Event Kinds and the Pseudo Relative

Nino Grillo, Keir Moulton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Pseudo Relatives (PRs) are finite constructions found in many Romance languages that look superficially like nouns modified by appositive relative clauses but actually describe events. Typically, the tense of the PR must semantically “match” the matrix tense, and this was thought to be obligatory (Radford 1977, Guasti 1988 a.o.). In Moulton and Grillo (2015), we showed that PRs are referential descriptions of present or past events, and we argued that a null Determiner heading the PR is responsible for this referentiality. Simultaneity conditions on direct perception, then, force tense “matching.” There are, however, previously unobserved cases of “mismatch” with present under perfect (see Casalicchio 2015, for other cases of mismatch). This combination also gives rise to direct perception, but it is only available in Italian and not in other languages that have PRs (e.g. French, Spanish, or Greek). In this paper, we argue that such “tense mismatch” (TMM) PRs refer to Event Kinds (Portner 1991, Carlson 2003, Gehrke to appear, and references cited therein). We show that the propositions within TMM-PRs are habituals, and that via a null determiner, the PR as a whole comes to denote an event kind described by the habitual (e.g. Ferreira 2005). We first demonstrate this with TMM-PRs that combine with kind-taking predicates, and then show that TMM-PRs combine with direct perception verbs by Derived Kind Predication (Chierchia 1998), which accounts for various differences in scope and interpretation between “tense matching” PRs (TM-PRs) and TMM-PRs. Finally we argue that the kind-based DP-account explains why Italian allows TMM-PRs but other PR languages do not.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNELS 46
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Forty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society
EditorsChristopher Hammerly, Brandon Prickett
Place of PublicationAmherst, MA
PublisherGLSA (Graduate Linguistics Student Association)
ISBN (Electronic)1537513400
ISBN (Print)978-1537513409
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • syntax
  • semantics
  • event-kind/situation-type
  • Derived Kind Predication
  • Weak Definite
  • pseudo relatives
  • clause-level Determiners

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