I am in the sitting room with my wife. with apparent incongruity. Baxter has lost her cat. Bleak House) ---a different kind of historic present is found with verbs of communication: (41) a. I hear poor old Mrs. asks permission to place them on a golden talisman of a table at my Lady’s elbow. c. Its contexts of occurrence are: ---it is typical of a highly colored popular style of oral narrative and can be accompanied. the event announced and the act of announcement (ST) are the same: (38) I beg your pardon / I accept your offer / I promise to be here at 5 / I declare war / I pronounce you man and wife / I declare the meeting open 4. The ten o’clock news says that it’s going to be cold. The Historical Value of the Simple Present Tense The simple present tense may also be used with reference to the past. when this chap next door staggers past and in a drunken fit throws a brick through the window. (Dickens. it puts the reader in the place of someone actually witnessing the events as they are described: (40) Mr. transposition into the fictional present is a device of dramatic heightening. Joan tells me you are getting a new car.3. and begins to read by the light of a shaded lamp. With some writers. The specter vanishes! ---it is also used with performative verbs: in this case. 130 . This use is best treated as a story-teller’s licence.(37) He yields.4. ---the simple present tense can also be used in fictional prose where we expect the use of the past tense to describe imaginary happenings. Tulkinghorn takes out his papers. b.

which in strict historical terms belongs to the past: (42) a. can be anterior to another past event as in (44) or posterior to another past event as in (45) (c. two hours ago. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Simple Past Tense 5. However. The past tense is deictically interpreted (i.e. and in a sense the artist himself are still ‘alive’. When we discuss about an artist and his surviving work we are justified in using the present tense because his work.The verbs tell. yesterday. it appears that the verbal meaning has been transferred from the initiating end to the receiving end of the message. ---the following sentences illustrate a similar extension of the present tense to cover information. we do not have this choice when dealing with purely biographical details of an artist’s life: the present tense cannot be substituted for the past tense in Brahms WAS BORN in Hamburg / Brahms COMPLETED his first symphony in 1876. 2005): 131 . living flesh by merest whiff of color. Like Rubens. Other events that occur with the past tense can be simultaneous with another past event as in (43).1. we expect the use of the past tense or of the present perfect. Thus. Baciu. b.0. Dostoevsky draws his characters from the sources deep in the Russian soil. Watteau is able to convey an impression of warm. rendered by adverbs such as then. with respect to the moment of speaking now). However. the only difference between Brahms IS the last great representative of German classicism and Brahms WAS the last great representative of German classicism is a difference of point of view: whether one prefers to think of Brahms as a composer still living through his compositions or as a man who died in the 19th century. therefore.f.. In “The Brothers Karamozov”. 5. say and hear here refer to the initiation of a message in the past. The Simple Past Tense with Deictic Value The simple past tense has a basic time association with a past moment of time.

in the year 2000. in June. this time last year). (45) I signed and sealed the envelope. however.. the simple past tense can be used without a definite specification when a comparison is drawn between present and past conditions (paraphrased by the phrase ‘used to’): 132 . from its initial to its final boundary.e. Bill: How curious! I was there too. the present perfect is used to introduce an event that took place sometime before the moment of speech. because RT coincides with the ET. This is possible only when the adverbial can be inferred and retrieved from the larger context: (46) Ann: This time last year I was in Vienna. The past time adverbs most frequently associated with the past tense are yesterday/last month/night/ year. perfective aspect). once. It took us completely by surprise. once an anterior frame of reference is established it is natural to resume reference to the already introduced event by the simple past tense. There are. Thirdly. two days ago. etc. The ART of the past tense explains why the eventuality is portrayed in its entirety – as including its initial and final bounds (i. b. In such contexts. Bill’s answer is correct without a past tense adverbial because the missing adverb can be equated with the adverb mentioned in the preceding sentence (i.(43) I bought this statue when I was in Venice. Another case in which a simple past tense sentence can occur without a definite adverb involves sentences like the following: (47) a.. this definite past moment is usually indicated by the adverb. The simple past tense describes a situation that occurred before the present moment at a moment in the past understood as definite / specific. which is thus uniquely identified. He came to borrow a hammer. when I was a child. The ATR of the past tense is [RT < ST.e. ET = RT]. contexts in which the time adverbial specification can be missing. Joan has received a proposal of marriage. the other day. (44) I misplaced my pencil a moment ago and I couldn’t find it. I have seen him already. The described event is viewed in its entirety.

The frequency adverbial can be missing in case the object in the plural. (50) The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of the rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. c) the present time use. Her head was leaning against the window curtains.(48) England is not what it was (what it used to be) / Even dogs are not what they were (what they used to be) / Life is not so pleasant as it was (what it used to be) 5. b) the past perfect use.3. This use is specific to the narrative mode and the simple past tense occurs without a temporal adverb. In the case of habitual sentences. The adverbial during his childhood specifies RT. the past interval during which the recurring event took place: (51) John got up at noon every day during his childhood. as indicated in (53). conveys the habitual reading: 133 . 5. Joyce’s “Eveline” and W. She was tired. The Habitual Value of the Simple Past Tense In a habitual sentence such as (51). Here are two examples that constitute the opening paragraphs of J. Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”: (49) She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. and in her nostrils was the color of dusty cretonne. the simple past tense can also be used non-deictically. the frequency adverb at noon every day specifies the repeated ET of the predication. *They went to the movies three times the week. The situations narrated happened before the moment of speech but this moment is not given and has to be identified as part of the information associated with the way narrative functions. Linguists have also identified other uses of the simple past tense: a) the habitual use.2. The Non-Deictic Use of the Simple Past Tense Beside its deictic usage. the determiner of the frequency adverbial must be indefinite: (52) They went to the movies three times a week.

The Simple Past Tense Referring to Present Time In everyday conversation the simple past tense can be used with present time reference with no adverbial specification. The event that is interpreted as taking place before another event in the past has a past perfect value – we have to do with a shifted reading of the simple past tense in the case of events. Fido chased cars. (non-habitual reading) 5.(53) a. one first knocks and then enters).4. b. He enjoyed and admired the sonnets of Shakespeare. The use of the simple past tense with present time reference occurs mainly in questions. I hoped you would give me a hand with the painting. In the above sentences. (habitual reading) b. Fido chased a car / Fido chased the car. as soon as. He shaved and listened to the radio. which are thus perceived as more polite and less pressing than the one in the simple present tense. AS SOON AS he left us. the sentences in (54b. In (54a) we have the description of state predicates: states denote duration hence the sentence is understood to describe two simultaneous states. The Simple Past Tense with Past Perfect Value Consider the sentences below: (54) a. He knocked and entered. On the other hand. Consider: (56) A: Did you want me? B: Yes. Notice that temporal relations between two consecutive events can sometimes be explicitly marked either by an adverbial or conjunction. Leech (1971:11) makes 134 . Consider the following examples: (55) I thought of him very much AFTER I went to bed. He dropped the letter BEFORE he went away. c. a formal morphological marker (after. 5.c) describe two events that can be performed only sequentially (as a rule. before) indicates whether the event italicized occurred after or prior to the event of the main clause. Sir William very politely stepped up to our new niece.5.

As before. The sentences in (58) show that past events can be predicated about either in the past tense or the present perfect but from two different perspectives. The past tense. John has already read the book. Consider the contrast below: (58) a. Politeness also extends to the original question Did you want me? The logically expected tense (Do you want me?) might have peremptory overtones. which is prior and thus distinct from the moment now. b. whilst pretending that his present attitude is undermined”.1. General Properties of the English Present Perfect Tense The present perfect. and would seem to say ‘Oh. but there is quite an important difference in tone. I wondered if you’d look after my dog while I go shopping. broadly interchangeable in this context. on the other hand.the following comments on sentences in (56): “The subject of this exchange would probably be the present wishes of speaker B. as distinct from the simple past. despite the use of the past tense. it’s you. The effect of the past tense is to make the request indirect. The Present and the Past are. avoids the confrontation of wills. is often described as referring to ‘past with present relevance’.0. b. I thought I might come and see you later this evening. In (58a) we understand that John’s reading the book in its entirety (a perfective eventuality) is dated / is specified as occurring during last year.The present tense (I hope…) in this situation would seem rather brusque and demanding – it would make the request difficult to refuse without impoliteness. Both sentences involve reference to events that occurred prior to the moment of speech. in fact. and therefore more polite…. or ‘past involving the present’. John read the book last year. the speaker is purportedly testing the listener’s reaction to a past attitude to which he confesses. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Simple Present Perfect Tense 6. 6. is it? You always want something! Other verbs similarly used are wonder and think: (57) a. from (58b) we understand that John’s reading the book in its entirety occurred at some unspecified time in the past but 135 . In contrast.

the perfect operator can occur with and thus operate on all types of eventualities (e. However. Thus its ATR is [ST = RT. process or event). which inherit the aspectual properties of the main predicate (state.g. and thus relevant to the present moment through its result: now. as its name shows. John knows what the book is about. In spite of the fact that both the past tense and the present perfect express relations of anteriority they evince highly restrictive combinatorial abilities when they occur with temporal adverbs (McCoard..John’s reading the book is related. 136 . the present perfect is analyzed as marker of prior events which are nevertheless included within the overall period of the present”. The present perfect describes the result(ant) state of an eventuality. Due to the extra dimension of meaning (i.e.. they are both topologically closed eventualities (Giorgi and Pianesi. He has built a house). An event in the present perfect as in (58b) occurred at an unspecified ET in the past. He has sung. half present (i. more technically.e. the relation of the present perfect to the speech time) we say that the present perfect is not a perfective tense but a perfect tense. is a paradoxical tense: it is half past (i. RT is situated at ST. both perfective and perfect tenses describe completed eventualities. One of the widely accepted contrastive definitions of the past tense vs. He has been here. which selects only for non-stative eventualities. sentences in the present perfect are derived state sentences. 1978). as indicated by the present tense marker on have). present perfect is that proposed by McCoard (1978): “the preterit tense represents an action or state as having occurred or having existed at a past moment or during a past period of time that is definitely separated from the actual present moment of speaking. the unspecified ET is situated before ST). The present perfect. 1997). Different from the progressive operator. Thus. ET < RT]. The perfective past tense is topologically closed before the moment of speech while the perfect present perfect is topologically closed at the moment of speech. different from past tense sentences...e. The perfect aspect has been treated in the linguistic literature as an aspectual operator (it changes the aspectual properties of the eventuality it operates on) similar to the progressive operator. and the perfect aspect specifies the state that results at ST after the culmination of the event.

yesterday. on the same occasion) 137 . consider the difference between sentences (59) and (60) below: (59) “I have been to Carnegie Hall only once”. The English present perfect contrasts with its equivalents in the large majority of languages in that it resists occurrence with specific temporal adverbs. remember that the ET of the past tense is definite. In contrast. last weekend. The Indefinite Past Theory on the Present Perfect The crucial element of the Indefinite Past Theory (ID) of the present perfect is the claim that this tense locates eventualities somewhere before the moment of speaking. lately.. the Current Relevance Theory underlines the current relevance of the resultant state at ST of the present perfect eventuality while the Extended Now Theory focuses on the idea of an ’extended’ present moment. The Indefinite Past Theory focuses on the indefiniteness of the ET of the present perfect eventuality. after the war. The Current Relevance Theory and The Extended Now Theory. the past tense occurs with specific / definite time adverbs (e.In essence.g. 1992).g. on Tuesday) while the present perfect occurs with non-specific / non-definite time adverbs (e..2. for 2 hours. This inability of the present perfect to occur with definite adverbs is known as the ‘Present Perfect Puzzle’ (Klein. without identifying any particular point or interval of time. since 3 o’clock. “Did you hear the New York Philharmonic?” (that is. Compare: *John has come at 4 / yesterday / on Tuesday / before the war with Ion a venit la 4 / ieri / marţi / înainte de război. yet. For instance. so far. two months ago. 6. before now). Out of the most known theories on the semantics and pragmatics of the present perfect we briefly present The Indefinite Past Theory. The ET of the perfect is thus indefinite – any past interval I can serve as ET. at 4. The intriguing properties of the present perfect have received many kinds of explanations.

viz.. today.(60) “Have you heard the New York Philharmonic?” (that is. always. in the past. ID stipulates only pragmatic conditions under which the choice between the past tense and the present perfect is made. so far. the shared knowledge between speakers is rendered by using the past tense not the present perfect: (61) Did you put the cat out? (said between husband and wife who have in mind a particular time when the cat is normally put out) McCoard (1978) and Klein (1992) argued that the present perfect is an indefinite tense in the same sense as Leech did: the exact position of its ET is not specified. recently.3. in my life. for three years. claims that it is only the present perfect that purports current relevance at the moment now. However pertinent in its conclusions. it is left open. which originated with Jespersen (1931). he may have been there once or fifty times” (Klein 1992: 539). it could have lasted for three years or for one day. once (one time). a cursory inspection of the adverbs compatible with the present perfect (since 3 o’clock. yet. In Chris has been in Pontefract. lately. not necessarily on the same occasion) Leech (1971) brings in one more factor in the selection of the past tense. ever. for 2 hours. already) shows that they are adverbs unable to establish ET. Sentence (62) would most probably imply that he is awake now. Indeed. Consider the contrast between (62) and (63): (62) You woke him up when you went to the bathroom ten minutes ago. before now. long since. The Current Relevance Theory on the Present Perfect The Current Relevance Theory (CR). 6. but this inference is ensured by our knowledge of the world and is not 138 . a feature that the past tense lacks. ever in your life. often. yet. never. “Chris’s being in Pontefract could have been yesterday or twenty years ago. (63) You’ve waken him up when you went to the bathroom ten minutes ago.

