Aspect and modality in English predicative and specificational copular clauses

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This paper investigates the use of aspect and modality in English predicative and specificational copulars. To examine attractions of aspectual and modal meanings to the VPs in the copular constructions, I carry out collostructional analyses (Stefanowitsch & Gries 2003). These attractions are interpreted with respect to (i) the lexicogrammatically coded meaning of the copular clauses and (ii) the pragmatic mechanisms that they trigger (e.g. (non-)exhaustiveness implicature), and (iii) the discursive functions they serve in specific contexts of use. It is crucial that this study takes into account specificational copulars with indefinite vs definite variable NPs, which carry an implicature of non-exhaustiveness vs exhaustiveness respectively. I will argue that the felicity of specific aspectual construals is related to the meanings coded at level (i), while the attraction of modal verbs is related to all three levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-234
Number of pages39
JournalEnglish Text Construction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • (non-)exhaustiveness implicature
  • Aspect
  • Collostructional analysis
  • Modality
  • Predicative copular clauses
  • Specificational


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