Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1–31 | Cite as

Adverbial quantification over events

  • Susan Rothstein


This paper gives an analysis of the adverbial quantifiers exemplified in “I regretted it every time I had dinner with him.” Sentences of this kind display what I call a ‘matching effect’; they are true if every event in the denotation oftime I had dinner with him can be matched with an event regretting that dinner event. They are thus truth-conditionally equivalent to sentences of the form “There are at least as many As as Bs.” The difficulties of giving a compositional interpretation to sentences of this form have been discussed in, e.g., Boolos 1981. I first show that the matching effect is semantic and not pragmatic. I then give an analysis of these sentences in a neo-Davidsonian framework, interpreting the adverbials as quantifiers over events. Syntactically they are analyzed as objects of a null preposition. This allows a simple compositional semantic interpretation in which the null preposition is interpreted exactly as other prepositions are by Davidson (1967), namely as denoting a function from the event argument of the matrix verb to the prepositional object. The matching effect then follows automatically. I extend the analysis to account for other sentences which directly instantiate the schema “For every A there is a B” and its equivalents, and show how the matching effect follows in general from the functional nature of thematic roles and prepositions.


Semantic Interpretation Thematic Role Matching Effect Event Argument Functional Nature 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Rothstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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