Lexical Aspect

Hana Filip

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Lexical Aspect

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Lexical aspect is a stock concept of natural language semantics that intersects with grammatical aspect, tense, adverbial modification, the syntax and semantics of quantification and various expressions of quantity, argument structure, and linking at the lexical semantics–syntax interface. It also plays a role in the temporal sequencing of discourse, and is a semantic category that concerns properties of eventualities expressed by verbs. In the most general terms, the properties in question have to do with the presence of some end, limit, or boundary in the lexical structure of certain classes of verbs and its lack in others. This basic division among verb meanings is best known as the telic/atelic distinction. Telic verbs express “an action tending toward a goal,” while atelic verbs describe situations that “are realized as soon as they begin.” This article deals with lexical aspect and grammatical aspect, aspectual class, and aspectual form, and also considers two other aspectually relevant concepts: change of state and temporal extent. Finally, it discusses the property of homogeneity as well as the subinterval property and indefinite change.

Keywords: lexical aspect; semantics; grammatical aspect; tense; syntax; telic verbs; atelic verbs; change of state; homogeneity; subinterval property

Article.  14220 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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