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Subjunctive Conditionals

Linguistic Inquiry Monographs


Samuel Jay Keyser, general editor
A complete list of books published in the Linguistic Inquiry Monographs series
appears at the back of this book.

Subjunctive Conditionals
A Linguistic Analysis

Michela Ippolito

The MIT Press


Cambridge, Massachusetts
London, England

2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ippolito, Michela, 1970
Subjunctive conditionals : a linguistic analysis / Michela Ippolito.
pages cm. (Linguistic inquiry monographs)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-262-01948-4 (hardcover : alk. paper)
ISBN 978-0-262-51964-9 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Grammar, Comparative and generalConditionals. 2. Grammar, Comparative and
generalSubjunctive. 3. Modality (Linguistics) 4. Semantics. I. Title.
P292.5.I66 2013
415'.6dc23
2013001549
10

To my father Ignazio Ippolito and to the memory of my mother Antonia

Contents

Series Foreword
Preface
xi
1

ix

Introduction
1
1.1 What Are Subjunctive Conditionals?
1
1.2 Counterfactuals and Possible Worlds
6
1.3 Doubly Relative Modality
11
1.4 The Pragmatics of Subjunctive Conditionals

16

Temporal Mismatches in Subjunctive Conditionals


21
2.1 Future Counterfactuals
21
2.2 Temporal Mismatches
23
2.3 Ogiharas Proposal
27
2.4 Is Aspect the Key Ingredient?
31
2.5 Counterfactuals and Presuppositions
40
2.6 The Temporal Structure of Subjunctive Conditionals
45

A Compositional Analysis
53
3.1 The Facts
53
3.2 A Bare Conditional
56
3.3 Simple Past Subjunctive Conditionals
58
3.4 Past Perfect Subjunctive Conditionals
79
3.5 The Temporal Interpretation of Antecedent and Consequent Clauses
3.6 Past-as-Past Proposals 102
3.7 Potential Repercussions of the Present Proposal for
Will-Conditionals 112

Presuppositions 117
Definite Determiners 118
Additive Presuppositions 121
Change-of-State Verbs 123
Factive Verbs 127
Cleft-Sentences 128

4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5

92

viii

Contents

An Asymmetry between the Past and the Future

Conclusion

137

Notes
141
References
151
Index
157

131

Series Foreword

We are pleased to present the sixty-fifth volume in the series Linguistic Inquiry
Monographs. These monographs present new and original research beyond
the scope of the article. We hope they will benefit our field by bringing to it
perspectives that will stimulate further research and insight.
Originally published in limited edition, the Linguistic Inquiry Monographs
are now more widely available. This change is due to the great interest engendered by the series and by the needs of a growing readership. The editors thank
the readers for their support and welcome suggestions about future directions
for the series.
Samuel Jay Keyser
for the Editorial Board

Preface

This book is concerned with the semantics and pragmatics of subjunctive conditionals. The term subjunctive conditional has been traditionally used in the
philosophical literature to refer to those conditionals that are marked by subjunctive morphology in both the antecedent and the consequent clauses and
have an irrealis flavor. In recent years, this term has come under scrutiny
and various authors have replaced it in various ways. The main objection to
using the term is that it might suggest that the specific semantic and pragmatic
properties of these conditionals are contributed by the subjunctive mood. This
idea is challenged by Iatridous (2000) observation that there exist languages
that, despite having a subjunctive mood, do not use it to mark those conditionals
that have the same semantic and pragmatic properties as English subjunctive
conditionals.
Here, I have decided to stick with the traditional term, but only as a convenient way to refer to the subset of conditional sentences that the book deals with.
In fact, what I think is essential in composing the meaning of these conditionals
is the presence of a layer of past tense that is not interpreted as locating the eventuality described in the antecedent in time. The goal of this book is to provide a
compositional semantics for subjunctive conditionals that explains their truthconditions and their felicity conditions by capitalizing on the presence of the
past tense. Different types of subjunctive conditionals are felicitous in different
contexts, and this book develops an analysis that explains these facts together
with the presence of past tense morphology, something that would otherwise
remain unexplained. As a result, the proposal explains why presuppositions in
conditionals seem to project differently depending on whether the conditional
has zero, one, or two layers of this seemingly nontemporal tense (in the sense
specified above).
In chapter 5, I also argue that, in the spirit of Bachs (1986) natural language
metaphysics, the best account of our linguistic intuitions about subjunctive
conditionals must include an indeterministic view of time.

xii

Preface

In sum, the material discussed in this book will be relevant not only to
the semantics of subjunctive conditionals, but also to the proper analysis of
modality in natural language, the semantics of the future, and the relation
between morphosyntax and meaning.
I started working on this project for my doctoral dissertation at MIT. Since
then I have never ceased to regard conditionals, and in particular subjunctive
conditionals, as one of the most fascinating, profound, and obsession-inducing
areas of natural language. I have written several articles on this topic, and
changed my mind on some issues several times. This book is by no means the
end of my interest in conditionals. It is just a somewhat longer contribution than
I am used to making to a debate both in linguistics and in philosophy. Lots of
questions remain open, but I hope that this book will at least add an interesting
piece to the conditional puzzle.
I am grateful to many people who at different stages have inspired me and
challenged me in discussions about this material. My greatest intellectual debt is
to Kai von Fintel, Irene Heim, and Sabine Iatridou. The influence of their work
on conditionals and related topics will be obvious. For detailed comments on
material that in the end made it into this book, I would like to thank Chris Barker,
Donka Farkas, Danny Fox, Jeff King, David Pesetsky, Robert Stalnaker, Arnim
von Stechow, Zoltan Szabo, Richmond Thomason; anonymous reviewers for
Linguistics and Philosophy and Natural Language Semantics; and the audiences at Semantics and Linguistic Theory 13, Sinn und Bedeutung 6 and 7, the
2002 Michigan Linguistics and Philosophy Workshop, and the Departments
of Linguistics at UCLA, MIT, and the University of Maryland. My greatest
gratitude also goes to all the native speakers who have offered their linguistic
judgments throughout the years. Last but not least, I would like to thank the
MIT Press editorial team and Anne Mark in particular for her fantastic work in
copyediting this book.
For their love and support, I am also extremely thankful to my husband James
and to my children Martina and Matteo.

Introduction

1.1 What Are Subjunctive Conditionals?

The scope of this book is what I will refer to as subjunctive conditionals. The
term subjunctive conditionals has often been used in the philosophical and
linguistic literature on English conditional sentences to refer to conditional
sentences that have special tense or mood morphology in one or both of their
clauses and that have an irrealis flavor. The contrast in (1) exemplifies these
two features of subjunctive conditionals.
(1) a. If John dies tomorrow, Mary will inherit a fortune.
b. If John died tomorrow, Mary would inherit a fortune.
The indicative conditional in (1a) shows present tense on the main verb in the
antecedent clause (die), and will in the consequent clause. On the other hand,
the subjunctive conditional in (1b) shows unexpected past tense on the main
verb in the antecedent clause (died ), and the consequent clause has the modal
form would, which has been claimed by several authors (see, e.g., Abusch
1988, Ogihara 1989) to be the past counterpart of will. Note that I use the
traditional term subjunctive to refer to conditionals like (1b) even though there
isnt anything clearly subjunctive about the verbal morphology in its clauses. In
some languages, we might actually see subjunctive conditionals marked with
the subjunctive mood, but even languages that have a subjunctive mood might
not employ it in so-called subjunctive conditionals, as Iatridous (2000) shows
is the case in French. Therefore, by labeling a conditional subjunctive, I
indicate the presence of temporal morphology that is not interpreted as locating
the eventuality described in the antecedent clause in time. This is shown clearly
in (1b), where the past tense died occurs in the same clause as the future
adverb tomorrow: since an event cannot be both past and future relative to
the utterance time, and since we interpret the antecedent in (1b) as supposing

Chapter 1

that an eventuality of Johns dying will occur tomorrow, the past tense died, if
interpreted at all, cannot be interpreted within the antecedent itself.
This book focuses primarily on English subjunctive conditionals.1 I will
call conditionals that show this apparently nontemporal past tense morphology in the antecedent and consequent clauses subjunctive conditionals, and
conditionals that do not show this nontemporal tense morphology indicative
conditionals.2
As mentioned above, subjunctive conditionals are often said to have (various
degrees of) irrealis flavor. The intuition is that the antecedent in (1b) expresses
a proposition that the speaker does not judge to be very likely.3 The contrast
between indicative and subjunctive conditionals becomes even more obvious
when we consider conditional sentences about the past. The pair in (2) is a
well-known illustration of this contrast modeled after Adams 1970.4
(2) a. If Oswald didnt kill Kennedy, someone else did.
b. If Oswald hadnt killed Kennedy, someone else would have.
The intuition here is that, given what we know (i.e., that Kennedy was assassinated), (2a) is true but (2b) is false. The conditional in (2b) is a particular type
of subjunctive conditional: a counterfactual conditional, whose antecedent is
false in the actual world. The vast majority of counterfactual conditionals are
subjunctive conditionals. There are some well-known exceptions, such as the
conditional in (3).
(3) If you are Santa Claus, I am the Easter Bunny.
I am not the Easter Bunny, and we both know that. Therefore, since I am
assuming that you accept the truth of (3), you will conclude that you are not
Santa Claus. An analysis of indicative conditionals like (3) is beyond the reach
of this book, but notice that the rhetorical effect of uttering (3) depends on
using the indicative moodand indeed it disappears if (3) is replaced by its
subjunctive counterpart in (4).5
(4) If you were Santa Claus, I would be the Easter Bunny.
Since this book focuses on subjunctive conditionals, I will not investigate the
semantics of sentences like (3). Throughout this book, the term counterfactuals
refers only to subjunctive conditionals whose antecedents are false.
The main question that any theory of conditionals asks is this: when interpreting a conditional, how are we going to select the relevant set of worlds about
which we are making a claim? As I will show in the rest of this chapter by
reviewing the work of Lewis, Stalnaker, Kratzer, and others, some measure of
similarity is crucial in selecting the right set of worlds in which the antecedent

Introduction

is true. Similarity is always understood as similarity to the actual world. The


task is to articulate exactly how we measure similarity.
I argue that overall similarity is however not enough to select the relevant
set of worlds. We need a more complex system that includes two parameters:
an accessibility relation and a similarity function. Crucially, the former is timedependent, whereas the latter is an overall measure of similarity.
The accessibility relation in subjunctive conditionals is historical: given a
world w at a time t, the worlds historically accessible from w at t are those worlds
that share the same history at w up to t. Assuming indeterminismthat is, the
claim that the state of the universe at time t is not determined by the preceding
facts together with the laws of natureall the worlds historically accessible
from w at t are all of ws possible futures at t or, equivalently, all the possible
worlds that share the same history as w up to t. This is often represented by
using the broomstick diagram, as illustrated in (5).
!!
!
a
!
!
aa
!!

(5)

!
!!
t  !!
!
!

!
aa
aa
a
aa
aa
aa
!!
a!
aa
a

w1
w2
w3
w4
w5
w6

t.

The bold line represents the actual history up to


The worlds historically
accessible from w at t will then be w1 , w2 , w3 , w4 , w5 , w6 . However, as more
things happen, the set of possible futures shrinks so that what is possible at t 
will be a subset of what is possible at t. In particular, in (5), the set of worlds
historically accessible at t  will only include w3 and w4 , all the other relevant
worlds having been ruled out except the stretch of history between t and t  . The
future is understood to be unsettled and nonreal. Therefore, at time t there is no
matter of fact about ws future (at t). As time goes by, some possibilities will
be actualized while others will be foreclosed.
Now, consider the pair in (6).
(6) John died last week.
a. #If he died next week, Mary would inherit a fortune.
b. If he had died next week, Mary would have inherited a fortune.
Lets call subjunctive conditionals with the same form as (6a) simple past subjunctive conditionals, and subjunctive conditionals with the same form as (6b)
past perfect subjunctive conditionals. Both (6a) and (6b) are about the future,

Chapter 1

but there is a clear contrast between the two: in a context in which John already
died, only the past perfect subjunctive conditional is felicitous. I will argue in
the rest of this chapter that an overall similarity function, together with a list of
priorities as in Lewis 1979 designed to select the relevant antecedent-worlds,
will not be able to draw a distinction between the two conditionals in (6). Whatever general principle would rule out the simple past conditional in (6a) would
also incorrectly rule out its past perfect counterpart as well. One might suggest
that the infelicity of (6a) is due to the counterfactuality of the antecedent. That
is to say, one might suggest that simple past subjunctive conditionals cannot
be counterfactuals: since John is already dead at the utterance time, we cannot
use a simple past subjunctive conditional to hypothesize about what would
happen if he were to die a week from now. However, this suggestion would
not be correct. Simple past subjunctive conditionals can be counterfactual, as
(7) shows.
(7) John is dead. If he were alive, Mary would be happier.
I will argue that the key to understanding the difference between these two
types of subjunctive conditionals lies in their morphology: in particular, while
there is only one layer of nontemporal past tense morphology in (6a) (to borrow
Iatridous (2000) terminology), there are two layers of nontemporal past tense
morphology in (6b). I will argue that the one distinctive layer of past that characterizes all subjunctive conditionals (as opposed to indicative conditionals) is
interpreted, not within the bare conditional structure itself (i.e., the tripartite
structure consisting of the modal operator, the if -clause acting as its restriction, and the consequent acting as its nuclear scope), but above it, binding the
time argument of the historical accessibility relation in the modal operator. This
forces the modal to select antecedent-worlds historically accessible from the
actual world at a past time, and allows a subjunctive conditional to be about
possibilities that are already foreclosed at the utterance time. For a subjunctive
conditional to be felicitous, what matters is that there be some antecedentworlds accessible at some past time, and since this is (almost) always the case,
subjunctive conditionals like (7) are felicitous.6
Why isnt (6a) felicitous? After all, there was a point in time when worlds
where John would die next week were still historically accessiblefor example, a time just before he died last week. The conditional should be fine,
but it isnt. I will argue that the reason why (6a), unlike (7), is not felicitous
has to do with the existence presupposition triggered by the predicate to die,
namely, that its subject exists at the time of predication (Musan 1997). The
presupposition in (6a) is that John is alive next week. What I will propose is
that presuppositions in a conditional must be compatible with what is possible

Introduction

in the actual world at the reference time, to borrow a term from the literature on tense (Reichenbach 1947 and all the subsequent Reichenbachian and
neo-Reichenbachian literature). This time will be shown to bear interesting
similarities to what MacFarlane (2008, 2011) calls assessment time in his
work on the future and on epistemic modals. The reference time in (6a) is the
utterance time, which means that the presuppositions in a conditional need to
be possible at the utterance time. This is not the case in (6a), where the presupposition that John is alive next week is clearly incompatible with what is
actually possible at the utterance time. The reference time can be shifted to the
past, and I will argue that this is precisely the role of the second layer of past in
future past perfect subjunctive conditionals like (6b). The presupposition that
John is alive next week is required to be compatible with what is possible at
a contextually salient past time, and this is arguably the time just before John
actually died, when it was still historically possible that he would be alive next
week.
As for the similarity function, I will argue that what we need is overall similarity. In order to account for some interesting examples discussed by Schulz
(2007) and Arregui (2009), the similarity function must be systematically
constrained. As we will see, the process of constraining similarity is contextdependent and ensures consistency in the selection of the relevant possible
worlds. When accommodating a counterfactual antecedent, how far removed
from the actual world do we need to go? When considering -worlds (where
is the antecedent), we remove not only (which is true in the actual world)
but also any proposition contextually entailed by . We will return to this
point in section 3.6.
In the rest of this chapter, I will briefly review some previous analyses of
counterfactuals, and more generally subjunctive conditionals, that will be relevant for the proposal to be developed in chapter 3. These introductory remarks
will not do justice to the very large, complex, and important body of literature
in linguistics, as well as philosophy, on the topic, but they will offer an opportunity to introduce concepts and formal analyses that will be helpful in building
the main proposal of this book.
In chapter 2, I focus on the contrast (already introduced in (6)) between
future simple past subjunctive conditionals and future past perfect subjunctive
conditionals. I review proposals made to account for this contrast and discuss
their strengths and weaknesses.
In chapter 3, I present my proposal for analyzing subjunctive conditionals
and show how it solves the puzzles identified in chapter 2.
In chapter 4, I review a number of presupposition triggers and show that they
pattern as the proposal in chapter 3 predicts.

Chapter 1

In chapter 5, I discuss an interesting asymmetry between the past and the


future among subjunctive conditionals and argue that the best account of our
linguistic intuitions must include an indeterministic view of the world.
I end in chapter 6 with some concluding remarks and directions for future
inquiries.
1.2 Counterfactuals and Possible Worlds

Lewis (1973) offered one of the most influential analyses of counterfactuals.


There, he defends a possible-worlds analysis of counterfactuals whereby a
counterfactual conditional is not merely a strict conditional but what he calls a
variably strict conditional.
1.2.1 Variably Strict Conditionals

A strict conditional is a material conditional preceded by a necessity operator.


So a conditional of the form if , would would be translated as in the formula
in (8).
(8) ( )
A necessity operator is a universal quantifier over possible worlds that satisfies
a certain restriction, namely, that these worlds be accessible. Accessibility is
evaluated with respect to a world parameter, called the evaluation world.
Necessity is truth at all accessible worlds, where different sorts of necessity
correspond to different types of accessibility restrictions. The formula (
) is true in an evaluation world w just in case for every world w (relevantly)
accessible from w, the material conditional is true in w . Lewis calls a
set of accessible worlds a sphere of accessibility.
Determining the sphere of accessibility is a necessary step in order to assess
whether a counterfactual is true or false. Take (9).
(9) If John had taken the morning train, he would be here tonight.
In order to judge this conditional true, not all antecedent-worlds should count.
For example, worlds where John took the morning train but the train broke
down must not be part of the selected set of antecedent-worlds; if they were,
we would have to judge the conditional false. When we look more closely, the
process of selecting the accessible worlds turns out to involve an extra level of
complexity. To see this, consider Lewiss (1973, 10) example in (10).
(10) If Otto had come, it would have been a lively party; but if Otto and Anna
had come, it would have been a dreary party; but if Waldo had come as
well, it would have been lively; but . . .

Introduction

The sequence of counterfactuals in (10) is coherent and so will be any sequence


obeying the schema in (11).
(11) 1 
1 &2 
1 &2 &3 
...

and (1  ),
and (1  ),
and (1 &2 &3  ),
... ...

However, with a single sphere of accessibility, a problem arises: if is true


at every accessible 1 -world, then must be true at every 1 &2 -world. To
put it differently, if the consequent is true in all 1 -worlds and is true
in all 1 &2 -worlds, there cannot be any accessible 1 &2 -worlds: the sphere
of accessibility must be the empty set, and consequently the conditional must
be vacuously true. Lewiss solution is to view counterfactuals as variably strict
conditionals: when a counterfactual is being evaluated, different sets of worlds
can count as the relevant accessible worlds. Worlds are arranged according to a
system of spheres centered around the evaluation world w (typically the actual
world); the spheres are nested, closed under union and intersection. How far a
world is from the center of the system w will reflect how similar this world is to
w. When sequences of counterfactuals like the one in (10) are being evaluated,
different sets of worlds will be selected as being accessible. Intuitively, in the
first conditional in (10), If Otto had come, it would have been a lively party,
the set of accessible worlds includes only worlds where Otto came to the party
and that are otherwise similar to the actual world (assuming that in the actual
world Otto, Anna, and Waldo didnt come to the party, the worlds selected
in the first conditional are worlds that are minimally different from the actual
world in that Otto came to the party but neither Anna nor Waldo did). In the
second conditional in (10), in order to find the antecedent-world, we move to an
outer spherethat is, to a set of worlds less similar to the actual world, worlds
where both Otto and Anna came to the party. Crucially, then, the first two
counterfactuals in (10) quantify over two different sets of accessible worlds,
thus explaining why the sequence in (10) is coherent.
In conclusion, a would -conditional of the form if , would ( ) is
true at a world w according to a system of spheres $ just in case either (i) no
-world belongs to any sphere S in $,7 or (ii) some sphere S in $ does contain
at least some -world, and (the material conditional) holds at every
world in S. As noted above, the Lewisian system of spheres centered around
an evaluation world w reflects the degree of similarity between the worlds in
each sphere and w: more remote spheres contain worlds that are less similar
to w than the worlds in spheres closer to the center. Therefore, the system
of spheres can be replaced by a relation of comparative similarity of worlds,

Chapter 1

defined as shown in (12), where the relation w is a two-place relation between


worlds.8
(12) j w k
The world j is at least as similar to w as the world k is.
With the notion of comparative similarity in hand, Lewis (1973, 49) can provide
the following truth-conditions for a would -counterfactual:
(13)  is true at a world w (according to a given comparative
similarity system) just in case either (i) no -world k belongs to Sw (the
set of worlds accessible from w); or (ii) there is a -world in Sw such
that, for any j, if j w k, then holds at j.
In other words, assuming that the evaluation world w is the actual world, then
either (if there is no -world accessible from w) the counterfactual if , would
is true in the actual world vacuously or (if there are -worlds accessible from
the actual world) it is true if all the -worlds most similar to the actual world
are -worlds.
Assessing which worlds count as more similar to an evaluation world is a
fundamental step in the construction of Lewiss argument, and it is clear that
much of the explanatory burden lies in explaining what it means for a world w
to be more similar to an evaluation world than some other world w .
1.2.2 Comparative Similarity and Time

Lewis (1979) addresses the question about the nature of comparative similarity
directly in response to an objection in Fines review of Lewis 1973 and the use
of comparative similarity in that work. Fine (1975, 452) considers the following
scenario:
The counterfactual If Nixon had pressed the button there would have been a nuclear
holocaust is true or can be imagined to be so. Now suppose that there never will be
a nuclear holocaust. Then that counterfactual is, on Lewiss analysis, very likely false.
For given any world in which antecedent and consequent are both true it will be easy
to imagine a closer world in which the antecedent is true and the consequent is false.
For we need only imagine a change that prevents the holocaust but that does not require
such a great divergence from reality.

To put it differently, Fine objects that, if we adopt Lewiss analysis of counterfactuality based on comparative similarity among worlds, worlds where Nixon
pressed the button and, owing to some tiny and inconspicuous miracle (e.g.,
the signal vanishes on its way to the rockets), there is no nuclear holocaust are
more similar to the actual world than worlds where the tiny miracle does not
occur and there is a nuclear holocaust. But if that is so, the conditional should

Introduction

come out false, contrary to our intuitions. Fine takes this case to be an objection
to an analysis of counterfactuals based on similarity. But this is not the only
conclusion one might draw from this and similar cases. Lewis concludes that
the similarity notion required in the analysis of counterfactuals cannot be the
notion of similarity that Fine has in mind.9
Lewis assumes that determinism is truethat is, the claim that the state of the
universe at t is necessitated (or determined) by the preceding facts together with
the laws of nature. In particular, if determinism is true, two worlds are either
always alike or never alike; therefore, to imagine a world w that diverged
from the actual world at a particular time t is to imagine that a miracle takes
place at t (and immediately before, during what Lewis calls the transition
period) in the actual worldthat is, that the laws of nature of the actual world
are violated at that time so as to prevent the necessitation of the future. Assuming
determinism, Lewis (1979, 472) argues that the similarity relation employed
in the analysis of counterfactuals is one governed by the following system of
priorities:
(14) 1. It is of the first importance to avoid big, widespread, diverse
violations of law.
2. It is of the second importance to maximize the spatio-temporal region
throughout which perfect match of particular fact prevails.
3. It is of the third importance to avoid even small, localized, simple
violations of law.
4. It is of little or no importance to secure approximate similarity of
particular fact, even in matters that concern us greatly.
Priority 2 is meant to exclude a world completely free of miracles, where the
deterministic laws of the actual world are obeyed perfectly. Because by the definition of determinism two worlds are either always alike or never alike, the
fact that in this world Nixon does press the button tells us that this world was
never like the actual world (i.e., the two worlds differ throughout their entire
histories). This world should not count as the world most similar to the actual
world, and priority 2 rules it out. Lewis concludes, The lesson we learn by
comparing w1 [the actual world] and w2 [this other world] is that under the
similarity relation we seek, a lot of perfect match of particular fact is worth a
little miracle (p. 469).
Priority 3 rules out worlds that are mostly like the actual world except for
two tiny miracles. When the first miracle happens, divergence is permitted
and Nixon presses the button. Then a second miracle happens: for example,
the signal vanishes so that as a result there is no holocaust. Even though the
second tiny miracle seems to make the two worlds converge again, the similarity

10

Chapter 1

between them cannot last: there are traces of Nixons pressing the button (in his
memory, his fingerprints on the button, etc.). As Lewis puts it, some of these
small differences may give rise to bigger differences at some later time. He
concludes that close but approximate match of particular fact (especially if it
is temporary) is not worth even a little miracle. . . . [P]erfect match of particular
fact counts for much more than imperfect match, even if the imperfect match
is good enough to give us similarity in respects that matter very much to us
(p. 470).
Priority 1 rules out worlds just like the previous ones, but where the second miracle prevents the holocaust from happening and deletes every trace of
Nixons pressing the button. As Lewis puts it, the cover-up job is miraculously
perfect (p. 470). The problem with this world is that the big miracle required
for perfect reconvergence consists of a great number of little miracles taking
care of eliminating the many and diverse traces of Nixons act.
According to the set of priorities given in (14), the world that will be selected
by the similarity relation is a world identical to the actual world up until a tiny
miracle occurs, allowing divergence and permitting Nixons pressing of the
button. After this tiny miracle (the only time where the deterministic laws of
the evaluation world are violated), no further miracle occurs and events take
their lawful course and the two worlds w1 [the pressing world] and w0 [the
actual world] go their separate ways (p. 468).
The complex set of priorities listed in (14) is supposed to capture the timedependence of counterfactuals without what Lewis calls an asymmetry-byfiatthat is, the stipulation that the worlds we consider be worlds identical to
the actual world up to (immediately before) the time of the antecedent and that
after the divergence time evolves according to the actual laws. Lewis rejects
this option because, in this case, the asymmetry between past and future is
stipulated, as all the worlds we are considering share the same past.
As I will show later in more detail, this book can be argued to be a defense
of the asymmetry-by-fiat analysis of the kind Lewis considers but does not
endorse, incremented with a notion of similarity that will select the most similar
antecedent-worlds. Consider again the pair introduced in (6), repeated here.
(15) John died last week.
a. #If he died next week, Mary would inherit a fortune.
b. If he had died next week, Mary would have inherited a fortune.
Lewiss criteria for selecting the antecedent-worlds most similar to the actual
world are indifferent to the form of the conditional and therefore cannot capture
the contrast between different types of counterfactuals. In other words, they will
not distinguish between the simple past subjunctive conditional in (15a) and the

Introduction

11

past perfect subjunctive conditional in (15b). Lewiss strategy is too general.


In this book, I will follow Lewiss general schema for the truth-conditions of
counterfactuals (and more generally, subjunctive conditionals), but I will argue
that contrasts like the one in (15) can be regarded as evidence that the right
theory of counterfactuals must indeed be a kind of asymmetry-by-fiat analysis:
that is, a theory where time is crucial in selecting the relevant set of possible
worlds quantified over by the modal and where the asymmetry between past
and future is encoded in the semantics of these sentences.
1.3 Doubly Relative Modality

Another landmark in the theory of conditionals is the proposal developed by


Kratzer in a series of very influential papers (Kratzer 1981a, 1986, 1991). My
discussion of Kratzers work in this section has two goals. First, I will introduce
the idea of doubly relative modality, including tools that will be useful in constructing the proposal in chapter 3. Second, I will show that Kratzers (1981a)
proposal, just like Lewiss, does not account for the contrast in (6), and that
Kratzers (1981b) more nuanced account of counterfactuals also cannot account
for the contrast between simple past and past perfect subjunctive conditionals.
Kratzer develops a quantificational semantics for modal sentences whereby
a modal operator is a quantifier over possible worlds whose restriction is the
antecedent clause and whose nuclear scope is the consequent clause.10 Her
analysis of modality goes under the label doubly relative modality because, in
order to solve some troubling modal puzzles, the modal is interpreted relative
to two parameters: a conversational background and an ordering source. One
way in which natural language can make a conversational background salient
in the discourse is by using phrases like as far as I know, according to the law.
(16) illustrates how the phrase as far as I know makes it explicit that the modal
must is interpreted epistemically.11
(16) As far as I know, John must be home.
Conversational backgrounds do not differ truth-conditionally from accessibility
relations, standard in modal logic, and in fact it is possible to define an accessibility relation Rf in terms of the conversational background f . As shown in (17),
the conversational background f is a function that, when applied to a world w,
will select a set of propositions. If f is epistemic, the set of propositions will
include propositions known to be true by the speaker in w.12 Once we have this
set of propositions f (w), we can construct the generalized intersection over this
set, which will be the set of worlds w such that all the propositions in f (w) are
true in w .

12

(17) For all w, w W : Rf (w)(w ) if and only if w



where f (w) = {w W : p f (w)[w p]}

Chapter 1

f (w)

Given the definition in (17), we can then say that the conversational background
as far as I know denotes the set of worlds specified in (18).
(18) [[as far as I know]]c,w = {w W : w is compatible with what the
speaker in c knows in w}
According to the quantificational analysis of modals, the meaning of the
epistemic John must be home will be as shown in (19).

