Chapter

Finiteness and the verb

John M. Anderson

in The Substance of Language Volume I

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608317
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732034 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608317.003.0009
Finiteness and the verb

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This chapter assesses the often‐asserted verbal character of finiteness. In the first place it illustrates that other lexical categories, such as noun and adjective, can constitute the finite element in a sentence. Moreover, sentences that apparently lack an appropriate predicator, such as copula‐less locatives and equatives, can be finite. And no appeal need be made to a deleted copula. In different languages all such sentences may lack a copula, in others only some, but it is again unnecessary and undesirable to invoke either copula deletion or insertion. In the second place, and following on from the preceding, the chapter looks at the tradition whereby finiteness is associated with the presence of particular, especially verbal, secondary syntactic categories. The inadequacy of this is illustrated in a discussion of the English ‘bare’ subjunctive. In conclusion there is outlined an analysis of the counterfactuality of the other English subjunctive, the one with an inflection.

Keywords: finite nouns and adjectives; finite locationals and equatives; copula deletion and insertion; verbal categories; subjunctives; counterfactuality

Chapter.  12286 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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