I've been wondering if there is any classification, academically established or researched, of verbs or sentence forms that introduce new referents, with the forms/verbs enumerated in the order of the degree of introduction.

I'm aware of 'existential sentences' that may function strongly/effectively in introduction of new referents. 'This is X' also works well in that respect.

I wonder if there is any such groupings of sentence patterns or verbs (I know this is heavily context dependent ...).

eg) This is (new referent), Here is (new referent), I'll give you (new referent), I brought you (new referent), I'm going to introduce (new referent)

  • what do you mean by "degree of introduction"? Also, how can a verb introduce a new referent?
    – mobileink
    Dec 30, 2016 at 4:53
  • For instance, 'Here's a book I bought yesterday' has a high degree of introduction whereas 'I'll give you a book I bought yesterday' must have a lower degree. So maybe I shouldn't use 'verb' here. I might want to use 'sentence form' or something' that introduces a new referent.
    – Sssamy
    Dec 30, 2016 at 5:23
  • Sorry, I don't see what you're getting at. why does your first example have a higher degree of introduction? Both use [a book I bought yesterday].
    – mobileink
    Dec 30, 2016 at 5:28
  • 'Here's X' in itself is used to introduce something(, depending on the context where it is used, of course), and 'I'll give you ...' has its focus on the meaning of transferring the possession of something to somebody, not on the introduction of the book. (Sorry, I'm a non-native speaker of English. I may not be telling you enough of what I'm thinking in the right way)
    – Sssamy
    Dec 30, 2016 at 8:03
  • You could also say, "Here is the book I bought yesterday" or "I'll give you the book I bought yesterday" when in fact the book has not been implied before, if you had bought only one book yesterday. Perhaps, you are attracted to say "Here is a book ..." more because of that particular introductory form.
    – Sssamy
    Dec 30, 2016 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


It is a popular idea in linguistics that organization in terms of new information and old information is important in language structure. Here is an especially interesting working out of that idea.

  • Thanks for the introduction of the paper, Greg. Very interesting. I was looking into nuances of the English indefinite and definite articles used in introductory sentences, trying to disentangle their relationships with verbs in varying degrees of introduction-orientation. That's why I was in search of prior papers that deal with the degrees of verbs.
    – Sssamy
    Dec 30, 2016 at 1:49
  • Trying to disentangle the relationship of the definite and indefinite articles with verbs in varying degree of introduction-orientation when the existence of the referents are not implied in any way before, and they are only ones.
    – Sssamy
    Dec 30, 2016 at 1:59
  • A NP with an indefinite article introduces something into a context, which therefore is supposed to exist in that context, and a subsequent reference to the same object has to be definite. When a conversation gets as far as an indefinite NP, existence is implied, though not necessarily existence in our real world.
    – Greg Lee
    Dec 30, 2016 at 3:21

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