6. We can easily recognize CR theory and its ‘discourse topic’ variant as defining pragmatic conditions on the use of the present perfect. If the implication that he is awake now is contradicted or negated by other factors of context (such as evidence that the state of being awake no longer holds at the moment of speech) the use of the present perfect is ungrammatical (cf. When sentence (62) is compared with sentence (63). K. in the latter it is the verb form itself that locates the effects of the event at the moment of speech. On the other hand. Inoue (1979) defines the notion of discourse topic in order to account for the difference in acceptability between past tense sentences and present perfect sentences. McCoard appeals to the idea of an ’extended’ present moment: speakers can psychologically ‘extend’ the present backwards. But since Einstein is no longer living. b. As such. Fenn.rendered by the verb form itself. *Einstein has visited Princeton. The Extended Now Theory on the Present Perfect The Extended Now Theory (XN). The present perfect represents the means of the English tense system to render this backward extension. he can neither visit Princeton nor engage in other activities. c. set up by McCoard (1978). the speaker cannot use the present perfect and only the past tense is appropriate. 1987). sentence (64c) is pragmatically felicitous in case the discourse topic is Princeton University: its having been visited by a renowned scientist such as Einstein represents a memorable occasion in the history of Princeton University. In the same line. This period of past time may be momentary as in ‘The massager has just arrived’ or it may be of considerable extent as in ‘The old house has been left untenanted for 139 . Princeton has been visited by Einstein. Consider the following contrast: (64) a. Discourse topic is understood to be the subject matter under discussion in a certain context. “From the point of view of the present the speaker looks back upon some continuous stretch of the past and within this he places the action or state.4. The well-formed sentence in (64b) can be uttered in a context about Einstein and his activities in general. is perhaps the most popular theory on the semantics of the present perfect. Einstein visited Princeton.

5. 6. McCoard’s XN theory is a semantic solution to the problem of the present perfect in that it characterizes it in terms of RT (which is the same as ST). but not for love” (c. In current studies the experiential present perfect is renamed Existential Present Perfect while the continuative present perfect.1. the resultative present perfect and the ‘hot news’ present perfect.5. Comrie 1976. The Existential Value of the Present Perfect Consider the following examples: (65)a. in contrast. The Values / Uses of the Simple Present Perfect Linguists speak of four main uses of the present perfect: the experiential present perfect. Mary has lived in Cairo for three years (twice in her life) (state) As can be easily noticed. The two main values of the present perfect crucially depend on the aspectual properties of the eventuality (cf. in the present perfect sentences in (65) the eventuality is presented as ‘bounded’ since it can be repeated. ET < RT]. the past tense specifies that an event occurred at a past time that is separated and distinct from the present. 2004 among many others). We adopt this terminology. Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria 2002. as in Shakespeare’s ‘Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them. the resultative present perfect and the ‘hot news’ present perfect all collapse under the Resultative or Continuative Present Perfect (Demirdache and Uribe-Etxtebarria 2002. Thus. Susan has played the violin (twice) (activity) d.f. 2004). Sam has broken my computer (twice) (accomplishment) b. 1988). the present perfect amounts to meaning that a past event ‘constitutes’ a present state in some way. John has reached the top (twice) (achievement) c. Its ATR is [ST = RT. the continuative present perfect. Ştefănescu. We say that the present perfect has an existential value: it shows the existence of one 140 . 6.many years’ or it may include all past time. Kamp and Reyle 1993. Julien 2001. Smith 1991. The present perfect serves to locate an event within a period of time that begins in the past and extends up to the present moment (and includes it).

This value of the present perfect focuses on the resultant state of an eventuality. (accomplishment) b. (now) (activity) d. John has reached the top. Notice that the continuative reading obtains with a predicate that describes a state or an activity. The adverb of duration shows that the state in question began three years before the moment of speech and this state still continues at the moment of utterance.5. Oh! My God! Sam has broken my computer.2. (now) (state) In the sentences in (66). The Resultative or Continuative Value of the Present Perfect Consider the examples below: (66) a.b) the result state described by the sentence SAM BREAK MY COMPUTER or the sentence JOHN REACH THE TOP are presented as persistent at the moment of utterance.. All the predications in (65) have current relevance at ST and they are interpreted as states. 141 . The result state is presented as still persisting at ST: it continues from a past interval up to the moment of speech. The present perfect in (66d) indicates that Mary still lives in Cairo at the moment of speech.e. 2002). In (65d). processes or events) that are presented as completed prior to the moment of speech (Demirdache and UribeEtxebarria. In other words.or several eventualities (states. Mary has lived in Cairo for three years. (66a) implies (the result) that my computer is broken at the moment of speech and (66b) implies that John has reached the top and is on the top of the mountain at the moment of speech. Thus. the adverb for three years specifies the duration of two past eventualities (i. the present perfect induces a resultative or continuative reading: it presents a state as holding from a moment in the past up to and including the moment of speech. Notice that the resultative reading obtains with predicates that describe an accomplishment (as in 66a) or an achievement (as in 66b). (achievement) c. 6. The presence of the duration adverb for three years is obligatory and it measures the whole eventuality. Susan has played the violin for two hours. twice in her life Mary lived in Cairo for a period of three years). in (66a.

Consider the sentence below: (68) You can go when you have finished your work. Other Temporal Uses of the Present Perfect 7.5. The ‘Hot News’ Value of the Present Perfect The third value of the present perfect is the ‘hot news’ present perfect. as in (70a) below. after. dubbed as such by McCawley (1971). before.3. the moment (that). once. the choice between the two tenses is not free: --– when the events in the main clause and the subordinate clause temporally coincide the use of the present tense in the subordinate clause is favored. until. as soon as. the use of the present perfect is in free variation with the present tense: (69) I shall leave as soon as the meeting ends / has ended.1. The Future Value of the Present Perfect In adverbial clauses of time the present perfect is used with a future value. In other contexts.6.0. b. The notion of recent past with a resultative state holding at the moment of speech is conveyed by the use of just: (67) Malcolm Jones has just been assassinated! 7. the use of the present perfect is favored in the subordinate adverbial clause of time: 142 . by the time (that). as in (70b) below: (70) a. It is illustrated in (67). The conjunctions commonly used to introduce the adverbial clauses of time are when. In present day studies on the present perfect this value is not identified as a separate value of the present perfect as it can be easily identified with the resultative value of the present perfect with an event predicate. when the event in the subordinate clause occurs after the one in the main clause the use of the present perfect in the subordinate clause gives well formed sentences. --– when a causal relation between the event in the main clause and that of the subordinate clause is established. In some contexts. Come over and see us when our guests have left. Come over and see us when our guests leave.

b. A major contribution of McCoard’s study (1978) is the detailed analysis of the way in which temporal adverbs relate to the present perfect and/or past tense. those that occur with either the simple past or with the perfect and those that occur with the perfect but not with the simple past. McCoard identifies three classes of adverbs: those that occur with the simple past tense but not with the perfect. Adverbs bring in their temporal meaning and they bear on tense selection and even on tense interpretation. Temporal Adverbs with the Present Perfect and the Past Tense The temporal contrast between the present perfect and the past tense would not be complete unless we examine in detail the strong restrictions of the two tenses in terms of their occurrence with temporal adverbs. *We can go out as soon as we have dinner.0. We can go out as soon as we have had dinner.(71) a. Occur with the simple past but not with the perfect long ago five years ago once (= formerly) the other day those days last night in 1900 at 3:00 after the war no longer Occur with either the simple past or the perfect long since in the past once (= one time) today in my life for three years recently just now often yet always ever never already before Occur with perfect but not with simple past at present up till now so far as yet during these five years herewith lately since the war before now 143 . 8.

since-phrase “marks the beginning of the period and the moment of utterance marks the end” (Heinamaki.g. He sang for a couple of minutes / I have known him for years / *John has built the house for two years / *John built the house for two years). sometimes. occur with either the present perfect or with the past tense (e.. the following comments are in order. never an event) whether it is in the past tense or the present perfect (e.. When they occur with the present perfect it is the present perfect that relates their time-span to the moment of speech (e.g. either by their semantics or by context (e. depending on the context. 1978) and it only occurs with the present perfect with either states or events.. Ever and never are used when the life experience of the subject is predicated about. They are ‘neutral’ time-span adverbs (Fenn. 1987). On the other hand.g.g. The inclusive since-phrase together with the eventuality in the present perfect relates the predication to the moment of speech (e.. always. John has been here since 3 o’clock / John has worked in the garden since morning / Since last summer John has moved to Paris). Patrick’s Day Parade while I was in New York). A saner and more practical man I’ve never met).. Both suggest the meaning ‘within a period of time’.. In contrast with for-phrase. In context.g. I have always suspected your honesty / He always made a lot of fuss about nothing when they were married). these adverbs can be thought of as beginning before the moment of speech and extending beyond it. As far as the adverbs in column two are concerned.. Adverbs such as often. The duration adverb for-phrase (e. their ‘within a period of time’ meaning also makes them compatible with the past tense (e. For the adverbs in column two. They only occur with the present perfect and exclude the past tense.g. I never saw the St. which refer to frequency can. it is the context and in particular the tense used which decide which time-sphere (past or present) is actually being referred to. Lately and recently are commonly regarded as synonyms but they show different compatibility as to their occurrence with the past tense and 144 . The adverbs in the third column coincide or are oriented to the moment of speech. for three years) measures the duration of a homogeneous eventuality (state or activity.g. at 3:00).The adverbs in the first column refer to points or stretches of time that precede the moment of speech.

g. I have seen John this morning / I saw John this morning).e. Once. there are adverbs that combine with either the present perfect or the past tense but with a clear difference in meaning. The difference lies in whether the event is viewed simply as a factor of experience obtaining at the moment of speech [with the present perfect] (i. I have been ill recently / I was ill recently). this week. 1971). Just can take either the present perfect or the past tense (e. at one time’ occurs with the past tense.. Both sentences convey the meaning that “the act occurred within the time span this morning.. etc: I have visited the Highlands only once (Leech. despite its indefinite meaning: He was once an honest man. Lately accepts only the present perfect (e. 1987). 1971).. this year can occur with both the present perfect and the past tense (e. With past tense. Now is mainly associated with present tenses: Now my ambition is fulfilled / has been fulfilled. Finally. Already.. yet and before occur with the present perfect in the sense ‘as early as now’.. With the past tense they must have a meaning involving a past point of orientation: I was already (= ‘as early as then’) very hungry (Leech.g. Adverbs such as today. still.g. I have just seen your sister / I just saw your sister) while just now. can only occur with the past tense (e. 145 . In a present perfect sentence it has a numerical value contrasting with twice. which is interpreted as a moment/second/minute ago.e. The difference in uses between adverbs such as just and just now is the following.g. I saw your sister just now). with the meaning ‘on a certain occasion. three times. the morning time-span is not over) or whether it is viewed within the context of the time at which it occurred [with the past tense] (i. it is a narrative substitute for then (= ‘at this point in the story’): Now my ambition was fulfilled. the morning time-span is over)“ (Fenn. ‘as late as now’: I have seen him already / I (still) haven’t seen him (yet).g. I have spent a great deal of money lately / *I spent a great deal of money lately) while recently goes with both the past tense and the present perfect (e..the present perfect..