(19) [[John must be home]] f ,w = 1 if and only if w f (w) : John is at
home in w
If (19) were the whole story, we would predict (16) to entail the nonmodal sentence (20), since the evaluation world w is always among the worlds compatible
with all the speaker knows in w. However, a commonly held view on this point
is that epistemic must sentences are weaker than plain nonmodal assertions like
(20). Kratzer captures this intuition by placing the weakness of epistemic must
in the truth-conditions.13
(20) John is at home.
Kratzer blocks the inference from (16) to (20) by adding a second parameter in
the evaluation of the modal sentence, namely, an ordering source. An ordering
source is a set of propositions A that induces a partial ordering A on a set of
worlds. In particular, in Kratzers system, an ordering source orders the set of
worlds obtained by means of the conversational background. (21) shows what
an ordering source does: for all worlds w and w and for any set of propositions
A, w will be ranked at least as high as w (or, w is at least as good as w ) just
in case the set of propositions in A that are true in w is a subset of the set of
propositions in A that are true in w.
(21) For all w, w W , for any A (W ) : w A w if and only if
{p : p A w A} {p : p A w p}
Since an ordering source orders those worlds that have been selected by the
conversational background, its domain is not normally W but a subset, namely,
those worlds in W that make true the propositions that constitute the conversational background.
The reason why the truth of (16) does not entail the truth of (20) is that (16)
is evaluated not only with respect to an epistemic conversational background
but also with respect to a stereotypical ordering source, which will rank epistemic worlds that better conform to some (relevant) stereotypes higher than

Introduction

13

other epistemic worlds. Since (16) requires that John be at home in the most
stereotypical of the epistemic worlds and since the actual world (even though
it is an epistemically accessible world) does not have to be among the worlds
closest to the stereotypical ideal, (16) no longer entails (20). Here I will not go
into all the details of Kratzers analysis of modals.14 Instead, I will just discuss
Kratzers remarks on the semantics of counterfactuals in light of her doubly
relative modal semantics, since these remarks are directly relevant to the topic
of this book.
Kratzer (1981a) suggests that counterfactuals are characterized by an empty
modal base and a totally realistic ordering source, as shown in (22) and (23).
(22) Empty modal base
For every w, f (w) =
(23) Totally realistic ordering source
For every world w, g(w) = a set of propositions that totally describes w

For every world w, g(w) = {w}
Since the conversational background is empty, the modal base (the set of worlds
such that all propositions in the modal base are true) is the set of all possible
worlds W . On the other hand, a totally realistic ordering source is a set of
propositions that fully describes the actual world; hence, the world closest to
this totally realistic ideal will be the actual world itself.15 Given (22) and (23),
the Kratzerian truth-conditions for a counterfactual if , would will be as
shown in (24).

(24) a. [[if , would ]] f ,g = [[]]f ,g where for all w W ,


f (w) = f (w) {}
b. f (w) {} = {}

c. {} = {w W : w }

d. [[]] f ,g = 1 if and only if


{w W : w w W [w w <g(w) w ]}
Informally, the conditional if , would is true with respect to f and g if and
only if is true with respect to f and g, where, when applied to any world w,
f is the union of f (w) and the set containing the antecedent proposition, which
in this case is the singleton set containing just . (Line (24c) shows the modal
base: the set of worlds such that all propositions in f (w) are true (i.e., just the
-worlds).) The conditional is true if and only if every world w in which is
true and such that there is no -world more similar to the actual world than w is
a -world. This analysis of counterfactuals is conceptually quite similar to the
Lewisian analysis based on comparative similarity of worlds, together with accessibility. Lewiss accessibility, just like Kratzers conversational background,

14

Chapter 1

gives us a set of accessible worlds. The relation of comparative similarity of


worlds, just like Kratzers totally realistic ordering source, will rank the accessible worlds according to how similar they are to the actual world. The result
in both cases is that a counterfactual  is true at a world w just in case
(either there is no accessible -world or) there is an accessible -world w and
the material conditional is true at all the -worlds w more similar to
the actual world than w (i.e., those accessible worlds most similar to the actual
world).
Not surprisingly, however, this runs into exactly the same objection raised
against the analysis of counterfactuals in Lewis 1979: both conditionals in (6),
repeated here, are predicted to be acceptable in the context in which John is
already dead.
(25) John died last week.
a. #If he died next week, Mary would inherit a fortune.
b. If he had died next week, Mary would have inherited a fortune.
This is because the same recipe that we use to construct alternatives in which
John dies next week will work in both (25a) and (25b). To put it in Kratzers
words, The truth of counterfactuals depends on everything which is the case
in the world under consideration: in assessing them, we have to consider all the
possibilities of adding as many facts to the antecedent as consistency permits.
If the consequent follows from every such possibility, then (and only then), the
whole counterfactual is true (1981b, 201). In both conditionals in (25), we
are going to consider possible worlds in which John dies next week that are as
similar to the actual world as consistency permits. (25b) seems unproblematic:
we consider possible worlds where John dies next week and, of course, these
will all be worlds where he didnt die last week and is still alive next week.
Viewed from this perspective, the problematic case is (25a): why cant we do the
same here? The problem cannot be that we cannot entertain the (counterfactual)
possibility that John dies next week, as we can in the past perfect conditional.
Nor can the explanation be that simple past subjunctive conditionals cannot be
counterfactual, since they can (as noted above; see (7)).
Can Kratzers idea of a partition help us understand the contrast in (25)? In
what follows, I will informally review the main ideas of Kratzers proposal.
Consider the following case (from Kratzer 1981b, 206):
(26) The bridge case
Regina and I go on a walk in the bush. We have to pass a hanging bridge.
I pass first. Regina is waiting. I am in the middle of the bridge. Suppose

Introduction

15

now, counterfactually, that I had passed a bit faster and had just left the
bridge. Where would Regina be? Would she still be waiting?
Our intuition is that Regina might have started to cross the bridge. Kratzer
argues that in the bridge case, Reginas waiting and my crossing are not viewed
as two independent facts but are lumped together so that either they both stay
or they are both removed. Therefore, when we remove the fact that I am still on
the bridge, Reginas waiting will also be removed.
The proposal is that lumping is a way of partitioning the world. Kratzer
(1981b) argues that there can be many sets of propositions that characterize
what is the case in a world uniquely. She calls these sets partitions. A partition function (i.e., a function that assigns to every world a partition of it) is a
parameter and not a constant. It is contributed by the utterance context: different contexts will make different parameters (i.e., different ways of splitting the
world) salient. In this sense, counterfactuals are context-dependent.
Crucially, then, how much of the actual world needs to be revised in making
a counterfactual assumption depends on the salient partition: that is, on how
much has been lumped together with the main fact that we are removing to make
space for the counterfactual antecedent. Heres one last example illustrating this
point (from Kratzer 1981b, 213).
(27) A holists argument
Hans: If I had left five minutes earlier, I would have caught the train.
Anna: Not necessarily. You might have got run over by a car.
Hans: But there werent any cars around at that time. I saw it from the
window.
Anna: But if you had left earlier, someone else might have left earlier,
too. He might have taken his car and might have run you over. What
would have caused you to leave five minutes earlier, might have caused
him to leave five minutes earlier.
Anna is rejecting Hanss counterfactuals by lumping the fact that no car was
around at that time with the main fact that Hans arrived at the time he did. Once
lumped, these two facts will be dropped at the same time. Clearly, Hans was
not lumping these two facts together, and consequently in his mind the removal
of the fact about the time of his arrival did not force the removal of the fact that
no cars were around.
Can partitions help us with the infelicity of (25a) and the contrast with its past
perfect counterpart? I dont think so, for the following reasons. First, lumping
is crucial in deciding how many actual facts we are going to let go when
we entertain a counterfactual supposition or, in other words, how extensive the

16

Chapter 1

revision to the actual world is going to be. Now, in (25a) we are supposing
counterfactually that John will die next week. Therefore, the fact that he died
last week will be removed. Obviously, all the counterfactual worlds where John
dies next week will be worlds where John is alive at the time he is supposed to
die. If this is all we say, we predict that (25a) should be felicitous. In order to rule
it out, we would have to stipulate that the fact that John died last week (or that he
will not be alive next week) cannot be lumped together with the fact that he will
not die next week (the main fact we remove to accommodate the antecedent).
This is strange for two reasons. First, (25a) is supposed to be a counterfactual
conditional, and this is so because some actual fact makes it counterfactual.
Therefore, it seems natural that, when removing the fact that John will not die
next week, we would lump all those facts that make this fact counterfactual.
Second, since lumping is context-dependent, we would at least expect this
lumping to be possible. Instead, (25a) is just infelicitous.
Furthermore, this very stipulation runs into problems with the past perfect
subjunctive conditional in (25b), which is felicitous even though the presupposition in the antecedent is not true in the actual world. We are left clueless
about the very contrast we are trying to explain.
To summarize, the Kratzerian analysis of counterfactuals does not account
for the contrast we are trying to explain in this book. The quantificational analysis of these conditionals is correct, but there is nothing in Kratzers analysis that
would make the tense morphology in different types of subjunctive conditionals relevant for their semantics and, consequently, there is no way of capturing
the difference between the simple past and the past perfect subjunctive conditionals. We would need to change Kratzers analysis in ways that would make
her semantics sensitive to time, and in a way this book does precisely that: it
modifies and expands quantificational analysis of conditionals so as to include
time in the computation of their truth-conditions.
1.4 The Pragmatics of Subjunctive Conditionals

One important observation made at the beginning of this chapter is that all
subjunctive conditionals, whether counterfactual or not, feel different from
indicative conditionals. In this section, I will review some theories about what
this difference is and how it can be captured formally.
When are indicative and subjunctive conditionals felicitous? Stalnaker
(1975) proposed that a conditional of the form if , then is true in a possible world w just in case is true in the possible world f (, w) (see also
Stalnaker 1968, Stalnaker and Thomason 1970). The selection function f takes
a world w and a proposition and returns a world w that differs from w just as

Introduction

17

is required to accommodate the truth of . In this theory, the difference between


indicative and subjunctive conditionals such as (28a) and (28b) can be reduced
to different ways in which f is constrained.
(28) a. If the butler did not murder Jones, someone else did.
b. If the butler had not murdered Jones, someone else would have.
In particular, in indicative conditionals the conditional is evaluated at a world w
within the context set so that the world that gets selected will be a world within
the context set (if possible). Simplifying somewhat, the context set is the set
of worlds where all the propositions in the common ground are true.16 This
constraint on f amounts to requiring that the world that is selected by f be a
world where all the assumptions in the common ground are true. It follows from
this constraint that an indicative conditional is not felicitous when its antecedent
is known to be false (counterfactual), as the antecedent is incompatible with
the common ground.
However, it is possible to reach outside the context set, by suspending some
of the assumptions in the common ground. This is what a counterfactual conditional does. The special morphology that we see in subjunctive conditionals
in English marks this reaching outside the context set. In this theory, the difference between indicative and subjunctive conditionals amounts to different
pragmatic constraints on what the range of the selection function is.
A strong reading of Stalnakers proposal according to which subjunctive
and indicative conditionals are in complementary distribution can easily be
shown to be too strong. Consider von Fintels (1998, 35) example in (29).
(29) If Jones had taken arsenic, he would have shown just exactly those
symptoms which he does in fact show. [So, it is likely that he took
arsenic.]
This example, inspired by the discussion in Anderson 1951, shows that a
subjunctive conditional does not have to be counterfactual.
However, it is possible to construct a weak interpretation of Stalnakers
proposal, according to which what distinguishes a subjunctive conditional from
an indicative conditional is that the closest antecedent-worlds in the former may
be outside the context set. Here is von Fintels (1998, 34) rendition of this weak
interpretation of Stalnakers proposal.
(30) possibly[ D(w)  C]
Assuming that all quantification is restricted, Fintel proposes that D(w) is
the currently relevant contextually determined domain of quantification for the
modal operator. According to (30), subjunctive conditionals presuppose that

18

Chapter 1

there may be some contextually relevant -worlds outside the context set. This
resolves the issue raised by Andersons example, as (30) no longer requires that
subjunctive and indicative conditionals be in complementary distribution.
Von Fintel offers a variant of Stalnakers proposal whereby the presuppositions carried by indicative and subjunctive conditionals are not directly about
the antecedent ; instead, they are about the domain of quantification of the
modal operator, D(w) (see von Fintel 1998, 34).
(31) Presupposition of subjunctive conditionals
D(w)  c
(32) Default (indicative)
D(w) c
The constraint in (31), together with the compatibility presupposition in (33),
predicts that indicative conditionals will be felicitous if all the contextually
relevant antecedent-worlds are in the context set. On the other hand, the constraint in (32) and the compatibility presupposition in (33) together allow (but
do not require) the contextually relevant antecedent-worlds in subjunctive conditionals to be outside the context set. Hence, a subjunctive conditional will be
felicitous whether or not the antecedent is counterfactual.
(33) Compatibility presupposition
D(w)  =
Von Fintel also considers Karttunen and Peterss (1979) proposal according to
which, while an indicative conditional requires the antecedent proposition to be
compatible with the context set, a subjunctive conditional requires its negation
to be compatible with the context set.
(34) Presupposition of indicative conditionals
c =
(35) Presupposition of subjunctive conditionals
c  =
What these constraints rule out is (i) an indicative conditional uttered when its
antecedent is outside the context set, and (ii) a subjunctive conditional uttered
when its antecedent is entailed by the context set (i.e., is known to be true). Von
Fintel offers the discourse in (36) as a counterexample to Karttunen and Peters
proposal.
(36) a. If Polly had come to dinner tonight, we would have had a good time.
b. If Uli had made the same amount of food that he in fact made, she
would have eaten most of it.

Introduction

19

The problem, according to von Fintel, is with the conditional in (36b): the
antecedent is true in the actual world (Uli did make the same amount of food
that he made) and therefore the subjunctive conditional should be infelicitous,
as (35) requires that it be compatible with the the context set that Uli did not
make the amount of food he made. However, (36) is no longer a problem for
Karttunen and Peterss proposal if we allow the antecedent in (36b) to have a
covert restriction, that is, if we allow the sequence in (36) to be a type of modal
subordination.
(37) a. If Polly had come to dinner tonight, we would have had a good time.
b. If (Polly had come to dinner tonight and) Uli had made the same
amount of food that he in fact made, she would have eaten most of it.
In conclusion, we have seen that a number of ways have been proposed to
account for the difference between indicative and subjunctive conditionals, the
underlying idea being that the particular morphology we see in subjunctive
conditionals is just a conventional device indicating that a certain pragmatic
constraint holds. The relation between morphology and semantics will be central in this book, whose goal is to investigate the relation among truth, felicity,
and the occurrence of past tense morphology in subjunctive conditionals.

Temporal Mismatches in Subjunctive Conditionals

2.1 Future Counterfactuals

As was mentioned in section 1.1, subjunctive conditionals in English are marked


by what looks like past tense morphology in both the antecedent and the consequent clauses. However, subjunctive conditionals can be about the past, the
present, or the future, as the examples in (1) illustrate.
(1) a. If you were there now, Mary would be happier.
b. If you arrived tomorrow, Mary would be happier.
c. If you had arrived yesterday, Mary would have been happier.
The past tenses were and arrived (as well as the past tense on the modal would )
in (1a) and (1b), respectively, are clearly not locating the eventualities of being
there and arriving in the past. This layer of past tense is the hallmark of subjunctive conditionals.1 Indeed, the indicative counterparts of these conditionals
do not show any past tense morphology.
(2) a. If they are there now, Mary is happy.
b. If they arrive tomorrow, Mary will be happy.
An occurrence of past tense morphology in an indicative conditional can only
locate the antecedents eventuality in the past. (Notice that we know that (3) is
not a subjunctive conditional because would does not appear in the consequent.)
(3) If John arrived yesterday/*tomorrow, Mary will go visit.
In (1c), we see two layers of past morphology. This is because, in addition to the
one layer of past tense morphology regularly marking a subjunctive conditional,
we also need a second layer of pastthis time locating the event of arriving in
the past (yesterday). Using the terminology introduced in chapter 1, I will call
the type of subjunctive conditional in (1a) and (1b) the simple past subjunctive
conditional, and the type of conditional in (1c) the past perfect subjunctive
conditionals.

22

Chapter 2

However, past perfect subjunctive conditionals do not always talk about the
past. Sometimes they may talk about the future, despite their overt past verbal
morphology. This chapter is a study of these cases, which have been ignored
by some theories of conditionals and have been given not fully satisfactory
analyses by other theories. Consider examples in (4) and (5).
(4) If they played the last game tomorrow, Charlies team would win.
(5) If they had played the last game tomorrow, Charlies team would have
won.
Both conditionals talk about a future hypothetical event, that is to say, the event
of their playing tomorrow.2 However, two differences set these two examples
apart. First, they are morphologically different. The subjunctive conditional
in (4) has one morpheme expressing past (the -ed on the main verb play),
whereas the subjunctive conditional in (5) has two morphemes expressing past
(superficially, the -ed on the auxiliary have and the auxiliary itself). The second difference between (4) and (5) has to do with their conditions of use. To
see this difference, imagine the following scenario. The last game of the baseball season had been scheduled for yesterday, but, because a big storm was
approaching, it was decided to postpone the game to a sunny day. It is now
raining, and I have heard that the rain will stop later today. In these circumstances, I can utter (4) but I cannot utter (5). Now consider a modification of this
scenario. Suppose that Charlies team did in fact play the last game last night
and, because of the rain, lost. In these circumstances, the situation is reversed.
I can felicitously utter (5) but not (4). The first conclusion these facts suggest
is that morphologically complex subjunctive conditionals such as (5) are felicitous just in case the eventuality described in the antecedent is impossible:
In this case morphologically simpler subjunctive conditionals such as (4) are
infelicitous.
The goal of this book is twofold: (i) to develop a general theory of subjunctive
conditionals and argue that one essential piece of the modal interpretation is
contributed by the past tense, and (ii) to provide a semantic and pragmatic
analysis of past perfect subjunctive conditionals about the future. To reach this
goal, we need to answer two questions raised by pairs like (4) and (5). First,
why can the morphologically simpler conditional in (4) not always be used to
talk about future hypothetical events? Second, why must the morphologically
more complex conditional in (5) be understood counterfactually? Let us look
more closely at the temporal mismatches found in these modal sentences and
at some recent proposals that attempt to explain them.

Temporal Mismatches

23

2.2 Temporal Mismatches

The sentence in (6) sounds unacceptable, and at first the reason seems obvious:
the same event cannot both occur tomorrow and be past relative to the utterance
time.
(6) #Charlie flew his kite tomorrow.
Things are not so simple, though. There are cases where temporal mismatches
do not give rise to uninterpretability like that generated by the sentence in (6).
Consider the conditional sentence in (7).
(7) If Charlie flew his kite tomorrow, Lucy would not call him wishy-washy.
Here the past tense is allowed to cooccur with the future adverb tomorrow,
without making the sentence uninterpretable. Clearly, the past tense is not
locating the event in the past, because we are supposing without contradiction
that the event will take place tomorrow. What, then, is the role of past?
As the examples in (1) show, when the hypothetical eventuality is located in
the future (or in the present, in the case of states), one layer of past occurs. When
the eventuality described in the antecedent is located in the past, two layers of
past occur but the tense is not interpreted as a past perfect (pluperfect). Consider
(8ac), from Iatridou 2000, 245.
(8) a. #Napoleon had been tall.
b. Napoleon was tall.
c. If Napoleon had been tall, he would have defeated Wellington.
Tall is an individual-level predicate, because being tall is a property that, once
acquired, is possessed by an individual permanently. Therefore, in its most
natural reading, (8a) is deviant. However, when this very sentence is part of a
past perfect subjunctive conditional like (8c), it is acceptable. In both simple
past subjunctive conditionals and past perfect subjunctive conditionals, there
is one layer of past that does not seem to be interpreted temporally; that is, it
does not seem to locate the eventuality described in the antecedent in the past.
Not only do we find a seemingly uninterpretable past in all kinds of subjunctive conditionals in Englisheven more surprisingly, the past tense seems
to mark conditionals with roughly the semantics of English subjunctive conditionals in several genetically unrelated languages: Indo-European languages
(English, Italian, Greek, etc.), Papago (Hale 1969), Japanese, Korean (Han
1996, Cho 1997), Hebrew, Turkish, and Basque, to mention a few (see Palmer
2001, 203221, and references cited there). On the basis of these facts, Iatridou
(2000) argues that the hallmark of subjunctive conditionals is not the subjunctive

24

Chapter 2

mood but the past tense. This fact had already been noticed in the literature, and
the idea that the past tense contributes to the semantics of these sentences had
already been suggested in informal analyses of subjunctive conditionals. For
example, according to Palmer (1986, 2001), the past tense in the antecedent of
(1b) (and, arguably, the past on the modal would in the consequent) is a modal
past, the intuition being that the past tense does not locate the event of your
arrival in the past but removes the speaker from the actual situation and places
her into an unreal one. Consequently, in a past subjunctive conditional like (1c),
past is marked once for unreality and once for past time since we are talking
about yesterdays hypothetical arrival. Iatridou exploits this intuition as well,
but her objective is to explain why the past can be employed in a modal context
with this distancing effect. In her proposal, the past tense morphology realizes
what she calls the exclusion feature. This feature can be interpreted either in
the domain of time or in the domain of worlds. Iatridou (2000, 246) assumes
that, unlike the present and the past, the future is not a tense but a modal. As
a result, when the exclusion feature is interpreted in the domain of time, a
sentence with past will be interpreted as talking about a time different from
the time of the utterance. When the exclusion feature is interpreted modally, a
sentence with past will be interpreted as talking about worlds different from the
actual world. In a simple sentence such as John left, the past is interpreted temporally and the sentence asserts that Johns leaving occurred at some past time.
The possibility of interpreting the past modally (i.e., as excluding the actual
world) is exploited in conditionals like (1b) and (1c). The difference between
(1b) and (1c) is that, in the latter, two layers of past occur, one instantiated by
the auxiliary have and the other instantiated by the past -ed. Iatridous proposal shares the spirit of Palmers idea: one layer of past is interpreted modally,
thus contributing to the modal interpretation of the structure; the other layer
of past is interpreted temporally, that is, as expressing a relation of anteriority
between the time when the antecedent-event is supposed to take place and the
utterance time.
A consequence of this proposal is that the layer of past that is interpreted temporally locates the hypothetical event in time and therefore must be interpreted
inside the proposition expressed by the antecedent. This is exactly parallel to
what happens in a simple sentence with the past tense: in (9), the past tense
locates the event of playing in the past, which is why it is compatible with the
past adverb yesterday but not with tomorrow.
(9) Charlie played with Lucy (yesterday/#tomorrow).
As we saw at the beginning of this chapter, though, past perfect subjunctive conditionals do not always talk about the way the past could have been. Sometimes

Temporal Mismatches

25

they talk about the future, despite their two layers of past morphology. I will
refer to this kind of past perfect subjunctive conditional as a past perfect future
counterfactual.
(10) If they had played the last game tomorrow, Charlies team would have
won.
Examples like (10) are problematic for theories about the morphosemantics of subjunctive conditionals of the type just described.3 If the reason why
there is a pluperfect in (10) is that one past is locating the hypothetical event
of playing in the past, we are left with no understanding of why two pasts
occur in a past perfect future counterfactual, where the hypothetical event is
located in the future by some future adverb. In this chapter, I will abstract away
from the question of what the one layer of past in a one-past subjunctive conditional like (7) does. I will return to this question in chapter 3. What I will
concentrate on here is the role of the second layer of past in past perfect future
counterfactuals.
The second layer of past raises two puzzles. The first puzzle, which I will
call the past puzzle, should by now be familiar: given that the hypothetical
eventuality is said to occur in the future, what is the role of the second layer
of past? Or, to put it differently, how is the mismatch between the past and the
future adverb resolved? The second puzzle, the felicity puzzle, has two parts.
We are already familiar with the first part of this puzzle, which concerns the
difference between the felicity conditions of simple past subjunctive conditionals and those of past perfect future counterfactuals: unlike in simple past
subjunctive conditionals, in past perfect future counterfactuals the hypothetical eventuality described in the antecedent is understood as impossible (cf.
(4) and (5)). The second part is about the difference between the conditions of
use of past perfect future counterfactuals and those of past perfect nonfuture
subjunctive conditionals: more precisely, in past perfect future counterfactuals,
the implication of counterfactuality cannot be canceled. Consider a standard
past perfect nonfuture subjunctive conditional.
(11) If it had rained yesterday, Charlie would not have flown his kite.
Out of the blue, the antecedent would be understood as false. But, as shown by
Anderson (1951), the falsity of the antecedent is not entailed (or presupposed)
since it is possible to construe contexts where the antecedent is not believed to
be false.4
(12) If Jones had taken arsenic, he would have shown exactly those symptoms
which he does in fact show. Hence, he must have taken arsenic.

26

Chapter 2

If the antecedent of the conditional in (12) needed to be counterfactual, then the


argument would not be valid. This means that the conditional in (12) can neither
entail nor presuppose that the antecedent is counterfactual. When applied to
past perfect future counterfactuals, though, Andersons test does not result in a
felicitous piece of reasoning. (13) is incoherent.
(13) #If Charlie had gone to Boston by train tomorrow, Lucy would have
found in his pocket the ticket that she in fact found. So, he must be going
to Boston by train tomorrow.
The deviance of this example shows that past perfect nonfuture subjunctive
conditionals and past perfect future counterfactuals have different conditions
of use. One might think that the reason why (13) is infelicitous is that the time
of the consequent precedes the time of the antecedent and that, as with other
cases of backward causation, this is disallowed. If this were the case, the first
sentence in (13) would be odd for the same reason that Lewiss (1979, 456)
sentence If Jim asked Jack for help today, there would have been no quarrel
yesterday is. However, I dont think this is the case. There are conditionals
where the time of the consequent precedes the time of the antecedent and that
are good. I can say If Charlie had gotten married to Sally tomorrow, he would
have had his bachelor party last night, in a context in which Charlie will not
get married tomorrow and he did not have his bachelor party last night. My
claim is that what makes (13) infelicitous is the attempt to cancel its counterfactuality. Why are past perfect nonfuture subjunctive conditionals and past
perfect future counterfactuals so different? This is the second part of the felicity
puzzle.
To sum up, past perfect future counterfactuals like (5) raise two puzzles, the
past puzzle and the felicity puzzle. I have two goals: to solve these puzzles, and
to show that they are intimately connected and that in fact they have a common
explanation. As we just saw, the felicity puzzle has to do with the conditions
of use of past perfect future counterfactuals, which were shown to be different
from the conditions of use of both simple past subjunctive conditionals and past
perfect nonfuture subjunctive conditionals. The past puzzle has to do with the
cooccurrence of the pluperfect with a future adverb, and the resolution of the
temporal mismatch. I have argued that theories about the morphosemantics of
subjunctive conditionals discussed above cannot in principle account for the
occurrence of a past perfect in a future counterfactual. In the next section, I
will discuss Ogiharas (2002) proposal, which explicitly addresses the puzzle
of past perfect future counterfactuals.

Temporal Mismatches

27

2.3 Ogiharas Proposal

Ogiharas (2002) proposal is concerned with explaining the properties of past


perfect future counterfactuals within the framework of formal semantics. Ogiharas example is given in (14). The relevant scenario is one in which tomorrow
is Marys birthday but John, who is her boyfriend, mistakenly gave her flowers yesterday, thus making her very upset. The intended reading of (14) is
one where Johns giving flowers to Mary tomorrow happens not in addition
to but instead of his giving her flowers yesterday (as we will see, Ogiharas
proposal forces this aspect of the interpretation by making it explicit in the
logical form of the antecedent proposition). In this scenario, (14) can be felicitously uttered. (The subscripted F indicates which constituent has been
focused.)
(14) If John had given flowers to Mary TOMORROWF , she would have
been happy.
In this section, I will present Ogiharas interesting proposal and show that it is
problematic for the following two reasons: (i) it does not account for some of
the data Ogihara considers; (ii) it cannot account for a new set of data, which
Ogihara did not consider.
In Ogiharas proposal, focus on the temporal adverb is essential to the interpretation of mismatched past counterfactuals such as (14). Assuming Rooth
1985 and subsequent work, focus is associated with a focus operator and a
variable that gets introduced as a sister node to an expression that contains a
focused constituent in the syntactic representation. So, the antecedent has the
structure in (15).
(15)

S
XXXX



X
S
instead(C)
XXXX

X

X
S
C
h
(
hhh
(((
h
(
h
(
hhh
(((
John give flowers to Mary TOMORROWF

The focus semantic value of John give flowers to Mary TOMORROWF is the
set of (temporally indeterminate) propositions of the form John give flowers
to Mary at x, where x is a variable ranging over times. Notice that the relevant
propositions are temporally indeterminatethat is to say, they are tenseless.
This is because the past tense in the antecedent of the conditional refers to a
contextually salient past time and is employed to constrain C by making the

28

Chapter 2

proposition that John gave flowers to Mary at that past time the only contextually salient alternative. This proposition, Ogihara claims, is presupposed to
be true.
In sum, according to Ogiharas proposal, the perfect tense in a past perfect
future counterfactual does not locate the hypothetical event in time but denotes
the time at which a contextually salient alternative to the antecedent-proposition
is true, where the salient alternative contrasted with the hypothetical one is obtained via the Roothian semantics for focus. Furthermore, Ogihara proposes
that past perfect future counterfactuals always have an instead -phrase explicitly represented in the logical form of their antecedents, as shown in (15), and
this adverb can be realized either overtly or covertly (as in (14)). Informally,
then, (14) presupposes that John gave flowers to Mary at a contextually salient
past time (in the current scenario, that past time was yesterday). If this presupposition is defined, then the conditional is true if Mary is happy in all the worlds
maximally similar to the actual world where it is true that John will give her
flowers tomorrow and didnt give her flowers yesterday.
Ogiharas proposal does solve the past puzzle, because the second layer of
past is interpreted not in the proposition expressed by the antecedent but as the
restriction of the focus variable. The problem is that, as we will see in a moment, Ogiharas proposal does not solve the felicity puzzle. Ogiharas proposal
is that in past perfect future counterfactuals the past restricts the focus variable
C, which is anaphoric to a contextually salient set of past alternatives.5 As we
saw above, Ogihara claims that, in addition to having a set of alternatives made
salient by focus, a past perfect future counterfactual carries the existential presupposition that some alternative in C is true. What contributes this existential
presupposition? In Ogiharas proposal, the existential proposition seems to be
linked to the semantics of focus: first, it is (one of) the focus alternative(s) that
is presupposed to be true; second, this existential requirement is present only
if one of the constituents in the antecedent is focused, as Ogihara claims. This
suggests that in Ogiharas proposal the existential proposition is contributed by
focus.
However, there are reasons to doubt that this is true, and some of these reasons
have already been discussed by Rooth (1996).6 Rooth considers the possibility
that, in addition to introducing a salient set of alternatives, focus introduces an
existential presupposition. However, he discards this possibility on the basis of
the contrast between (16) and (17).
(16) A: Did anyone win the football pool this week?
B: I doubt it, because its unlikely that MaryF won it, and I know that
nobody else did.

