The Role of the Imperfect in Romance Counterfactuals


  • Pranav Anand
  • Valentine Hacquard


The Imperfect in Romance is used in an array of constructions: progressives, habituals, generics and counterfactual conditionals. The first three share all hallmarks of the Romance Imperfect: they describe something ongoing, in the past, and which requires contextual framing. Counterfactual uses, however, do not, and thus present an important challenge for a unified semantics of the Imperfect. In this paper, we try to explain the presence of the Imperfect in counterfactuals. We take counterfactuals to involve both a Future and an Imperfect (Iatridou 2000), but with the modal contribution of the latter neutralized, such that counterfactuals amount to future conditionals. The Imperfect is not entirely vacuous, however: it contributes presuppositions of framing and anteriority, which lead to counterfactual interpretations.


How to Cite

Anand, P., & Hacquard, V. (2019). The Role of the Imperfect in Romance Counterfactuals. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 14, 37–50. Retrieved from