I learn that in English, accomplishment predicates in the simple past (perfective) form usually entail that the event has reached its culmination point and the theme has entered into the result state. For instance, it is infelicitous in a situation if the refrigerator is still broken as indicated with hash tage # below:

Mary fixed the refrigerator, (# but the refrigerator is still broken.)

However, in some languages, such as Mandarin, Similarly, ‘he drew a picture’ usually refers to a situation where the picture is completed, but the implicature that the drawing is completed can be directly canceled.

Ta hua-le    yi-fu  hua,    keshi mei hua-wan.
he draw-perf one-cl picture but   not draw-finish
‘He drew a picture, but he didn’t finish drawing it.’   
                            Soh and Kuo (2005, 201)

My question is on the crucial factor of these two different phenomena. Is it due to the inner semantics of the predicate? Or the tense and aspect render the variation. Or both? Many thanks for any kind of tips!


1 Answer 1


It sounds like you’re looking for a general treatment of the semantics of aspect, which might be a pretty big topic. Here are some resources that might contain frameworks and analyses relevant to what you’re looking for.

This book appears to be a perfect overview of the topic, and this article as well.

While general, this text can help you get rooted in how generative grammar theorizes about semantics, which relates to what you asked:

Heim, Irene, and Kratzer, Angelika. (1998). Semantics in Generative Grammar.

This scholar has done work in cross-linguistic temporal semantics:

Matthewson, L. Temporal semantics in a superficially tenseless language. Linguistics & Philosophy 29, 673–713 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-006-9010-6

Matthewson, L. & Todorovic, N. & Schwan, M. D., (2022) “Future time reference and viewpoint aspect: Evidence from Gitksan”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 7(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/glossa.6341

This is a general treatment of event structures, relevant to aspect:

Dölling, Johannes, Heyde-Zybatow, Tatjana, and Schäfer, Martin, eds. (2008). Event Structures in Linguistic Form and Interpretation.

This work classifies verbs via a “time schema”, incl. states, activities, accomplishments, achievements:

Vendler, Zeno. (1957). Verbs and Times. The Philosophical Review.

Lastly, these articles are about the semantics of aspect, for other languages, but they are still a good entry into seeing how aspect can be analyzed in modern linguistics.

Semantics of verbs of motion in Russian:


“These verbs are characterized by special aspectual properties, since in addition to the typical perfective/imperfective opposition, they exhibit a further aspectual distinction, sometimes referred to in the literature as determinate / indeterminate contrast. Determinate and indeterminate verbs do not differ in terms of their lexical meaning but do have different aspectual usages.”

Parameters of Slavic Aspect:


The acquisition of perfective and imperfective passive constructions in Russian:


  • Thanks! Julius! Ah just too many quotes and links! Maybe a bit summary (just text) in your own word might be more clear to the readers.
    – Yili Xia
    Aug 1, 2023 at 9:32

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