if we add a temporal adverb such as at 5 to the sentence in (72).2.9. Since ST follows RT. Thus. *Tom had arrived 3 days earlier. as in (73). as in the example below: (74) a. namely ET. General Properties of the Past Perfect Tense in Simple Sentences Consider the following sentence in the past perfect where the event of Mary’s leaving the school is viewed as completed before a past reference time: (72) Mary had left school. which itself follows the ET.1. General Properties of the Past Perfect Tense in Complex Sentences In complex sentences. The ATR of the past perfect is [RT < ST. the event of Mary’s leaving the school is viewed as completed before a past reference time. Notice that because RT and ET denote two disjoint intervals. Sentence (74a) is well formed because the adverb yesterday in the main clause also establishes the RT of the embedded clause: we understand that Tom’s arrival occurred 3 days prior to yesterday. the main clause can establish the past RT of the subordinate past perfect clause. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Past Perfect 9. b. while 146 . The embedded clause specifies a time other than RT.m. the sentence will have two distinct readings depending on whether the time adverb modifies the ET or the RT: (73) Mary had left school at 5.0. They told us yesterday that Tom had arrived 3 days earlier. 9. ET < RT]. If the time adverb at 5 modifies RT we understand that Mary’s leaving the school occurred prior to the RT and the RT coincides with the time denoted by 5 p. If the time adverb at 5 modifies ET we understand that Mary’s leaving the school occurred at 5 o’clock (this is the so-called event time reading of the past perfect sentence). (this is the so-called reference time reading of the sentence).

the past perfect can be substituted by the simple past tense: (76) a. Notice that sentence (74b) is ungrammatical because it contains an adverbial and a tense marker that together cannot establish RT.0. It occurs mainly in subordinate adverbial clauses introduced by the conjunctions when. I ate my lunch after my wife came back However. General Characteristics The auxiliary verbs shall and will used to convey future tense in Modern English were. When he had read the letter. Consider some examples: (75) a.the adverb in the main clause specifies RT for both clauses. in older stages of English. He would not allow anyone to leave the inn till he had drunk himself asleep. before. When he came back from India. When his mind had been weaker his heart led him to speak out. because a marker of anteriority of the event in the subordinate clause is necessary for the correct interpretation of the whole sentence: (77) a. he was made a member of Parliament b. full verbs. he ran away c. c. till.1. In the course of time these 147 . there are cases when the past perfect cannot be substitutable by the past tense. As two and a half years had elapsed since he had made any money Spencer returned to London. Means of Expressing Future Time 10. ‘Obligation’ and ‘want’ are oriented to a future time sphere. 10. *When he read the letter. he burned it. he burned it. the adverb in the embedded clause specifies only its ET (and its RT is shared with that of the main clause). As soon as he discovered them. I am under the obligation’ and will meant ‘I want’. Shall meant ‘I must. b. b. after. In subordinate adverbial clauses of time introduced by an explicit conjunction. The past perfect can be used in main clauses (as in 73 above) and in subordinate clauses.

. 10. d. The parcel will be arriving tomorrow. b.e. The parcel is going to arrive tomorrow. The parcel will arrive tomorrow. Be going to + infinitive: e.. i. c.2. I leave early tomorrow morning. a.. ET = RT] irrespective of the linguistic means that render it. The Simple Present Tense with Future Time Adverbs Consider the following examples: (78) a. The future time meaning of the simple present tense refers to a future occasion: at the moment of speech the speaker anticipates an event or a state that is to take place at a RT = ET that is after/posterior to ST. Exams start tomorrow. these means belong either to the modal system or to the aspectual paradigm. The present progressive: e.verbs developed into auxiliary verbs that signaled both modality (i. In Modern English they retain both a temporal and a modal value but many other linguistic means are being used to render future time more explicitly. Will/shall + infinitive: e.g. The ATR of the future tense is [ST < RT. Will/shall + progressive infinitive: e.g. The present tense with future time adverbs is used in situations when the event is scheduled by external factors.e. 10. there is a decision taken or plan fixed according to some external authority. The present tense + future time adverbs: e. Tomorrow is Thursday.3. Leech (1971) lists the following linguistic means that express futurity in Modern English. 148 . The parcel is arriving tomorrow..g. There are also some differences and nuances of usage that distinguish among these means. b.g. c. possibility / probability) and futurity. The Present Progressive with Future Time Adverbs Consider the following example: (79) I’m starting work tomorrow.. e.. I am off tonight..g.

“The first sentence suggests that the speaker now expects or intends to start work – he may perhaps. the mixture of modal and temporal values of these modal verbs is due to the diachronic development of 149 . The sentence in (80b) below is ill formed because no conscious. I start work tomorrow. Allan will be in Bucharest. e. *The sun is rising at 5 tomorrow. You will feel better after you take this medicine. Tomorrow’s weather will be cold and windy. by his firm or by the doctor”. Consider first the sentences: (82) a. b.. c. It is evident that will/shall also refer to future predictions due to their modal nuance. arranged action that takes place in the future. I’m starting work tomorrow.g. that of making predictions: (83) a.4. b. As said above. Palmer (1978) contrasts the use of the simple present tense form with the present progressive form with future time adverbs in the following terms. My aunt is coming to stay with us this Christmas. In fact. have been ill. b. human agency is involved: (80) a.e. Will and Shall plus the Infinitive Traditional grammars have interpreted modal auxiliaries will and shall as means of expressing future tense. Present progressive sentences with future time adverbs also convey a sense of imminence that is absent from the use of the simple present tense with future time adverbs: (81) a. John is rising at 5 tomorrow. b. The Smiths are leaving tomorrow. 10. The second indicates that tomorrow is the time fixed for him to start.The present tense progressive plus future time adverbs is used when an element of human volition is involved and it has the flavor of a planned. the contribution of these modal verbs in sentences as in (83) below (without temporal adverbs) is modal. i..

6. The prediction is made with such a great degree of certainty that the event is presented as unfolding at a specified future reference time. 150 . Be Going To Consider the following example: (85) I’m going to call him. Will and Shall plus the Progressive Infinitive Consider the following examples: (84) a. In contemporary English. These sentences are relatively unacceptable on their own. be going to is mainly used in colloquial speech. 10. so there is no point in saying ‘it will rain’ unless an actual time can be forecast”. the future interpretation of the sentences does not result from will/shall plus progressive infinitive.5. The same explanation can be considered for the second sentence. Jespersen (1931) remarks that the structure is going to derives from the progressive form of the verb to go: “going loses its meaning as a verb of movement and becomes an empty grammatical word”. Thus. Be going to is a frozen form that cannot be analyzed into two separate verb forms: it is listed as such in the lexicon. b. but from the adverbial specification in the sentences. 10. Leech (1971) makes the following comments with respect to their usage: “frequently a sentence with will/shall is incomplete without an adverbial of definite time: *It will rain / *The room will be cleaned. the sentence predicts that this time next week the activity of sailing across the Atlantic will be in progress. presumably because of their factual emptiness: we all feel certain that ‘it will rain’ at some time in the future. Don’t call me at 9 – I’ll be eating my supper. Therefore. This time next week I shall be sailing across the Atlantic.English: at the beginning will/shall had only modal values and in time they also developed a future reading when they occur with future time adverbs. The same process occurred in French with the form je vais faire. In the first sentence in (84a) the verb is in the progressive form and the modal shall contributes its (modal) predictive sense.

(i. I’m going to be a policeman when I grow up. I think I’m going to faint. 1971).000.The basic meaning of be going to is that of “future fulfillment of the present” (Leech. He was going to be a policeman later in his life. She is going to have another baby.e. future in the past): (89) a. b. Palmer (1979:130) remarks that “for future in the past.. Leech (1971) identifies two extensions of this general meaning of to be going to: ---the first one is ‘the future fulfillment of the present intention’ that is found with human subjects who consciously exercise their will: (86) What are you going to do today? I am going to stay at home and watch television.. be going to is regularly used”.. b. He was leaving town the day after we arrived. this planet is going to burn itself out 200.e.000 years from now. This sense is common with both agentive and non-agentive verbs: (87) a. she is already pregnant) b. 1971): 151 . I can see the black clouds gathering) Notice that be going to can also be used when speaking about periods remote from ST: (88) a.7. ---the second extension of the general sense of be going to can be stated as ‘future fulfillment of present cause’.e. while in literary style would is likely to occur (Leech. There’s going to be a storm in a minute. 10. (i. I already feel ill) c.e. If Winterbottom’s calculations are correct. (i. On this reading the sentence I am going to watch television is felt as stronger than I intend to watch television. all the future time expressions are modified to indicate a future plus past situation (i. The Future of Past Situations In case the sentence has a past time sphere..

To the above-mentioned expressions of futurity in English we can also add the following: to be about to (used to express imminent future situations. d. b. He was just on the point of proposing to her. His finger was upon the trigger and he was on the point of fire. Dick Whittington would be the richest man in London. he will have left the hospital. 11. I shall have crossed the Channel. By the end of next week. contains both a tense morpheme (will / shall) and an aspectual one (have). If you come at 7 o’clock we shall not have finished dinner. The ATR of the future perfect tense is [ST < RT.0. The Temporal Values / Uses of the Future Perfect Tense The future perfect tense. 152 . for which the house stood ready. I was going to say that it looked a bit like a pheasant in flight. b. c. I was very nearly offering a large reward. e. The meaning of a sentence in the future perfect such as By the time you come I shall have finished writing the paper is: by the time you come in the future (RT) I shall finish writing the paper (ET) before you come. d. to be ready to. (92) a. They will have died. Twenty years later. The sentence in (93) contains a future perfect in the past: its morphological tense is ‘past’ (would) and its morphological aspect is perfect (have arrived). b. He was about to retrace his steps when he was suddenly transfixed to the spot by a sudden appearance. illustrated in the examples below. If the situations are viewed from the vantage-point of the past.(90) a. would have arrived. c. to be on the point of/on the verge of/on the brink of: (91) a. ET < RT]. He has been on the brink of marrying her. By this time tomorrow. If you keep forgetting to water the plants there won’t be any by the end of the week. it is less colloquial than to be going to). the use of the future perfect in the past is dictated by the sequence of tenses: (93) Four o’clock! In another hour the Whitsuntide party. to be near to.

Introductory Remarks 1. Sentence (1c). Consider the contrast in meaning between an unmodalised assertion as in (1a) and the modalised assertions in (1b. 153 . must. His statement expresses a commitment that the proposition is true in the real world (i. may. containing the modal verb might.. should. will. Typical examples of modal expressions are the modal verbs can. shall. 1. Tom must be the murderer. the proposition is taken as a fact in the real world). ought to. c. would. Sentences (1b) and (1c) contain modal verbs and express modalised expressions. MODALITY AND MODAL VERBS 1. In contrast. (1b) which contains the modal verb must. Modal expressions are linguistic expressions that allow people to talk about alternative states of affairs.c) (cf. Tom is the murderer. These sentences are conclusions that the speaker draws on ‘what is known’ in the context. might.1. In uttering (1a) the speaker makes an unmodalised assertion. Tom might be the murderer.0. says that given ‘what is known’ the speaker concludes that it is possible for Tom to be the murderer. b.8. They differ only regarding the strength of the conclusion they embody.2. Cornilescu 2003): (1) a. could.e. says that given ‘what is known’ it is necessary that Tom should be the murderer (yet it is not a fact). These states of affairs are thought of as not present in the current situation and may never occur in the actual world. need and dare and the grammatical category of mood (roughly the indicative mood versus the subjunctive mood distinction).

it is evaluated for its truth-value only with respect to my wish-world.. etc. assumption. feel. imperative. conceivably. think. hope. Adverbs: allegedly. believe. presumably. that is. hypothesis. suspect. various nouns. evidently.3. reckon. obviously.4.e. adjectives and adverbs can also express modal concepts and attitudes: Nouns: allegation.e. (subjunctive mood) In uttering (2a) the speaker makes an unmodalised assertion and the proposition is taken as a fact in the real world. certainly. meaning) distinction between factual (i. guess. likely. In uttering (2b) the speaker makes a modalised assertion and the proposition that Tom should become president of the company is non-factual. necessary. Adjectives: sure. the modal operator expresses an attitude towards the operand proposition (towards the proposition on which it operates). lawful. (indicative mood) b. etc. exhortation. It is clear that the verb wish in the main clause also acts as a modal operator.. surmise. The notional definition of the category mood covers the semantic (i.Since modal verbs change the meaning of the sentence they occur in they are interpreted as modal operators. fear. presume. probable. yields another proposition q (A proposition describes the semantic content of a sentence. certain. I wish that James should become president of the company. Consider the contrast: (2) a. related to facts in reality – the indicative mood) and non-factual (the subjunctive mood). Besides modal verbs and verbs that require the use of the subjunctive in the subordinate clause (such as assume. necessarily. its meaning). expectation. etc. legal. trust. seemingly. probably. command. compulsory. A modal operator is an operator which. Roughly speaking.). certainty. request. permissible. imagine. possibly. doubt. fancy. possible. 154 . 1. 1. James is the president of the company. when added to a proposition p. declare. etc. surely.