Temporal Mismatches

29

(17) A: Did anyone win the football pool this week?


B: #I doubt it, because its unlikely that its MaryF who won it, and I
know that nobody else did.
Rooths observation is that, because the modal adjective unlikely is a hole for
presuppositions, if focus generated the existential presupposition that someone
other than Mary won, this presupposition would project, causing Bs answer to
be infelicitous. However, Bs utterance in (16) is coherent, unlike Bs answer in
(17), where the cleft construction does trigger the presupposition that someone
other than Mary won.
The same point is true of counterfactuals. Consider the following example.
Suppose that Lucy and Sally know that Charlie suffers from some food allergy,
and that he did not eat anything at the party because he did not want to get
sick. They are now arguing about what would have made Charlie sick had he
eaten it. Lucy has just said that she thinks that Charlie would have gotten sick
if he had eaten strawberries. Sally disagrees and says, If Charlie had eaten
CHOCOLATE, he would have gotten sick. Here, it is by hypothesis not true
that something made Charlie sick; that is, there is no true proposition of the
form Charlie ate x, where x ranges over kinds of food. Yet the sentence is
felicitous. Therefore, with Rooth (1996), I conclude that focus does not trigger
an existential presupposition.
The second problem with Ogiharas existential presupposition is that, in the
case of past perfect future counterfactuals (as well as in the case of any other
subjunctive conditionals), there needs to be no true past proposition contrasted
with the antecedent. Suppose Charlie died a month ago, before ever going
to Boston, and both Lucy and Sally know it. Lucy and Sally are now talking
about Charlie, and Lucy says that she believes that if Charlie had gone to Boston
tomorrow, he would have seen the Red Sox play. Sally, who knows that the Red
Sox are not playing tomorrow but the day after, disagrees and can felicitously
utter the following past perfect future counterfactual:
(18) No. If Charlie had gone to Boston THE DAY AFTER TOMORROWF ,
he would have seen the Red Sox play.
By hypothesis, Charlie never went to Boston. Therefore, there is no past proposition of the form Charlie goes to Boston at x, where xs value is a contextually
salient past time. The alternatives that are considered are themselves hypothetical, and they do not have to hold in the actual world. If, in light of examples
such as (18) and what we know in general about focus in conditionals, we
drop the requirement that some past proposition among the relevant alternatives must be true, Ogiharas proposal runs into problems too. In particular, it

30

Chapter 2

cannot account for the difference we began with, between a past perfect future
counterfactual and a simple past subjunctive conditional. Without that requirement, Ogiharas theory predicts that the past perfect future counterfactual in (19)
and the simple past subjunctive conditional in (20) should both be felicitous in
the situation imagined above, in which John mistakenly thought that Marys
birthday was yesterday instead of tomorrow, and gave her flowers yesterday.
However, we know this is not true. As # indicates, (20) is infelicitous in that
situation.
(19) If John had given flowers to Mary TOMORROWF (instead), she would
not have left him.
(20) #If John gave flowers to Mary TOMORROWF (instead), she would not
leave him.
Consider (20). The variable C introduced by the focus on the temporal adverb
will be a set of alternative propositions of the form John gives flowers to Mary
at x, where x ranges over times. Now, because there is no second layer of past
in the simple past subjunctive conditional, the set of alternatives will contain
both propositions where x is replaced by a past time and propositions where x
is replaced by nonpast (future or present) times. This set will contain the past
alternative that John gave flowers to Mary yesterday and that is in fact true. The
simple past subjunctive conditional should be felicitous, but it is not. Why?
The difference between (19) and (20) would have to be that the past perfect
future counterfactual in (19) requires a past alternative to be true, whereas the
simple past subjunctive conditional does not allow a past alternative to be true.
We saw above that this requirement does not stem from the semantics of focus
(see (18), also (21) below). Furthermore, we still would not have an explanation
for why (20) is infelicitous if a past alternative is true, unless we stipulated that
if a past alternative is true, then the sentence must have a second layer of past.
But this is precisely what the analysis is supposed to account for.
Last, a past perfect future counterfactual is felicitous even when no relevant
alternative is temporal, and this is an argument that focus should not play an
essential role in the theory of past perfect future counterfactuals. Imagine that
Lucy has just told me that Charlie is going to Rome to meet my sister, who
actually lives in Milan. He has already bought a ticket, and there is no way to
reach him to make him change his plans. I am assuming that there is nothing I
can do and Charlie will go to Rome.
(21) If he had gone to MILANF tomorrow, he would have met my sister.
Suppose I utter the conditional in (21). All the alternatives are propositions of
the form x. Charlie goes to x tomorrow, that is to say, propositions that will

Temporal Mismatches

31

only vary depending on the value assigned to the variable x, which ranges over
places and not over times. Therefore, it cannot be true that the perfect tense
is interpreted as constraining the set of alternatives, because the alternative
propositions all talk about tomorrow.
To sum up the discussion. Ogiharas proposal cannot be maintained for the
following reasons. First, it claims that some proposition in the relevant set of
alternatives has to be true in the actual world, and we saw that this is incorrect
for past perfect future counterfactuals. Without the claim that a past proposition
in the set of relevant alternatives must be true, though, Ohiharas theory cannot
explain why past perfect future counterfactuals must be counterfactual. Second,
since the focus proposal does not seem to be correct, the role of the (second
layer of) past in past perfect future counterfactuals is also left unaccounted for.
Nonetheless, I believe Ogiharas general insightthat the (second layer
of) past in a past perfect future counterfactual is not interpreted inside the
proposition expressed by the antecedent but is constraining something elseto
be fundamentally correct. Therefore, at least in spirit, Ogiharas proposal and
mine are similar. Despite this similarity, however, in chapter 3 I will argue for
a very different answer to the questions of what the past constrains in a past
perfect future counterfactual and what the relation is between morphology and
semantics.
2.4 Is Aspect the Key Ingredient?

Someone might suggest that the difference between simple past and past perfect
subjunctive conditionals about the future is aspectual. This position has been
defended in important work by Arregui (2005, 2009). Arregui considers the
following set of examples, which she regards as the paradigm for subjunctive
conditionals.
(22) You: Could you look after my plants next week while I am away?
Me: Of course, but I am rather nervous. If your plants died next week,
I would be very upset.
(23) You: Dont worry about looking after my plants next week. They died.
Me: I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. If your plants had died next
week, I would have been very upset.
Me : I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. #If your plants died next week,
I would be very upset.
(24) Your plants do not have enough light. If they had enough light, they
would be fine.

32

Chapter 2

The generalizations that Arregui draws and that her proposal is designed
to explain are the following: (i) simple past subjunctive conditionals with
antecedents whose main predicate is eventive (e.g., to die) cannot be counterfactual; (ii) simple past subjunctive conditionals with antecedents whose
main predicate is stative (e.g., to have enough light) can be counterfactual; (iii)
past perfect subjunctive conditionals can always be counterfactual, regardless
of the type of predicate in their antecedent.
The basic tenets of Arreguis proposal are the following. First, simple past
subjunctive conditionals with eventive antecedents and simple past subjunctive
conditionals with stative predicates differ with regard to aspect. The former contain an eventive predicate with an eventuality argument in its argument structure.
The latter contain a stative predicate that lacks an eventuality argument. As a
result, only the former can have a deictic perfective operator manipulating the
eventuality argument in the predicate. Their different counterfactuality properties are argued to follow from this aspectual difference and how it affects their
semantic composition.
Second, past perfect subjunctive conditionals have a perfect operator (not a
perfective one) in their antecedent. The perfect operator is not deictic, and the
counterfactuality properties of past perfect subjunctive conditionals is argued
to follow from this fact. In what follows, I will spell out Arreguis proposal in
more detail and I will argue that neither tenet above is correct.
2.4.1 Perfect and Perfective

In developing her proposal, Arregui makes two assumptions. First, she adopts
the standard assumption that modal sentences involve restricted quantification
over possible worlds. All conditionals have a tripartite structure (formed by a
modal operator, its restriction, and its nuclear scope), as illustrated in (25) for
subjunctive conditionals with would.7
(25)

modal+restriction+nuclear-scope
```
```
consequent-clause
modal+restriction
!aa
!
a
!
would antecedent-clause

Eventive antecedents contain a deictic perfective head that forces a deictic


interpretation of the event variable in the antecedents eventive predicate, as
shown in (26).
(26) Where P is a property of events, and ei is an event pronoun,
[[perfective-ei ]]g,w (P) = t.w .P([[ei ]]g,w )
s(s < w [[ei ]]g,w (s) = 1 (s) t)

Temporal Mismatches

33

According to (26), a perfective head maps properties of events into properties of


times by saturating the event argument in the predicate with an event pronoun
(ei ). The perfective head takes a property of events P and a time t and returns a
proposition that is true in a world w if the value that the assignment function g
assigns to the event pronoun is a P event, and the event referred to by the event
pronoun is true in some spatiotemporal region of w , and the temporal span of
the spatiotemporal region is included within t. In simpler terms, the perfective
head takes a predicate P of events and a time t and returns a proposition that is
true in w if and only if a salient event is a P event in w and its running time is
included within t. In this picture, then, events are properties of spatiotemporal
regions: events dont have to be true of a spatiotemporal region in every world
but crucially, according to Arregui, saying that a particular event occurs in
both w and w means that in both w and w there is a spatiotemporal region
characterized by the same properties.
(27) For any event pronoun ei ,
your-plants-die([[ei []g,w ) = 1 for every s such that [[ei ]]g,w (s) = 1, your
plants die in s.
According to (27) (from Arregui 2007, 239), saying that a property of events P
is true of the referent of an event pronoun means saying that every spatiotemporal region in which that event occurs is one where P is true. As Arregui
herself acknowledges, this claim commits one to an essentialist view of events,
whereby events have their properties in all possible worlds where they occur.
We will return to this issue later on.
The second, crucial assumptionArregui makes is that there is a presupposition
associated with a deictic event pronoun, namely, that the event denoted by
that variable must be true of some spatiotemporal region in the actual world.
So, when a speaker uses a deictic event pronoun, this pronoun must have a
denotation in the actual world. This assumption, combined with the essentialist
assumption above, entails that the event denoted by a deictic event pronoun
occurs in the actual world and has the same properties in any other world in
which it occurs.
The truth-conditions of the simple past subjunctive conditional If your plants
died next week, I would be very upset are given in (28).
(28) [[would [if-clause perfective-ei [your plants die next week]] [I be very
upset]]]g,w0 (w0 ) = 1 if and only if for a contextually salient nonpast time
ti , for every possible world w such that w is a most similar world to w0
in which [w. your-plants-die([[ei ]]g,w0 ) next-week([[ei ]]g,w0 )
s[s < w [[ei ]]g,w0 (s) = 1 (s) ti ]] is true, w is a world where I
am very upset

34

Chapter 2

We observed in (23) that this conditional is infelicitous if your plants died


yesterday. This follows from Arreguis proposal. Because of the presence of the
perfective operator in the logical form of If your plants died next week, I would
be very upset, this sentence will be felicitous only if the denotation of the deictic
pronoun ei occurs in the actual world. According to the truth-conditions above,
we are quantifying over worlds where the particular event that is presupposed
to have occurred in the actual world is an event of your plants dying and will
occur next week. This is not possible, though: (i) according to (27), to say that
a particular event has the property of being an event of your plants dying next
week means to say that any situation (or world) where that event occurs is a
situation (world) where your plants die next week; (ii) at the same time, that
event is presupposed to be an event of your plants dying yesterday in the actual
world; (iii) points (i) and (ii) are inconsistent, and therefore the conditional is
infelicitous.
Unlike the simple past subjunctive conditional in (23), the past perfect subjunctive conditional is felicitous in a situation where your plants died yesterday.
Arregui claims that this is because the difference between simple past and past
perfect subjunctive conditionals is aspectual: the former but not the latter have
the deictic perfective operator in their logical form. Past perfect subjunctive
conditionals have a perfect operator in their structure, which crucially is not
deictic but existentially closes the event argument in the argument structure of
the predicate.
The example in question is repeated in (29). We already dealt with the infelicity of the simple past subjunctive conditional. The next task is to explain the
felicity of the past perfect variant.
(29) You: Dont worry about looking after my plants next week. They died.
Me: I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. If your plants had died next
week, I would have been very upset.
Me : I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. #If your plants died next week,
I would be very upset.
Arregui follows Parsonss (1990) analysis of the English perfect according to
which the perfect introduces a resultant statethat is, the state that results from
and follows the culmination of an event. For each event that culminates, there is
a state that starts immediately after the culmination time and holds forever after.
For our current purposes, though, what is important is Arreguis assumption
that the perfect is not a deictic head, as shown in (30).
(30) [[perfect]](e. your-plants-die(e)) =
t.w.e [your-plants-die(e) s[s < w e occurs in s (s) < t]]

Temporal Mismatches

35

The truth-conditions for the past perfect subjunctive conditional in (29) will
look like this:
(31) [[would [if -clause perfect [your plants die next week]] [I be very
upset]]](w0 ) = 1 if and only if for a contextually salient nonpast time ti ,
for every possible world w such that w is a most similar world to w0 in
which [w.e [your-plants-die(e) s[s < w e occurs in s (s) <
t]]] is true, w is a world where I am very upset
Because the perfect operator is not deicticArreguis argument goesthere
is no presupposition that the event in question occurs in the actual world and
therefore there is no incompatibility between the actual course of events and
the properties of the antecedent event.
Finally, Arregui explains the felicity of simple past subjunctive conditionals
such as (24) repeated here, as a consequence of the fact that stative predicates
lack an eventuality variable in their argument structure altogether.
(32) Your plants do not have enough light. If they had enough light, they
would be fine.
The evidence she adduces for the claim that the argument structure of stative
predicates lacks an eventuality variable comes from Katz (1995), who observes
that while event anaphora is possible with eventive predicates, it is not possible
with stative predicates.
(33) a. Kim kisses Sandy.
b. It bothers Sue. (propositional anaphora)
c. It was at noon. (event anaphora)
(34) a. Kim loves Sandy.
b. It bothers Sue. (propositional anaphora)
c. *It was at noon. (event anaphora)
We will return to the tenability of this claim later. Now, consider the denotation
of the antecedent in (32) given in (35). The truth-conditions for (32) are given
in (36).
(35) [[your plants have enough light]] = t.w.
your-plants-have-enough-light(t)(w)
(36) [[would [if -clause your plants have enough light] [they be fine]]](w0 ) =
1 if and only if for a contextually salient nonpast time ti , for every
possible world w such that w is a most similar world to w0 in which
[w. your-plants-have-enough-light(ti )(w)] is true, w is a world where
they are fine

36

Chapter 2

Because no reference to any actual eventuality is made in the antecedent, no


event presupposition is triggered and therefore no incompatibility arises between the antecedent-worlds and the actual world.
2.4.2 Some Problems for the Aspectual Analysis of Subjunctive Conditionals

Now let us consider some problems for the aspectual analysis of subjunctive
conditionals. The first problem has to do with (27), repeated here (from Arregui
2007, 239).
(37) For any event pronoun ei ,
your-plants-die([[ei ]]g,w ) = 1 for every s such that [[ei ]]g,w (s) = 1, your
plants die in s
As pointed out above, Arreguis proposal ends up maintaining a view of events
whereby an event has its properties essentiallythat is, in every world in which
that event occurs. Now, we can use pronouns and demonstrative noun phrases
to refer to an event.
(38) a. My plants died yesterday. It might have happened next week.
b. Yesterday, John ran in the park for twenty minutes. If that run had
lasted any longer, he would have run out of breath.
Take (38b). If the essentialist view of events is true, then there are no worlds
where the particular run in the actual world referred to by the indexical noun
phrase that run has any properties other than the ones it has in the actual world.
Therefore, the counterfactual in (38b) (and every other counterfactual of this
type) would be predicted to be vacuously true (or false). But we can easily
imagine situations where (38b) is true.
The second problem has to do with the claim that the perfective operator is a
deictic operator. Lets grant that the perfective operator can be interpreted deictically. It does not follow that it must be interpreted deictically. Why cant the
perfective operator be optionally interpreted as existentially closing the event
variable in the predicate? This is an important point, because if the perfective
operator could (at least optionally) existentially bind the event variable in the
predicate, then we would expect that option to be available for simple past
subjunctive conditionals: if such an option were available, we would expect
the simple past subjunctive conditional in (23) (repeated in (39)) to be as good
as the past perfect subjunctive conditional, since neither of them would contain a deictic pronoun that (triggering the presupposition that its denotation is
true in the actual world) causes the infelicity of the simple past subjunctive
conditionals in Arreguis proposal.

Temporal Mismatches

37

(39) You: Dont worry about looking after my plants next week. They died.
Me: I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. If your plants had died next
week, I would have been very upset.
Me : I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. #If your plants died next week,
I would be very upset.
The unavailability of this option in (39) is puzzling in light of examples
like (40).
(40) They played yesterday and lost. If they played again tomorrow, they
would win.
In this felicitous sequence, the antecedent of the conditional cannot be interpreted deictically: the presence of again forces the event of playing tomorrow
to be different from the event of playing yesterday. Therefore, in this case the
antecedent must be understood as supposing that an event of playing will occur
tomorrow (in addition to a salient past event of the same kind that already occurred). Since this option is available in (40), it should be available for all simple
past subjunctive conditionals therefore, the simple past subjunctive conditional
in (39) should have a logical form where the event of your plants dying next
week is existentially closed by the perfective operator. Because it is known that
plants can die only once, the modal operator would then quantify over those
accessible worlds where your plants didnt die yesterday, where they will die
next week, and that are otherwise maximally similar to the actual world. This
is exactly Arreguis explanation for the felicity of the past perfect subjunctive
conditional in (39). Therefore, we would incorrectly expect no felicity contrast
between the two types of subjunctive conditionals. Notice that it will not help
to say that the reason why the simple past subjunctive conditional in (39) is
infelicitous is the presence of a covert instead in the antecedent, forcing the
deictic interpretation of the perfective operator. This is because we would then
incorrectly expect instead to be incompatible with the nondeictic perfect operator. Example (41) shows that adding instead to the past perfect subjunctive
conditional in (39) does not affect its felicity.
(41) You: Dont worry about looking after my plants next week. They died.
Me: I am sorry, but also a bit relieved. If your plants had died next
week instead, I would have been very upset.
The adverb instead does not play any essential role in Arreguis analysis: the
difference between the two types of conditionals lies in the presence versus
absence of the deictic perfective operator. All the rest is done by the similarity
semantics for counterfactuals.

38

Chapter 2

This raises a related question (the third problem for the aspectual analysis of
subjunctive conditionals). Consider the following example.
(42) John is dancing a waltz with Mary right now. If he were dancing this
waltz with Sue instead, Mary would be jealous.
In a context where John is dancing with Mary, it is felicitous to talk counterfactually about what would happen if he were dancing with someone else. How
would Arreguis proposal explain this piece of data? On the intended meaning,
the counterfactual proposition expressed by the antecedent is about the very
same event of dancing that is occurring right now and whose actual participants are John and Mary: under the reasonable assumption that John can only
have one dancing partner at a time, the counterfactual assumption is that Johns
partner is Sue instead of Mary. The aspectual operator in (42)s antecedent
is the imperfective operator. If the imperfective operatorlike the perfective
operatorwere deictic, the actuality presupposition associated with the event
pronoun, together with the essentiality assumption about events, would require
the actual dancing to be a dancing of this waltz with both Mary and Sue, which
by assumption is not possible. Therefore, the felicity of the simple past subjunctive conditional in this context can be accounted for in Arreguis proposal
by assuming that the imperfective operator present in the antecedent clause of
(42) is not deictic but existentially closes the event variable in the main predicate, just as the perfect does. But this solution seems rather ad hoc: why does
this difference between perfective and imperfective operators exist, and what
explains it? In section 3.3.3, we will return to this issue and discuss some other
cases that also raise problems for Arreguis proposal.
The fourth problem has to do with Katzs (1995) proposal that stative predicates do not have an eventuality argument in their argument structure. Recall
that this proposal is based on the observation that while event anaphora is possible with eventive predicates such as to kiss, it is not possible with stative
predicates such as to love.
(43) Kim kissed Sandy.
It was at noon.
(44) Kim loves Sandy.
It was at noon.
However, this contrast seems to track the individual/state contrast at the predicate level rather than relating to the eventive/stative nature of these predicates.
Consider the following example.
(45) Kim is very sick.
It started at noon.

Temporal Mismatches

39

To specify exactly what the antecedent of the pronoun it is, when used anaphorically, is not a trivial matter. But insofar as we agree to follow Katzs intuition
that it in (43) refers to the event of Kims kissing Sandy introduced by an utterance of the previous sentence, then it is plausible to maintain that it in (45)
refers to the state of Kims being sick (Kims sickness) made salient by the
previous utterance. According to Katzs proposal, though, we would expect
eventuality anaphora in (45) to be impossible since sick is a stative predicate.
A similar point holds for the stative predicate hungry.
(46) John is very hungry.
Its making him irritable.
The contrast between (44) on the one hand and (45) and (46) on the other points
toward a correlation between the impossibility of eventuality anaphora and
individual-level predicates (Kratzer 1995). An analysis of these facts is beyond
the scope of this book. What is important for current purposes is the observation
that the evidence Arregui gives to support the claim that stative predicates do
not have an eventuality argument in their argument structure does not stand up
to closer scrutiny.
Related to the argument structure of stative predicates is a fifth problem.
This last problem has to do directly with Arreguis claim that simple past counterfactuals with stative antecedents are always felicitous because they lack
the event variable that we saw to be the source of the problems for simple
past counterfactuals with eventive antecedents. Consider the following counterfactuals.
(47) John was sick yesterday. Now he is well, but he missed his chance to
watch the final ball game. That was very unfortunate.
a. #If only he were sick tomorrow instead, he would be happier.
b. If only he had been sick tomorrow instead, he would have been
happier.
(48) John, a Canadian citizen, had applied for American citizenship but died
before obtaining it.
a. #If he were (already) an American citizen next fall, he would vote in
the next presidential election.
b. If he had (already) been an American citizen next fall, he would have
voted in the next presidential election.
What do these cases tell us? According to Arreguis aspectual proposal, both
(47a) and (48a) should be felicitous: because both be sick and be an American
citizen are stative predicates, they are claimed not to have an eventuality argument in their structure. Therefore, there is no room for an eventuality pronoun

40

Chapter 2

triggering a conflict between what is true of the denotation of that pronoun in the
actual world (the actuality presupposition), what is supposed to be true of that
event in other possible worlds, and the essentiality view of events. However,
this prediction is incorrect: both (47a) and (48a) are infelicitous, even though
they both have a stative antecedent. In fact, the data are consistent with the
pattern we have identified so far: not only are the simple past counterfactuals
infelicitous, but their past perfect counterparts are felicitous.
These facts, together with the ones presented above, suggest that Arreguis
generalization and analysis cannot be maintained. There is no difference between stative and eventive predicates with respect to the counterfactuality of
the antecedent: in some situations, a simple past counterfactual with either an
eventive or a stative antecedent is infelicitous, unlike its past perfect counterpart. (We will return to this point in chapter 3.) This observation in turn sheds
doubt on the claim that the difference between simple past and past perfect
subjunctive conditionals is aspectual, with the former but not the latter having
a perfective deictic operator in their logical form: the infelicity of some simple
past counterfactuals does not correlate with perfectivity since, as we saw, counterfactuals with stative predicates are not perfective, yet they are infelicitous
in some situations too. Moreover, we saw that there are cases where a perfective head occurs but where the intended interpretation requires the antecedent
predicate to be existentially closed (rather than interpreted deictically). Because
this option must be available in some cases, we would expect it to be always
available in counterfactuals, contra Arreguis claim that the perfective operator
in counterfactuals is always interpreted deictically.
Despite these problems, though, Arreguis proposal correctly draws attention to the possibility that eventuality anaphora (but now encompassing both
events and states) plays a role in the interpretation of (at least some of) these
counterfactuals. I will incorporate this insight into the analysis in chapter 3.
2.5 Counterfactuals and Presuppositions

In Ippolito 2006b, I argued that the different behavior of simple past and past
perfect future subjunctive conditionals has to do with whether or not their
presuppositions (i.e., the presuppositions in the antecedent and those in the
consequent not entailed by the antecedent) are required to project.8 On the
basis of data that I discuss below, I proposed the following generalization: (i)
the antecedent of a simple past subjunctive conditional can be counterfactual,
but its presuppositions (if any) cannot be; and (ii) in a past perfect subjunctive
conditional, both the antecedent and its presuppositions can be counterfactual.9

Temporal Mismatches

41

The most immediate evidence comes from subjunctive conditionals whose


antecedents carry presuppositions. ((49a) and (49b) are from Ippolito 2006b,
633, 634.)
(49) John was training for the Boston Marathon last summer when he
unexpectedly died.
a. #If John ran the Boston Marathon next spring, he would win.
b. If John had run the Boston Marathon next spring, he would have won.
The observation is that in the scenario described above, (49b) is felicitous, while
(49a) is not. Following Musan (1997), I assumed that most predicates carry the
presupposition that their subject is alive or exists at the time of predication.
This means that the antecedents in both (49a) and (49b) carry the presupposition that John will be alive next spring at the time when the Boston Marathon
is scheduled to take place.10 However, only the simple past subjunctive conditional is infelicitous in the given context. A similar pattern emerges with other
presupposition triggers. For example, consider (50) (from Ippolito 2003).
(50) Lucy was a heavy smoker but she quit smoking ten years ago, after she
had pneumonia. A new law was passed last week that says that if you
quit smoking from now on, you have to undergo a new medical test
which is quite painful, even if very useful for detecting lung problems in
ex-smokers. Thinking about Lucy, I say:
a. #Good for her! If she quit smoking tomorrow, she would have to take
the new painful test.
b. Good for her! If she had quit smoking tomorrow, she would have had
to take the new painful test.
The antecedents in both the simple past and past perfect subjunctive conditionals carry the presupposition trigger to quit and therefore the presupposition
that Lucy will be a smoker up until sometime tomorrow (for more on the presupposition triggered by change-of-state verbs, see section 4.3). Just as with
the existence presupposition, even though both conditionals carry this presupposition in their antecedents, only the simple past one is infelicitous.
Both the filtering condition for conditionals proposed by Karttunen (1973)
and the context change potential for counterfactuals proposed by Heim (1992)
account for the infelicity of (49a) (in a context in which John is already dead)
and (50a), albeit in different ways. According to Karttunen (1973), conditional
sentences of the form if , are subject to the following filtering condition:
(51) Filtering condition for if ,
Filter out any presuppositions of that are entailed by .

42

Chapter 2

Presuppositions that are not filtered out are said to project, that is, they become
presuppositions of the whole sentence and therefore are required to be taken to
be true by whoever utters the whole conditional sentence if , . This accounts
well for the behavior of presuppositions in indicative conditionals, as shown in
(52ac), where the possessive determiner his in (52a) is understood as referring
to John.
(52) a. If John has children, his children are asleep.
b. If Johns children are asleep, it will be quiet.
c. If it is quiet, Johns children are asleep.
The presupposition triggered by the possessive noun phrase (either his children
or Johns children) projects if it occurs in the antecedent (as in (52b)) or if it
occurs in the consequent but is not entailed by the antecedent (as in (52c)). If it
occurs in the consequent but is entailed by the antecedent (as in (52a)), then it is
filtered out. The filtering condition in (51) applies to all conditional sentences
and in fact seems to successfully account for the infelicity of the counterfactual conditional in (49a) as well: the presupposition that John will be alive
next spring projects since it occurs in the antecedent, but, being incompatible
with the context of utterance, it causes the sentence to be odd. The problem
for Karttunens filtering condition comes from (49b): the felicity of this example in a context where it is known that John is dead is unexpected since the
existence presupposition in the antecedent is expected to project, thus clashing with the speakers assumptions. Similarly for the smoking example (50):
while Karttunens filtering condition can account for the infelicity of (50a),
it incorrectly predicts that (50b) should be as infelicitous as its simple past
counterpart.
Unlike Karttunens (1973) filtering condition, Heims (1992) context change
semantics explicitly examines the connection between the truth-conditions of
a sentence S and its presupposition projection properties, and distinguishes
between the context change potential of indicative conditionals and the context change potential of counterfactuals. Building on work by Stalnaker (1973,
1974, 1979), Heim (1983) defends the idea that the meaning of a sentence is
its context change potential (ccp)that is, a function from contexts to contexts. A context c is a set of worlds compatible with the common ground (an
idealized state of information shared by the participants in a conversation).
Uttering a sentence S will result in successfully updating the context if the
proposition expressed by S can successfully be added to c, thus eliminating
all the worlds in c that are incompatible with . Crucially, the operation of
adding to c is defined only if the presuppositions of are already entailed

Temporal Mismatches

43

by c. The example of the conjunction and illustrates how this mechanism


works.
(53) c + and = (c + ) +
(53) shows the ccp of conjunction. Adding the complex proposition means
adding to the original context set c and then adding to the newly formed
context set c + . Because the addition operation is defined only if the presuppositions of the proposition that is added are entailed by the context to which it
is added, (53) makes different predictions with respect to the presuppositions of
each conjunct: the presupposition in the first conjunct will be required to be entailed by c, the main context (the speakers context, so to speak); the presuppositions in the second conjunct will be required to be entailed by the intermediate
context c + , and not by c alone. This ccp captures the projection properties
of conjunction just as well as Karttunens (1973) filtering condition in (54).
(54) Filtering condition for and
Filter out any presuppositions of that are not entailed by .
Moving to conditionals, Heims ccp for indicative conditionals is shown in (55).
(55) c + if , = {w c : SIMw (c + ) + = SIMw (c + )}
According to the ccp in (55), the presuppositions in the antecedent of an
indicative conditional are always required to be entailed by the main context c
(they project), whereas the presuppositions in the consequent are required to
be entailed by the intermediate context generated by adding the antecedent to the
main context. Furthermore, because the antecedent is added to the main context
(what we informally defined as the set of worlds compatible with the common
ground of the speaker and her interlocutors), the ccp in (55) captures the fact
that (most) indicative conditionals cannot be counterfactuals and Stalnakers
pragmatic constraint that the antecedent-worlds that are selected by the selection
function must be within the context set (see Stalnaker 1975, 1999, 2002).11
Obviously, the ccp in (55) will not work for subjunctive conditionals since the
latter can be counterfactual.
(56) John is not here. If he were here, he would be sitting right there.
Because the antecedent is known to be false, c = , and therefore, the operation c + is undefined. Therefore, the whole ccp in (55) would be undefined
in (56), and the conditional sentence in (56) would be incorrectly predicted to
be infelicitous. Following Kratzers (1981a) proposal that in counterfactuals
the modal base is empty, we might think that the correct ccp for counterfactuals
would be something like (57).

