Not even


This paper proposes an analysis of the semantics of even that is consistent with the assumptions about the syntax and semantics of negation in Collins and Postal (Classical NEG raising, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2014). First, I review the distribution of negation, showing how negation may modify quantificational expressions where it gives rise to scope freezing effects. Second, I discuss the fact that even-phrases can be modified by negation, as in Not even John is there. On the basis of this fact, I argue that even is a quantifier. Lastly, I show that my data provides new empirical support for the assumption that there are two kinds of even, depending on the role played by focus in the scalar presupposition.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barwise, Jon, and Robin Cooper. 1981. Generalized quantifiers and natural language. Linguistics and Philosophy 4: 159–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Collins, Chris, and Paul M. Postal. 2014. Classical NEG raising. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Crnič, Luka. 2014. Non-monotonicity in NPI licensing. Natural Language Semantics 22: 169–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Haegeman, Liliane. 2000. Negative preposing, negative inversion, and the split CP. In Negation and polarity, ed. L. Horn and Y. Kato, 21–61. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hankamer, Jorge, and Ivan Sag. 1976. Deep and surface anaphora. Linguistic Inquiry 7(3): 391–426.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Heim, Irene, and Angelika Kratzer. 1998. Semantics in generative grammar. Malden: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hoeksema, Jack, and Frans Zwarts. 1991. Some remarks on focus adverbs. Journal of Semantics 8: 51–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Horn, Laurence R. 1969. A presuppositional analysis of only and even. In Papers from the 5 th Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 5, 98–107. Chicago: CLS.

  9. Karttunen, Lauri, and Stanley Peters. 1979. Conventional implicature. In Syntax and Semantics 11: Presuppositions, ed. C. Oh and D. Dinneen, 1–56. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lobeck, Anne. 1995. Ellipsis: Functional heads, licensing and identification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. McCawley, James D. 1991. Contrastive negation and metalinguistic negation. In Papers from the 27 th Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, Part Two: The Parasession on Negation, 189–206. Chicago: CLS.

  12. Neale, Stephen. 1990. Descriptions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Partee, Barbara. 2004. Noun phrase interpretation and type-shifting principles. In Compositionality in Formal Semantics, 203–230. Oxford: Blackwell.

  14. Rooth, Mats E. 1985. Association with focus. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  15. Rullman, Hotze. 2007. What does even even mean? Handout of a talk at the Linguistic Colloquium, University of Calgary, December 7.

  16. Schwarz, Bernhard. 2000. Notes on “even”. Ms., University of Stuttgart.

  17. Schwarz, Bernhard. 2005. Scalar additive particles in negative contexts. Natural Language Semantics 13: 125–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Wagner, Michael. 2006. Association by movement: Evidence from NPI licensing. Natural Language Semantics 14: 297–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Wilkinson, Karina. 1996. The scope of even. Natural Language Semantics 4: 193–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chris Collins.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Collins, C. Not even. Nat Lang Semantics 24, 291–303 (2016).

Download citation


  • Even
  • Negation
  • Negative polarity items
  • Scalar presupposition
  • Existential presupposition
  • Scope freezing
  • NEG raising