In general.1. (moral obligation) d. d. Let us consider more closely the notion of context of use. agents) and covers notions such as obligation. Employees must feed the animals twice a day. it is claimed that each modal verb has a core meaning that constitutes the basis used to derive the range of possible interpretations of each modal verb function of its context of use (Perkins 1983. b. I will do it no matter what. You should be grateful to your parents for their support.. 1991. Haegeman 1983.0. Ştefănescu 1988. Their interpretation is highly dependent on the (linguistic and nonlinguistic/pragmatic) context in which they occur. Kratzer 1977. The sentences people utter when they converse are taken as 155 . Consider: (3) a. could. might. 1981. are verbs with weak. Whoever has finished may go.2. A lion will attack a man when hungry. (necessity) (possibility) (probability) (probability) 2. may. In the linguistic literature it is acknowledged that modal verbs are used to communicate at least two clusters of meaning: the root (or deontic) meaning and the epistemic meaning. It is commonly the case in English that one single modal verb is capable of conveying both root and epistemic modal meanings. It may rain later in the afternoon.2. The root meaning roughly deals with the necessity or possibility of acts performed by morally responsible individuals (i. (permission) c. Bioethics lectures should prove interesting. probability and possibility. etc. volition or permission. must. conversation unfolds against a common conversational background. The epistemic modal meaning deals with the possibility or necessity of an inference drawn by the subject from available evidence and covers notions such as necessity. incomplete semantic content.e. Instead. should. (obligation) b. You must be John’s wife. (volition/threat) (4) a. Many linguists have argued that modal verbs are not ambiguous between a root/deontic and epistemic meaning. Papafragou 2000). On Root and Epistemic Meanings of Modal Verbs 2. c. Modal auxiliary verbs such as can.

The common conversational background is the set of propositions accepted as true by the discourse participants. The ancestors of the Maoris must have arrived from Tahiti. 156 . All Maori children must learn the names of their ancestors. A modalised sentence such as (5): (5) Mary must have climbed Mount Toby. The various subsets of the conversational background of modalised sentences are called modal bases. all Maori children must learn the names of their ancestors. In this case.propositions (Remember that a proposition describes the semantic content of a sentence). Kratzer tries to identify the feature that connects the two distinct uses of the verb must in (6a) and (6b). The verb must in (6b) is used epistemically: it refers to a piece of knowledge. Cornilescu 2003). It is against modal bases that the truth of modalised sentences is evaluated. In view of what their tribal duties are. the ancestors of the Maoris must have arrived from Tahiti. She does this by means of paraphrasing the sentences in (6) in the following way: (6’) a’. is understood against a subset of the larger conversational background namely. it is necessary to consider not the whole common background but one of its subsets. b’. This subset stands for evidence by virtue of which the speaker draws the necessary conclusion that Mary has climbed Mount Toby (cf. Giorgi and Pianesi 1997). The verb must in (6a) has a root/deontic meaning: it refers to a duty/obligation. the subset of ‘what is known’. The common conversational background must be modified when dealing with modalised sentences. Modal bases are again sets of propositions but they are contextually determined. b. In view of what is known. Consider the following set of examples that contain the modal verb must. discussed in Kratzer 1977: (6) a. The propositions in the conversational background play an important role as they are taken as implicit premises in the judgements speakers make (cf.

. etc. (8) You must leave the country. The modal base may be linguistically indicated as in (7) below or is pragmatically inferred as in (8) (Papafragou 2000): (7) a.e.. etc. Modal bases are organized in various subsets (domains) of the conversational background: the factual domain (i. individual modal verbs come out as permitting different kinds of domains of propositions as modal bases.e. it is the modal base that is responsible for the deontic or epistemic meaning that a modal verb expresses in different contexts. In case you plan to save yourself.).e. propositions that are descriptions of states of affaires in ideal worlds/situations).. propositions that include legal rulings. In these sentences we do not have to do with an absolute must but with a relative ‘must in view of something’. you must leave the country. propositions that describe the factual world).. c. you must leave the country. the regulatory domain (i. The phrases ‘in view of something’ constitute the two modal bases of the modalised sentences in (6). religious rules. Thus. If you want to avoid a scandal. you must leave the country. There is also the domain of moral beliefs (i. In view of the political situation. Therefore. b. social regulations. chess rules. a sentence that contains a modal verb (which is interpreted as a modal operator) has three components: Operator Modal Base MUST in view of what their tribal duties are in view of what is known Proposition p all Maori children must learn the names of their ancestors the ancestors of Maoris must have arrived from Tahiti The operator MUST operates on the proposition p and it relates p to the modal base in which it is evaluated for truth-value. As indicated above. We notice that in (6’) the verb must is used relationally. propositions that are descriptions of states of affaires in worlds/situations desirable from someone’s point of view).These paraphrases show that the verb must has shifted its meaning to different ‘in view of’ phrases.e. 157 . the domain of desirability (i.

Papafragou. 2000). (11) Of course you can – the law allows you to. Imagine that Alice and her lawyer have been discussing the prospect of Alice’s having a divorce. Alice utters sentence (10) and her lawyer replies as in (11): (10) I can’t leave my husband penniless. Hence. Jokes are a good example to illustrate misunderstanding in the identification of the right modal base. Later on in the day. The assistant replies that he interpreted the sentence to be about what the monkey was allowed to do. is that speakers and hearers frequently shift and modify modal domains/bases during the same conversational exchange. modal verbs are treated as expressions with vague/weak semantic content whose deontic or epistemic interpretation is highly dependent on the context of use. The modal domain in (10) includes assumptions about Alice’s feelings and moral profile whereas in (11) it includes assumptions about legal regulations. Suppose that a zookeeper says sentence (9) to his new assistant: (9) The monkey can climb to the top of the tree. 158 . he doesn’t answer the phone. while the assistant had in mind potentiality in terms of the zoo’s regulations. (cf. A further piece of evidence. This example is a clear demonstration of how the modal base affects the truth-conditional content of a modal sentence. the monkey is missing and the zookeeper is angry with the assistant because he warned the assistant that the monkey was able to climb to the top of the tree and so could escape. Consider the following example: (12) James must be at work.There are instances when the speaker – hearer can misunderstand each other because they may be mistaken in the recovery of the modal base. and was therefore not worried when the monkey behaved in just this way. which shows that interlocutors are sensitive to subtle aspects of the modal bases. The misunderstanding is due to a domain mismatch: the zookeeper had in mind potentiality in terms of the monkey’s physical abilities. There is further narrowing down of the subset of modal bases that ensures the correct interpretation of utterances.

according to the normal courses of events. 3. i. according to the law. we need an ordering source that will order situations in terms of similarity to the norm or ideal and specify the minimal ‘distance’ from the ideal a situation should satisfy. obligation and permission) (Bybee and Pagliuca 1985.This sentence involves the epistemic modal base of necessity.. according to the law. In other words. Why should that be? A first approximation is that situations containing these states of affairs are ‘wilder’ and unusual possibilities. the state of affaires in which James does not want to answer the phone because he suffers from an antisocial crisis or the state of affairs in which James has suddenly lost his voice because he suffers from a sore throat. in view of what is desirable. More on the Deontic Meaning and Epistemic Meaning and the Shift from One Meaning to the Other Meaning 3. Ordering sources may be explicitly introduced by phrases such as in view of what is normal. which need not be taken into account. not as they really are – that is. Ordering sources capture the observation that the understanding of a modalised sentence often implies the use of stereotypical/idealized states of affairs. Therefore. according to what is desirable.0. There is robust linguistic evidence that epistemic modality has historically developed from items that originally encoded deontic meaning (mainly volition. James must be at work’. More precisely. these states of affairs in the modal base are removed from what we take to be the normal or ideal course of events. etc.1. For instance. not all possible states of affairs contained in a modal base are taken into account when interpreting a modalised utterance. They describe the way situations should be. Bybee and Fleischman 1995. For example.e. ‘in view of what is known. Heine 1991. there has occurred a shift from 159 . However. in (12) the speaker does not take into consideration some implausible states of affairs. Bybee 1988. etc. in Papafragou 2000). The ordering excludes those states of affairs that are farther from the normal course of events. The joint effect of modal bases and ordering sources (which are another subset of the conversational background) is to force the evaluation of a modalised proposition in those states of affairs of the modal base that better realize the norm or ideal (Giorgi and Pianesi 1997).

which involves representations of external states of affairs to epistemic modality. towards his own speech role as a declarer” (Halliday 1970:349). agent) who is supposed to carry out the relevant activity. “Epistemic modality is the speaker’s assessment of probability and predictability.. For example. the shift of the modal verb should from ‘weak obligation’ to ‘probability’ can be explained as a shift in the normative modal base it chooses: either a normative deontic modal base or a normative epistemic modal base (Papafragou 2000). 3.root/deontic modality. The verb should in sentence (13b) expresses probability in terms of the speaker’s internal beliefs about the normal expected course of events. As the comments on the sentences in (13a) and (13b) indicate. In other words. in this case. Moreover. epistemic modality is subject-oriented and it typically marks a shift towards ‘subjectivity’ in language. That is why a modal deontic interpretation is agent-oriented and is said to involve relations among ‘circumstances’ (Kratzer 1991. it is argued that should shifted from ‘weak (deontic) obligation’ to ‘probability’ (epistemic) modal meaning. That should be the plumber. Consider the following examples: (13) a. not the speaker.e. You should clean the place once in a while. Should in (13a) expresses weak obligation relative to norms or existing stereotypes and it involves a state of affairs that is external to the speaker. the plumber is expected to arrive some time after he is called for. it is the hearer who is the agent / doer of the activity commanded. being a part of the attitude taken up by the speaker: his attitude. According to the speaker’s beliefs. The speaker cannot be certain about the plumber’s coming but given the normal course of events he concludes that whoever is ringing the bell is indeed the plumber. That is why many authors claim that since epistemic modality involves the speaker’s beliefs on which he draws to derive a conclusion. Sentence (13a) is interpreted as imposing obligation on the hearer to clean the place from time to time. which involves the speaker’s internal ability to perform deductive operations on ‘what is known’. modal deontic meaning presupposes the existence of a responsible individual (i.2. despite the fact that the root/deontic – 160 . b. It is external to the content. Papafragou 2000).