44

Chapter 2

(57) c + if , would = {w c : SIMw (W + ) + = SIMw (W + )}


While (57) takes care of the counterfactuality of the antecedent, the problem
is that the ccp of a counterfactual is predicted to be undefined whenever the
antecedent carries any presuppositions. This is because W , being the set of all
possible worlds, will never have the right entailments. To solve this problem,
Heim proposes that the ccp of a counterfactual explicitly requires the set of
worlds to which the antecedent is added to be large enough to accommodate
a counterfactual antecedent but crucially small enough that the antecedents
presuppositions (if any) will be entailed by it.
(58) c+if , would = {w c : SIMw (rev (c)+)+ = SIMw (rev (c)+)}
where, for any context c and LF :

rev (c), the revision of c for , is {X W : c X and
X + is defined}
According to (58), the antecedent is added to a revision of the context set, that
is, a set of worlds whose only constraint is that it must entail s presuppositions.
Now, because c X , requiring also that X entails s presuppositions amounts
to requiring also that c itself entails s presuppositions (this is because if c
didnt entail s presuppositions, no superset of c could entail them). Thus,
the ccp of (49a), repeated in (59a), is correctly predicted to be undefined in a
context where it is known that John died, because the presupposition that John
will be alive at some point next spring is inconsistent with c.
(59) John was training for the Boston Marathon last summer when he
unexpectedly died.
a. #If John ran the Boston Marathon next spring, he would win.
b. If John had run the Boston Marathon next spring, he would have won.
Like Karttunens filtering condition, however, Heims ccp for counterfactuals
runs into problems with (59b). The ccp for the latter will be (58) and, just like
the simple past counterfactual in (59a), the past perfect subjunctive conditional
is predicted to be infelicitous because the presupposition in the antecedent is incompatible with the context. However, as we know, the past perfect subjunctive
conditional is fine.
As I pointed out in Ippolito 2006b, the contrast between simple past and past
perfect subjunctive conditionals shows (i) that there are conditionals that do
not obey Karttunens filtering condition for conditionals and (ii) that Heims
revision of the context set as defined above is too strong for past perfect subjunctive conditionals. In the next section, I review Ippolito 2006b, whose goal
is to explainwithin the framework of Heims context change semanticswhy
such a contrast exists.

Temporal Mismatches

45

2.6 The Temporal Structure of Subjunctive Conditionals

The goal of Ippolito 2006b is twofold: first, to explain the projection properties
of subjunctive conditionals and their truth-conditions, and second, to account
for the correlation between the presence/absence of temporal and aspectual
morphology and the subjunctive/indicative divide within the domain of conditionals in English and crosslinguistically. In Ippolito 2006b, a conditional
is taken to be a tripartite structure, where the antecedent is the restriction of a
(possibly) covert modal operator and the consequent acts as its nuclear scope.12
There are two parameters in the interpretation of a conditional: an accessibility
function and a similarity function. The former provides a set of worlds relevantly accessible from the evaluation world at the evaluation time, and corresponds
to what Kratzer (1981a) calls a conversational background.13 The latter selects from the set of accessible worlds those that are the most similar to the
actual world. This second parameter plays the same role as the ordering source
in Kratzers semantics. Just as in Kratzers semantics for conditionals, then,
the worlds quantified over by the modal operator are the most highly ranked
accessible worlds where the antecedent is true. The core of the proposal (first
defended in Ippolito 2002b and to a lesser extent in Ippolito 2003) is that a
conditional is a bare modal structurewhere a bare modal structure consists
of a modal operator, its restriction (the antecedent clause), and its nuclear scope
(the consequent clause)embedded under a temporal structure. Which temporal structure embeds the bare conditional determines the kind of conditional that
results. In particular, indicative conditionals are argued to be bare modal structures embedded under a present tense; simple past subjunctive conditionals are
argued to be modal structures embedded under a (universal) present perfect;
and past perfect subjunctive conditionals (at least those whose antecedents are
about the present and the future) are argued to be modal structures embedded
under a past perfect.
The role of the temporal operator embedding the modal structure is crucial in
that it manipulates the time argument of the accessibility function and, in doing
so, it affects both the truth-conditions of these conditionals and the requirements
on the projection of their presuppositions.
Let us see in detail how the proposal works, beginning with past perfect
subjunctive conditionals. The structure of a past perfect subjunctive conditional
is given in (61).14
(60) past(perf( (woll(sim(hist())) ())))

46

Chapter 2

(61)
t by FA

```

past5
i

```

it by FA
(((hhhhhh
h

((((
perf
itit

it by IFA

(hhhh
(((
hhh

(
(((
(

h
h

t by IFA

```

itit

```
`

stt by FA

XXX


woll
ststt

XX

st by FA

PP



sim
stst

PP

st by IFA

"b
"
b
hist

stst

As the structure in (61) shows, in Ippolito 2006b both the accessibility function hist and the ordering source sim are represented as overt variables in the
architecture of the sentence. hist is the historical accessibility function and,
crucially, which worlds it will select depends not only on an evaluation world,
but also on an evaluation time.
(62) [[hist]]c,g,t,w = p Dst .w. w has the same history as w up to t and
p(w ) = 1
Simthe ordering sourceis the similarity function defined in (64).
(63) [[sim]]c,g,t,w = p Dst .w. p(w ) = 1w [p(w ) = 1w w w ]
As for woll, Abusch (1988) first introduced this notation to represent an abstract morpheme, the tenseless form of the future auxiliary will. Briefly and
informally, the future auxiliary will spells out woll when in the scope of a
present tense; the future-in-the-past auxiliary would spells out woll when in
the scope of a past tense. I adopt this notation in Ippolito 2006b and defines
woll as a tenseless modal operator as shown in (64).15
(64) [[woll]]c,g,t,w = p Dst .q Dst . w [p(w ) = 1 q(w ) = 1]
Perf, , and past5 are the three components of the universal past perfect
embedding the modal structure. Their denotations are given in (65)(67).16
(65) [[perf]]c,g,t,w = P Dit .t  .t  [XN(t , t  ) P(t  ) = 1]
XN(t , t  ) means that t  is a final subinterval of t  .

Temporal Mismatches

47

(66) [[ ]]c,g,t,w = P<it> .t  .t  t  : P(t  ) = 1


(67) [[past5 ]]c,g,t,w defined only if g(5) < t; if defined, [[past5 ]]c,g,t,w = g(5)
When perf combines with first, and then with the time variable past5 , we
obtain the following: there is an interval t whose right boundary is a (contextually salient) past time such that for each of its subintervals t  , P holds at t  .
What is P? P is the content of the bare modal structure. An example will help illustrate this point. Take the subjunctive conditional If John had run the Boston
Marathon next spring, he would have won. Its truth-conditions are given in
(68).
(68) [[If John had run the Boston Marathon next spring, he would have
won]]c,g,wc ,tc defined only if g(5) < tc ; if defined, [[If John had run the
Boston Marathon next spring, he would have won]]c,g,wc ,tc = 1 if t  :
XN (t , g(5)) t  t  [w [w is historically accessible from wc at t 
t   t  such that John will run the Boston Marathon at t  in w and

t  next spring w : [w has the same history as wc up to t  and
t   t  such that John will run the Boston Marathon at t  in w and
t  next spring w is overall more similar to wc than w ] t 
 t  such that he will win at t  in w ]]
According to these truth-conditions, the past perfect subjunctive conditional is
true if there is an interval t  whose right boundary is a (contextually salient)
past time, such that for all of t  s subintervals t  , it is the case that all possible
worlds historically accessible from the actual world at t  maximally similar to
the actual world and where John will run the Boston Marathon next spring are
worlds where he will win. That is to say, the conditional proposition must be
true at each subinterval of the perfect interval.
In Ippolito 2006b, I derive the presupposition projection property of past perfect subjunctive conditionals from their quantificational structure by showing
that presuppositions in a structure like (68) project just as presuppositions in
other quantified structures do.
What happens when a presupposition is triggered in the nuclear scope of the
universal quantifier every? Consider for example sentence (69) (from Heim
1983, 399).
(69) Every nationi cherishes itsi king.
The presupposition triggered by the possessive its in the nuclear scope of every
is that xi has a king. There are two possibilities for this presupposition: either
it projects universally or it is accommodated in the restriction of the universal
quantifier. If it projects universally, the sentence ends up presupposing that all
nations have a king. If, on the other hand, it is accommodated in the restriction,

48

Chapter 2

quantification will be restricted to those nations that have a king (so sentence
(69) ends up being interpreted as every nation that has a king cherishes its
king).
On the basis of examples like (70) (from Beaver 2001, 116), Beaver (1994,
2001) argues that presuppositions triggered in the nuclear scope of a quantifier
do not act as domain restrictors for that quantifier.
(70) How many team members and cheerleaders will drive to the match?
#Few of the fifteen team members and none of the five cheerleaders can
drive, but every team member will come to the match in her car. So
expect about four cars.
Beaver argues that this example is infelicitous because the presupposition triggered by the possessive noun phrase her car projects universally and does not
restrict the domain of the universal quantifier every team member. Therefore,
each team member is required to have a car. Since the context does not warrant
this presupposition, the sentence is infelicitous. Going back to (68), if the bare
conditional structure carries any presuppositions (these would be the presuppositions in the antecedent and the presuppositions in the consequent not entailed
by the antecedent, whatever mechanism we decide to use to derive this fact),
these presuppositions cannot act as the domain restriction for the universal
quantifier over times in whose nuclear scope they are triggered, and they must
project universally. In (68), the antecedent carries the presupposition that John
will be alive next spring (at the time of the Boston Marathon). Therefore, this
presupposition is required to be (at least) possible at each subinterval of the perfect interval. Because the right boundary of this interval is a past time, there is no
requirement that the presupposition in the antecedent be possible at the utterance
time, thus explaining why past perfect subjunctive conditionals are felicitous
even when the presuppositions are no longer possible at the utterance time.17
The second point is that what I call the No Empty Restriction requirement
in Ippolito 2006b, according to which the restriction of a quantifier cannot be
empty, does not act as a semantic presupposition. Evidence for this requirement
comes from examples like (71), where a universal quantifier occurs in the
scope of another universal quantifier, just as in the subjunctive conditional
structure (61).
(71) The party for the graduating class this year will be held in the
department. Only a few graduate students in this department have pets
but, for health reasons, it was decided that every graduate student will
leave every pet of his at home for the party.
The possessive in the lower quantifier is bound by the higher quantifier. The
fact that (71) is felicitous tells us that the possessive presupposition does act

Temporal Mismatches

49

as a domain restrictor for the higher quantifier. All that is required is that some
graduate student have some pet, possibly in order not to make a vacuously
true assertion. On the basis of this fact, I argue that the No Empty Restriction
requirement is a mere pragmatic presupposition, not required to behave like
other presuppositions. Going back to (68), the requirement that the domain of
the modal operator not be empty is not a semantic presupposition, and therefore
it is not required to be true of each subinterval of the perfect interval. Just as
in (71), all that is required is that there be some subinterval within the perfect
interval such that there is at least some antecedent-world historically accessible
then.
One last point to mention is that both the time of the accessibility function
and the time argument of the antecedent and consequent clauses are bound by
the temporal operator embedding the conditional (i.e., the universal quantifier
over times).
To sum up the discussion so far, as argued in Ippolito 2006b, past perfect
subjunctive conditionals are bare modal structures embedded under a universal
past perfect. Both the counterfactuality of the antecedent and the behavior of
its presuppositions follow from general properties of presupposition projection
in quantified sentences: the existential requirement (the No Empty Restriction
requirement) associated with the modal operator that its domain not be empty is
not a semantic presupposition and therefore it is not required to be true of each
subinterval of the perfect interval. All that is required is that there be at least
one subinterval of the perfect interval such that there is an antecedent-world
accessible then. True semantic presuppositions, however, do not act as domain
restrictors for the temporal universal quantifier, and as a result, they project universally. This means that presuppositions in the antecedent and presuppositions
in the consequent (not entailed by the antecedent) are required to be possible at
each subinterval. Now, because the perfect interval in a past perfect subjunctive
conditional does not include the utterance time, these presuppositions are not
required to be true at the utterance time, which explains why (68) is felicitous
in a context where John is already dead.
If past perfect subjunctive conditionals are bare conditional structures embedded under a (universal) past perfect, simple past subjunctive conditionals
are bare conditional structures embedded under a (universal) present perfect.
Thus, the difference between these two types of conditionals lies in the location
of the right boundary of the perfect interval, which in simple past subjunctive
conditionals coincides with the utterance time. The structure for a simple past
subjunctive conditional includes a past component since the perfect interval
extends before the utterance time (the latter being its right boundary). Past
perfect subjunctive conditionals have a second past component that shifts this

50

Chapter 2

right boundary to a past time. The truth-conditions for If John ran the Boston
Marathon next spring, he would win are given in (73) (where O stands for
overlaps).18
(72) pres(perf( (woll(sim(hist())) ())))
(73) [[If John ran the Boston Marathon next spring, he would win]]c,g,wc ,tc
defined only if g(5) O tc ; if defined, [[If John ran the Boston Marathon
next spring, he would win]]c,g,wc ,tc = 1 if t  : XN (t , g(5)) t  t 
[w [w is historically accessible from wc at t  t   t  such that
John will run the Boston Marathon at t  in w and t  next spring
w : [w has the same history as wc up to t  and t   t  such that
John will run the Boston Marathon at t  in w and t  next spring
w is overall more similar to wc than w ] t   t  such that he will
win at t  in w ]]
Assuming as we did above in discussing past perfect subjunctive conditionals
that the No Empty Restriction requirement accompanying the universal quantifier over worlds (the modal) is not a semantic presupposition but a pragmatic
constraint designed to avoid vacuously true assertions, we will not require that
there be historically accessible antecedent-worlds at each subinterval in the
perfect interval; we will merely require that there be some subinterval of that
interval when some antecedent-worlds were accessible. Note that this subinterval does not have to be the utterance time, thus explaining why simple past
subjunctive conditionals can be counterfactuals, as shown clearly in (74).
(74) John is not here. If he were here, he would be on the phone.
The lack of a past tense setting the right boundary of the perfect interval plays
a crucial role in accounting for the projection properties of simple past subjunctive conditionals. Recall that unlike past perfect subjunctive conditionals,
simple past subjunctive conditionals are not felicitous when their presuppositions are incompatible with what is possible at the utterance time. This now
follows from the observation that presuppositions triggered in the nuclear scope
of a quantifier do not act as domain restrictors for the quantifier. Now, the presuppositions of the bare modal stucture (if any) are triggered within the nuclear
scope of the universal quantifier over worlds. These presuppositions project
universally; that is, they are required to be true of each subinterval of the perfect interval (technically, for each subinterval the presuppositions are required
to be compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at that subinterval; see Ippolito 2006b for more details). Because the perfect interval in a
simple past subjunctive conditional includes the utterance time, the presuppositions in the conditional (i.e., the presuppositions in the antecedent and those

Temporal Mismatches

51

in the consequent not entailed by the antecedent) are required to be compatible


with what is possible at the utterance time. This explains the judgment in (49a),
repeated here.
(75) John was training for the Boston Marathon last summer when he
unexpectedly died.
a. #If John ran the Boston Marathon next spring, he would win.
b. If John had run the Boston Marathon next spring, he would have won.
In (49a), the antecedents presupposition that John will be alive next spring (at
the time of the Boston Marathon) is incompatible with the actual world at the
utterance time; that is, there are no possible worlds historically accessible from
the actual world at the utterance time where John will be alive next spring.
Since the context does not warrant the presupposition in the antecedent, the
conditional is infelicitous, just as in (70).
To sum up, the presuppositions triggered in a simple past subjunctive conditional are required to be compatible with the state of the actual world at the
utterance time because they are required to be compatible with what is possible
at each of the subintervals of the perfect interval, which crucially includes the
utterance time as its right boundary.
By proposing that subjunctive conditionals are bare modal structures embedded under different types of temporal structure, the theory in Ippolito 2006b
is able to explain (i) why all subjunctive conditionals can be counterfactual;
(ii) why the presuppositions in simple past subjunctive conditionals cannot be
counterfactual; and (iii) why the presuppositions in past perfect subjunctive
conditionals can be counterfactual.19
What is missing is a clear mapping between the semantics and the morphology of these sentences. Take the case of simple past subjunctive conditionals.
The evaluation time of the antecedent (as well as the consequent) clause is
bound by the higher temporal operator, which is a perfect operator. This raises
the question of why the tense in the antecedent (and the consequent too) looks
like a past tense: if the past tense in the antecedent is there for agreement reasons, what exactly is it agreeing with, since the temporal structure above is that
of a present perfect?
Furthermore, the underlying assumption in Ippolito 2006b is that, if the
hallmark of nonindicative conditionals in a language is past temporal morphology, then in order to construct the meaning of a nonindicative conditional,
the language must employ the temporal strategy proposed in that articlethat
is, embedding a bare conditional structure under either a present perfect or
a past perfect. The former option will generate the meaning of a simple past
subjunctive conditional. The latter will generate the meaning of a past perfect

52

Chapter 2

subjunctive conditional. One challenge comes from languages (e.g., Italian)


that do have subjunctive conditionals but do not seem to have a present perfect
in the English sense. Why should these languages have the tools to construct
the meaning of a present perfect but only employ them in conditionals?
Despite these problems, the proposal that I will defend in the next chapters
builds on Ippolito 2006b in important respects: the ideas (i) that in conditionals,
a bare modal sentence is embedded under a temporal structure; (ii) that different
types of temporal structures characterize different types of conditionals; and
(iii) that we can derive the presupposition projection properties of different
types of conditionals from this temporal structure.

A Compositional Analysis

3.1 The Facts

In chapter 2, I showed that whether a subjunctive conditional can be counterfactual or not does not correlate with the nature of the predicate in the antecedent
(contra Arregui 2005). I argued that simple past subjunctive conditionals and
past perfect subjunctive conditionals do not differ with respect to the counterfactuality of the antecedent per se; rather, they differ with respect to the
counterfactuality of their presuppositions. The results are summed up in the
three observations below. (By saying here that a proposition is taken to be
counterfactual, I mean that it is taken to be false in the actual world.)
The first observation involves stative antecedents. Simple past subjunctive
conditionals can only be about the present or the future. The first observation is
that if the particular occurrence of the relevant state has already occurred in the
past, a simple past subjunctive conditional is not felicitous, as shown by the instead test in (1) and (2). When appropriate, the past perfect version is also given
in parentheses below the simple past subjunctive conditional for comparison.
(1) Mary asked John to stay at home with the kids tomorrow so that she can
run some errands. He got confused and stayed at home with the kids
yesterday. Mary got furious and, tired of his absent-mindedness, left him.
That was very unfortunate. #She expected so little. If only he were at
home tomorrow instead, she would be happy.
(cf. If only he had been at home tomorrow instead, she would have been
happy.)
(2) John was sick yesterday. Now he is well, but he missed his chance to
watch the final ball game. That was very unfortunate. #If only he were
sick tomorrow instead, he would be happier.
(cf. If only he had been sick tomorrow instead, he would have been
happier.)

54

Chapter 3

The second observation is that if the particular occurrence of the relevant state
has not already occurred in the past, the simple past subjunctive conditional is
fine (see (3)) and the antecedent can be counterfactual (see (4)).
(3) John is not sick now and he will not miss the final ball game. If he were,
he would be devastated.
(4) John is not in love with Mary. If he were, he would ask her to marry him.
The third observation is that whether the antecedent is about the present or
the future, the presuppositions in the antecedent must be possible in the actual
world at the utterance time (see (5)). That is, presuppositions in the antecedent
cannot be counterfactual. In (5), the presupposition in question is the existence
presupposition triggered by the predicate to be in love,1 as argued by Musan
(1997). I will discuss this in more detail in section 3.3.2.
(5) John is dead.
a. #If he were in love with Mary (now), he would ask her to marry him.
b. #If he were sick tomorrow, he would not travel.
Simple past subjunctive conditionals can also have eventive antecedents.
Because eventive predicates cannot have the present interpretation (unless they
are in the progressive aspect, as I will show below), an eventive antecedent can
only be about the future, as shown in (6).
(6) a. John is sick (right now).
b. John cooks (*right now).
Now, eventive antecedents about the future come in two types. The first type
consists of cases where the event has already happened in the past. As (7) shows,
in this case the simple past subjunctive conditional is not felicitous.
(7) I called John yesterday to wish him a happy birthday, but it was the wrong
day. His birthday is tomorrow and he got really upset. I am mortified.
#If only I called him tomorrow (instead), he would be happy.
(cf. I am mortified. If only I had called him tomorrow (instead), he would
have been happy.)
The second type consists of cases where the event has not happened in the past.
Here, the simple past subjunctive conditional is fine.
(8) Mary mistakenly believes that tomorrow is Johns birthday and will call
him tomorrow. If she called him the day after (his real birthday), it would
be better.
If the (eventive) antecedent is in the progressive, there are two possible cases.
If that very event has already happened in the past, the simple past subjunctive
conditional is infelicitous, as shown in (9).

A Compositional Analysis

55

(9) John was watching TV when pouring coffee and he spilled it on Marys
new couch. She got furious and stormed out of the room. Did John have to
watch TV right at that moment? #If only he were watching TV later
tonight instead, this wouldnt happen.
(cf. If only he had been watching TV later tonight, this would not have
happened.)
If, on the other hand, the antecedent has not already happened in the past, then
the simple past subjunctive conditional is fine, as shown in (10).
(10) John is not watching TV right now. If he were, he would be watching a
sitcom.
Finally, just as before, whether the antecedent is about the present (in the
progressive) or about the future, the presuppositions in the antecedent must be
possible in the actual world at the utterance time. Sentences (11a) and (11b)
are both infelicitous because the existence presupposition in their antecedents
is inconsistent with the context of utterance.
(11) John died.
a. #If he were cooking (right now), the radio would be playing.
b. #If he wrote a book, it would be a success.
To sum up, whether they have stative or eventive antecedents, simple past
subjunctive conditionals behave in the same way: they can in principle be
counterfactual, but if the particular eventuality in the antecedent has already
happened in the past or if any presupposition in the antecedent is inconsistent
with the actual history at the utterance time, then a simple past subjunctive
conditional is infelicitous.
Three final points will conclude the presentation of the facts to be explained.
First, if the antecedent carries no presuppositions, a simple past subjunctive
conditional can be counterfactual.
(12) Pigs with wings do not exist. If they did, they would fly.
Second, when one of the presuppositions in the antecedent is counterfactual (or
the event has already happened in the past), a past perfect future subjunctive
conditional is required. Third, past perfect future subjunctive conditionals are
strongly counterfactual, and by strongly counterfactual I mean that they
resist Anderson (1951)type attempts at removing the counterfactuality of their
antecedents, as we saw in section 2.2.
My goal here is to account for the following two observations. First, simple past subjunctive conditionals (whether with stative or eventive predicates)
are felicitous only if the event or state talked about in the antecedent has not
already occurred. I will call this the time asymmetry observation. Second, even

56

Chapter 3

in cases that allow the antecedent of a simple past subjunctive conditional to


be counterfactual, the antecedents presuppositions cannot be counterfactual; if
the antecedents presuppositions are counterfactual, a past perfect subjunctive
conditional must be used. I will call this the presupposition asymmetry observation. Following the general insight in Ippolito 2003, 2006b, I will capitalize
on the otherwise inexplicable presence of past morphology in subjunctive conditionals and I will argue that these facts follow from the temporal structure
that embeds what I will label a bare conditional structure. This is what determines the selection of the relevant set(s) of possible worlds required for the
evaluation of the modal claim and the satisfaction of any presuppositions. In
particular, I will argue that a simple past subjunctive conditional is a bare conditional embedded under a simple past tense, and a past perfect future subjunctive
conditional is a bare conditional embedded under a past perfect.
3.2 A Bare Conditional

All subjunctive conditionals share a common conditional structurewhat I


have called a bare conditional. What is a bare conditional?
Lets recap the basic background assumptions that will be the foundation of
the proposal in this chapter. We take a conditional sentence of the form if ,
to be a quantified structure, where the modal operator quantifies over possible
worlds, the antecedent acts as the restriction of the modal operator, and the
consequent acts as its nuclear scope. Hence, a conditional of the form if ,
has the schematic structure in (13).
(13)

S
ZZ

,
l
, l
modal

The semantics of a conditional sentence are very complex, and several ingredients contribute to its meaning. Recall that in the Kratzerian picture presented
in chapter 1, the interpretation of a modal is relative to two parameters, the
conversational background and the ordering source. For example, the meaning of a conditional sentence of the form if , it must be that , where must is
interpreted epistemically, is shown in (14). The letters f and g are contextual parameters representing the conversational background and the ordering source,
respectively.


(14) [[if , must ]] f,g = [[must ]] f ,g , where for all w W ,


f  (w) = f (w) [[]] f,g

A Compositional Analysis

57

Both of these parameters might be represented overtly in the syntactic structure as in (15), where both the conversational background and the ordering
source are overt variables whose value is determined (at least) partly by the
context of utterance.
(15)

S
!aa
!
!
a
!
a

H

H

H
modal/

@
@
g


S
S
f

In this case, the meaning of the modal operator is decomposed into three pieces:
the first piece (f ) is the conversational background; the second piece (g) is the
ordering source; and the third piece (modal/ ) conveys the quantificational
force of the modal (for simplicitys sake, here I consider only existential and
universal force). In the proposal I will defend here, however, these two parameters will be represented in the metalanguage and not explicitly in the syntactic
structure. Nothing crucial hinges on this point, though.
An important part of the analysis consists in spelling out the nature of f and g
in subjunctive conditionals. Here I will offer a first description of their meaning,
even though I will be in a position to present and justify these assumptions in
detail only later on. Note that I will talk of accessibility functions rather than
conversational backgrounds, but this does not involve any conceptual change,
as I pointed out already in section 1.3.
What kind of accessibility function do we find in bare conditionals? Thomason and Gupta (1980), Condoravdi (2001), and I (Ippolito 2002b, 2003, 2006b)
have argued that accessibility between worlds is a time-dependent relation.
Following this tradition, and the terminology in Ippolito 2006b in particular, I
take the accessibility function to be historical, as shown in (16), from Ippolito
2006b, 642.
(16) [[hist]]c,g,t,w = p Dst .w . w has the same history as w up to t and
p(w ) = 1
Where p is the proposition expressed by the conditionals antecedent, hist(p)
will denote the set of p-worlds that share the same history as the evaluation world
w up to the evaluation time t. Because, as Lewis (1979) points out, the definition
of determinism entails that for any two worlds w and w , w and w are either

58

Chapter 3

always alike or never alike, the idea that two worlds may share the same history
up to a certain time but differ in their futures is incompatible with determinism.
In addition, the conception of the future that underlies hist is one where the
future must be represented as branching worlds; that is, the future is truly open or
unsettled. Not only does a branching-worlds picture of the future mean that the
future cannot be predicted, it also means that there is no matter of fact about the
future. To adopt a commonly used way to talk about time, the future is not real.
As for the ordering source g, I take this to be a kin of Lewiss similarity
relation or Stalnakers similarity function (without the uniqueness requirement).
Later in the chapter, I will need to say more about the nature of the similarity
function and spell out in detail what is the relevant notion of similarity that
counts in the evaluation of subjunctive conditionals (and, possibly, a subset
of indicative conditionalsthe will-conditionalsas well). One way to define
similarity is shown in (17); from Ippolito 2006b, 642: sim takes as its argument
the set of p-worlds historically accessible from the evaluation world w at the
evaluation time t and returns the worlds in that set that are closest (i.e., more
similar) to w. (w <w w reads as w is closer to w than w .)
(17) [[sim]]c,g,t,w = p Dst .w .p(w ) = 1w [p(w ) = 1w <

ww

]

Unlike hist, sim is not time-dependent. Later, we will see that because the
worlds that are compared are identical up to the evaluation time, if the evaluation time happens to precede the utterance time, then the overall comparative
similarity will compare ts possible futures and, among those, will select those
that are most similar to the actual world. Now, since there is no matter of fact
about the future at the utterance time, selecting those branching futures at t that
are most similar to the actual world means selecting those branches among ts
futures that are most similar to the actual world up to now.2
Incorporating the meaning of hist and sim into the definition of the abstract
modal (for which I will use the familiar notation woll), we obtain the following
preliminary meaning for a bare conditional:
(18) [[[woll ] ]]c,g,t,w = 1 iff
w W [w SIMw (HISTw,t ()) w ]
According to (18), the bare conditional if , is true at t in w just in case
for every -world w historically identical to w up to t and overall maximally
similar to w, is true in w .
3.3 Simple Past Subjunctive Conditionals

The examples in (19) show that a simple past subjunctive conditional can be
counterfactual, but that the presuppositions in its antecedent (if any) cannot.

