Special Topics in Linguistics: Genericity

Diagram of the sentence: If a woman is lonely, she often buys a dog.

A tripartite structure for adverbially quantified sentences. For more information, see "Bare Plurals as Indefinites" in the lecture notes . (Figure courtesy of MIT OpenCourseWare. Adapted from Heim, Irene. "The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases." Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1982, p. 146.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2007



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course will investigate the semantics of generic sentences, i.e., sentences that are used to talk about habits, tendencies, dispositions, or kinds. For instance:

  1. Dogs are good pets.
  2. The giant panda is an endangered species.
  3. A soccer player makes lots of money.
  4. Mary smokes after dinner.
  5. This machine crushes oranges.

This is a half-semester course.

Related Content

Paula Menéndez-Benito. 24.921 Special Topics in Linguistics: Genericity. Spring 2007. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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