3. ”Susana Foo” must be one of the most expensive restaurants in Philadelphia. (14) a. Must in (14a) expresses ‘strong obligation’ in a context relative to the system of social laws as modal base. Let us illustrate this with the epistemic must. b. b. Consider now the examples in (14): they illustrate the development of epistemic must out of deontic must. 3. Papafragou (2000) argues that in the epistemic interpretation of all modal verbs. which is compatible with or follows from the speaker’s set of beliefs. a sense of ‘necessity’ is conveyed. The sentence in (14b) is analyzed into two components: (15) a. the speaker has authority over the hearer and the speaker’s desires are expected to be (necessarily) carried out by the hearer. You must be back by 10 o’clock. In (14b) must is interpreted epistemically (‘necessity’): the speaker has evidence on the base of which he draws the conclusion that ‘Susana Foo is the most expensive restaurants in Philadelphia’ must be the case. As far as I know. In (14b) above the speaker’s commitment is high and the level of support in the extra-linguistic reality is strong since he uses must 161 . In such a context. this modal distinction is due to the differentiation in language between two distinct major classes of modal bases. it must be the case that (a). (15b) is a comment on (15a) and it conveys the degree of the speaker’s commitment to the proposition p in (15a). In both cases. the base proposition p is used as a representation of an 'abstract hypothesis’. The epistemic interpretation of must is highly subjective as it depends on the speaker’s belief-set backed up with various degrees of support by available evidence. That is. The role of (15b) is that of ‘interpreting’ the base proposition in (15a).epistemic distinction is mainly pragmatic in nature (both the conversational background and the ordering source involve non-linguistic/pragmatic knowledge). Susana Foo is one of the most expensive restaurants in Philadelphia.

The epistemic operator expresses the speaker’s attitude towards this base proposition. it is no wander that epistemic modality developed out of deontic modality in the process of subjectification in grammar. From the speaker’s point of view. In conclusion.e. the proposition p is a representation formed in the mind of the speaker. If the speaker’s evidence for the truth of the base proposition p were weaker he would choose to use may or might. The meaning of deontic modal verbs broadened and bleached to the extent that modal verbs became 162 . all modal verbs communicate a type of relation (necessity or possibility) between a certain proposition p (as in (15a)) and the speaker’s belief-set (as in (15b)).(necessity). which is verified for its truth-value in a modal base made up of the speaker’s set of beliefs. the modal operator operates on the proposition p (a representation formed in the mind of the speaker). Papafragou 2000). an utterance that contains a modal verb (i. The deontic modal base is a subset of the conversational background in which the proposition p is evaluated for its truth (see section 2. In their epistemic uses.. The speaker takes into account the reliability of those beliefs and performs deductive operations on them.). the use of epistemic modality rests crucially on his ability to reflect on the content of his own beliefs. The proposition p under a modal verb interpreted epistemically is “not to be treated as directly picking out a state of affairs in the world but as an epistemic object” (Sweetser 1990). a modal operator) has three component parts. From the hearer’s point of view. In case the utterance is interpreted epistemically.2. In fact. no matter whether it is interpreted deontically or epistemically: modal operator modal base proposition p In case the utterance is interpreted deontically. the comprehension of an epistemically modalised utterance involves reference to the communicator’s evaluation of a proposition in terms of mentally represented evidence (cf. the modal operator operates on the proposition p and relates p to a modal base for its truthconditions. In view of the above observations.

again without do-support: (20) You shall have the money by tomorrow! / *You do shall have the money by tomorrow! The following properties distinguish the modal auxiliaries from the aspectual auxiliary verbs have and be: (i) modals lack conjugation: (21) *He cans swim / I am swimming / He has written. The most striking characteristics of the English modals are the so-called NICE properties (Huddleston. (ii) Inversion of the subject with the modal is obligatory in interrogative sentences and in tags. modal verbs form a special class of auxiliary verbs.0.e. 4. can’t you? / You can speak English. 163 .1. The following properties distinguish the English modals from lexical verbs: (i) Negation can attach to the modal. do cannot be inserted: (17) Must they leave? / *Do they must leave? (18) You can speak English. subsets of conversational backgrounds) and epistemic modal bases (i. (iv) Emphatic affirmation is possible. Their properties set them apart from both lexical verbs and the other class of auxiliaries (i. Because of their morpho-syntactic properties.e... *don’t you? (iii) Modals can appear in the “coda”: (19) I can come and so can Bill / *I can come and so does Bill. (ii) modals cannot be followed by non-finite forms: (22) *He can to swim / *He can swimming / He has left / He is writin. without do-support: (16) I cannot come / *I do not can come. Coda and Emphasis properties of modals). Inversion.e. 1976) (NICE is the acronym from Negation. the speaker’s belief-sets).. the aspectual auxiliaries have and be).compatible with both deontic modal bases (i. Morpho-syntactic Properties of Modal Verbs 4.

164 (no ability interpretation) (no permission interpretation) . etc. modals can occur in the progressive aspect: (27) He can be singing now. ability. Hoffman (1976) also noticed a systematic syntactic distinction between the epistemic and the root interpretation of modal verbs.) they cannot occur in the progressive aspect or with the perfect infinitive form: (30) *He can be singing now. modals can occur with the perfect infinitive form: (28) He must have already left (iii) with this interpretation. (25) The boss said he might go right away. 4. volition. and logical inference) they evince the following syntactic patterns: (i) with this interpretation. probability. When modal verbs are interpreted epistemically (when they span notions such as possibility. modal auxiliaries may have both past and present tense forms (see 24).(iii) modals always select a short infinitive as their complement: (23) He can (*to) swim. obligation. (iv) like aspectual auxiliaries. (31) *He must have already left. some of them have a past tense form that can only be used in reported speech (see 25): (24) They can play the piano / He could play the piano when he was young. their meaning spans notions such as permission.e. When modal verbs are interpreted deontically (i.2.. modals have no selection restrictions on the subject: (29) The apple/the boy must have fallen from the tree. (v) modals have no passive form (vi) modals have no imperative form (vii) modals cannot co-occur (with the exception of some dialects): (26) *You might would say that. (ii) with this interpretation.

Consider the following examples: (34) a. this generalization is not absolute. 4.. it has also been noticed that since epistemic modality involves inferential processes on the part of the speaker. once such a context becomes available. etc. However. b. (33) *My car must leave now. The table should be ready for dinner before 7. involve an agent responsible for carrying out the relevant activity. it is hard to construct a context in which the speaker asks whether a conclusion is possible or necessary with respect to his own set of beliefs. However. Consider: (37) a. b. Might John be a liar? b. You must leave now. You may sing now. It has also been pointed out that root modals impose selection restrictions on the subject: the subject should be animate. epistemic modals unlike root modals cannot appear sentence-initially in yes-no interrogatives: (35) May the race start? ‘Is there permission for the race to start?’ *’Is it possible that the race starts?’ (36) Should John leave? ‘Is it required that John leave?’ *’Is it predictable that John will leave?’ More specifically. interrogative-initial epistemics become acceptable. (permission) (obligation) This is explained in the following terms.3. A responsible agent typically grants permission for an activity that will be carried out in the future (not the past or the present). (no obligation interpretation) This is so because deontic modals. 4.Rather. Moreover. Must John be a liar? 165 . There must be law and order in the country.4. deontic/root modals have a future time orientation: (32) a. which communicate permission. the same goes for imposing ‘obligation’. More often than not root modality is associated with activities while epistemic modality is associated with events (Papafragou 2000). obligation.

Rather the scope divide with respect to negation seems to be drawn along the following lines: necessity operators scope over negation (i. they occur before negation) while possibility operators scope under negation (i.e. They must not leave. *It is not possible that you will be given this opportunity again.5. (epistemic meaning) ‘It is certain that these children are not older than 3’. 166 .1.e. (epistemic meaning) It is possible that you will not be given this opportunity again. The following examples together with their analyses are taken from Papafragou (2000:92). *’It is not certain that these children are older than 3’. root modals scope inside negation) as in (38) below while on the epistemic interpretation of a modal verb negation affects the main predication (i. Necessity Operators: they scope over negation (40) a. 4... It was also noticed that negation operates differently in root and epistemic modality. 4. These children must not be older than 3. *You are allowed not to enter. b. However. (root meaning) ‘It is required that they do not leave’. (root/deontic meaning) You are not allowed to enter.Such sentences involve deliberative questions in which the speaker addresses a question to himself in an attempt to elaborate the evidence he has for a certain conclusion.5. negation affects the modal predication if the modal has root meaning (i. *’It is not required that they do not leave’. The different locus of negation in the two interpretations of modal verbs has been taken as a syntactic reflex in syntactically separating deontic / root interpretation from epistemic interpretation. epistemic modals scope outside negation) as in (39) below (Coates 1983): (38) You may not enter.e. it appears that the position of negation in the two modal interpretations is not a reliable test for separating root meaning from epistemic meaning. they occur after negation).. As a rule.. (39) You may not be given this opportunity again.e.

(epistemic meaning) ‘It is predictable that she will not appear before noon’. (root meaning) ‘It is advisable for John not to drink alcohol’. could. *’It is not the case that it is advisable for John to drink alcohol’. (epistemic meaning) ‘It is predictable that he will not be late’. (46) You dare not resign. *’It is not the case that it is predictable that he will be late’. shall.5. You ought not to come.2.(41) a. 4. ‘George does not have the ability to swim’. (45) a. ‘George did not have the ability to swim’. 167 . She ought not to appear before noon. ‘It is not the case that you need resign. *’It is not the case that it is predictable that she will appear before noon’. (root meaning) ‘It is required that you do not come’. b. You need not resign. ‘It is not the case that the proof need exist. (44) George could not swim. The scope of negation and its effects will be signaled out when we analyze the root and epistemic interpretations of modal verbs (especially the cases of modal can and must). *’It is not required that you come’. b. must. In what follows we present a detailed description of the modal verbs can. He should not be late. b. might. should. may. will. John should not drink alcohol. ‘It is not the case that you dare resign. he only went across the road. ought to. Possibility Operators: they scope under negation (43) George can not swim. The proof need not exist. (42) a. need and dare on both their deontic and epistemic interpretations when their modal bases are not linguistically indicated but must be inferred from the context. would.

168 .. That is. c.e. available evidence allows the speaker to infer that cigarettes can seriously damage your health). Cigarettes can seriously damage your health. Notice however that these sentences also allow a deontic ‘potentiality’ interpretation: given statistics on how dangerous smoking is. computer-aided instruction can co-occur with more traditional methods of teaching.5. b. CAN 5. b. Klinge 1993. Consider now the following examples: (49) a. the modal base of CAN does not preclude an activity x from taking place now or in the future. General Remarks The modal meaning of CAN generally covers the notion of potentiality (Watson 1988. which are again highly compatible with the states of affairs in the actual world. In view of the way schools are run today….1. In view of the teachers’ encouraging stance….0. In view of the technological equipment available for education processes…. The ‘in view of’ paraphrases are subsets of the modal base and the interpretation of CAN in these contexts is root/deontic ‘potentiality’: (48) a. Even expert drivers can make mistakes. Consider the following example: (47) Computer-aided instruction can co-occur with more traditional methods of teaching. The modal base of CAN in (47) is the set of assumptions/facts about technological progress in current teaching practices. A state of affairs is characterized as potential when it is compatible with the state of affairs in the real world. smoking cigarettes is potentially dangerous. Bolinger 1989. Papafragou 2000). This modal base can be further contextually narrowed down to picking out subsets of these assumptions. Traditional grammars have interpreted CAN in (49a.b) as having an epistemic ‘possibility’ interpretation (i.

the speaker’s current beliefs leave open the possibility for either p or ~p to come out as true. b.. Yet. in (50b) since the use of CAN is always compatible with a factual modal base. possiblity) while CAN is precluded from occurring with an epistemic modal base. we arrive at a contradiction in terms: on the one hand.That is why many linguists (Leech 1971.. In contrast. we acknowledge the fact that in affirmative sentences the use of MAY on its epistemic (possibility) interpretation is preferred (Leech 1971). which states that CAN has both a deontic and an epistemic interpretation. *He can be. and again he can not. the proposition p is compatible with the set of factual propositions but on the other hand it is not (~p). possibility): (51) a. He may be. Can she be that old? (impossibility) (possibility) In what follows we shall adopt the more conservative view. That is. Ştefănescu 1988) argue that the modal meaning of CAN is “best viewed as indeterminate outside a larger context that helps us choose between these two alternative interpretations” (Ştefănescu 1988:423). However. Other linguists claim that in affirmative sentences CAN has no epistemic interpretation at all since it always operates on factual modal bases (Papafragou 2000). since CAN operates on factual modal bases it acquires only a deontic ‘potentiality’ interpretation (Papafragou 2000).e. Consider the following context of use that illustrates the claim: (50) Do you think that James is hiding something from the authorities? a. In (50) only MAY gives a well-formed sentence and is interpreted epistemically (i. in negative and interrogative sentences CAN is interpreted epistemically (i. epistemic possibility in affirmative sentences is conveyed by the use of the modal verb MAY. In (50a) the speaker communicates that the proposition ‘James is hiding something from the authorities’ is compatible with his set of beliefs but goes on (after some deliberation) asserting that the negation of this proposition (~p) is also compatible with his belief-set. 169 . and again he may not. b.e. Instead. He can’t be that impudent. In sum.