A Compositional Analysis

59

(19) a. John is not in love with Mary. If he were, he would ask her to marry
him.
b. John is dead. #If he were in love with Mary (now), he would ask her
to marry him.
The goal of the following sections is to explain the differences in presupposition
projection between simple past and past perfect subjunctive conditionals. In
order to do so, I will assume that the projection properties of the bare conditional
are those first proposed by Karttunen (1973), discussed in chapter 2. Therefore,
my starting point will be that the presuppositions of a bare conditional if , are
the presuppositions in the antecedent and those in the consequent not entailed
by the antecedent.
3.3.1 Accessibility Time and Reference Time

The proposal is that a subjunctive conditional is evaluated with respect to two


times, which I will call the accessibility time and the reference time. Crucially,
these times can be shifted by temporal operators, independently of each other.
The first part of the proposal is that subjunctive conditionals are bare conditionals embedded under a past tense that manipulates the time argument of
the modal, that is, the accessibility time. How many layers of past embed the
bare conditional is what determines the type of subjunctive conditional with its
semantic and pragmatic properties. For now, I ignore the internal composition
of the antecedent and consequent clauses: in the structure for the sentence If
John played tomorrow, his team would win, given in (20), both clauses have
a present tense. How the two clauses are interpreted temporally will be addressed directly in section 3.5.). In (20), woll is the abstract modal operator
in the bare conditional sentence, and the past has not (yet) taken scope over the
bare conditional.
(20)

S`
```

PP

P

ZZ
woll

past

P
S
PP


P

``
S
!aa
!!
a
his team wins


P

P
John plays tomorrow

The function of the past tense is to provide a time argument for the accessibility
function: the worlds that will be selected will be worlds historically accessible
from the evaluation world at some past time. The first step is to spell out
exactly how this temporal dependence is established. Consider the definition
of the modal operator in (21).

60

Chapter 3

(21) Definition of the modal operator (preliminary version)


[[woll]]c,g,t,w = t  Di .p<s,t> .q<s,t> .w [w SIMw (HISTw,t  (p))
w q]
According to (21), in addition to two propositional arguments (the antecedent
and the consequent), the modal woll takes a time argument that will manipulate
the time of the accessibility relation hist and therefore determine the relevant
set of antecedent-worlds.
As for the semantics of tense, let us assume that the past tense occurring in
(20) has the semantics of a quantifier over times, as shown in the following
definition:
(22) [[past]]c,g,t,w = P<i,t> .t  < t : P(t  ) = 1
The occurrence of the tense operator as the first argument of the modal creates a
type mismatch similar to the type mismatch created by a quantificational DP in
object position in the system adopted for example by Heim and Kratzer (1998),
who resolve this type of mismatch by resorting to quantifier raising (QR) of the
noun phrase. In (20), the mismatch is between the first argument of will, which
needs to be of type i, and the past tense, which is of type <<it>t>. In Heim
and Kratzer 1998, applying QR to a DP has two consequences: first, a trace of
the appropriate type (i.e., e) is left behind in the position where the quantified
DP moved from; second, an index coindexed with the trace and acting as a abstractor is left immediately below the landing site of the moved constituent.
Similarly, the mismatch in (20) is resolved by raising the tense to adjoin to the
bare conditional, leaving a trace of type i behind and creating a -abstractor
coindexed with the trace. The structure after movement is shown in (23). The
reference time for past will be the utterance time, by default.
(23)

S

XXX

XX

past
S
((hhhhh
(
(
hh
(((

1
S`

```

PP



,l
,
l
woll t1

PP
S
PP


P

``
S
!aa
!!
a
his team wins


P

P
John plays tomorrow

Applying the definition in (21) to the structure in (23), the (preliminary) truthconditions for the sentence If John played tomorrow, his team would win will
look as follows:

A Compositional Analysis

61

(24) [[[past [1 [[woll t 1 [John plays tomorrow]] [his team


wins]]]]]]c,g,t,w = 1 iff t  < t[w [w SIMw (HISTw,t  (w . John plays
tomorrow in w )) w {w : [w . Johns team wins in
w ](w ) = 1}]]
According to (24), the subjunctive conditional If John played tomorrow, his
team would win is true if and only if there is a time t  before the utterance time
tc such that all the worlds historically accessible at t  from the evaluation world
w where John will play tomorrow and that are (overall) closest to w are worlds
where his team will win. What is important to notice at this point is that the
time that determines the selection of the relevant possible worlds is introduced
by the past tense. It is at this past time that there must be historically accessible
worlds where John will play tomorrow, or alternatively, it is at this time that it
must be historically possible for John to play tomorrow.
The second part of the proposal deals with presuppositions in the antecedent
and consequent clauses, and we will incorporate Karttunens (1973) projection
condition in the definition of the modal. As noted earlier, there are two times
that play a part in evaluating a conditional statement: the time at which the
conditional S  (bare conditional plus c-commanding past) is evaluated and the
time at which the bare conditional S  is evaluated. The evaluation time of S 
in (23) is the utterance time, the time at which the whole past conditional is
uttered. The evaluation time for the bare conditional S  , on the other hand, is
provided by the temporal operator embedding the bare conditional: in (23),
this operator is a past binding the time parameter of the accessibility function.
The evaluation time of the embedded conditional structure S  is what I have
called the accessibility time. The evaluation time of S  is what I have called
the reference time. In the current example If John played tomorrow, his team
would win, the accessibility time is a past time and is the time when the bare
conditional John plays tomorrow his team wins is evaluated; the reference
time is the utterance time.
Let us look at this examplea simple past subjunctive conditionaland its
truth-conditions in (24) more closely. What allows subjunctive conditionals to
be counterfactual is the presence of the past operator shifting the accessibility
time to the past, for the following reason. In order for the conditional not to be
vacuously true (and therefore felicitous), there must be antecedent-worlds accessible at the evaluation time. However, we know that simple past subjunctive
conditionals can be counterfactual; that is, they are felicitous when there is
no antecedent-world historically accessible at the utterance time. Therefore,
if the evaluation time of the whole conditional were the utterance time, simple past subjunctive conditionals would be incorrectly predicted to always be
infelicitous if counterfactual. Instead, by allowing the evaluation time of the

62

Chapter 3

bare conditional to be manipulated by the past tense, we ensure that simple past
subjunctive conditionals are felicitous when no antecedent-world is compatible
with the actual world at the utterance time: all that is required for them not to
be vacuously true is that there be some past time at which antecedent-worlds
were historically accessible.
Because the accessibility function is time-sensitive, a conditional of the kind
we are looking at will always be interpreted relative to an accessibility time
that can be either the time of the context (the utterance time) by default, or a
past time if the bare conditional happens to be embedded under a past tense that
manipulates the time argument of the accessibility function.
What is the role of what I have called the reference time? I claim that the
felicity of a conditional (i.e., a bare conditional together with whatever past
operators might embed it) also depends on what is possible at the reference
time because its presuppositions must be satisfied then. When checking whether
the presuppositions in a conditional hold, we need to look not at those worlds that
are historically accessible from the actual world at the evaluation time, but at
those worlds that are historically accessible at both the evaluation time and the
referencetime.Assumingthatthereferencetimecaneithercoincidewithorfollow
the evaluation time (but cannot precede it), and given that for any two times t
and t  such that t < t  , the set of worlds historically accessible at t  is a subset of
the set of worlds historically accessible at t, the worlds relevant for checking the
presuppositions will be the worlds that are historically accessible at the reference
time. Lets define the set of worlds historically accessible from a pair of times
< t, t  > (where t is the evaluation time and t  the reference time) as shown in (25).
(25) histw,<t,t  > = histw,t histw,t 
The intuition behind this idea is that when checking whether the presuppositions
in a subjunctive conditional hold, we need to look at how the world developed
between the accessibility time and the reference time, not just at the state of the
world at the accessibility time.
Both the accessibility time and the reference time can be shifted to the past,
independently of each other. Taking into account the constraint that the reference
time must coincide with or follow (but cannot precede) the accessibility time,
there are only three possibilities.
(26) a. Possibility 1
ta = tr = tc
b. Possibility 2
ta < tr = tc
c. Possibility 3
ta < tr < tc

A Compositional Analysis

63

In section 3.7, I will suggest that possibility 1 is realized by indicative willconditionals: there is no nontemporal past and, consequently, the time
argument of the accessibility function and the reference time will be tc (the
utterance time). Possibility 2 is realized by simple past subjunctive conditionals: the one layer of nontemporal past provides the time argument for the
accessibility relation but the reference time continues to be tc . Possibility 3 is
realized by (at least a subset of) past perfect subjunctive conditionals, where
two layers of nontemporal past tense are interpreted outside the bare conditional. In this case, one layer of past will shift the accessibility time to the past
and the second layer of past will shift the reference time to the past.
The constraint that the reference time will either coincide with or follow the
accessibility time rules out the following two possibilities:
(27) a. *Possibility 4
tr < ta = tc
b. *Possibility 5
tr < ta < tc
Given the structure for simple past subjunctive conditionals that I have proposed in (23) and the structure that I will propose in section 3.4 for past perfect
subjunctive conditionals (see the tree in (65)), possibility 5 cannot be instantiated. If there is only one layer of past above the bare conditional structure, that
past will be interpreted as shifting the accessibility time and not the reference
time. This is because the past immediately c-commanding the bare conditional
is going to bind the time argument of the modal woll. If, on the other hand,
a second layer of past occurs, this second layer will shift the reference time to
the past, and the lower (now c-commanded) layer of past will be interpreted as
past relative to the higher layer of past.
Possibility 4 is represented in the structure in (28), where the time argument
of woll is the utterance time tc and the past embedding the modal structure is
supposed to shift the reference time.
(28)

PPP


past

P
S
QQ

S

Z
B
 Z

S
,l
,
l
CC
woll tc

64

Chapter 3

This structure is uninterpretable for type reasons as well (the highest S is not
of type < i, t > and there is no variable t that could be abstracted over by a
-operator to create a denotation of type < i, t >). The structure in (29) is also
problematic under the assumption that the present tense in English is deictic.
(29)

!aa
a

!!
past

!aa
a

!!
pres

PPP

P
1
S
Q

Q

S

Z

B
 Z

S
,l
,
l
CC
woll t1

The deictic nature of the English present tense also rules out possibility 6 in
(30), where the present tense is interpreted as merely expressing a relation of
simultaneity with the highter past.
(30) Possibility 6
tr = ta < tc
I conclude that possibility 4 is ruled out by the structure I am proposing.
Something similar is familiar from work on the semantics of tense: in Reichenbachs (1947) tense system, when the event time (E) precedes the utterance
time (S), the reference time (R) can either (i) coincide with the event time, (ii)
coincide with the utterance time, or (iii) fall between the event time and the
utterance time.
(31) a. R,E__ S
b. E__R,S
c. E__R__S
Let us assume for the sake of the argument that what we have been calling
accessibility and reference times correspond to the event and reference times in
Reichenbachs tense semantics, respectively. The configuration in (31a) (which
corresponds to possibility 4) is ruled out by the structure and lexical entries
for the conditional that I am proposing: this is because the first past that ccommands the bare conditional will always manipulate the accessibility time,
and, given the meaning of the past operator proposed in (22), the reference
time will always follow the accessibility time, never coincide with it. This

A Compositional Analysis

65

leaves the two configurations in (31b) and (31c), (31b) is the configuration
corresponding to a simple past subjunctive conditional (where the reference
time coincides with the utterance time and the accessibility time precedes them);
and, as will become clear in section 3.4, (31c) is the configuration corresponding
to a past perfect subjunctive conditional (where the accessibility time precedes
the reference time, which in turn precedes the utterance time).3
We have just seen that what we have been calling the reference time shares
properties with what has traditionally been called reference time in the literature
on the semantics of tense. In what follows, we will see that what we have been
calling the reference time also shares some interesting properties with what
MacFarlane has called assessment time.
The term assessment time comes from MacFarlanes (2008, 2011) work on
future contingent statements and epistemic modals. The puzzle that future contingent statements raise is the following.4 Suppose that two days ago someone
uttered the sentence There will be a sea battle tomorrow. In an indeterministic world at the time of utterance (two days ago), that sentence was neither
true nor false. This is because for a sentence to be either true or false in a
world and at a time, it must be true in all possible continuations of that world
at that time: since whether there will be a sea battle tomorrow or not is a
contingent matter, there will be possible continuations of the world of the utterance at the time of the utterance where there will be a sea battle and possible
continuations where there will not be a sea battle, thus making the original
utterance truth-valueless. Suppose now that there was a sea battle yesterday.
It seems that from the perspective of today, the sentence There will be a sea
battle tomorrow was true. But how can the very same utterance change its truthvalue? MacFarlane (2008) argues that there are two times that are relevant when
assigning a truth-value to an utterance: the utterance time and the assessment
time. In the sea battle example, the utterance time is two days ago, and the
assessment timethe time when we assess the speakers original utterance
is today. When evaluating whether an utterance is true, we need to look at
worlds that are historically accessible (i.e., possible continuations) not only
in the context of the original utterance (two days ago) but also in the context
of assessment (today), provided that context [of assessment] can be reached
from the context of use by going forward in time along one of the branches.
MacFarlane 2008, 91). Just as in our conditional case, this leaves open two
possibilities: one where the utterance time and the assessment time coincide,
and one where the assessment time follows the utterance time. Because for
any two times t and t  such that t < t  , the set of possible continuations at t 
is a subset of the set of possible continuations at t, truth will be relative to the
context of assessment. This is expressed formally in the notation in (32), from
MacFarlane 2008, 91.

66

Chapter 3

(32) Where C1 and C2 are contexts,




if W (C1 ) W (C2 ) =
W (C1 )
W (C1 |C2 ) =
W (C1 ) W (C2 ) otherwise
In MacFarlanes words (2008, 91), An occurrence of a sentence S at CU
[context of use] is true as assessed from CA [context of assessment] iff for
every world w W (CU |CA ), S is true at CU , w, a, where C, w, a is a point
of evaluation including a context (for the interpretation of indexicals), a world
(for the interpretation of modal operators, ignoring here temporal operators),
and an assignment (for the interpretation of quantifiers). Recall the sea battle
puzzle: while the sentence There will be a sea battle tomorrow was judged to
be truth-valueless when uttered two days ago, it was judged to be true today,
a sea battle having in fact happened yesterday. MacFarlanes idea is that an
utterance of There will be a sea battle tomorrow is assessment-sensitive. When
evaluated two days ago, an utterance of There will be a sea battle tomorrow is
evaluated relative to the context of utterance and the context of assessment two
days ago; when evaluated today, that utterance is evaluated relative to todays
context of assessment and the original context of utterance: since the set of
worlds overlapping at the latter entails that there was a sea battle yesterday,
and given that the worlds that count are those that overlap at the context of
assessment, the utterance is true, according with our intuitions.
MacFarlane (2011) expands his analysis to include epistemic modals. According to his proposal, the truth of an epistemic sentence such as (33) depends
on the assessors knowledge.
(33) Joe might be in Boston now.
According to the traditional contextualist view of epistemic modals, (33) is
true just in case the speakers knowledge (epistemic state) does not rule out (is
compatible with) the truth of the proposition that Joe is in Boston right now.
In this sense, a sentence like (33) would be roughly equivalent to (34), where
the relevant contextual information needed to characterize the set of possible
worlds we are quantifying over is made explicit.
(34) As far as the speaker knows, Joe might be in Boston.
MacFarlane, however, points out that this theory of epistemic modals does not
easily explain some very common facts about modal talk.
First, people do not assess other peoples epistemic claims in the way the contextualist picture predicts. Consider the following example from (MacFarlane
2011, 146).
(35) a. First case: You overhear George and Sally talking in the coffee line.
Sally says, I dont know anything that would rule out Joes being in

A Compositional Analysis

67

Boston right now (or perhaps, more colloquially, For all I know,
Joes in Boston). You think to yourself: I know that Joe isnt in
Boston, because I saw him an hour ago here in Berkeley. Question:
Did Sally speak falsely?
b. Second case: Scene as before. Sally says, Joe might be in Boston
right now. You think to yourself: Joe cant be in Boston; I just saw
him an hour ago here in Berkeley. Question: Did Sally speak falsely?
MacFarlane claims that if you answered No to the first question and Yes to
the secondas you probably haveyour answers are not consistent with the
view according to which (33) is synonymous with (34). In the first case, the
rejection of Sallys claim seems quite natural.
This evidence, together with the observation that it is quite normal for speakers to retract their epistemic claims, and for speakers to disagree over epistemic
claims, motivates MacFarlanes departure from the standard contextualist analysis of epistemic modals in favor of the view according to which the truth of
an epistemic modal claim depends on what is known by the assessor, and thus
varies with the context of assessment (2011, 160). In case (35b), I am justified
in judging Sallys claim to be false because when I assess the proposition that
Joe might be in Boston right now, its truth depends on what I (the assessor)
know; it does not depend on what Sally knew when she made the original claim
(of course, when she made that claim, the truth of the proposition that Joe might
be in Boston right now depended on what she knew, as she was the assessor
then).5
Lets look at MacFarlanes analysis of (contingent) future statements again.
The constraint here is that the assessment time must either coincide with or
follow the utterance time. Take an utterance of (36) at time t.
(36) There will be a sea battle tomorrow.
Extending the earlier discussion about the covert modal woll to the occurrences
of will in future sentences, we can analyze these occurrences of will too as
woll + present tense. In other words, the meaning of will in (36) can be argued
to be what is given in (37) with the time of the historical accessibility anchored
to the utterance time.
(37) [[will]]c,g,w = p<s,t> .q<s,t> .w [w SIMw (HISTw,tc (p)) w q]
Given the semantics of will, in an utterance of (36) the branching time i.e., the
time relevant for the selection of the historical alternatives) will always coincide
with the utterance time. We can then replace the constraint that the assessment
time either coincide with or follow the utterance time with the general constraint
that the assessment time either coincide with or follow the branching time,
where the branching time will be set to the present if the time argument of

68

Chapter 3

woll is saturated by a present tense. We can name this constraint the forward
constraint.
Lets assume for a moment that what we have been calling the reference time
is what MacFarlane calls the assessment time. In indicative will-conditionals,
both the accessibility time and the reference/assessment time coincide with the
utterance time (this is possibility 1 in (26)). The forward constraint is satisfied, as
the two times coincide with each other. In simple past subjunctive conditionals,
the past tense shifts the accessibility time of the abstract modal woll, while the
reference/assessment time remains anchored to the utterance time. The forward
constraint is satisfied in this case too because the nontemporal past shifts the
accessibility time and not the reference/assessment time, thus correctly ruling
out possibility 4 in (27). As we will see in section 3.4, in (at least a subset of
the) past perfect subjunctive conditionals, both times are independently shifted
to the past and the semantics of these past tense operators guarantees that the
accessibility time will precede the reference/assessment time. In this case, too,
the forward constraint is satisfied and possibility 5 in (27) is ruled out.
Here is a summary of the discussion so far. Both MacFarlanes analysis
of future statements and the current analysis of conditionals can be argued to
involve quantification over historical possibilities (possible continuations): this
can be captured by positing the abstract modal woll in both future statements
with will and conditionals with will and would. In future and conditional willsentences, woll is anchored to the utterance time, which (given the semantics
for woll in (37)) means that the branching time coincides with the utterance
time. In would -conditionals, on the other hand, the time argument of woll is
shifted to the past and, as a result, the branching time is before the utterance
time. In both analyses, the reference/assessment time can coincide with or
follow the branching time but cannot precede it.
Let us return now to the issue of presuppositions. Suppose that three days ago,
Mary made a cake and she said, In four days the cake will be dry. However,
unbeknownst to Mary, the evening after she made the cake, her children ate
it all. What is our judgment when we evaluate Marys utterance today, three
days after Mary made the cake and two days after the children ate it. According
to MacFarlanes theory, Marys utterance is neither true nor false. If someone
were to ask, Did what Mary said turn out to be true or false?, I would be
inclined to answer that certainly it isnt true, but it really isnt false either as
there is no cake anymore.
Using MacFarlanes terminology, I would say that the problem is that the
existence presupposition in the sentence is not satisfied by the context of
assessment. According to Musan (1997), predicates such as to be dry presuppose that their subject is in existence at the time of predication. When assessed
at the utterance time, Marys utterance In four days the cake will be dry

A Compositional Analysis

69

is undefined in each of the worlds overlapping the context of assessment and


therefore the utterance is truth-valueless. This is because now (the context of assessment) the cake (the subject of predication) no longer exists and the existence
presupposition triggered by the predicate and the definite article is not satisfied.
That is, the utterance is truth-valueless not because there are worlds overlapping the context of assessment where it is true and worlds where it is false, but
because it is neither true nor false in any of the worlds overlapping the context
of assessment. When checking whether the presuppositions are satisfied, we
need to check whether they are satisfied at the assessment time, which normally is the utterance time. Marys original utterance is undefined as assessed at
the utterance time, from the perspective of what is true now. These facts apply
to other predicates carrying Musans existence presupposition as well.
We can now see the close connection with the role the reference time plays
in the current analysis, in which the reference time is the time relevant for the
satisfaction of the presuppositions in conditionals. When checking whether the
presuppositions in a conditional are satisfied, we need to look not just at the set
of worlds historically accessible at the accessibility time, but at those worlds
historically accessible throughout an interval that goes from the accessibility
time to the reference time. Because hist is monotonic (the set of possibilities can
only shrink over time), and because the reference time cannot precede the accessibility time, this requirement boils down to checking that the presuppositions
are satisfied at the reference time.
(38) histw,<t,t  > = histw,t histw,t  = histw,t 
The general point here is that, when checking whether presuppositions in future or conditional sentences hold, we need to look at how the world developed
between the branching time (accessibility time) and the reference/assessment
time. In future statements, will is anchored to the utterance time and the reference time coincides with the utterance time. A case in which the reference
time of will follows the utterance time is one where we evaluate now a future
sentence uttered in the past. In the case of conditionals, the proposal is that
the reference time can actually be shifted to the past by a past operator, just as
the accessibility time can. I will argue that this is indeed what happens in future
past perfect subjunctive conditionals (and a subset of past perfect subjunctive
conditionals about the past). If the reference time is not shifted to the past, then
it will coincide with the utterance time.
The similarities between what we have been calling the reference time and
MacFarlanes assessment time are striking and intriguing. They follow from
the fact that MacFarlanes future statements and our bare conditionals can be
argued to involve quantification over possible futures (i.e., historical possibilities at a given time). However, there is one respect in which the two times

70

Chapter 3

are different: while in the current analysis, the reference time is manipulated
by object language operators such as the past tense embedding the bare conditional, MacFarlanes assessment time isnt. The question arises whether the
assessment time can be manipulated by any object language operator. In other
words, can we find a case where some parameter in the context of assessment
(a time or an epistemic standard parameter) is shifted by some operator in the
sentence? At this point, this is an open question.6 If the answer turns out to
be positive, it will strengthen even more the similarity between what we have
been calling the reference time and the assessment time part of MacFarlanes
relativism. If, however, the answer turns out to be negative, it will not directly
affect our discussion of the role played by the reference time in the evaluation
of a will- or would -conditional. It is possible that what we have been calling
the reference time and MacFarlanes assessment time are different parameters,
in which case it would still be interesting to explain their similarities in the
evaluation of future statements and conditionals.
Let us go back to the definition of the modal operator and let us incorporate
the above proposal into the semantics of the modal. The new definition is given
in (39).
(39) Definition of the modal operator (definitive version)
[[woll]]c,g,t,w = t  .p : HISTw,<t ,t> ps(p)  = .q :
(HISTw,<t ,t> p) ps(q)  = .w [w SIMw (HISTw,t  (p)) w q]
A version of Karttunens filtering condition is expressed as partiality conditions
on functions or domain restrictions on the arguments of the functions. The
domain of the second argument is restricted so as to include only propositions
whose presuppositions (if any) are compatible with the set of worlds historically
accessible at histw,t  histw,t . Since the second argument of the modal is going
to be saturated by the antecedent proposition, it follows that the presuppositions
in the antecedent (if any) are required to be compatible with histw,t histw,t  .
Since histw,t histw,t  = histw,t  , the requirement is that the presuppositions
in the antecedent be compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at
the reference time. The domain of the third argument is going to be restricted
to only those propositions whose presuppositions (if any) are compatible with
(histw,t histw,t  ) p. Since (histw,t histw,t  ) p = histw,t  p, the requirement is that the presuppositions in the consequent be compatible with the
antecedent-worlds historically accessible at the reference time. If these conditions are satisfied, then the conditional is true if the usual truth-conditions hold.
The complete truth-conditions for If John played tomorrow, his team would
win will look as shown in (40) (ignoring here for simplicity the presuppositions
in the consequent).The time parameter of the whole conditional t is the reference
time, which will be the utterance time by default.

A Compositional Analysis

71

(40) [[[past [1 [[woll t 1 [John plays tomorrow]] [his team wins]]]]]]c,g,t,w =


1 if t  < t[w [w SIMw (HISTw,t  (w . John plays tomorrow in
w )) w {w : [w . Johns team wins in w ](w ) = 1}]], defined
if and only if histw,<t ,t> {w : John is alive tomorrow in w }  =
A note on presupposition satisfaction is required here. Differently from what
is often assumed (explicitly or implicitly) in the literature on presuppositions, I
have expressed the satisfaction requirement as a compatibility condition, as opposed to the stronger entailment condition. The reason for choosing the weaker
requirement is that the entailment requirement is incompatible with the branching view of the future that I have assumed, where the future is unsettled. Unlike
what happens in a deterministic world, in an indeterministic world the laws of
nature and the initial conditions of the world do not by themselves determine
the future. An element of chance, together with the laws of nature and these
initial conditions, contributes to the realization of the future so that at each point
in time there are in principle a number of possible futures compatible with the
worlds history up to that time. I will also make the assumption that the future
is open, by which I mean that at each time t there is no fact of the matter about
ts future.
The indeterminacy and openness of the future would prevent the entailment
condition from being satisfied and are therefore reflected best in the weaker
compatibility condition. One advantage of adopting a compatibility condition
here is that, as we will see in section 3.4.4, it will allow us to develop an
explanation of the degrees of counterfactuality of different types of conditionals
as antipresuppositions by exploiting the principle Maximize Presupposition and
a neo-Gricean line of reasoning. In chapter 5, I will return to the issue of future
statements, presuppositions, and the branching view of the future.
3.3.2 Explaining the Data

This section is divided into two subsections. In the first, I will account for
the felicitous and infelicitous uses of the simple past subjunctive conditionals
discussed above. In the second, I will discuss Musans (1977) existence presupposition, which I will argue is crucial in explaining some of the data we will
consider.
3.3.2.1 Felicitous and Infelicitous Uses of Simple Past Subjunctive Conditionals

How does the proposal presented so far explain the judgments in (19), repeated
here?
(41) a. John is not in love with Mary. If he were, he would ask her to marry
him.

72

Chapter 3

b. John is dead. #If he were in love with Mary (now), he would ask her
to marry him.
Let us begin with the felicitous use of the simple past subjunctive conditional
in (41a). According to the proposal presented above, the time argument of the
modal is bound by a past tense. As a result, the worlds that the modal operator
quantifies over constitute a subset of the set of worlds historically accessible
from the evaluation world at the time introduced by the past time. The logical
form and truth-conditions for (41a), identical to (23) and (24) for the earlier
example are repeated If John played tomorrow, his team would win, are given
in (42) and (43). (Again, I will ignore here (i) the temporal interpretation of antecedent and consequent clauses, and (ii) the presuppositions in the consequent.)
(42)


past

S
XXX



X

X
X

Sh
(
hhh
(
(
(
hhhh
((((
1
S
((hhhhh
(
(
hhh
((((
S

XX
PPP

XXX



P

he asks her to marry him
S

XXX

,
l

X
, l

X

X
woll t1 John is in love with Mary

(43) [[[past [1 [[woll t 1 [John is in love with Mary]] [he asks her to
marry him]]]]]]c,g,t,w = 1 if t  < t[w [w SIMw (HISTw,t  (w . John is
in love with Mary in w )) w {w : [w . he asks her to marry him
in w ](w ) = 1}]], defined if only if histw,<t  ,t> {w : John is alive in
w } =
The conditional is defined only if the presupposition in the antecedentthat
John is alive at the utterance timeis compatible with histw,t  histw,t , where
t  < t and t coincides with the utterance time. Since histw,t histw,t  , the conditional is defined just in case the presupposition that John is alive at the utterance
time is compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance
time t, which is the time parameter of the whole subjunctive conditional. Since
in example (41a) John is alive in the actual world at the utterance time, the set
of worlds historically accessible at the utterance time actually entails that John
is alive and the presupposition requirement is satisfied.
There is another requirement that needs to be checked, though: for the conditional not to be vacuously true, there must be antecedent-worlds historically

A Compositional Analysis

73

accessible from the evaluation world at the accessibility time, which is the time
of evaluation of the bare conditional. The time of evaluation in (43) is t  , which
is a past time. Therefore, for the conditional not to be vacuously true, there
needs to be a world where John is in love with Mary now that is historically
accessible from a past time. It is not required that there be an antecedent-world
historically accessible at the utterance time, which explains why simple past
subjunctive conditionals can in fact be counterfactual.
The next task is to explain why (41b) is infelicitous. The structure and truthconditions of this conditional are just like the structure and truth-conditions
given in (42) and (43) for (41a). Just as for the conditional in (41a), the presuppositions in the antecedent (and those in the consequent not entailed by the
antecedent) must be entailed by histw,t that is, the set of worlds historically
accessible from the evaluation world w (the actual world) at the reference time
t. The problem with (41b) is that the set of worlds historically accessible at the
utterance time entails that John is dead, and since we are assuming that people
are not the kind of thing that can live again after dying, the presupposition in
the antecedent is not compatible with histw,t and the subjunctive conditional
is not defined.
The examples considered so far are counterfactuals about the present. What
happens when the subjunctive conditionals are about the future? We have seen
that there are two cases: if the eventuality talked about in the antecedent already
happened in the past, the conditional is infelicitous; if the eventuality did not
already happen in the past, the conditional is felicitous. Take the following pair:
(44) a. John was sick yesterday and couldnt go to the concert. Now he is
well. Too bad. #If he were sick tomorrow instead, he could go/could
have gone.
(cf. If he had been sick tomorrow instead, he could have gone.)
b. John is not going to get sick tomorrow during our trip. But if he did, I
would send him back home.
The adverb instead in (44a) is there to force the intended counterfactual reading,
where the supposition expressed by the antecedent is that John will be sick
tomorrow instead of being sick yesterday. The contrast between (44a) and
(44b) is an example of the time asymmetry, which I will discuss at length in
chapter 5. I will leave (44b) and the time asymmetry aside for now, and focus
on (44a).
Notice that the felicitous counterpart of (44a) is a past perfect subjunctive
conditional; that is, in order to suppose that a particular eventuality that already
occurred will happen in the future instead, a past perfect is required.
(45) John was sick yesterday and couldnt go to the concert. Now he is well.
Too bad. If he had been sick tomorrow instead, he could have gone.

