Counterfactuality and past

  • Kilu von PrinceEmail author
Open Access


Many languages have past-and-counterfactuality markers such as English simple past. There have been various attempts to find a common definition for both uses, but I will argue in this paper that they all have problems with (a) ruling out unacceptable interpretations, or (b) accounting for the contrary-to-fact implicature of counterfactual conditionals, or (c) predicting the observed cross-linguistic variation, or a combination thereof. By combining insights from two basic lines of reasoning, I will propose a simple and transparent approach that solves all the observed problems and offers a new understanding of the concept of counterfactuality.


Tense Modality Conditionals Counterfactuality Branching time 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Institut für deutsche Sprache und Linguistik, Allgemeine SprachwissenschaftHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Fachrichtung Sprachwissenschaft und Sprachtechnologie (ehem. FR 4.6)Universität des SaarlandesSaarbrückenGermany

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