Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 213-241

First online:

The progressive in English: Events, states and processes

  • Terence ParsonsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of California Irvine

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper has two goals. The first is to formulate an adequate account of the semantics of the progressive aspect in English: the semantics of ‘Agatha is making a cake’, as opposed to ‘Agatha makes a cake’. This account presupposes a version of the so-called “Aristotelian” classification of verbs in English into EVENT, PROCESS and STATE verbs. The second goal of this paper is to refine this classification so as to account for the infamous “category switch” problem, the problem of how it is that modification of a verb like ‘run’ by an adverbial like ‘to the store’ can turn a PROCESS phrase (‘run’) into an EVENT phrase (‘run to the store’). Views discussed include those of Aqvist, Bach, Bennett, Bennett and Partee, Dowry, Montague and Scott, and Vendler.