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Chapter 3

So, why is (44a) infelicitous? As mentioned above, the presence of instead


forces the antecedent to express the proposition that John will be sick tomorrow instead of being sick yesterday. One way to capture this meaning is by
interpreting the antecedent referentially, that is, as being about a salient eventuality of Johns being sick; what the antecedent would then suppose is that the
salient eventuality of Johns being sick will occur tomorrow instead of when it
actually occurred. In order to represent this point more formally, I will make
some simplifying assumptions about the logical form of the antecedent that
will enable us to see more concretely what proposition the antecedent expresses (again, let us assume that the antecedent is tensed). A possible representation
of the structure of the antecedent is shown in (46).
(46)

XXXX

X
pres
(((hhhhhh
h
((((
VP
Op1
`

```

VP
!aa
!
!
a
!
a
VP
tomorrow
Q

Q
John be sick

``
instead <of yesterday>

The stative predicate to be sick is a predicate of eventualities and its type


is <e<vt>>, where v is the type of eventualities. Following Kratzer (1998), I
will assume that aspectual operators (the imperfective and perfective operators)
mediate between the eventuality in the predicate and the tense looking for a time
variable to bind by turning predicates of eventualities into predicates of times.
Ope1 in (46) is meant to be such an aspectual operator but, unlike Kratzers
aspectual operators, this operator takes care of the transition between predicates
of eventualities and predicates of time not by existentially closing the event
variable in the predicate but by introducing an event pronoun as the argument of
the event predicate. This is shown in (47): e1 is the event pronoun whose value is
going to be determined by the assignment function g. As for pres, it is a nonpast
operator introducing a time that follows or coincides with the utterance time.
(47) [[Ope1 ]]c,g,t,w = P<vt> .t.P(e1 ) (e1 ) O t
(48) [[pres]]c,g,t,w = P.t  tc : P(t  )(w) = 1
(49) [[pres [Ope1 [[[John be sick] tomorrow] instead <of
yesterday>]]]]c,g,t,w = 1 iff g(1) is an eventuality of John being sick

A Compositional Analysis

75

and t  tc such that g(1) occurs at t  and g(1) occurs tomorrow and
g(1) did not occur yesterday in w
With the structure in (46) and the proposal for the aspectual operator Op1 in
mind, we can ask whether any presupposition is triggered in the antecedent.
This is the topic of the next section.
3.3.2.2 The Possibility Presupposition

Musan (1997) proposes that most stage- and individual-level predicates carry an
existence presuppositionthat is, that the subject of predication is in existence
at the time of predication. Supporting Musans claims are the following contrasts, from Musan 1997, 277:
(50) a. Utterance: Gregory is from America. Situation: Gregory is still
alive.
b. Utterance: #Gregory is from America. Situation: Gregory is dead.
c. Utterance: Gregory is happy. Situation: Gregory is still alive.
d. Utterance: #Gregory is happy. Situation: Gregory is dead.
Musan notices that whether the predicate is an individual-level predicate such as
to be from America or a stage-level predicate such as to be happy, it is felicitous to assert that the subject has the property of being from America or being
happy at the utterance time only if the subject is alive at the utterance time.
With these facts in mind, now consider the following examples:
(51) A: The cake was baked yesterday.
B: I see. #So it wont be baked tomorrow.
(52) #You wont be born next summer. (said to someone who is already alive)
These examples seem odd in the relevant contexts, only acceptable if intended
as a joke. To explain this, I would like to propose that (most) eventive and
stative predicates carry what I will call the possibility presupposition: for any
eventuality v, let v be possible at time t and world w just in case v has not
already culminated or, more generally, ended at any time t  < t in w. For
example, we can write the entry for predicates such as run or sick as follows.
(53) a. [[run]]c,g,t,w = x.e : e has not ended before t. e is a running by x.
b. [[sick]]c,g,t,w = x.e : e has not ended before t. e is an eventuality of
xs being sick.
Now let us return to (44a), repeated here.
(54) John was sick yesterday and couldnt go to the concert. Now he is well.
Too bad. #If he were sick tomorrow instead, he could go/could have gone.
(cf. If he had been sick tomorrow instead, he could have gone.)

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Because the eventuality in the predicate to be sick is interpreted referentially,


the presupposition carried by the antecedent will be that the salient eventuality
of John being sick, e1 , will be possible tomorrow, that is, that it will not have
ended before tomorrow. The truth-conditions are given in (55).
(55) [[[past [1 [[woll t 1 [pres [Ope1 [[[John be sick] tomorrow] instead
<of yesterday>]]]] [he can go]]]]]]c,g,t,w = 1 if t  < t[w [w SIMw
(HISTw,t  (w . e1 is an eventuality of Johns being sick tomorrow but not
yesterday in w )) w {w : [w . he can go in w ](w ) = 1}]],
defined if and only if histw,<t  ,t> {w : e1 is possible tomorrow in
w } =
Now, this presupposition must be compatible with histw,t , where t is the utterance time (the evaluation time for the whole subjunctive conditional). The
problem is that the antecedents presupposition is inconsistent with histw,t ,
which entails that the contextually salient eventuality of Johns being sick is
understood to have occurred and ended yesterday. Therefore, because of the
anaphoric interpretation of the event argument of the predicate together with
the possibility presupposition, the conditional is undefined.
Now consider what happens if the adverb still occurs in the antecedent in
place of instead.
(56) John was sick yesterday. Now he is well. But if he were still sick now,
he would miss the ball game.
The felicity of this conditional seems at first to challenge the current proposal:
how will the possibility presupposition be reconciled with the meaning of the
adverb still, which requires the antecedents eventuality to overlap a past time?
To answer this question, I need to spell out what I take the meaning components
of (56) to be. First, the contribution of still is presuppositional, and the presupposition it triggers is that a salient eventuality e of Johns being sick overlapped
a time before the reference time. In Ippolito 2007, I argued that the sentence
containing still expresses a particular proposition about the salient eventuality e, so that both the presupposition and the assertion are about the same
eventuality. While maintaining its spirit, I will modify the analysis in Ippolito
2007 as follows: the sentence containing still asserts that there is a subevent e
of a (contextually) salient event e such that e has the property P and e overlaps the reference time; the presupposition triggered by still will then be about
e (i.e., e has the property P and e overlapped a time before the reference time).
To see how this works, consider the sentence Fred is still sick. This sentence
asserts that there is a subevent e of (a contextually salient eventuality) e such
that e is an eventuality of Freds being sick and the time of e overlaps the
utterance time; still then triggers the presupposition that e is an eventuality of

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77

Freds being sick and the time of e overlaps a time before the utterance time. In
other words, because e and e are part of the same eventuality, Fred is still sick
uttered at t presupposes that a salient eventuality of Freds being sick occurred
before t and asserts that it (also) overlaps t.
Similarly, then, for the antecedent of the subjunctive conditional in (56): the
presupposition triggered by still is that a salient eventuality e of Johns being
sick overlapped a time before now and the proposition expressed by the antecedent is that there is a subevent e of e such that e overlaps now. Now, what
is the possibility presupposition? Recall that the possibility presupposition is
triggered by the predicate itself and is about the event argument of the predicate
itself. In Fred is still sick, the predicate is to be sick and the event argument
is e ; therefore, the presupposition will be that e is possible now (i.e., that it
has not ended before now). Because there is no inconsistency between e overlapping yesterday and one of its subparts, e , not overlapping any time before
now, the presupposition is satisfied and the conditional is correctly predicted to
be felicitous.
Now consider (57).
(57) John is dead. If he were (still) alive, he would be ninety years old.
This example is analogous to (56), under the assumption that we always interpret
the antecedent as supposing that John is still alive now; that is, his being alive
now is understood not as having to replace his being alive then (which would
violate the possibility presupposition), but as merely extending his life until
now. In this case, the possibility presupposition is satisfied and the simple past
subjunctive conditional is felicitous.7
The argument can be made similarly for event predicates. We observed
in section 2.4.2 that simple past subjunctive conditionals with eventive antecedents behave just like simple past subjunctive conditionals with stative
antecedents, modulo the fact that eventive antecedents cannot receive a present
interpretation unless they are in the progressive aspect. Relevant examples are
given in (58).
(58) a. John made a birthday cake for Mary and gave it to her yesterday, but
her birthday is tomorrow. When she saw it, she got really upset and
returned it to John. #If he gave her the birthday cake tomorrow
instead, she would be pleased.
(cf. If he had given it to her tomorrow instead, she would have been
pleased.)
b. John is not going to bake a cake tonight. But if he did, his
grandmother would help.

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The reason why the conditional in (58a) is infelicitous is that the possibility
presupposition in the antecedent is not satisfied in the actual world. Recall that
I have suggested that eventive as well as stative predicates presuppose that the
eventuality is possible at the time when the event is said to occur. Assuming that,
once an eventuality has occurred (and has ended), that particular eventuality
cannot occur again, a requirement that needs to be satisfied for an eventuality to
be possible at a time t is that it has not already ended before t. For reasons that
are familiar by now, the conditional will be defined only if the presuppositions
in the antecedent are entailed by histw,<t ,t> , which is the same as histw,t : since
the latter is the set of worlds historically accessible at t, the conditional will
be defined only if the presuppositions in the antecedent are entailed by the set
of worlds historically accessible from the actual world at the utterance time.
Because of the presence of the event pronoun in the antecedent, the supposition
expressed by the antecedent is that the salient event of Johns giving Mary
the birthday cake occurs tomorrow instead of yesterday and the possibility
presupposition is that that salient event of Johns giving Mary the birthday
cake will not occur (and end) any time before tomorrow. In the actual world,
however, that event happened (and ended) yesterday, and therefore histw,tc is
not even compatible with the possibility presupposition. This incompatibility
causes the conditional to be undefined.
3.3.3 Stative Antecedents

In this section, I would like to say a few words about simple past counterfactuals
with stative antecedents, thus bringing more evidence to beat on the analysis
I have proposed above. Consider the following data:
(59) John was sick yesterday but quickly recovered.
a. #/?If he were sick tomorrow instead, he would miss the test.
b. If he had been sick tomorrow instead, he would have missed the test.
(60) John is sick right now.
a. If he were sick tomorrow instead, he would miss the test.
b. If he had been sick tomorrow instead, he would have missed the test.
Take the simple past counterfactual in (59a). In the context set up in this
example, we take yesterdays sickness to be over by the utterance time; that
is, John is no longer sick at the utterance time. The antecedent supposes that
the salient eventuality of Johns being sick will occur tomorrow instead of occurring yesterday (when it actually occurred) and presupposes that it will be
possible tomorrow. Because that particular eventuality of Johns being sick already ended and the same eventuality cannot occur twice, the presupposition is

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79

not satisfied. Things are different in the context set up in (60): here, the eventuality of Johns being sick is ongoing at the utterance time and there is a possible
future where that eventuality overlaps tomorrow. The presupposition that that
eventuality is possible tomorrow is thus compatible with the actual history at
the utterance time and the conditional is defined.
Incidentally, the contrast between the simple past counterfactuals in (59a)
and (60a) is troublesome for Arreguis (2005 and subsequent work) analysis
according to which no occurrence of a stative predicate can be interpreted
deictically since stative predicates simply do not have an eventuality variable.
In order to fit the pair (59a) and (60a) into Arreguis analysis, we would need
to assume that the imperfective operator can be deictic.8 On the one hand, the
infelicity of (59a) would follow from the fact that the same eventuality (the
denotation of the deictic event pronoun) is required to be both an eventuality
of being sick occurring yesterday and an eventuality of being sick occurring
tomorrow but not yesterday.9 On the other hand, to explain the felicity of the
simple past counterfactual in (60a), we would need to say that the imperfective
operator here is not deictic. But unless we can explain in a principled way when
statives can be interpreted deictically and when they cant, this pair remains a
counterexample to theories like Arreguis.
3.4 Past Perfect Subjunctive Conditionals
3.4.1 Two Layers of Past

In this section, we start from the observation that in the contexts where a simple
past subjunctive conditional is not felicitous, a past perfect subjunctive is. Let
us consider some examples.
(61) John was sick yesterday but now he is well. Tomorrow, he will travel as
planned.
a. Im relieved. If he were sick tomorrow instead, he would have to
cancel his trip.
b. Im relieved. If he had been sick tomorrow instead, he would have
had to cancel his trip.
(62) John had chicken pox last year during the summer exam period. It was a
disaster.
a. Bad timing. #If he were sick with chicken pox next summer instead, it
would be much better.
b. Bad timing. If he had been sick with chicken pox next summer
instead, it would have been much better.
(63) I called John yesterday to wish him a happy birthday, but it was the
wrong day. His birthday is tomorrow and he got really upset.

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a. I am mortified. #If I called him tomorrow instead, he would be happy.


b. I am mortified. If I had called him tomorrow instead, he would have
been happy.
(64) John was the best pitcher the baseball team ever had. The teams hope to
win the World Series this year was lost when he died in a car accident.
They have someone else as their main pitcher, but he is not good enough
to make them win.
a. John died. What a tragedy. #If he pitched the entire game tomorrow,
they would win.
b. John died. What a tragedy. If he had pitched the entire game
tomorrow, they would have won.
The proposal I will defend here is that the past perfect we see in past perfect
subjunctive conditionals with nonpast antecedents is the morphological realization of a second layer of past manipulating the reference time of the whole
conditional, in addition to the one layer of past always found in subjunctive
conditionals, which manipulates the accessibility time of the bare modal (i.e.,
the evaluation time of the bare conditional), as explained in the analysis of
simple past subjunctive conditionals in section 3.3. The tree in (65) represents
the structure of the past perfect subjunctive conditional in (62b).
(65)

S
XXX



X

X
past2

S

XXX


XX


X
past
S
((hhhhh
(
(
(
hhh
(((
h
(
1
S
((hhhhh
(
(
hhh
((((

XXX


XX

S

(((hhhhhh
(
(
,
l
(
h
(
, l
woll t1 John is sick next summer instead

S
!aa
!
!
a
!
a
it is much better

The two occurrences of past in (65) are marked differently. This is because
they are interpreted differently. As shown already in the analysis of simple
past subjunctive conditionals in section 3.3, the lower past past is a temporal
quantifier asserting the existence of a past time of which the property denoted by
its complement is true. The higher past (past2 ) is a referential variable whose

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81

value is a contextually salient past time. We assume that some occurrences


of past are presuppositional in Heims (1994) sense. Following Heim (1994),
past2 presupposes that the value of g(2) (the assignment function applied to
the index carried by the variable) is a time earlier than the reference time. If
this presupposition is satisfied, the denotation of past2 will be whatever value
g assigns to 2.10
(66) [[past2 ]]c,g,t,w defined only if g(2) < t; if defined, [[past2 ]]c,g,t,w = g(2)
In section 3.4.2, we will see that, unlike the lower past tense, the higher past
tense shows referential properties in that it requires that there be a salient past
time in the context of utterance. I will take this to be evidence in favor of a
mixed tense system like the one I am sketching here. In this respect, the past
perfect configuration we see in (65) is not unlike other occurrences of the past
perfect. Consider (67).
(67) John had left.
Unlike a sentence with a simple past, a sentence with a past perfect like (67) is
infelicitous when uttered out of the blue. The past perfect needs a contextually
salient past time to act as the reference time. If the context provides a reference
time, then the eventuality in the past perfect is said to occur sometime before
the contextually salient reference time. For example, in (68) the time at which
Mary called acts as the reference time, and the sentence asserts that there is a
time t before the time Mary called such that John left at t.
(68) When Mary called, John had (already) left.
There is more than one way of capturing the different properties of the lower
and higher pasts in past perfect subjunctive conditionals. I have chosen a mixed
system with both temporal quantifiers and temporal pronouns, as it transparently shows the difference I want to capture. Alternatively, I could have adopted a
system with only temporal quantifiers and required that the higher occurrence of
the past be restricted to quantifying over a contextually salient set of times. As
far as I can tell, choosing this alternative does not affect the point of the present
discussion, since what is important here is that we have a way of referring to contextually salient times. Therefore, I will not further expand this discussion here.
The truth-conditions for (62b), whose structure is (65), are given in (69).
(69) [[past2 [past 1 [woll t 1 [pres [Ope1 [John be sick next summer
instead]]] [PRES [it be much better]]]]]]c,g,t,w = 1 if t < g(2)[w
[w SIMw (HISTw,t (w . e1 is an eventuality of Johns being sick next
summer (instead of last summer) in w )) w {w : [w . it is much
better in w ](w ) = 1}]], defined if and only if g(2) < t and
histw,<t,t2 > {w : John will be alive next summer in w }  =

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Unlike in simple past subjunctive conditionals, where the accessibility time


of the modal is past relative to the utterance time, in past perfect subjunctive
conditionals the accessibility time is past relative to a (contextually salient)
past time (past2 in (65)). Just as with simple past subjunctive conditionals, it
is the reference time (i.e., the time of evaluation of the whole conditional) that
is relevant for the satisfaction of the presuppositions in the antecedent (and
consequent). In a past perfect subjunctive conditional about the future, the time
of evaluation of the whole conditional is always a past time (t2 in (65)).
3.4.2 Explaining Felicitous and Infelicitous Uses of Past Perfect Subjunctive
Conditionals

According to the proposal I am defending, a subjunctive conditional is felicitous


just in case the following two conditions are satisfied: (i) the presuppositions
in the antecedent (and those in the consequent not entailed by the antecedent)
are compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at the reference
time (i.e., the time of evaluation of the whole conditional); and (ii) there are
antecedent worlds historically accessible from the evaluation (actual) world
at the accessibility time (i.e., the evaluation time of the bare conditional). In
a simple past subjunctive conditional, the accessibility time (i.e., the time of
evaluation of the bare conditional) is a past time, but the reference time is the
utterance time. In a past perfect subjunctive conditional, both times are past,
the accessibility time being earlier than the reference time.
Consider again the contrast in (64) (repeated here) between these two kinds
of subjunctive conditionals.
(70) John was the best pitcher the baseball team ever had. The teams hope to
win the World Series this year was lost when he died in a car accident.
They have someone else as their main pitcher, but he is not good enough
to make them win.
a. John died. What a tragedy. #If he pitched the entire game tomorrow,
they would win.
b. John died. What a tragedy. If he had pitched the entire game
tomorrow, they would have won.
We know why the simple past subjunctive conditional (70a) is odd in a context where John died: the presupposition in the antecedentthat John will be
alive tomorrowis required to be compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance time, but it is not, since in all worlds historically
accessible from the actual world at the utterance time, John already died.
In the very same context, however, the past perfect subjunctive conditional
(70b) is felicitous. This is because the antecedents presupposition that John

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83

will be alive tomorrow is required to be compatible with the set of worlds


historically accessible at a past time, and not at the utterance time. What is
this past time? The context in (70) makes salient the time when John died
or, to put it differently, the transition interval (i.e., the interval during which
the change of state occurred and John went from being alive to being dead).
Since this transition interval is salient in the context of utterance, and since
there is (at least) some time within this interval when worlds where John would
be alive tomorrow were historically accessible, the presupposition is satisfied.
Because the presupposition in the antecedent is not required to be true at the
utterance time, the fact that John is dead at the utterance time is irrelevant. As
for the nontriviality requirement that there be antecedent-worlds accessible at
some even earlier time, it is satisfied since there is a time before the time when
John died when it was still historically possible that he would play tomorrow.
Similarly for the other examples we considered at the beginning of this
section. Take (63), repeated here.
(71) I called John yesterday to wish him a happy birthday, but it was the
wrong day. His birthday is tomorrow and he got really upset.
a. I am mortified. #If I called him tomorrow instead, he would be happy.
b. I am mortified. If I had called him tomorrow instead, he would have
been happy.
The relevant presupposition is the possibility presupposition in the antecedent:
that the contextually salient eventuality of calling John will not occur before tomorrow, where the anaphoric interpretation of the event argument in the main
predicate is forced by the presence of instead. The problem with the simple
past subjunctive conditional in (71a) is that this presupposition is incompatible
with the set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance time (the reference
time of the whole conditional), which entails that the salient event of calling
John already occurred yesterday, thus causing the conditional to be infelicitous.
However, in the past perfect subjunctive conditional in (71b), the possibility
presupposition is required to be satisfied by the set of worlds historically accessible at some past time, and a time that does that is presumably some past time
before the time when the speaker called John in the actual world. Therefore,
the incompatibility between the state of the actual world at the utterance time
and the presupposition in the antecedent is irrelevant.
3.4.3 A Note on Embedding Simple Past Subjunctive Conditionals

We have assumed above that in an unembedded occurrence of a simple past


subjunctive conditional, the reference time is the time of the context (the utterance time). As a result, presuppositions in the antecedent and presuppositions

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in the consequent (not entailed by the antecedent) need to be satisfied by the


set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance time. We therefore expect
that when a simple past subjunctive conditional occurs as part of a reported
speech, the embedding verb should be able to manipulate the reference time,
and we expect that this should be reflected in both the meaning and the form of
the embedded conditional. What we will see in this section is that the behavior of subjunctive conditionals in embedded clauses falls together with known
sequence-of-tense (SOT) phenomena.
(72) John said that Mary was sick.
The sentence in (72) illustrates a classic SOT fact. This sentence has two readings: the anteriority reading and the simultaneity reading. According to the anteriority reading, Marys sickness occurred before Johns speech act. According
to the simultaneity reading, Marys sickness is understood to be simultaneous
with Johns speech act. What is special about the simultaneity reading is that
in order for this reading to be possible, the embedded past tense must not be
interpreted. Any theory of tense then faces the challenge of explaining what
mechanisms account for the interpretation of an embedded past tense.
(Ogihara, 1995, 673) proposes to account for the SOT in (72) by positing the
SOT rule in (73).
(73) A tense morpheme can be deleted if and only if is locally
c-commanded by a tense morpheme (i.e., there is no intervening tense
morpheme between and ), and and are occurrences of the past
tense morpheme.
The SOT rule is optional. If the rule does not apply, we get the configuration in
(74a). If the rule does apply, we get the configuration in (74b).
(74) a. John past say that Mary past be sick
b. John past say that Mary be sick
The meaning of (72) after deletion of the embedded past is given in (75) (from
Ogihara 1995, 674). This expresses the simultaneity reading.
(75) t1 [t1 < s &t1 tR1 &say (t1 , j, [be-sick  (m)])]
The translation in (76) (from Ogihara 1995, 675) is what we get if the tense
deletion rule does not apply.
(76) t1 [t1 < s &t1 tR1 &say (t1 , j, t2 [t3 [t3 < t2 &t3
tR3 &[be-sick  (t3 , m)]])]
The exact details of Ogiharas proposal are not important here. What is important is the observation that if the SOT rule applies, then one layer of past is
deleted.11

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85

Consider a context entailing that John already played his last game yesterday
and he lost. Imagine that a week ago Mary uttered the subjunctive conditional
in (77).
(77) Mary: If John played in eight days, he would win.
When reporting Marys simple past subjunctive conditional, we switch to the
past perfect version for the embedded conditional, as shown in (78).
(78) Mary said a week ago that if John had played his last game tomorrow
(instead), he would have won.
The presence of this second layer of past in the embedded conditional allows
us to shift the reference time of the embedded conditional to the past, that is,
the time of Marys original utterance. In doing so, we ensure that the relevant
presupposition is required to be entailed by the set of worlds historically accessible at the time of Marys utterance. But we know already that shifting
the reference time to the past is marked morphologically by the presence of a
second layer of past. In other words, when a second layer of past manipulates
the reference time of the conditional, the latter will look like a past perfect
subjunctive conditional.
Ignoring some details that are not immediately relevant to the present
discussion, the truth-conditions for (78) will look informally as shown in (79).
(79) a. t  < tc : [[say]](m)(t  )([[Past 1[woll t1 [pres [Ope [John play his last

game tomorrow (instead), he win]]]]]]t )
b. [[(78)]]c,g,t,w = 1 if and only if there is a time t  < tc such that Mary
said at t  that there is a time t  < t  such that for all worlds w such
that w is historically accessible from t  and such that a contextually
salient eventuality e of Johns playing his last game occurs tomorrow
in w and w is otherwise maximally similar to wc , he wins in w
Let us assume a Lewisian semantics for say: says is true in w if and only
if talks as if she believes that . Since say is a plug, the presupposition
carried by the conditional sentence will have to be checked against those worlds
that characterize what Mary says she believes. Therefore, it is this set that must
be compatible with the proposition that it is possible that e (the contextually
salient eventuality of Johns playing his last game) will happen tomorrow. The
fact that this presupposition is inconsistent with what is possible at the utterance
time is irrelevant.
Going back to the representation of (78)s truth-conditions in (79), the
absence of one layer of past in these truth-conditions despite the presence of
two pasts in the embedded conditional is an instance of the SOT phenomena sketched at the beginning of this section: following Ogihara (1995), the

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second layer of past in the conditional has been deleted because it was locally
c-commanded by the matrix past tense (said ). As a result, the time variable
underlying the deleted past morpheme is interpreted as being bound by the
c-commanded past tense said. But crucially, it is the higher past tense that is
deleted: therefore, the time variable that gets to be bound by the matrix past is
the reference time (i.e., the time at which the presupposition of the conditional
must be checked). Hence, the conditional will be evaluated at the time of Marys
saying: it is the set of worlds historically accessible at this time that is required
to be compatible with the presuppositions in the antecedent (and those in the
consequent not entailed by the antecedent).
The semantics for (78) requires that Johns playing his last game tomorrow
be possible at the time of Marys utterance. This semantics is agnostic with
respect to whether this is possible or not at the utterance time. In principle, then,
someone could utter (78) felicitously at t while believing that it is possible at t
that John can play his last game tomorrow. However, the most natural reading
of (78) is one in which the speaker believes that the possibility that John will
play his last game tomorrow is foreclosed at the utterance time.
This is not surprising, given how an embedded past tense subject to the SOT
rule is normally interpreted. In particular, this is consistent with the meaning
of would in SOT contexts. Example (80a) illustrates an occurrence of would
embedded in a clausal complement of a verb in the past tense. The relevant
comparison is with (80b), where will occurs embedded under said.
(80) a. Mary said that John would leave tomorrow.
b. Mary said that John will leave tomorrow.
Recall that, following Abusch (1988) and Ogihara, (1989, 1995) among others,
we assume that would is the morphological realization of the future auxiliary
woll together with the past tense. The sentence in (80a) is normally understood
as implying that John will not leave tomorrow. This implication, however,
can easily be removed: the context in (81) forces an ignorance reading where
speaker B is not committed to the truth of the proposition that John will leave
tomorrow.
(81) A: Jim left yesterday. Fred will leave next week. But what about John?
B: I havent heard anything about John. I dont know what to tell you.
All I know is that a week ago Mary said that John would leave tomorrow.
I guess that might happen.
It seems plausible that the implication that John will not leave tomorrow in (80a)
arises from a competition with (80b), where the future marker will occurs in the
embedded clause. Investigating the exact nature of this implication is beyond
the scope of this section, and I will not attempt here to explain whether and

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87

how a competition analysis might eventually work. What is important for the
present discussion is that we can construct an example with (78) that parallels
the discourse in (81).
(82) A: What about John? Did he play his last game yesterday?
B: I dont know what to tell you. All I know is that a week ago Mary said
that if John had played his last game tomorrow, he would have won.
The acceptability of (82) tells us that an embedded past perfect subjunctive
conditional can be uttered felicitously even when the speaker does not believe
the antecedent to be impossible at the utterance time (now). As predicted by
the current proposal, all that is required is that the subject of the main clause
(Mary) believes the antecedent of the embedded conditional to be possible at
the time of her utterance (a week ago).
Questions remain open. Question A: The SOT rule is optional. We saw that
if the SOT rule applies, (78) can felicitously report Marys utterance in (77)
in a context in which it is known that Johns playing his last game tomorrow
is impossible. What happens if the SOT rule does not apply? We expect the
second layer of past in the embedded conditional to shift the reference time to
the past, making (78) a report of a future past perfect subjunctive conditional. Is
the higher past tense in the conditional evaluated relative to the utterance time
tc or relative to Marys past utterance time? Are both these options available?
If so, what implications does each of them have?
Question B: Speakers find (83) acceptable.
(83) Mary said a week ago that if John played his last game tomorrow, he
would win.
But what is (83) reporting? Can (83) be used to report an utterance of a simple
past subjunctive conditional? This would be possible if the one past that we see
in the embedded conditional were not subject to the SOT rule but instead shifted
the time of accessibility to the past. What about the reference time? There are
in principle two possibilities: (i) it coincides with the utterance time tc ; (ii) it is
manipulated by the matrix past and ends up coinciding with Marys utterance
time. Possibility (i) would give rise to a report of an utterance of a simple past
subjunctive conditional from the perspective of the speaker (and not Mary).
One might then argue that this is analogous to a phenomenon familiar from the
SOT literature: it is possible to report a future-oriented claim made in the past
by using the future will (as opposed to would ) as long as the future orientation
holds from the perspective of the current speaker too. This is illustrated in (84).
(84) A week ago, Mary said that John will leave tomorrow/*yesterday.
If (83) had this structure (with the reference time of the embedded conditional
coinciding with tc ), then (83) would be infelicitous in a context in which it is

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known that John already played his last game yesterday, since the possibility presupposition in the antecedent would not be compatible with the set of
worlds historically accessible at tc . On the other hand, possibility (ii), where
the reference time is manipulated by the matrix past tense (Marys utterance
time) would make (83) felicitous in such a context (in which the presupposition
in the antecedent is no longer compatible with whats possible at tc ) because
the possibility presupposition would only have to be consistent with whats
possible at the time of Marys utterance.12 If possibilities (i) and (ii) are both
available, then a sentence like (83) is predicted to be felicitous whether or not
the presupposition in the antecedent is compatible with whats possible at the
utterance time.
Question C: Can (83) report an utterance of an indicative conditional?
(85) Mary:

If John plays his last game in eight days, he will win.

This possibility would obtain if there were just one layer of past c-commanding
the bare conditional and if it were deleted by the SOT rule. As a result, both the
accessibility and reference times would coincide with Marys utterance time
(the past time introduced by the matrix tense).13
The discussion in this section is only the beginning of an inquiry into which
interpretations are available when a subjunctive conditional is embedded under
an attitude or speech act verb. I have suggested that some insight might be
gained into at least some of the readings of an embedded subjunctive conditional
by showing that they fall under the SOT phenomenon, and I have sketched
the beginning of an analysis that exploits both the proposal for subjunctive
conditional defended in this book and the semantic rules put in place to account
for the SOT facts. This discussion was admittedly very sketchy. My remarks
did not address all the intricacies of the SOT phenomenon, and they did not lay
down an explicit semantics for embedded subjunctive conditionals. However,
I hope that they are in line with the claims made in this book and that they
suggest a plausible line of inquiry for the future.
3.4.4 The Strong Counterfactuality of Past Perfect Subjunctive Conditionals

As explained earlier in this chapter, simple past subjunctive conditionals and


nonpast past perfect subjunctive conditionals have different presuppositions
(or felicity conditions) associated with them. The former type requires that
the presuppositions in the antecedent (and those in the consequent not entailed
by the antecedent) be compatible with whats possible at the utterance time.
The latter type requires that the presuppositions be compatible with what was
possible at a (contextually salient) past time. In what follows, I argue that
the strong counterfactuality of nonpast past perfect subjunctive conditionals

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89

can be derived as an antipresuppositionthat is, an inference arising from the


application of the principle Maximize Presupposition.
Heim (1991) observes that in a context where it is known that people have
only one father or that objects have only one weight, the following sentences
are infelicitous:
(86) a. I interviewed a father of the victim.
b. A weight of our tent is under 4 lbs.
Intuitively, the infelicity of these examples seems to be caused by the occurrence of the indefinite article a instead of the definite the. In circumstances
where we make the assumption that people have only one father, we can use
the definite article and therefore we should. Similarly, since it is known that
objects have only one weight, the definite article can be used and therefore the
use of the indefinite is not allowed. Using the indefinite article in these situations triggers the inference that people have more than one father and things
have more than one weight. Even though it is very similar to a scalar implicature, this inference cannot be reduced to one since the Maxim of Quantity
(requiring the speaker to make her contribution as informative as possible given the purpose of the conversation) does not readily apply to the examples in
(86). This is because informativeness is not at stake: since its already known
that objects have only one weight, both (86b) and its definite counterpart (The
weight of our tent is under 4 lbs.) convey the same amount of information.
However, assuming a presuppositional view of the definite article, (86b) and
its definite counterpart differ with respect to what they presuppose, with the
indefinite carrying no presupposition while the definite carryies the uniqueness
presupposition. Therefore, Heim suggests that a new principle requiring us to
presuppose as much as possible might be at work in these cases. This principle
is known as Maximize Presupposition (MP).
Since Heim 1991, a number of researchers have contributed to the development of the theory behind MP (see, e.g., Percus 2006, Chemla 2008, Sauerland
2008, Schlenker 2011). Here is the definition of MP from Chemla 2008, 142.
(87) Maximize Presupposition
Among a set of alternatives, use the felicitous sentence with the strongest
presupposition.
The idea is that presuppositional sentences are in competition with their nonpresuppositional counterparts and, if felicitous, the presuppositional sentences
are preferred. Consider the scale <both, all>, originally from Percus 2006.
Both is stronger than all in that it carries the presupposition that the domain
of quantification has only two members. This explains why, in examples like
(88a), the use of all is infelicitous. ((88) is from Chemla 2008, 144.)

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(88) Context: People have two arms.


a. *Mary broke all her arms.
b. Mary broke both her arms.
The other side of this coin is that a felicitous occurrence of the nonpresuppositional version will trigger the inference that the presuppositional counterpart is
not felicitous in the context of utterance.
(89) Mary took all her children to the park.
Antipresupposition: Mary has more than two children.
Going back to subjunctive conditionals, in what follows I will argue that MP
triggers a competition between simple past subjunctive conditionals and future
past perfect subjunctive conditionals, in which the former carry a stronger presupposition. Uttering a past perfect subjunctive conditional about the future will
generate the inference, or antipresupposition, that the simple past subjunctive
conditional is infelicitousthat is, that its presuppositions are not met by the
context of utterance. Let me spell out this idea in more detail (for convenience,
in what follows I will ignore any requirement on the presuppositions in the
consequent ).
As we have seen, simple past subjunctive conditionals require that the presuppositions in the antecedent (ps()), if any, be compatible with the set of
worlds historically accessible at the utterance time. Past perfect subjunctive
conditionals, on the other hand, require that ps() be compatible with what
is possible at some past time. Since the set of possibilities shrinks over time,
being compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance
time entails being compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at
any time before the utterance time.
(90) a. Felicity condition of simple past subjunctive conditionals
ps() histtc  =
b. Felicity conditions of past perfect subjunctive conditionals
ps() histt1 <tc  =
This means that (90a) is stronger than (90b). Therefore, with respect to their
felicity conditions, the two types of subjunctive conditionals form the scale
<simple past subjunctive conditionals, past perfect subjunctive conditionals>.
Following Chemla (2008), we will assume that, because of the role played
by MP and given the choice between two sentences differing from each other
with respect to their presuppositional strength, choosing the presuppositionally
weaker option triggers the antipresupposition that either the speaker does not
believe that the stronger presupposition holds or she does not believe that she
is an authority relative to her addressee and with regard to the presupposition
in question. (Prediction (91) is from Chemla 2008, 156.)

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91

(91) Prediction of the Maximize Presupposition principle


Situation: A speaker s utters a sentence S1 . S2 is an alternative sentence
to S1 ; S2 asserts what S1 asserts, but additionally presupposes p.
Predicted inference: Bs [p] Bs [Auths [p]]
The predicted inference in (91) is weaker than the inference we actually get,
namely, that the speaker believes that the presupposition in question (i.e., the
presupposition of simple past subjunctive conditionals) is false. In order to
obtain the actual inference, we need to assume that the addressee makes the
following two assumptions.
(92) Competence assumption
The speaker s is opinionated about p.
Technically: Bs [p] Bs [p]
(93) Authority assumption
The speaker s believes in her authority about p.
Technically: Bs (Auths p)
The competence assumption is what Sauerland (2004) has called the epistemic
step. It ensures that the inference that the speaker does not believe that p
is strengthened into the speaker believes that p. But given the disjunctive
inference in (91), this epistemic step is only possible if the addressee makes the
authority assumption, namely, that the speakers utterance of the sentence in
question would cause her audience to accommodate and believe the proposition
expressed by her utterance. The authority assumption will rule out the second
disjunct in (91), and as a result the competence assumption will strengthen the
first disjunct into Bs [p].
Applying this reasoning to the pair in (94), it follows that an utterance of the
weaker past perfect subjunctive conditional (94a) triggers the antipresupposition that the speaker believes that the presuppositions in the antecedent are not
consistent with the actual history at the utterance time.
(94) a. If John played his last game tomorrow, he would win.
b. If John had played his last game tomorrow, he would have won.
This is because uttering the weaker past perfect subjunctive conditional triggers
the disjunctive inference that either the speaker does not believe that it is
possible at the utterance time that John will play his last game tomorrow or
she does not believe she has authority relative to her addressee with regard
to this issue. Assuming that the speaker has authority with regard to the issue
of whether Johns playing his last game tomorrow is still a possibility at the
utterance time (see (93)), and given that we assume her to be competent on this
issue (see (92)), it follows that she believes that Johns playing his last game

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tomorrow is not a possibility at the utterance time. Hence, the counterfactual


antipresupposition associated with uttering (94b).
The reverse also holds. Just as shown in (88) for the <both, all> scale,
in a context in which it is known that the presupposition in the antecedent is
consistent with the actual history at tc , an utterance of the presuppositionally
weaker past perfect subjunctive conditional is infelicitous.
(95) John has not played his last game yet. #If he had played his last game
tomorrow, he would have won.
Finally, unlike scalar conversational implicatures, antipresuppositions cannot be suspended or canceled.
(96) John has only two students. #He gave them all an A.
(97) John has two students and in fact he might have only two students. #He
gave them all an A.
Since the counterfactuality of the antecedent is an antipresupposition, we do
not expect it to be cancelable in the way conversational implicatures are. This
expectation is met: example (13) in chapter 2, repeated here, illustrates the infelicity of anAnderson (1951)type example with a future past perfect subjunctive
conditional.14
(98) #If Charlie had gone to Boston by train tomorrow, Lucy would have
found in his pocket the ticket that she in fact found. So, he must be going
to Boston by train tomorrow.
3.5 The Temporal Interpretation of Antecedent and Consequent Clauses
3.5.1 Deictic Tenses

One question that I have put off so far concerns the temporal interpretation of the
antecedent and consequent clauses in relation to the layers of tense morphology
that occur above the bare conditional clause. The temporal interpretation of
these clauses is not unrestricted, and my proposal should be able to capture
both the felicity facts discussed above and the temporal restrictions about to be
discussed.
Consider the three examples in (99).
(99) a. If John were cooking now, I would not have to.
b. If John cooked tomorrow, I would not have to.
c. *If John were cooking/cooked yesterday, I would not have to.
The tentative conclusion that we can draw from these examples is that the antecedent of a simple past subjunctive conditional can be about the present or the

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93

future, but cannot be about the past. On the other hand, past perfect subjunctive
conditionals can occur with past, present, or future adverbs, as shown in (100).
(100) a. If John had been cooking now, I would not have had to.
b. If John had cooked tomorrow, I would not have had to.
c. If John had cooked yesterday, I would not have had to.
On the basis of (99) and (100), it might be tempting to conclude that while
the antecedents of past perfect subjunctive conditionals can be about the past,
present, or future, the antecedents of simple past subjunctive conditionals cannot be about the past. However, I will claim that the first half of this conclusion
is incorrect: a subjunctive conditional whose antecedent is about the past (e.g.,
(100c)) can have the structure of what we have been calling a simple past subjunctive conditional but cannot look like a simple past subjunctive conditional.
More generally, a conditional that is structurally a simple past subjunctive
conditional might not look like one.
Suppose that the antecedent and the consequent clauses of a conditional are
tensed and that their tenses are interpreted deictically. This means that in a simple past subjunctive conditional, the temporal interpretation of the antecedent
takes place independently of the past tense embedding the bare conditional. As
a result, the evaluation time of the embedded antecedent is always the utterance time and not the higher past tense. There are two possibilities (ignoring
the consequent for now): (i) there is a past tense in the antecedent, as shown in
(101a); (ii) there is a present tense in the antecedent, as shown in (101b).
(101) a. past [modal [past ]tc [. . .]]
b. past [modal [pres ]tc [. . .]]
Notice that the present in English can be used to express both present and future
meanings; but if the predicate is eventive, the present tense cannot receive a
progressive interpretation.
(102) I hope John cooks fish tomorrow/every day/*right now.
(cf. I hope you cooked fish yesterday.)
The example in (102) shows that the embedded present tense cannot be interpreted as a present progressive; the only possible interpretations are the habitual
interpretation and the future interpretation. (The parenthesized example in (102)
shows that it is not the verb to hope that forces the future interpretation in (102),
since this verb can actually embed a true past tense.) In order to account for
the distribution of the temporal adverbs in (102), I will use the denotation for
pres introduced in (48) in section 3.3.2.1, and repeated in (103). According to
(103), pres introduces a time t  that is nonpast relative to tc .
(103) [[pres]]c,g,t,w = P.t  tc : P(t  )(w) = 1

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Going back to the facts introduced in (99), summarized in a slightly different


form in (104), the behavior of temporal adverbs in the antecedent is exactly
like the behavior of temporal adverbs in (102), once we assume the presence
of a present tense.
(104) If John cooked tomorrow/every day/*right now, I would not have to.
Hence, the idea that nonpast antecedents of subjunctive conditionals contain a
present tense is supported by the distribution of temporal adverbs: only those
adverbs that can occur with the present can occur in the antecedent of a subjunctive conditional. Facts from languages other than English strengthen this
point. In Italian, the present tense can have a progressive interpretation in some
contexts, as shown in (105).15
(105) a. Gianni a casa adesso. Cosa fa
a casa oggi a
Gianni is at home now what (he) does at home today at
questora?
this-hour
Gianni is at home now. What is he doing at home at this hour?
b. Fa
i compiti.
(he) does.pres the homework
He is doing his homework.
What is interesting for the present discussion is that, unlike their English counterparts, Italian nonpast antecedents of simple past subjunctive conditionals can
also have a progressive interpretation, as the following examples show:16
(106) Se Gianni facesse
i compiti in questo momento (invece di
if Gianni does.imp.subj the homework at this time
(instead of
guardare la televisione), sarebbe
un miracolo.
watch.inf the TV)
(it) would.be a miracle
If Gianni were doing his homework right now (instead of watching
TV), it would be a miracle.
(107) Se Gianni dormisse
ora, non potrei ascoltare la radio.
if Gianni sleep.imp.subj now not (I) could listen.to the radio
If Gianni were sleeping right now, I couldnt listen to the radio.
This reinforces the hypothesis above that a present tense occurs in nonpast
antecedents of subjunctive conditionals. The one layer of past that we see in
nonpast subjunctive conditionals such as (99a) and (99b) is due to the presence
of the past tense above the modal, providing the time argument for the historical
accessibility relation.17 This is the hallmark of a subjunctive conditional, distinguishing subjunctive conditionals from indicative conditionals, and the claim

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95

is that it has nothing to do with the temporal interpretation of the antecedent


and consequent clauses.
Again consider (99b), repeated here.
(108) If John cooked tomorrow, I would not have to.
The structure of its antecedent is given in (109). The evaluation time of the
antecedent clause is represented overtly in the tree, and its value is the utterance
time, tc .18 This translates into the meaning given in (110).
(109)

CP
!aa
!
!
a
tc
TP
PP


P

P
pres
AspP
PPP

P
perf
VP
!aa
!
!
a
VP
tomorrow
##cc
John cook

(110) w.t  tc [e[time(e) t  & e is an event of cooking by John in w &


e tomorrow]]
Now, why is (99c), repeated here, ungrammatical?
(111) *If John cooked yesterday, I would not have to.
Since the antecedent is always evaluated with respect to the utterance time, for
it to express a past proposition there must be a past operator. What is wrong
with (111) is that, because this is a subjunctive conditional (note would in the
consequent), the one past on the modal would and in the antecedent reflects
the presence of a higher past binding the time argument of the accessibility
function. Therefore, there cannot be any past in the antecedent. This means that
either there is no tense in the antecedent or there is a present tense. Since we
have assumed that the two clauses in a conditional are interpreted deictically,
the former option is ruled out. In any event, in either case the sentence will not
be interpretable.
For the event to be successfully located in the past, a past tense must occur
in the antecedent of (111). If a past tense occurs in the antecedent, it will have
the structure in (112), with the meaning in (113).

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(112)

Chapter 3

CP
!aa
!
!
a
tc
TP
PP


P

P
past
AspP
PPP

P
perf
VP
!aa
!!
a
VP
#
# cc
John cook

yesterday

(113) w.t  < tc [e[time(e) t  & e is an event of cooking by John in w &


e yesterday]]
Now, because a past above the modal is the hallmark of subjunctive conditionals, a subjunctive conditional about the past will have (at least) two pasts, one
above the modal and one within the antecedent. Since English can realize two
layers of past morphology within the same clause, both pasts will be morphologically realized as past: one reflecting the past tense above the modal, the
other reflecting the past tense within the antecedent, as shown in (114a).
(114) a. past [modal [past ]tc [. . .]]
b. past [modal [pres ]tc [. . .]]
Notice that the structure in (114a) will always look like a past perfect subjunctive conditional, as illustrated in (115), but crucially only one layer of past is
interpreted outside the antecedent.
(115) a. *If John cooked yesterday, I would not have to.
b. If John had cooked yesterday, I would not have had to.
To sum up the discussion so far, assuming that (i) the utterance time is always
the evaluation time of the antecedent and consequent clauses and (ii) either a
past or a present tense can occur in these clauses, we are able to account for
the ungrammaticality of (115a): the antecedent is meaningless because of the
incompatibility between the requirement that the cooking not be in the past of
the utterance time (the contribution of the present tense) and the requirement
that it be included within yesterday (the contribution of the adverb yesterday).
Let us return to (100ac), repeated here.
(116) a. If John had been cooking now, I would not have had to.
b. If John had cooked tomorrow, I would not have had to.
c. If John had cooked yesterday, I would not have had to.

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97

Take (116a) and (116b). The grammaticality of these conditionals with now and
tomorrow tells us that both layers of past are interpreted outside the scope of the
modal. The tense of these antecedent propositions is Present. Their structure
is given in (117). (Since the difference between referential and quantificational past is irrelevant to the present discussion, the notation in (117) does not
distinguish between the two types.)
(117) past [past [modal [pres ]tc [. . .]]]
What happens if a past antecedent is embedded in a subjunctive conditional
with two layers of past above the modal? In this case, there will be three pasts,
as show in (118).
(118) past [past [modal [past ]tc [. . .]]]
However, there is no tense form in English that can express three pasts within
the same clause: the greatest number of pasts that can be expressed in English
is two, the past perfect being the form for doing so. Therefore, the surface form
of the structure in (118) will be (116c), which will be indistinguishable from
the surface form of the structure in (114a).
It follows that, when we encounter a nonpast past perfect subjunctive conditional such as (116a) or (116b), since the antecedent is evaluated with respect
to the utterance time tc and a nonpast adverb is present, we know that the past
perfect morphology is the realization of the two layers of past above the modal
fixing the time argument of the accessibility relation. That is, we know that a
nonpast past perfect subjunctive conditional always has the structure in (117).
On the other hand, because of the limit of tense morphology in English, a past
perfect subjunctive conditional about the past is structurally ambiguous between
a simple past subjunctive conditional about the past, whose structure is (114a),
and a past perfect subjunctive conditional about the past, whose structure is
(118). This predicts that subjunctive conditionals about the past will appear to
exhibit properties of both simple past and past perfect subjunctive conditionals.
This prediction is correct. Consider the pair of examples in (119) and (120)
(the latter is inspired by Andersons (1951) classic example).
(119) John sold his house two summers ago. If he had sold it last summer,
he would have made more money.
(120) If the butler had killed Jones yesterday, we would have found just these
marks on the floor. So, he must have killed Jones!
In (119), the antecedent presupposition is that John was in possession of his
house until sometime last summer. This presupposition is clearly not met in the
actual world, since John sold his house two summers ago. I have argued at length
above that structural past perfect conditionals, unlike simple past conditionals,

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are felicitous when their antecedents presuppositions are not true in the actual
world. Therefore, (119) patterns like a structural past perfect conditional.
On the other hand, (120) patterns like a simple past conditional because
its antecedent is not counterfactual. We have seen that structural past perfect
conditionals must be counterfactual. Therefore, the felicity of (120) tells us that
(120) is interpreted as a simple past conditional.
These facts suggest that past perfect subjunctive conditionals about the past
are in fact ambiguous between structural past perfect conditionals and simple
past subjunctive conditionals. Notice furthermore that (i) past perfect subjunctive conditionals about the past whose antecedents presuppositions are not
compatible with the state of the actual world at the utterance time are always
counterfactual, and that (ii) past perfect subjunctive conditionals about the past
whose antecedent is not counterfactual (i.e., is possible given the current actual
history) are such that the antecedents presuppositions must also be consistent
with the actual history at the utterance time.
It is possible to strengthen this point by considering varieties of English where
more than two layers of past are allowed to occur within the same clause. Dancygier and Sweetser (2005) discuss a kind of conditional found in some American
and British colloquial dialects (previously discussed in Fillmore 1990), where
an extra auxiliary head occurs. The following examples (from Dancygier and
Sweetser 2005, 63) show this third layer of past in the antecedent clause.
(121) a. If I hadd-a known you were coming, I would-a stayed home.
b. If I hadnt a-been ill, Id a-got him away all right, . . .
The tense composition of the consequent clause in (121a) is just as we expect
from Standard English: besides the modal would, we find the auxiliary head a
(have in Standard English) and the past participle form stayed. The composition
of the antecedent clause, however, is more interesting: this clause has two
auxiliary heads, hadd and a, and the past participle form known. This dialect of
English then differ from the standard English variety we have been concerned
with in this book, where, in the counterpart of (121a), the antecedent clause has
only the auxiliary head had and the past participle known.
When considering these examples, Dancygier and Sweetser write, these -a
forms seem necessarily to convey the speakers belief that the described situation does not hold in the reality space (p. 63), which in the terms used
here means that an -a form conditional conveys the speakers belief that
the antecedent is counterfactual. Elsewhere, Dancygier and Sweetser write,
we see no possible non-counterfactual interpretation for if I hadnt a-been
ill (p. 65).19

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99

3.5.2 An Open Question

One question remains open: why do we see past morphology in the antecedent
and consequent clauses? The analysis in Ippolito 2006b suggests a possible
answer to this question: (i) we see past morphology in the antecedent and consequent clauses because their time arguments are interpreted relative to the modal
woll, whose time argument is manipulated by a higher past tense operator;
(ii) the occurrence of past tense morphology is the morphological realization of
a higher tense operator c-commanding the time variables in the lower clauses
and, as a result, this morphology is semantically vacuous. Von Stechows (2003)
theory of feature deletion and semantic binding offers a promising way of implementing this idea. Elaborating on work by Schlenker (1999), Stechow (2003)
proposes to explain the semantics-morphology mapping in temporal and modal
subordinate constructions by using a feature-based theory. According to this
theory, there exist two kinds of features: the checkees and the checkers. The
former are marked by an asterisk. For example, the past corresponds to the
features *<*pres (checkers) and <pres (checkees). The pluperfect (or past
perfect) corresponds to the features *<*<*pres (checkers) and <<pres (checkees). Von Stechow proposes that the features of a temporal variable will be
deleted when an agreement relation can be established between this variable
and a c-commanding operator carrying the interpretable counterparts of those
features.20 For example, the LF for the simultaneity reading of the sentence in
(122) is given in (123).
(122) Smith thought that Mary was sick.
<pres

<pres

(123) t1
[t1 < t0 ] Smith thought<pres < . . . t2
Mary was<pres sick
pres

<pres

. . . > . . . t2

Informally, on the simultaneity reading the sentence is true just in case there is
a time t1 , where t1 is before the utterance time, such that Smith thought at t1
that Mary was sick at t1 .
In the paragraphs that follow, I will briefly sketch how von Stechows ideas
might apply to my proposed analysis of subjunctive conditionals. Although
these remarks are tentative and incomplete, if they are on the right track, hopefully they can provide the starting point for a more satisfactory solution to this
puzzle.
Unlike in Ippolito 2006b, I have argued here that the antecedent and the
consequent clauses are interpreted deictically. Their time arguments are not
bound by the modal and therefore neither will coincide with nor will be evaluated relative to the accessibility time. Can a feature agreement theory like

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Chapter 3

von Stechows help to explain the occurrence of past tense morphology in


subjunctive conditionals?
Now, in the structure for a simple past subjunctive conditional proposed in
(23) and repeated in (124), the past operator originates as the sister of the modal
and for type reasons moves to adjoin to the whole conditional structure, leaving
a time variable behind.
(124)

S
XX

XXX



Sh
(
hhh
hhh

S`

past

((
((((
1