Consider the following contrast: (53) John is swimming. Palmer 1979. The ability/potentiality meaning of CAN is paraphrased as ‘John can swim and will swim’ (Palmer 1979). Jespersen 1931. the speaker does not assert that John is actually swimming now.2. (54) John can swim. Due to its general interpretation of potentiality root CAN may also indicate various kinds of acts such as suggestion. Can you just remind me? b. In (53). the speaker asserts that John is now engaged in an ongoing activity of swimming. Can you give me a hand with the painting? (suggestion) (offer) (request) (request) These types of interpretation require the presence of a collection of contextual assumptions that involve both the hearer and the speaker. These previous occasions are such that they do not preclude a similar occurrence in the future. Sentence (54) conveys the meaning that the speaker has in mind some sets of circumstances that include previous occasions on which John demonstrated his ability to swim. (56) I can give you a lift. He can lift a hundredweight. John can swim like a fish. Ability CAN (root meaning) On its root/deontic interpretation. In (54). Poutsma 1926) have identified three main modal meanings of CAN: ability. (57) a. c. On its ability/potentiality interpretation CAN covers present and future time-spheres while the present progressive covers only a present time interval. 5. b.Traditional grammarians (Leech 1971. offer or request: (55) We can meet one day after work. In 170 . CAN refers to both physical and mental ability: (52) a. Can you speak English? The ability sense of CAN may be easily included in the broader ‘potentiality’ meaning of CAN with a present or future time orientation. permission (root/deontic meanings) and possibility (epistemic meaning).

It was long ago noticed that in many contexts deontic CAN may occur when BE ABLE TO does since both are related to circumstances that do not preclude an activity from occurring: (61) a. Our team can / is able to beat your team. the sentences above acquire habitual/generic interpretations (He tells awful lies / She is catty / She is charming).(55) and (56). On the other hand. b. (59) How much competition can I stand from now on? / What you can remember in two weeks is the thing that matters. which distinguish CAN from 171 . the two verbs are not always interchangeable. These shades of meaning. remember. the embedded proposition p represents a state of affairs that is desirable to the hearer from his own point of view as well as beneficial to him. the interrogation does not function as a genuine question that elicits information. In this case. Moreover. In (57a. BE ABLE TO rather specifies the subject’s ability to accomplish a certain task under specific circumstances. but as a request addressed to the hearer. bear): (58) I can see the moon / A song can be heard in the distance / I can feel the presence of a stranger in the room. stand. However. Ability/potentiality CAN is associated with two additional occurrences: (i) CAN may occur with verbs of sensation (hear. it is the whole sentence that purports this interpretation rather than the sense of CAN. think. While CAN really shows general ‘potentiality’. which may also be subsumed to its ‘potentiality’ interpretation: (60) He can tell awful lies / She can be catty (at times) / She can be charming. Notice that the ‘characteristic’ meaning of CAN has little to do with the verb CAN itself. He can / is able to lift a hundredweight. smell. see. and taste) and verbs of cognition (understand. (ii) CAN may also have the so-called ‘characteristic’ reading.b) CAN is used in an interrogative sentence that has you as subject. feel. the speaker has the responsibility for bringing about the state of affairs described in p but no obligation to do so. if we leave the modal verb aside.

In this way we are able to carry our research and not simply to undertake consulting. John can swim. Consider other examples with BE ABLE TO: (63) a. We are able. You can go now. must be able to. b. 172 . Permission CAN (root meaning) Beginning with the 18th century CAN has come to be used with the sense of permission. to find the optimum solution. only BE ABLE TO is available after other modal verbs: should be able to. With this meaning it has tended to replace MAY: (66) a.3. In (62a) the interpretation of CAN is ability/potentiality as John’s swimming may be actualized any time (now or in the future). only BE ABLE TO is allowed: (64) I ran and I was able to catch the bus. if he likes.BE ABLE TO are made clear when these verbs occur with an embedded conditional clause such as ‘if he likes’. (65) *I ran and I could catch the bus. Sentence (62b) is ill formed because the accomplishment of a task is dictated by circumstances and does not depend on somebody’s liking or disliking to carry out the activity of swimming. might be able to. in mathematical terms. b. b. 5. if he likes. Consider the contrast: (62) a. (iii) if the temporal reference of the sentence is past and if the situation is a single accomplished occurrence. *John is able to swim. BE ABLE TO is preferred to CAN under the following conditions (Palmer 1979): (i) since CAN has no non-finite forms. (ii) BE ABLE TO is more formal than CAN and tends to be used especially in written texts. However. You can smoke in this room.

All the sentences in (68) are more or less offensive and their impolite tone contains an ironical touch: the speaker offers the hearer a choice that is not convenient or desirable from the hearer’s point of view. while the explicit future time reference of permission CAN is rendered by the future tense of the verbs permit or allow: (71) I shall allow/permit you to talk with her. thank you very much. You can start looking for another job! The explicit future time reference of ability CAN is rendered by the future tense of BE ABLE TO: (70) He’ll be able to run a mile in 4 minutes next year. However. a suggestion made by the speaker to the hearer is so sarcastic that the suggestion is interpreted as a command of a brusque and somewhat impolite kind: (69) a. Your mother was out and couldn’t have the key. X: Can I smoke in here? Mr. b. In present-day colloquial English CAN with permission interpretation is more widely used than MAY although it is perceived as less polite than MAY. CAN has the less specific meaning of ‘you have permission’ rather than the more specific one of ‘I grant you permission’. The speaker has authority over the hearer but it is in the hearer’s power to bring about this state of affairs. If he doesn’t like it he can lump it. You can jump in the lake.(past ability) 173 . The past time reference of ability and permission CAN is conveyed by COULD: (72) a. The sentence You can smoke in this room simply means that rules/regulations allow smoking in this room: (67) Mr. c. Y: So far as I know you can – there is no notice to the contrary.In (66) the state of affairs described by the proposition p is desirable from the hearer’s point of view. In the same line. You can leave me out. You can forget about your holidays. b. permission CAN is not always used for granting permission to the benefit of the hearer. Consider the sentences in (68): (68) a.

that is. She said that. the time sphere of COULD is present or extended present. He said I could leave the next day. (more polite form of granting permission) This use of COULD is also called ‘hypothetical’ COULD (Leech 1971). Hypothetical COULD However. then? (more polite form of asking permission) b. ordering source) that are closer and more similar to the way the world should be. could we go on to modern novels. (past permission) b’. Consider the following examples: (74) a. (ability) c. Could I speak to the manager. COULD may describe ideals of action or behaviour in subsets of its modal base (i. In this case. 5. He could go if he wants to. I could do it with the right moral support. possibility CAN is more frequently used in nonassertions. epistemic (possibility) MAY is preferred: 174 . in negative and interrogative sentences: (76) a. Consider other examples of hypothetical COULD: (75) a.3.4.1. if he wanted.a’. Can she be that old? In affirmative sentences. He can’t be that stupid! b. Do you think you could command an army? (ability) b. he could come. b.e. Possibility CAN (epistemic meaning) As already said. Why was the house so cheap? No one could get a mortgage on it. deontic COULD does not exclusively cover the past time sphere of various actions. please? (more polite form of asking permission) 5. COULD may also acquire a habitual interpretation when a recurrent event in the past is intended: (73) My father could usually lay hands on what he wanted. Well..

c. There could be trouble at the match tomorrow. b. You could try to be a bit more polite. he can’t have been too happy either. Can you have made such a mistake? 5.4. Michael may well get his degree next year. Poor devil.1. Hypothetical COULD In hypothetical situations. may occur in the progressive aspect: (79) You can be standing on it. epistemic CAN has come to be used as a ‘tactful/democratic’ imperative when addressing a person regarded as one’s equal (Leech 1971): (78) Mike and Wily. unlike deontic CAN. 175 . you know. In (81b) COULD is used to convey reproach and the sentence is paraphrased as ‘it would be possible for you to be a little more civilized but in fact you don’t behave yourself’. you can be standing over there. Remember that epistemic CAN. In colloquial English. COULD may acquire an epistemic interpretation covering a present or extended present time sphere: (81) a. and Janet can enter from behind the curtain. He can have been hiding at that time. The combination in (82) leads to a ‘contrary-to-fact’ interpretation and is contextually used as a complaint about a past omission. so be careful! The past time reference of epistemic CAN is rendered by CAN + the perfect infinitive form of the main verb: (80) a. b. b.(77) a. He may have been joking when he said that. Hypothetical COULD may also combine with the perfect infinitive form of the main verb (it is the perfect infinitive that carries the past tense marker of the sentence while COULD is interpreted hypothetically): (82) You could have given me some notice (but you didn’t).

1. 176 . The bank employee (who has banking authority) informs the customer that the bank regulations permit the branch to convert his account into a student account. Given that interrupting the seminar as often as is needed is also desirable from the students’ point of view and that the teacher has some authority as far as leading the seminar is concerned. Consider the following example: (83) During the seminar. In this context. Suppose that the person who teaches the seminar addresses his class with the sentence above.6. 6. The teacher makes it manifest that students are in a position to interrupt as long as he does not object. Consider also the examples below where permission MAY has rules and regulations as a modal base: (85) A local health authority may. (The modal base of the sentence is thus. the student) has made manifest that he is interested in changing the account he has and that he considers the change desirable from his own point of view. bank regulations constitute the modal base over which the modal verb operates. The young customer (the speaker.0. i. with the approval of the Minister. the teacher’s own preferences). as the authority considers responsible. (83) conveys a permission interpretation.such charges.e. you just need to supply us with proof of student status. receive from persons to which advice is given under this section….. MAY The modal verb MAY is used with two different interpretations: a permission (root) interpretation and a possibility (epistemic) interpretation. you may interrupt as often as is needed. Permission MAY (root meaning) Permission MAY is perceived as more polite than permission CAN because it includes the speaker’s preferences and conveys a greater involvement on the part of the speaker. Consider also the following sentence uttered by a bank employee addressing a young customer: (84) Our branch may convert your account into a student account.

When permission is granted in the future the future tense of be allowed to or be permitted to is used: (88) He’ll be allowed to/permitted to leave the hospital in two weeks time. d. that gun may be loaded. the fact that Jones was in the middle of talking rather makes manifest the opposite assumption (i. formal / very polite requests in the present: (90) Might I have a light. used in reported speech: (89) He said she might leave. In this context. The past time reference of permission MAY is rendered by MIGHT. it is not the case that MAY is always felt to be polite. 6. please? 6.1. it may well be that his wife would like a house of her own.e. Possibility MAY (epistemic meaning) MAY has a possibility interpretation in contexts such as: (91) a. that he does not wish to leave immediately). If he should marry.. Jones does not consider going home as desirable from his own point of view. Perhaps she may be his daughter. 177 . though he is not married. although they are contextually salient.2. b. Careful. Imagine that a general utters (87) thus interrupting a soldier who is talking: (87) You may go home.and it is subject to the final prerogative of mercy of the Home Secretary who may recommence a reprieve. The utterance is perceived as rude because the general ignores the hearer’s preferences. A friend may betray you.1. c.(86) …. actually. Hypothetical MIGHT MIGHT is also used to convey hypothetical. Jones. However.

you don’t. both CAN and MAY render a possibility and in many contexts the distinction between them is hardly perceivable: 178 . you didn’t. A Parallel between CAN and MAY From an epistemic point of view. the event did not take place): (95) a. hypothetical epistemic MIGHT + perfect infinitive form acquires a contrary-to-fact interpretation (in fact. for a change! b. The sentence in (95b) means that although you had the possibility/opportunity to tell me about it in due time. You might help me with the luggage. The past time reference of epistemic MAY is conveyed by MIGHT + perfect infinitive forms: (92) He may have left earlier. You might have told me about it in due time. In the past.2.1. In familiar speech MIGHT is also used in reproaches (as COULD may): (94) a.3. The assumption is that although it is possible for you to stop grumbling at me. You might stop grumbling at me. MAY focuses primarily on the current verifiability of the truth of the sentence. The sentence qualifies as a complaint or reproach about a contrary-to-fact situation. 6. 6. Arthur might have taken it away again. b.MAY on its possibility interpretation indicates that evidence available to the speaker is such that the sentence is not currently assumed to be true but nor can it currently be false. Hypothetical MIGHT Hypothetical possibility MIGHT is used to render polite suggestions in the present: (93) We might meet again after Christmas if you like.

