The position of the verb with respect to the adverb ‘sempre’ over four centuries:

diagnosis for the (loss of) verb movement in Brazilian Portuguese


  • Paulo Araújo-Adriano IEL/Unicamp



Verb movement, Brazilian Portuguese, Adverb sempre


Several works on different phenomena in the literature (see ROBERTS; KATO, 2018; CYRINO, 2013; CYRINO; LOPES, 2016; ARAÚJO-ADRIANO, 2019; a.o.) suggest Brazilian Portuguese had lost verb movement by the end of the 19th century. The position of sempre regarding V is commonly used as a diagnosis for the difference between European Portuguese (EP) and Brazilian Portuguese (BP) when it comes to verb movement: whilst the former has a default order V_sempre the latter has the order sempre_V. In this paper, we dug up the history of the order of V concerning the adverb sempre in its confirmatory, speech act, temporal/aspectual and pattern of behaviour interpretation, from the 17th to the 21st century. We found that the confirmatory reading of sempre was once part of the BP system but disappeared by the end of the 19th century. As for the temporal/aspectual interpretation, we see two paradigms throughout history: the first one, between the 17th and 19th century, with all kinds of verbal elements being located to the right of sempre and the second one, between the end of the 19th and 21st century, with only statives and copular verbs (and possibly auxiliaries) moving to a higher position than temporal/aspectual sempre. We also see that the loss of verb movement does not mean the verb in BP does not move anymore; its position in relation to a pattern of behaviour sempre, an interpretation which has been increasing since its first occurrence in 1845, is a shred of evidence that the verb still moves.