```

PPP

P

S
PP

,
l

PP
, l


P
woll t1 John plays tomorrow

``
S
!aa
!!
a
his team wins

(124) modified so as to incorporate von Stechows notation. (125) is what the


structure of a would -conditional might look like. As argued in section 3.4, both
antecedent and consequent clauses are interpreted deictically, but in (125) I
ignore the presence of the nonpast operator required for the interpretation of
these two clauses.
(125)
S
((hhhh
(
(
hhh
(((
S
past<pres
(((hhhhhh
(
(
hhh
((((
<pres

t1

S
```

XXX

X

X

S
PPP

HH

H
P

<pres
would<pres t1
John play tomorrow

```
S
HH


H
his team win

In (125), would has an anterior feature and a present feature. The variable t1 has
the features <pres, which check the features on would. The interpretable past
is on t1 . Where does this past come from? One possibility is that it is the past on
played in the antecedent. This past (<pres) first moves to adjoin to would, thus

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checking its features, and then it moves again and adjoins to the whole structure,
leaving a -abstractor behind (as standardly done in Heim and Kratzer 1998),
binding the variable t1 and deleting t1s features under agreement.
This might explain the appearance of past morphology in the consequent
(would ) and in the antecedent (played ), the latter being the interpretable past
checking and deleting the uninterpretable past on would.
(126) is the structure of a would haveconditional, with the added stipulation
that the auxiliary have appears as the sister of the modal would. Both have
uninterpretable past features to be checked. The derivation is like that in (125),
the difference being that (i) in (126) we have two anterior features to check
(one on would, one on have) and (ii) two interpretable anterior features must
occur above the conditional structure.21 As I did for (125), I might suggest
that here the two pasts in the antecedent (the past feature on had and the past
feature on played ) move at LF and adjoin to would have, thus checking its
two uninterpretable past features. The double past (sister of would have) moves
again and adjoins to the whole structure, leaving a -abstractor (t1 ) behind,
binding t1 and deleting its features under agreement.
(126)

S
hhh
(
h

(((
(((
(
past<<pres

((

hhh
h

Sh
(
hhh
(
(
hhh
(((

(((
(

<<pres
t1

hhh

h
h
S
```

XXXX

X


S
PP
PP



P
PP

P

<<pres
*<*<*pres
t1
John play tomorrow
HH

H
<pres
would
have<

```
`
S
HH


H
his team win

This sketch provides a possible way of accounting for the presence of past
morphology in the consequents (would and would have) and in the antecedents
(played and had played ). However, some important questions are left open. For
example, in the proposal outlined above, the past in the antecedent adjoins to the
modal would (or would have in (126)), but this movement does not leave a trace
that will play a role in the temporal interpretation of the antecedent itself. This
movement does not seem to be motivated by interpretability reasons; instead,

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it is merely driven by the need to check and eliminate the uninterpretable tense
features on the modal would. Unlike this movement, the movement to S
is driven by interpretation and, in particular, by the need to resolve a type
mismatch. This movement does leave behind a trace of type i that will be
crucial in the temporal interpretation of the modal operator. The question that
arises is, what is the exact nature of the first movement? In the end, this question
connects crucially to the question of the syntax of conditional sentences and
the relation between its surface structure and the tripartite structure we need to
assume in order to derive the correct semantics for the conditional.22 I dont
have more to say here on this issue, and I will leave this and other, related
questions open for future inquiries.
In this book, I have proposed (i) that the past morphology found in would and would haveconditionals correlates with the presence of a past or past
perfect above the bare conditional, respectively, and (ii) that assuming that
temporal operators embed a conditional structure explains previously unsolved
puzzles about the semantics of subjunctive conditionals. However, some questions about the exact mapping between morphology and semantics remain
open.23
3.6 Past-as-Past Proposals

The proposal defended in this chapter has one crucial element in common with
proposals made in Ogihara 2002, Ippolito 2003, 2006a, and Arregui 2005:
namely, the idea that (at least some of) the past or aspect we see in subjunctive
conditionals does not contribute to the temporal interpretation of the antecedent
and consequent clauses but is nevertheless real. We saw that in Ippolito 2003,
2006a, the puzzle of the second layer of past that occurs in the antecedent of
a future past perfect subjunctive conditional is solved by proposing that the
logical form of these sentences is removed from their surface structure. Even
though we see past morphology in the antecedent and consequent clauses, no
past operator occurs in either one. Instead, a past operator c-commands the
whole conditional sentence, shifting the evaluation time of the conditional to
the past. In Ogihara 2002, the extra past is interpreted like a real past tense and
its function is not to locate the eventuality time of the antecedent but to restrict
the set of alternative propositions so as to include only past alternatives. In
Arregui 2005, the past we see in past perfect future subjunctive conditionals is
interpreted as a real past taking scope over the whole conditional and forcing the
possible worlds quantified over by the modal operator to contain a counterpart
of the actual worlds past in which the antecedent is true. In Arregui 2009, the
past we see in subjunctive conditionals is interpreted as a de re pronoun over

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time-situations: in the same spirit as in the theories discussed above, this past is
interpreted not as locating the eventuality in the antecedent but as picking out
a contextually salient situation in the actual world.
Schulz (2007) gives a name to all theories that retain the temporal meaning of
the past we see in subjunctive conditionals and that interpret the modal structure
within its scope in some form or other: she labels them past-as-past theories.24
I will not enter into the details of her analysis of conditionals, which goes
largely beyond the scope of this book. Here, I will simply discuss two types of
sentences that she claims to be counterexamples to any past-as-past proposal.
These two sentence types are both past perfect subjunctive conditionals about
the past (not the future), but this fact does not affect the argument she is trying
to make. In section 3.6.1, I discuss the coin-tossing examples, and in section
3.6.2, the Bertha examples.
3.6.1 Coin Tossing

The first case Schulz discusses is this (from Schulz 2007, 174):
(127) A coin is going to be thrown and you have bet $5 on heads. Fortunately,
heads comes up and you win. You say: If I had bet on tails I would
have lost.
We judge (127) true. ButSchulz reasonsat the time when the speaker bet
on heads, it was not settled that heads would come up and therefore, at that
time there were possible futures where heads comes up and possible futures
where tails comes up. In these tails-futures, if I bet on tails I win. Hence, the
would -conditional should be judged false. According to Schulz, the problem is
that for the past-as-past theories, only the past preceding the actual bet should
count and therefore the fact that in the actual world heads came up should be
irrelevant in evaluating the conditional in (127). However, our intuition that
(127) is true tells us that we do take the fact that heads came up into account
when evaluating (127).
In what follows, I will argue that the apparatus laid out in the earlier sections
of this book, together with a plausible constraint on similarity, explains our
judgment in (127) within the framework of a past-as-past proposal. The problem
with Schulzs objection stems from her portraying past-as-past theories as too
simplistic. Ippolito 2003 and subsequent work points out that the set of worlds
the modal ends up quantifying over in a subjunctive conditional is determined
not only by the time-sensitive accessibility function, but also by an overall
similarity function, which further restricts the set of relevant worlds.
Let me spell out a bit more the mechanism underlying the interpretation of
examples like (127). The first thing we need to do is to allow one layer of past

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to shift the time parameter of the accessibility time to the past so as to find
possible futures where the speaker bets on tails. This past time will precede the
time when the speaker bet on heads. If we stopped here and only quantified
over the worlds historically accessible at that past time, then we would indeed
run into Schulzs problem. However, as the truth-conditions proposed above
show, an overall similarity function will select, among the historical alternatives
accessible at the relevant past time and in which the antecedent is true, those
that are overall maximally similar to the actual world (i.e., up to the utterance
time, since there is no matter of fact about the future). Now, since there is
no logical connection between betting on something and what actually comes
up, having to remove the fact that I bet on heads (in order to accommodate
the counterfactual antecedent) does not require that I also remove the fact that
heads came up.25 Therefore, when we select worlds where I (counterfactually)
bet on tails that are otherwise maximally similar to the actual world, similarity
to the actual world with respect to what actually came up (heads) will count in
selecting the worlds overall most similar to the actual world. And of course,
in those worlds historically accessible from the actual world at the time right
before the speaker bet on heads that are otherwise maximally similar to the
actual world, the speaker does lose. The crucial claim in the above reasoning
is that removing the fact that I bet on heads in order to accommodate the
counterfactual antecedent does not require that I remove the fact that heads
came up, because the latter does not follow from (is not entailed by) the former.
In what follows, I will argue that (i) causal relations are not what determines which proposition will be removed and (ii) when deciding what
propositions will be removed together with the primary proposition that is being
removed (to accommodate the counterfactual antecedent),26 we need to consider what follows from the primary proposition together with relevant contextual
assumptions. In other words, the relevant entailment is entailment in context.
Lets start with point (i). One might try to explain why the fact that heads
came up is not removed in evaluating the truth of (127) by arguing that it is
not removed because it does not causally follow from the fact that I bet on
heads. More generally, one might claim what when selecting accessible worlds
in which the counterfactual antecedent is true, we need to consider worlds
where and all that causally follows from it has been removed. However,
a causal relation between two facts is not what is behind the selection of the
relevant accessible worlds. To see this, consider the following example.
(128) John has three children. If he hadnt had three children, he would have
an even number of children.

