Another Look at Modification in Spatial Prepositions


  • Francesco-Alessio Ursini Stockholms Universitet
  • Nobuaki Akagi Macquarie University


spatial prepositions, degree semantics, lexical aspect, measure phrases, morpho-semantics


The goal of this paper is to propose a unification of two strands of research within the semantics of spatial prepositions. The first strand focuses on the so- called modification problem, which can be stated as follows. Some, but not all spatial prepositions can occur in sentences including measure phrases, such as ten meters (Mario went ten meters in front of the car). The second strand focuses on so-called prepositional aspect: the fact that some but not all spatial prepositions can occur with temporal adverbial phrases such as in one hour. A unified account is proposed, based on a minimal version of Type-Logical syntax combined with situation semantics. This unified account is shown to explain and predict why, for instance, telic prepositions cannot occur with measure phrases (viz. *ten meters to the park). A compositional analysis of the contribution to lexical aspect of measure phrases, and their compositional interplay with spatial prepositions and temporal adverbials, is offered in detail. The main conclusion is that measure phrases do contribute to the lexical aspect reading of a sentence, but do so in fairly subtle (and compositionally-based) ways.


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How to Cite

Ursini, F.-A., & Akagi, N. (2014). Another Look at Modification in Spatial Prepositions. IBERIA: An International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics, 5(2), 38–84. Retrieved from



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