Guéron J. The Syntax and Semantics of the Perfect Structure: A Comparative Approach


Jacqueline Guéron

PhD, Professor Emeritus, English World Institute, New Sorbonne University

5 rue de l'Ecole de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France

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ScopusID: 15059215600

Abstract. The article covers some issues that concern the syntax and semantics of the present perfect construction in English and other languages. It states that all Present Perfects may be associated with what is considered the canonical construal in which an assertion is located at the present time but reports the existence of a past situation. However, some Present Perfects may, in addition, have a simple past aorist meaning. The author focuses on pluractional and evidential construals of the Present Perfect in some languages, argue that the Passé Composé construal and the Aorist construal of the perfect construction belong to two different modes of discourse, discours and récit, underlines their variability associated with a complex syntactic structure (an auxiliary verb and a verbal participle for Present Perfect, while the Aorist construal is associated with a simple verbal structure). According to the author, the Perfect has both syntactic and analytical ways of realization, thus the analytical syntactic structure of the Perfect is in English, French and German, with both a tensed auxiliary verb and a past participle, whereas it is synthetic in Latin, Russian and Arabic as is presented in the past participle alone; in languages with overt aspectual marking, aspect may vary on either the auxiliary, if it exists, or on the participle.

Key words: syntax, Present Perfect, Aorist, semantic meaning, time reference, pluractional construal, evidential construal.

Citation. Guéron J. The Syntax and Semantics of the Perfect Structure: A Comparative Approach. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 2. Yazykoznanie [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. Linguistics], 2020, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 154-166. DOI:

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