The aspectual distribution and modal licensing in Russian infinitival constructions

Anna Melnikova


The puzzle to be explored here is why Russian Modal Dative Infinitival Constructions (DMCs) are restricted in their aspectual choice. Specifically, in declarative environments, only imperfective is grammatical. Perfective requires non-veridical environments. This paper offers a unified account for the aspectual distribution in DMCs in terms of licensing conditions on a covert future modal. Extending Todorović and Wurmbrand’s (2016) analysis of future infinitives to Russian DMCs, I propose that the difference between perfective and imperfective structures is attributed to the absence/presence of the present tense. The main claim is that similar to English and BCS future tense constructions, DMCs involve a covert future modal (e.g, need), which needs to be licensed by non-veridical operators when the infinitival DMC lacks the tense components. The licensing conditions on covert future modals lay the foundation to understanding the aspectual distribution in infinitival structures across languages.


dative; infinitival constructions; null modal licensing; aspectual requirements; non-veridical operators

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Copyright (c) 2020 Anna Melnikova

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