You must get in permanent jobs. MUST The modal verb MUST has both a root/deontic meaning (obligation) and an epistemic meaning (necessity. Sentence (97a) may be uttered at any time while sentence (97b) only at a time of a financial crisis.(96) After his divorce. The dollar can devalue. She must be made to do it. You must be back by 10 o’clock. 7. The dollar may devalue. logical deduction). 7. Peter can/may visit his daughter whenever he likes. b. The root/deontic interpretation of (99) arise under the following conditions: (i) the modal base involves the speaker’s desires and factual 179 . d. b. it is (97b) that is far more worrying for those who are interested in the health of the dollar currency. c. Sentence (98a) is a general observation made about friends. However. CAN and MAY are not always interchangeable. A friend can betray you. b. that is the circumstances include at least an instance of a friend committing a betrayal.0. Out of the two statements. Consider the following pair of examples: (97) a. Tell him he must stop this dishonest behavior. hence. The contrast between the following sentences is interpreted in the same way: (98) a. the circumstances are such as not to prevent another instantiation of betrayal (potentiality). A friend may betray you.1. Sentence (98b) is more likely to be a warning about one particular friend. Obligation MUST (root meaning) When MUST is used in a context relative to the system of social laws and a person is in a position of authority MUST is interpreted as indicating obligation or compulsion: (99) a.

I must do what I can to protect my wife.e. The first sentence in (100) conveys the meaning that the speaker’s desire is that he and his addressee go for a drink one day.assumptions. the sentence is interpreted as an urgent form of suggestion / offer. I must say. stop it!) or in If you must behave like a savage. You must come and visit us sometime. We must go for a drink some day. A variant of the ‘obligation’ interpretation of MUST arises in cases of quasi-imperative suggestions or offers: (100) a.. at least make sure the neighbors aren’t home. I’ve never known that. Thus a question such as Must I answer all these letters myself? means Are these your orders?. When MUST occurs in interrogative sentences it is the hearer’s authority that is questioned and not that of the speaker’s. 180 . I think I must make a confession here. be discrete! MUST is often used with a limited set of verbs related to the act of conversation: I must say / admit / be honest / ask you / reiterate / confess / mention and you must remember / admit / realize / understand. Moreover. (ii) the speaker has authority over the hearer. b. Contextually. as in You must keep everything to yourself. b. (iii) the hearer is in a position to bring about the state of affairs described in the embedded proposition. When self-compulsion is inflicted MUST may also occur with subjects in the first person I or we: (101) a. For heaven’s sake. there is also a sarcastic or ironical usage of MUST in Must you make that dreadful noise? (i. Yes. We must use it once or twice. MUST can be used as a firm piece of advice almost equivalent to an imperative. etc. c.: (102) a. b. Since the addressee most probably shows sensitivity to his interlocutor’s desire (due to the social rules governing their relations). I must ask for that Monday off.

1. the effect of the modal verb is to weaken the assertion made by the plain verb.1. You don’t have to pay that fine. ‘It is required that they do not leave’. hence. c. (lack of interdiction or obligation) ‘You are not obliged to pay that fine’. (103) a. b. The negative forms of HAVE TO and HAVE GOT TO are distinct from each other: the negative form of HAVE TO is does / do / did not have to while that of HAVE GOT TO is has / have / had not to: (104) a. HAVE GOT TO is generally used in spoken language. (They are not obliged [to juggle about]) b.The form I admit is a stronger assertion than I must admit. They haven’t got to juggle about. There is a whole lot of literature you’ve got to read. 181 . (interdiction) When modality itself is negated there is no appropriate form with MUST and NEED NOT (NEEDN’T) is used: (106) You needn’t pay that fine. having to. instead. the forms of HAVE TO must be used: to have to. He’s got to go into hospital. According to Palmer (1979) there are two points of difference between these forms: (i) HAVE TO is more formal. The examples in (103) contain both instances of HAVE TO and HAVE GOT TO. They’ve got the total page copy. you know. I have to be at the airport at four. Negation of Obligation MUST When deontic (obligation) MUST is negated the paraphrase of MUST assumes wide scope with respect to negation: (105) They must not (mustn’t) leave. (You are not obliged [to pay that fine]) 7. *having got to do not exist). (ii) HAVE GOT TO has no non-finite forms (the forms *to have got to. HAVE (GOT) TO is a synonym of deontic MUST and indicates external compulsion while MUST itself implies internal compulsion.

2000). the players must move a pawn. 182 . Necessity MUST (epistemic meaning) Consider the following examples: (111) a. Well. In opening a game of chess. c. He had trifled with life and must now pay the penalty. the difference in interpretation between MUST and HAVE (GOT) TO is retained and MUST is retained as such: (110) a. b. b. If future time reference is explicitly made the forms will / shall have to are used: (107) a. As can be seen these utterances require regulatory modal bases of different types. b. 7. In reported speech. however. b. Sentence (111a) expresses a necessity with respect to the rules of chess. c. external obligation is retained: (109) a. She said he must go. He gave the children their presents in early December but they didn’t have / hadn’t got to open them until Christmas day. In his youth he had to work hard for a living. (111b) a necessity with respect to the Constitution and (111c) a necessity with respect to judicial rules (Papafragou. The past time reference of deontic MUST is taken over by HAD (GOT) TO and no distinction between internal vs. You must tell me the truth at once.2. She said he had to go. b. She had to sleep in the kitchen last night. The time sphere of MUST itself is present or extended present and it conveys a sense of ‘internal’ obligation: (108) a.2. The accused must remain silent throughout the trial. The president must formally approve the new Government before it can undertake its duties. c. I shall have to go into total silence for half an hour.1.7. I’ll have to think about it. We must do something about it.

Consider the following relevant examples: (112) a. there can be no other conclusion.In other contexts. as in (117): (116) You’ve got to be joking. However. There must be some mistake. Self exploration and exploration in a small group at that level of complexity and so on is bound. It’s bound to come out. (115) John must be in his office. He must be working late in his office. there is a difference in the meaning of BE BOUND TO and MUST. Besides BE BOUND TO. In each case. the lights were on in John’s office). You must have left your handbag at the theatre. b. Consider (114) and (115) below: (114) John’s bound to be in his office. Sentence (114) is the more certain of the two. Consider: (113) a. to generate special languages. for instance. c. (117) You must be joking. b. HAVE (GOT) TO can occur with epistemic interpretation especially in American English as illustrated in (116) while in British English MUST is used. it seems to me. the presence of MUST indicates that the speaker draws the most obvious conclusion (because. but making the strongest of all judgements is not the same as making a factual assertion. 1971:148). the epistemic use of MUST occurs relative to the system of rational laws as a necessary conclusion: “knowledge arrived at by inference or reasoning rather than by direct experience” (Leech. Thus. 183 . In (115). It has little or no sense of ‘logical conclusion’. TO BE ABOUT TO serves as a non-modal expression that in most occurrences has an epistemic interpretation that runs parallel to epistemic MUST. a chain of logical deduction can be postulated: given the evidence. MUST represents the strongest epistemic judgement one can make.

Remember that the auxiliary verbs WILL and SHALL were full lexical verbs in older stages of English (see the Category of Tense sections 10. In the course of time these verbs developed into auxiliary verbs that signaled both modality (i. 8.e. power WILL.e. Volition WILL has the following characteristics: (i) it is used to express actual volition (i.1. You shall sign a statement…. b.). SHALL meant ‘I must.1. It has often been noticed that WILL expresses not only pure ‘want’ but also ‘determination. with respect to the present). Thus.. a promise or a threat: (119) a. the want rests with the subject of the sentence..4. I will write tomorrow / We’ll celebrate this tonight).I will bring it with me for you signature. We distinguish between volition WILL. I am under the obligation’ and WILL meant ‘I want’. and 10.g. In Modern English they retain both a modal and a temporal value. I will begin again. when I come again.e.. Volition WILL (root meaning) The volitional use of WILL expresses want or wish. c. (ii) volition WILL is subject-oriented. (iii) in case a future time is intended. a sentence such as: (118) I will do that.. Marry me and I will save you life. i. habitual WILL (root meanings) and probability WILL (epistemic meaning). ‘resolve’ to carry something out. it is separately indicated in the sentence (e. and I shall do it”.. function of the context.8. WILL There are four modal bases in which WILL can be evaluated. means “I am willing or determined to do that. possibility / probability) and futurity. Volition WILL with first person subject may convey. 184 .0.

Will you kindly…. The question can be made even politer when accompanied by further markers of politeness: Will you be good enough to…?. Will you like to…? In questions in the third person volition WILL is used emphatically: (122) Poor Joe. this question is in fact used as a polite substitute for an imperative. A question in the second person such as Will you? is the equivalent of a request.?. (120) You will put the box into the van. Will you remind me of this? b. I shall be glad if he will come. I shan’t be happy unless she will come. Would you pass the dictionary.The affirmative form you will is used as a request or order. Will you dine with us on Saturday? Contextually. most often to a subordinate person. asking if someone is willing is taken as a request for action: (121) a. WILL expresses willingness rather than determination: (123) a. why will he be so shy? Volition WILL in the second and third person is most commonly used in conditional clauses after if and unless. please? 185 . Would Mr. 8. The past time reference of WILL in reported speech is WOULD or the past tense of be willing to: (124) I asked him whether he would it / was willing to do it. Although it is a question about the hearer’s willingness. Hypothetical WOULD WOULD is also used as a hypothetical marker of volition WILL when it expresses formal or polite requests in the present or extended present time: (125) a. will you….1. b. Smith come to the information desk? b.1. In these contexts.? is a mild form of an imperative. that is.

said John. If you would sit by me every night I shall work better. Pa. I told you. (iii) in subordinate adverbial clauses of condition introduced by the conjunction if and unless: (128) a. rather.…. Both volition WILL and power WILL are subject-oriented. WOULD NOT (WOULDN’T) is used as a tentative refusal: (127) a. Power WILL (root meaning) Power WILL is used with inanimate objects and ‘indicates how such objects will characteristically behave’ (Palmer. I wish he would come soon. c. I dare say she would prefer to go.These are not genuine questions asking for information about the hearer’s will. (iv) in complement clauses after a verb expressing wish: (129) a. He was angry and he would not go. losing his self-command. (ii) in negative contexts. Will the ice bear? c. b. The boat will hold only half of these. but you wouldn’t believe it. b. b. If she would prefer to go she would g. 186 .2. try as he would to keep calm. The moneylender said he would not renew the bill. I wish the snow would melt.e. the source of ‘will’ or ‘power’ is seen as intrinsic to the subject of WILL. Doors were shut upon him. go where he would.. c. b. The hall will seat five hundred people. they are formal. b. Hypothetical volition WOULD is also used in the following characteristic contexts: (i) in constructions with the main verb pre-posed: (126) a. 1979): (130) a. i. c. 8. I wish he would stop that noise. polite requests for action undertaken by the hearer.

