Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 447–483

Quantifiers and verb phrases: An exploration of propositional complexity

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-007-9019-8

Cite this article as:
Bale, A.C. Nat Language Linguistic Theory (2007) 25: 447. doi:10.1007/s11049-007-9019-8


In this article, I propose that intransitive verbs and stative, transitive verbs are fundamentally different from non-stative, transitive verbs. The latter create verb phrases that contain more than one propositional level whereas the former do not permit any propositional levels within their derived verb phrases. Evidence for this distinction comes from the interaction of again with the different types of verbs. Non-stative, transitive verbs allow again to introduce presuppositions that do not involve the verb’s subject. In contrast intransitive verbs and stative, transitive verbs only permit presuppositions that include the verb’s subject. Not only does the evidence of propositional complexity and the existence of subjectless presuppositions demonstrate a dichotomy between different types of verb phrases, such evidence and presuppositions also provide a means of testing in which syntactic positions quantifier phrases can be interpreted. As I demonstrate in this article, evidence from the presuppositional content of again suggests that object quantifier phrases normally cannot be interpreted within the verb phrase even when such phrases contain propositional levels. Only resultative verbs allow for quantifier phrases to be interpreted within the verb phrase.


Presupposition Functional arguments Quantifiers VP structure Propositional complexity Adverbial modifiers 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MITLinguistics and PhilosophyCambridgeUSA

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