Habitual and Generic Aspect

Greg Carlson

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Habitual and Generic Aspect


As a first approximation, sentences of natural language may be about two different sorts of things. On the one hand, they may talk about what is happening on some occasion or set of occasions. On the other, sentences can be used to talk about general states of affairs, not about particular things happening at some time and place. Two questions present themselves when we discuss “habitual aspect,” the first of which has to do with the content of the term “habitual.” The second has to do with whether habituality should be analyzed as an “aspect,” and if not, what the alternatives are. The first question is really a matter of usage. Few grammarians would think that habituality, in its grammatical sense, is solely confined to discussion of habits. The other question is whether habituality is properly regarded as an “aspect.” This article focuses on habitual and generic aspect, forms expressing habituality, forms across languages, the “circumstantial,” statives, and habituals and gnomic imperfectivity.

Keywords: habitual aspect; generic aspect; habituality; circumstantial; statives; habituals; gnomic imperfectivity; forms; languages

Article.  11384 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics ; Pragmatics

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