Sentence (134b) communicates a habitual activity in the past only if a past time index is added (such as when I was young). The past tense reference of power WILL is conveyed by WOULD: (131) I tired hard but the door wouldn’t open. the modal bases are interpreted as someone/something being ‘positively disposed towards something’ (Perkins. I used to mow the lawn.For both uses of WILL discussed so far. given certain empirical circumstances. 8. I would mow the lawn. The hall would seat 100 persons. The past tense of habitual WILL is rendered by WOULD or USED TO with the following difference in meaning: the form USED TO only correlates with past time reference while WOULD is not thus restricted. As in the case of power WILL the modal base of habitual WILL is again the system of natural laws. A falling drop will hollow the stone.1. c.2. otherwise iterativity may also hold in the present. A house in London would cost a lot of money. 8. Consider: (134) a. b. Volition WILL refers to the system of social laws within which someone is disposed towards something while power WILL refers to the system of natural laws in which something characteristically behaves in a certain way. 187 . Sentence (134a) communicates a habitual activity in the past. b. a situation regularly or occasionally takes place as a consequence of a natural tendency of a person or object: (133) a.3. Hypothetical WOULD Hypothetical power WOULD is used with inanimate subjects in the present or extended present: (132) a. Habitual WILL (root meaning) Habitual WILL is used to state that. Boys will be boys. b. 1983). A cat will often play with the mouse before she kills it.

Consider other examples: (136) a. Truth will out. You will have received the box by that time. Mother will be expecting me and will be getting uneasy. Its past time reference is rendered by WOULD plus the perfect infinitive form: (140) That’s what a sensible man would have done. That would be in the year 1879. He will have brought his mother back by that time. b. This will be the tower of London. I suppose. 188 . A lion will attack a man when hungry. 8. Oil will float on water. c. the circumstances are interpreted as evidence that the addressee is most probably John’s daughter. That’s what a sensible man would do.4.4. Probability WILL (epistemic meaning) In a sentence such as: (135) You will be John’s daughter. The epistemic interpretation of WILL is naturally suited to scientific and quasi-scientific statements: (137) a. That will be the postman. Hypothetical WOULD The hypothetical epistemic form WOULD is more tentative than probability WILL. c. It will have been perceived that old Lady Lufton had heard nothing of Major Grantly’s offence. How long would that take? b.1. c. If the inference concerns a past time sphere. WILL plus the perfect infinitive form is used: (138) a. c.8. Consider: (139) a. b. In (136) and (137) the inferences concern the present or extended present time. b.

No one shall stop me. The hood shall be of scarlet cloth. with a silk lining of the color of the faculty. in legal and quasi-legal documents. jealous stepmothers). You shall never see me again.0. She shall be mine. in the biblical Ten Commandments (e. c. It is used to indicate that it is the will of the speaker/agent that imposes obligation: (141) a. Good dog. undemocratic overtones of imperiousness: (142) a. A player who bids incorrectly shall forfeit fifty points. at least in informal English.g. In Old English and Middle English. you shall have a bone when we get home.2. sceal took objects such as money and tribute. while WILL meant ‘I want. Depending on the larger context in which it occurs SHALL may carry strong. b. You shall not go tonight.9. 9. c. Thou shalt not kill). You shall not be excused if you go. wicked witches. In time this distinction has very much eroded. The modal verb SHALL has both a root meaning (obligation) and an epistemic meaning (probability. prediction). You shall obey my orders. c. b. SHALL is rarer than WILL and it is largely restricted to first person interrogatives. With this meaning SHALL is felt as obsolete in Modern English.. In Modern English. the Old English SCEAL. 189 . General Remarks The original meaning of SHALL. SHALL 9. in rules for card games and academic dress: (143) a. b. The first condition of legal justice is that it shall hold the balance impartially.1. It has survived in fairy-tales (where it is frequently on the lips of ogres. will’. is ‘owe’. Obligation SHALL (root meaning) The root/deontic sense of SHALL is obligation. am under obligation’. During the period from 1370-1570 SHALL meant ‘I must.

Papafragou 2000). 9. you shall answer for it. You shan’t escape. b. normal course of events and its time sphere is present or extended present. Shall I show him into the parlor? In second person interrogatives. SHALL is interpreted as a promise or threat on the part of the agent: (146) a. I am under obligation. it retains overtones of its original meaning: I must. SHOULD communicates a hypothetical meaning. Shall I go? b. In Modern English. Shall you be in if I call in the afternoon? b. Hypothetical SHOULD conveys obligation of a weaker type than MUST: (147) You should clean the place once in a while. which inquires about the other person’s will / willingness): (145) a. there is a gentleman below who wishes to see you. Sir. SHALL is used to inquire about the wish of the addressee/hearer: (144) a.1. However. Shall you stay in Paris? In the second and third person statements. In such a context SHOULD expresses obligation with respect to norms.2. expressing obligation relative to existing norms or stereotypes. If you hurt a hair of her head. Hypothetical SHOULD SHOULD is not interpreted as the past tense of obligation SHALL (Warner 1993. shall you is used in situations that are independent from the will of the person addressed (distinct from will you. SHOULD is used as a hypothetical marker with inverted word order or in the quasi-subjunctive construction and its time sphere is present or extended present: 190 . When shall you do it? c.In first person interrogative sentences. Most probably SHOULD entered the modal system of English as a separate individual item.

b. I do not desire that I should be left alone to the task.1. 1983). Probability. b. normative hypothetical SHOULD. this should be my book.(148) a. Prediction SHALL (epistemic meaning) SHALL is interpreted epistemically when its modal base is the system of rational laws and where the empirical evidence implies the truth of the sentence: (150) a. c. the first example in (151) shows that the speaker cannot be certain that the circumstances in the actual world guarantee that the proposition p is true. The only evidence that he has for the embedded proposition comes from his beliefs about the normal. expectation or probability and its time sphere is present or extended present. 9. By heaven.3. expected course of 191 .3. Should you require any further assistance. As I remember that should be the house. The general meaning of epistemic SHALL is that ‘someone / something is disposed towards something’ (Perkins. A flower shall produce thousands of seeds. That should be the plumber. Hypothetical SHOULD Epistemic SHOULD covers the notions of prediction. of which perhaps not one shall fall upon fertile ground and grow into a fair plant. Consider the following examples: (151) a. please feel free to contact us. For instance. The sentence in (149) renders the ‘contrary-to-fact’ meaning of the deontic. b. If past time sphere is intended SHOULD plus the perfect infinitive form is used: (149) He should have been more kind to her at the time of their reconciliation. 9. Who touches pitch shall be defiled.

if the circumstances in the real world are as the speaker expects them to be. When used epistemically OUGHT TO conveys a sense of weak necessity and it is weaker and more formal than MUST. expressing past time reference.1. it follows that whoever is ringing the bell is indeed the plumber. In sum. the plumber is expected to arrive some time after the speaker called for him. If the time sphere is past. Its sense is that of conveying something stereotypical or normative. the situation has changed considerably in Modern English. although SHOULD was originally the past tense form of SHALL. (153) One ought to respect one’s country. “Its root interpretations occur when normative assumptions are regarded as representations of external states of affairs. The night should have turned wet since I came in.0. b.events. 10. 2000:232). OUGHT TO OUGHT TO has both a deontic meaning (moral obligation) and an epistemic meaning (weak necessity). for he had a large hat on. SHOULD occurs nowadays with present time reference in both a deontic and epistemic interpretation. Moral Obligation OUGHT TO (root meaning) OUGHT TO (whose semantics refers to ideals or moral obligation / imperatives) resembles obligation MUST but with a slight difference in meaning. On this interpretation it is close in meaning to the use of SHOULD. 192 . So. 10. the evidence should have been very clear indeed to induce an ordinary English jury to convict him. On its deontic/root interpretation the modal base on which OUGHT TO operates is that of ideal/morally commanded state of affairs. In the prevailing temper of the public. SHOULD and the perfect infinitive form is used: (152) a. According to these beliefs. whereas epistemic interpretations arise when the expectation-conforming evidence is focused upon (as set of internal propositional representations)” (Papafragou.

You mustn’t pick your nose in public. we ought not to have done. if one says You must buy some new shoes one assumes that the purchase will be carried out. 193 . different from obligation MUST. (formal / normative obligation) b. When deontic (obligation) OUGHT TO is used it is perceived as more formal and polite than obligation conveyed by MUST and its time sphere is present or extended present: (154) a. The time sphere of epistemic OUGHT TO is present or extended present: (156) Our guests ought to be home by now. Suppose the above sentences are uttered by a treasure seeker while looking at a map. When saying (155a) he is optimistic and he is almost sure he has found the treasure. and we have done those things.The obligation meaning of OUGHT TO. rather conveys lack of confidence in the fulfillment of the situation described.2. Weak Necessity OUGHT TO (epistemic meaning) On its epistemic interpretation OUGHT TO communicates a much weaker sense of necessity than MUST. You oughtn’t to pick your nose in public. b. “For example. (strong obligation / interdiction) 10. This is where the treasure must be. acknowledging that there might be something wrong in his calculations. But You ought to buy some new shoes is a different matter – the speaker could well add under his breath But I don’t know whether you will or not” (Leech 1971:157). Past time reference is rendered by OUGHT TO and the perfect infinitive form: (157) We have left undone those things. Consider the following contrast (Leech 1971): (155) a. which we ought to have done. This is where the treasure ought to be. When uttering (155b) the treasure seeker is more cautious.

In contrast. it occurs with to and has non-finite forms. NEED The modal verb NEED has to be kept apart from the full lexical verb NEED. Consider: (158) a.11. the modal verb NEED has the NICE properties (except for coda and emphatic affirmation). Smithern”. b. Sentence (160a) means ‘I don’t oblige you to trim the hedges this week’ (i.0. The lexical verb NEED has a third person singular indicative present tense form –s. b. negation of the lexical verb NEED).e. Watson need not spend a single evening alone if he didn’t like to.. 11. negation of obligation MUST) while sentence (160b) means ‘the hedges have not grown enough to need trimming (i. NEED has both a deontic meaning (obligation) and an epistemic meaning (necessity). Consider the contrast below (Leech 1971): (160) a. In interrogative sentences both NEED and MUST can be used but with the difference in meaning as indicated below: 194 . He needs to talk with you.e. c. Need I tell my reader that… There is a difference in interpretation between the modal form NEEDN’T and the lexical verb form DON’T / DOESN’T NEED.1. Lady P to her gardener: “The hedges needn’t be trimmed this week. I needed another dress so I bought one. I have no less than five morning dresses so that I need never be seen twice in the same dress. As modal verb NEED is a suppletive form of MUST.. (same situation): “The hedges don’t need to be trimmed”. Obligation NEED (root meaning) Modal NEED does not occur in affirmative contexts. b. It is either used in questions or in negative sentences and supplies these forms for the deontic/obligation MUST: (159) a.

He told her that she need not worry. their distinct interpretations are indicated below: (164) I didn’t need to go there. is maintained and indicates a back-shifted event: (162) a. If past time reference is intended. John doesn’t dare to come. NEED plus the perfect infinitive form is used: (163) a.0. b. b. to challenge’ while the modal verb DARE conveys the meaning of ‘to have the courage or impudence to do something’. (but I went there nevertheless) 12. She need not have been uneasy. 195 . Does John dare to come? (lexical DARE) The lexical verb TO DARE means ‘to venture. John dare not come. has an –s inflectional form for third person present indicative and generally occurs with to. (lexical DARE) (167) a. Need I come tomorrow? ‘Is it necessary for me to come tomorrow?’ b. DARE As in the case of NEED. He made the cottage smaller than it need have been. Dare John come? (modal DARE) b. (modal DARE) b. there is both a modal verb and a lexical verb DARE. like MUST. Compare: (166) a. There is also a difference in interpretation between the negative past tense forms of the two verbs NEED.(161) a. Modal DARE has the NICE properties (except for coda and emphatic affirmation). They can be distinguished formally in that the lexical verb DARE has non-finite forms. (so I stayed home) (165) I needn’t have gone there. She believed she need not fear any persecution. Must I come tomorrow? ‘Do you ask me to come tomorrow?’ As seen above the time sphere of NEED is present or extended present. In indirect discourse NEED.

c. She dare not tell him this is only an insurance policy. I was so upset that I dare not even go upstairs and call Sissie. You know you dare not have given the order if you hadn’t seen us. How dare he judge? b. Consider: (168) a. 196 . In reported speech the form DARE is maintained and signals a back-shifted event (see (168b)). As can be noticed the time sphere of DARE is present or extended present as in (169a) while the past time reference is formed by DARE plus the perfect infinitive form as in (169b) and (169c).1. Hypothetical DARE Modal DARE is always hypothetical and subject-oriented.12. b. He dare not have done it if I had been with him. Consider also the following examples: (169) a.

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