Tim Stowell

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381979
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This article examines the syntactic properties of tense, and how the theory of syntax should account for them. It considers what counts as a tense, from a semantic perspective, and from a morphosyntactic perspective; where tense morphemes occur in syntactic structures, and the role they play in syntactic derivations; the extent to which the semantic properties of tenses are reflected, in whole or in part, in their syntactic form; and the parallels between tenses and other types of grammatical categories, such as verbs, pronouns, or adverbs. The article also provides a critical survey of the early literature on the semantics of tense, focusing on theories that had the greatest influence on syntactic analyses, and seeking to identify their strengths and weaknesses from a syntactic perspective. Finally, it discusses previous syntactic theories of tense, concentrating on the historical development of ideas within the research tradition of generative grammar that have shaped the current consensus on the role of tense in syntactic phrase structure and in syntactic derivations.

Keywords: syntax; semantics; tense; morphemes; verbs; adverbs; pronouns; generative grammar

Article.  12748 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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