The likelihood of upper-bound construals among numeral modifiers


  • Yaron McNabb
  • Stavroula Alexandropoulou
  • Dominique Blok
  • Sofia Bimpikou
  • Rick Nouwen


In this paper we show that modified numerals differ with respect to the nature of the bounds they express. We examine the numeral modifiers less/fewer than, at most and up to in a series of experiments in English and Greek, and investigate to what extent these modifiers impose an upper bound. Our results indicate that the upper-bound construal that up to gives rise to is cancellable in contrast with the uncancellability of the upper-bound construal that at most and less/fewer than give rise to. This finding is compatible with an analysis that treats the upper bound of at most and less/fewer than as part of their semantic content and the upper bound of up to as a pragmatic inference. In addition, we discuss the effect of the scalar distance between possible alternatives and the modified numeral on the likelihood and strength of the upper-bound construal.


How to Cite

McNabb, Y., Alexandropoulou, S., Blok, D., Bimpikou, S., & Nouwen, R. (2019). The likelihood of upper-bound construals among numeral modifiers. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 20, 497–514. Retrieved from

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