A unified existential semantics for bare conditionals


  • Itai Bassi
  • Moshe E. Bar-Lev


Bare conditionals show an unexpected quantificational variability contingent on whether they are embedded in an Upward Entailing context (universal import) or a Downward Entailing context (existential import). Contra Herburger (2015a, b)’s ambiguity theory, we argue in favor of a unified semantics for bare conditionals based on their behavior in VP ellipsis constructions and in non-monotonic contexts. We show that a similar pattern exists with Free Choice phenomena, and consequently suggest a parallel analysis to Fox (2007)’s treatment of such phenomena. We propose that bare conditionals have a basic existential semantics which is obligatorily strengthened into a universal meaning in UE contexts, while being preserved in DE contexts. Our claim that bare conditionals are underlyingly existential is further supported by Conditional Perfection data with bare and non-bare conditionals.


How to Cite

Bassi, I., & Bar-Lev, M. E. (2019). A unified existential semantics for bare conditionals. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 21(1), 125–142. Retrieved from https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/sub/index.php/sub/article/view/128