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105

(128) is judged false. The primary fact that is removed in order to accommodate
the antecedent is the fact that John has three children. Now, that John has (at
least) two children is also true in the actual world and follows logically but not
causally from the fact that John has three children. If the facts that get removed
are what causally follows from the fact that John has three children, then the
fact that he has (at least) two children would not be removed and the possible
worlds selected by the modal would be worlds where John has two children but
not three. Since in all these worlds John has an even number of children, the
conditional in (128) should come out true. On the other hand, a theory according
to which we remove what logically follows from the primary fact removed in
order to accommodate the antecedent can easily explain the judgment in (128):
since that John has three children entails that John has (at least) two children,
when removing the former we need to remove the latter as well. Hence, the set
of worlds selected by the modal will include worlds where John has only one
child, making the would -conditional false.
Now that we have established that a causal relation is irrelevant, we can make
the case that the relevant notion for determining what needs to be removed is
entailment in context. Consider (129).
(129) John married Sue and Sue is a tax accountant who does his taxes
every year. If John had married someone other than Sue, that person
would do his taxes for him.
We judge (129) false. Maybe that person might do Johns taxes, but surely we
cannot say that that person would do his taxes for him. In order to accommodate
the antecedent, we need to remove the proposition that John married Sue. Now,
that John married Sue does not logically entail that John married someone who
does his taxes for him. Therefore, if the relevant relation were (mere) logical
entailment, we would keep the proposition that John married someone who does
his taxes for him and the would -conditional would come out true. However,
that John married someone who does his taxes for him does follow from the fact
that John married Sue, together with what we assume to be true in the context
of utterance.
(130) P1 : John married Sue.
(primary proposition)
P2 : Sue is the person who does Johns taxes for him.
(context)
C: John married someone who does his taxes for him.
The reasoning in (130) is valid. Since C contextually follows from P1 , once we
remove the latter we remove the former too. Hence, the set of worlds in which
John did not marry Sue is going to include worlds where Sue is still his tax accountant. Therefore, the counterfactual in (129) is correctly predicted to be false.

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Of course, cases in which a proposition is merely entailed by the primary


proposition removed to accommodate the antecedent automatically satisfy the
contextual entailment requirement since the contribution of the context in these
cases is vacuous. Consider the well-known counterfactual from Adams 1970
in (131). Unlike the counterfactual in (127), we judge (131) false.
(131) If Oswald hadnt killed Kennedy, someone else would have.
Intuitively, the reason why we judge (131) false is that once we remove the
proposition that Oswald killed Kennedy we seem no longer committed to the
proposition that Kennedy, was killed. What explains this? Unlike the coin example, that Oswald killed Kennedy entails that Kennedy was killed. Therefore,
when we shift the accessibility time to some time just before the time when
Oswald killed Kennedy in order to select those possible futures where Oswald
does not kill Kennedy, we drop the proposition that someone killed Kennedy.
(132) P1 : Oswald killed Kennedy.
P2 :
C: Someone killed Kennedy.

(primary proposition)
(context)

It follows that in the set of worlds where Oswald doesnt kill Kennedy and
that are otherwise as similar to the actual world as possible, there will be
worlds where someone else kills Kennedy but also worlds where Kennedy is
not killed. The would -conditional in (131) is then correctly predicted to be
false. In selecting those worlds that are maximally similar to the actual world in
which Oswald does not kill Kennedy, we must ignore only those propositions
whose truth is entailed by the primary proposition we have removednamely,
that Oswald killed Kennedy.
To sum up, these examples show that similarity must be constrained and that
we do so by using the notion of (contextual) entailment. These cases illuminate
the need for the mechanism I have proposed here and in previous work, whereby
a time-dependent accessibility relation first selects the set of possible worlds
historically accessible at some relevant past time t (ts branching future) and
an overall similarity function picks, among these accessible worlds, those that
are maximally similar to the actual world (i.e., maximally similar to the actual
history up to the utterance time).27 The contribution of the examples considered
in this section is that overall similarity must be systematically constrained. More
precisely, I have argued that when accommodating a counterfactual antecedent
, we remove both and any proposition contextually entailed by .
In dropping to add , the requirement is that, for any proposition
that is contextually entailed by , the set of accessible antecedent-worlds
maximally similar to the actual world is required to be compatible with . That

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is, the set of accessible -worlds maximally similar to the actual world must
expand to include -worlds. Anything else stays the same. This constraint is
schematized in (133). The notation c means contextually entails in the sense
used above.
(133) Given a world of evaluation w and a time t:
For every proposition such that w , simw (histt ()) unless
(i) = or (ii) c
Arregui (2008, 2009) considers an example just like Schulzs (2007,
174) (127), repeated here, from the perspective of a past-as-past theory of
counterfactuals.
(134) A coin is going to be thrown and you have bet $5 on heads. Fortunately,
heads comes up and you win. You say: If I had bet on tails I would have
lost.
Let me first briefly describe Arreguis theory of counterfactuals, as this information will be required to understand her explanation of the coin-tossing examples
she considers. According to Arregui, the truth-conditions for a counterfactual
of the form if p, would q are as follows.
(135) Given two propositions p and q , and a past situation s in w,
[[wouldL ]]w,g (p )(q )(s) = 1 if and only if
{sL : s < sL p (sL ) = 1} {sL : sL : sL < sL q (sL ) = 1}
According to (135), a counterfactual is true of a situation s just in case the set of
law-like situations that contain (a counterpart of) s in which the antecedent is
true is a subset of the set of law-like situations that can be extended to situations
in which the consequent is true.28
The modal would combines with two propositions and a situation. This situation will be the denotation of the past in the counterfactual, where the past
is understood as referring to a past situation in the actual world (hence the de
re nature of Arreguis analysis). An actual past situation is a cluster of past
facts true in the actual world (the res situation). A would -conditional will be
true just in case all the counterpart situations that extend the res situation so
as to include the antecedent proposition are extended in situations in which
the consequent is true. Unlike a standard Lewisian analysis of counterfactuals,
Arreguis theory makes use of a local similarity relation in that the only actual
facts that matter are those facts that constitute the past res. Although Arregui is
not fully explicit about this point, it seems that what she has in mind when she
entertains this idea of the past res situation are those actual facts that precede
the antecedent time, since after that time (what is more standardly called the
divergence time) the possible worlds that host the counterpart situations

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will follow the actual laws and therefore might diverge extensively from the
actual world.
As Schulz points out, though, the problem is that it is easy to find examples
where actual facts following the antecedent time must be assumed to be true
in order to account for our judgments. In other words, there are cases where
similarity may be less local than assumed at first. The coin tossing in (127),
repeated in (136), is a clear example of such cases: the actual fact that heads
came up must be taken to be true in all those counterpart situations we are
quantifying over even though, strictly speaking, this fact follows the facts that
constitute the past res (which in turn precede the time of the tossing of the coin).
(136) A coin is going to be thrown and you have bet $5 on heads. Fortunately,
heads comes up and you win. You say: If I had bet on tails I would have
lost.
In order to deal with examples like this, Arreguis de re analysis must be
strengthened with what she labels packaging. The idea, which is a direct
descendant of Kratzers (1989) lumping idea, is that in (136) the outcome of the
actual tossing is packaged or lumped together with the facts that constitute
the relevant res. Crucially, in order for the lumping idea to be useful, we need
to have a theory about when lumping occurs and when it does not. The contrast
between (136) and (131) has already shown that not all cases behave the same
way with respect to how similar the worlds quantified over by the modal must
be to the actual world. Now compare (136) with the following example (from
Arregui 2009, 267).
(137) Peter presses the button in a completely random coin-tossing device,
and the coin comes up heads. If Susan had pressed the button, the coin
would have come up heads.
Unlike (136), we judge (137) false. Arregui suggests that what prevents the past
res from being a situation where heads comes up (i.e., what prevents the outcome
of the actual tossing from being lumped together with the relevant res) is the
fact that, if we considered alternatives to the (salient) actual past where heads
came up, then we would render the laws set in motion by the counterfactual
vacuous (Arregui 2009, 269). What Arregui means here is that, once we
remove the fact that Peter pressed the button, then we are locating ourselves
in a situation where there is no matter of fact (yet) about what will come out,
and the outcome of Susans tossing the coin is entirely up to the (probabilistic)
laws that regulate this type of physical event. Assuming that the outcome of
the actual tossing (by Peter) holds true in all counterfactual worlds we have
selected would make the whole counterfactual vacuous. Since this move is not

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109

allowed, it follows that we will not be able to keep the fact about the outcome
of the actual tossing as part of the past res that will determine the set of possible
worlds (situations for Arregui) the modal quantifies over, and as a result (137)
is false.
This suggestion is interesting but cannot be maintained. Consider a variant
of (137).
(138) Peter and Susan are taking turns at pressing a button on a completely
random coin-tossing device. They both bet each time either one presses
the button, but (as part of their game) only the one actually pressing the
button pays $10 if he or she loses. Its Peters turn to press the button.
Peter bets that the coin will come up heads, Susan bets that it will come
up tails. Peter tosses the coin and heads comes up. Peter wins; Susan
had bet on tails but since she wasnt the one to press the button she
doesnt have to pay $10. Now I say: Susan, youre lucky! If it had been
your turn to press the button, you would have lost $10.
Unlike the counterfactual in (137), we judge (138) true. Just as in Arreguis
example, here we are supposed to consider situations containing a (contextually
relevant) past res and where the antecedent is true, but unlike in Arreguis
example, this time we are allowed to assume the outcome of the actual tossing.
Arreguis suggestion cannot distinguish between these two cases.
What is the difference? Keeping in mind all the examples we have considered
so far in this section, it seems that, in considering counterfactual worlds (or situations), we are committed to a proposition that is true in the actual world unless
(i) it is (contextually) entailed by the proposition that is removed in order to accommodate the antecedent (e.g., in (131) we needed to remove the proposition
that someone killed Kennedy, as this is entailed by the main proposition that is
removed to accommodate the antecedent, namely that Oswald killed Kennedy);
or (ii) it is equivalent to (or entailed by) the consequent proposition. The constraint in (i) seems to be clearly motivated by the need to maximize consistency
in the set of worlds we select. The constraint in (ii), I suggest, is motivated by
the need to avoid trivially true counterfactuals, whose most striking examples
are those where the consequent and the antecedent are identicalas in (139),
which is quite odd.29
(139) #If you had won, you would have won.
In (138), we keep the proposition that heads came up because (i) it does not
follow from the proposition that it was Peters turn (and not Susans) (after all,
this was a completely random coin-tossing event) and (ii) it is not identical with
(or entailed by) the consequent. Since we keep the actual fact that heads came

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up, the would -conditional is true. In (137), on the other hand, we cannot keep
the actual outcome since that is identical with the consequent. Hence, among
the set of worlds selected by the modal there will be worlds where heads comes
up and worlds where it does not. Therefore, the would -conditional is false.
We can strengthen this point by considering a minimal variant of (138).
(140) Peter and Susan are taking turns at pressing a button on a completely
random coin-tossing device. They both bet each time either one presses
the button, but (as part of their game) only the one actually pressing the
button pays $10 if he or she loses. Its Peters turn to press the button.
Peter bets that the coin will come up heads, Susan bets that it will
comes up tails. Peter tosses the coin and heads comes up. Peter wins;
Susan had bet on tails but since she wasnt the one to press the button
she doesnt have to pay $10. Now I say: If it had been your turn to press
the button, it would have come up heads.
Just as in (137), we judge this counterfactual false. Again, Arreguis proposal
does not account for the contrast between (138) and (140): in both cases, assuming the actual outcome (heads) would render the (chancy) laws part of the
modal vacuous, so according to Arregui we expect the two counterfactuals to
pattern in the same way.30 My proposal, on the other hand, accounts for this
surprising contrast: the problem with (140) is that we cannot keep the fact about
the actual outcome in selecting the relevant set of possible worlds to quantify
over, since that fact is identical with the consequent.
In the next section, we will consider the second type of sentence that Schulz
(2007) claims to counterexemplify past-as-past theories.
3.6.2 Berthas Fate

The second case Schulz discusses is a variant of an example found in Bennett


2003. Heres Schulzs version (from 2007, 175):
(141) A farmer uses the following strategy to turn his sheep into money. First
he tries to sell a sheep to his brother. If he doesnt want it, it gets special
feeding and some weeks later the farmer tries to sell it to the butcher. If
the butcher doesnt want it, he gives it as a gift to the local zoo. One of
the sheep is a particular favorite with his little son Tom. Tom doesnt
know what became of Bertha, his favorite, because he was away for
four weeks. The first thing he does after coming back is run to the zoo.
He utters a yell of great relief when he spots his beloved Bertha among
the animals there. On request Tom says: If Bertha hadnt been here, she
would have been at the butchers.

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111

The intuition is that (141) is false. Schulz argues that past-as-past theories
cannot explain this intuition and that they incorrectly predict it to be true. This
is becauseshe arguespast-as-past theories require that everything in the past
of the decision to send Bertha to the zoo counts. Since the only possible worlds
accessible before the farmer decided to send Bertha to the zoo are worlds where
the butcher buys her, the necessity would -conditional is predicted to be true.
The problem with this argument is that it treats past-as-past theories of
the type defended in this book as blind to contextual factors, and as a result
Schulz dismisses them too quickly. Here is a natural way to understand the
counterfactual in (141), within a past-as-past theory of the kind proposed here.
What makes (141) problematic is the fact that in the actual world the farmers
brother did not buy Bertha and therefore Bertha ended up at the butchers.
This problem would go away, however, if similarity could somehow ignore the
actual fact that Bertha ended up at the butchers, that is, the fact that the farmers
brother didnt buy her. Schulz contends that past-as-past theories cannot do this.
In what follows, I will argue that they can, by using the very same constraint
on similarity I used to explain standard intuitions in the coin-tossing examples.
I argued in the previous section that similarity must be constrained along the
lines suggested in (133), repeated in (142).
(142) Given a world of evaluation w and a time t:
For every proposition such that w , simw (histt ()) unless
(i) = or (ii) c or (iii)
By laying down the general strategy the farmer uses with his sheep, the context
has made salient two propositions, shown in (143).
(143) a. If Bertha is at the zoo, the farmers brother did not buy Bertha.
b. If Bertha is at the zoo, the butcher did not buy Bertha.
Now, the proposition that we would like to remove is that the brother did
not buy Bertha (since from this proposition it follows that Bertha ended up
at the butchers). Since this proposition is not equivalent to the negation of
the counterfactual antecedent (that Bertha is not at the zoo),31 it could only
be removed if it were contextually entailed by the negation of the antecedent.
(144) shows that indeed it is.
(144) P1 : Bertha is at the zoo.
(primary proposition)
P2 : If Bertha is at the zoo, the brother did not buy Bertha.
(context)
C: The brother did not buy Bertha.
Since that the brother did not buy Bertha follows from the proposition that
Bertha is at the zoo together with the contextual assumption that if Bertha

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is at the zoo, then the brother didnt buy her, then following the constraint
on similarity in (142), we remove the proposition that the brother did not buy
Bertha, even though it is true in the actual world. As a result, the set of accessible
antecedent-worlds that are otherwise maximally similar to the actual world will
include both worlds where the brother did not buy Bertha and worlds where he
did. Hence the truth of the might-conditional in (145).
(145) If Bertha hadnt been here, she might have been at the butchers.
To conclude, we do not maximize similarity of facts at all costs. The Bertha
example in (141) shows that contextual assumptions play a crucial role in allowing us to disregard some of the actual facts (in this example, the fact that
the farmers brother did not buy Bertha). This point is not new. What is new is
that we can now explain our judgment in the Bertha example by assuming that
similarity is constrained along the lines in (142).
Of course, things are different if the context explicitly instructs us to ignore
(143a), as in the following variant of the Bertha example:
(146) A farmer uses the following strategy to turn his sheep into money. First
he tries to sell a sheep to his brother. If he doesnt want it, it gets special
feeding and some weeks later the farmer tries to sell it to the butcher. If
the butcher doesnt want it, he gives it as a gift to the local zoo. One of
the sheep is a particular favorite with his little son Tom. Tom doesnt
know what became of Bertha, his favorite, because he was away for
four weeks. The first thing he does after coming back is run to the zoo.
He utters a yell of great relief when he spots his beloved Bertha among
the animals there. On request Tom says: Given that the farmers brother
didnt buy Bertha, if Bertha hadnt been here, she would have been at
the butchers.
Since (143a) is no longer relevant, we will not be able to construct the argument
in (144) and the proposition that the brother did not buy Bertha will no longer
be contextually entailed by the negation of the antecedent. Therefore, it cannot
be removed and it will have to be part of the similarity measure used in selecting
the relevant worlds.
3.7 Potential Repercussions of the Present Proposal for Will-Conditionals

This book is an investigation of the semantics of subjunctive conditionals.


However, the proposal presented so far can be argued to have repercussions
for (a subset of ) indicative conditionals, which do not exhibit any occurrence
of fake past.32 The subset of indicative conditionals I am referring to are

A Compositional Analysis

113

will-conditionals of the type exemplified in (147), where will occurs in the


consequent.33
(147) If John plays tomorrow, his team will win.
In this book, I have assumed that while would morphologically realizes the
combination of woll and past tense, will is the realization of woll in the
absence of a past (see Ippolito 2002b, 2006b, 2008, among many others). In
other words, will and would have in common the necessity modal woll, but
they differ in that would realizes this modal when in the scope of a past tense.
In what follows, I will give the truth-conditions for sentences like (147) and
then account for their felicity conditions and the temporal relation between
antecedent and consequent clauses.
What happens when the bare conditional does not occur in the scope of a past
tense? One plausible idea is that when no past tense occurs above the modal, the
accessibility time of woll will be the utterance time. One way to realize this is
shown in (148): no past tense occurs above the bare conditional, and the time
argument of the accessibility function will be saturated by the utterance time
tc , overtly represented in the syntactic structure.34 For now, I will ignore the
temporal interpretation of the antecedent and consequent clauses. I will return
to this issue later in this section.
(148)

S`
``

PP


P

P

S
PPP
,l

,
l
P

woll tc John play tomorrow

```
S
HH


H
his team win

Leaving details aside, the points worth noticing in this structure are these: (i)
woll is the necessity modal whose restriction is the antecedent clause and
whose nuclear scope is the consequent clause; (ii) when woll is not in the
scope of the past tense, the accessibility time of the modal is the utterance time.
These points follow from the assumptions made here about the modal nature
of will and would, together with the standard assumption about the Kratzerian
tripartite structure for a conditional sentence. The tentative truth-conditions for
(147), repeated in (149), will look as shown in (150). Note that the parameter t
with respect to which the whole structure is evaluated is the utterance time tc ,
which will then coincide with the time of the accessibility function, which is
also tc . Therefore, histw,<t,tc > = histw,tc
(149) If John plays tomorrow, his team will win.

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(150) [[[[woll tc [John play tomorrow]] [his team win]]]]c,g,t,w is defined if


and only if histw,<t,tc > {w : John will be alive tomorrow in w }  = ;
if defined, [[[[woll t [John play tomorrow]] [his team win]]]]c,g,t,w =
1 if w [w SIMw (HISTw,tc (w . John will play tomorrow in
w )) w {w : [w . Johns team will win in w ] (w ) = 1}]
It follows from these truth-conditions that in will-conditionals both the accessibility time and the reference time will coincide with the utterance time. Woll is
the modal familiar from our study of subjunctive conditionals; the role of tense
is to manipulate the time argument of the accessibility relation in the meaning of the modal. As a result, the modal quantifies over those possible worlds
that are historically accessible at the utterance time. This means that (unlike
what happens with simple past subjunctive conditionals, where a past tense
c-commands the bare conditional), the antecedent clause in will-conditionals
must be compatible with what is possible at the utterance timethat is, it cannot
be counterfactual.
Since there is no other past c-commanding the structure in (148), the reference time (the time of evaluation of the whole conditional)35 will also be the
utterance time. Since the reference time is the utterance time and since presuppositions in the antecedent need to be compatible with what is possible at the
reference time, presuppositions in the antecedent of a will-conditional need to
be compatible with what is possible at the utterance time. Both predictions are
correct: in will-conditionals, neither the antecedent nor its presuppositions can
be counterfactual, as shown in (151) and (152), respectively.
(151) John is dead. #If he is alive, he will play tomorrow.
(152) John played his last game last week and his team lost. #If he plays his
last game tomorrow instead, his team will win.
An important question concerns the temporal interpretation of the antecedent
and consequent in will-conditionals and, more generally, in indicative conditionals. Extending the current proposal to will-conditionals, let us assume that
both clauses are interpreted deictically. Consider the following examples.
(153) a. If John sleeps tonight/*last week, he will feel better (tomorrow/
*yesterday).
b. If John slept well last week/*tonight, he will feel better tonight/
*yesterday.
A present tense in the antecedent allows only nonpast adverbs, whereas a past
in the antecedent is compatible only with past adverbs. As for the consequent
clause, only nonpast adverbs are allowed there.36 In order to capture this observation, we need to assume that the tense of the antecedent can be either past or

A Compositional Analysis

115

present (whereas the tense in the consequent can only be present). Take (153a),
for example. The present tense has the semantics given in (103), repeated here.
(154) [[pres]]c,g,t,w = P.t  tc : P(t  )(w) = 1
The presence of this operator in the antecedent would explain why the past
adverb last week is not allowed in (153a).
As observed in the earlier discussion of subjunctive conditionals, Italian
will-conditionals provide some support for this possibility. Unlike antecedents
of English will-conditionals, the antecedents of (the counterpart of) willconditionals in Italian can have a progressive interpretation with eventive
predicates.
(155) Se Gianni dorme,
non potremo
accendere la radio.
if Gianni sleep.pres.ind not (we) can.fut.ind turn.on the radio
If Gianni is sleeping, we wont be able to turn on the radio.
(156) Se Gianni dorme,
allora non lo chiamer.
if Gianni sleep.pres.ind then not him (I) call.fut.ind
If Gianni is sleeping, then I wont call him.
What is important is that, as noted regarding (105), present indicative in Italian
can generally be used to express an ongoing event.
The intricacies and complexities in the semantics of indicative conditionals
deserve to be investigated in a separate study, I will not go into more detail
here, since my concern in this book is subjunctive conditionals. In particular, I
cannot discuss in more detail the relation between the will we see in indicative
conditionals, which I am assuming to be a modal operator whose time parameter
is the utterance time, and the will that we see in future statements, such as the
ones considered in the earlier discussion of MacFarlanes (2008) analysis of
future contingent statements. Such a discussion would reach well beyond the
scope of this book.37 The remarks made in this section are merely intended
to sketch how the proposal made above for subjunctive conditionals could be
extended to will-conditionals in a way that seems to capture one of the relevant
properties of these conditionals: that is, the impossibility of their having a
counterfactual presupposition or a counterfactual antecedent.

Presuppositions

The view defended in this book is that, within the domain of subjunctive conditionals about the present or the future, the real difference is that between simple
past ones and past perfect ones; moreover, this difference lies in the fact that,
while simple past subjunctive conditionals require the presuppositions in the
antecedent (and those in the consequent not entailed by the antecedent) to be
compatible with the actual world at the utterance time, past perfect subjunctive
conditionals do not. I have argued that the source of the different felicity conditions for different types of subjunctive conditionals does not correlate with
aspectual differences or the nature of the predicate in the antecedent: contrary
to Arreguis (2005) proposals, we saw that any simple past subjunctive conditional can be counterfactual, regardless of whether its antecedent contains an
eventive or a stative predicate.
We saw that there exists a contrast between simple past and past perfect subjunctive conditionals with respect to satisfaction of the presuppositions in their
antecedents. Almost all of the examples involved the existence presupposition
and the possibility presupposition (introduced in section 3.3.2.2).
In this chapter, we will check whether the generalization that the presuppositions in the antecedent must be compatible with the actual world at the utterance
time in simple past subjunctive conditionals but not in past perfect subjunctive
conditionals holds of other types of presuppositions: the definite article; obligatorily anaphoric presuppositions such as too, again, and still; change-of-state
verbs; factive verbs; and clefts.
In the next sections, we will consider each type of presupposition with respect to its behavior in subjunctive conditionals. Let us begin with definite
determiners.

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4.1 Denite Determiners

In this section, we will consider the definite article but the discussion is also
relevant for possessive determiners and pronouns. Consider (1), a variant of an
example adduced by (Arregui, 2005 page 132) against the analysis of future
past perfect subjunctive conditionals in Ippolito 2003.
(1) There was a robbery yesterday. Unfortunately, it happened in the middle
of the night. Nobody witnessed anything. The police have no leads.
a. #If the witness stepped forward in the next few days, the police would
make some progress.
b. #If the witness had stepped forward in the next few days, the police
would have made some progress.
Both the simple past and the past perfect subjunctive conditionals are infelicitous. According to Arregui, this fact argues against our generalization: the
incompatibility of the presupposition triggered by the definite article (that there
exists a witness) with the actual world up to the utterance time should be irrelevant for the past perfect subjunctive conditional, which should therefore be
felicitous.
Assuming that presuppositions are semantic and assuming a Fregean analysis
of the definite article like the one proposed by Heim and Kratzer (1998), the
sentence [the P] Q is defined if there is a unique individual x in c (the context
of utterance) such that x is P; if defined, it is true if the unique P in c is Q, and
it is false if the unique P in c is not Q. To check whether the presupposition
triggered by the definite article is satisfied, we only need to look at the context
of utterance: if the context of utterance provides an individual satisfying the
descriptive content of the definite phrase, then the presupposition is satisfied
and the propositional content of the sentence can be computed. In this sense,
checking the definite presupposition is similar to resolving anaphora: in order
to compute the propositional content of the sentence He witnessed a crime, we
need to be able to find an appropriate referent for the pronoun he. Resolving
anaphora is all there is to checking the presupposition triggered by the pronoun.
Similarly for a definite description: finding the appropriate referent in the context of utterance is all there is to checking the presupposition triggered by the
definite article.
The problem for both conditionals in (1) is presupposition failure. The resolution of the context-dependent nature of the presupposition triggered by the
definite article is impossible in both conditionals in (1). As a result, the antecedent in both examples is uninterpretable. The requirement that there be a

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119

salient individual who is a witness holds at the context level: the resolution of
this contextual requirement precedes any question about which worlds are such
that the relevant individual exists in them. In other words, the fact that both
subjunctive conditionals are infelicitous is due to the impossibility of finding
the correct referent for the definite phrase in the context of utterance. Worlds
have nothing to do with this. For this reason, the pair in (1) does not constitute
an argument in favor of or against the theory proposed in this book.
To test the above proposal, we need to make sure the requirement that there
be a salient witness in the context of utterance c is satisfied. Consider a variant
of (1).
(2) There was a robbery yesterday. It happened in the middle of the night and
nobody witnessed anything. The police have no leads. Had it happened
during the day, someone would have witnessed the robbery.
a. #And, if the witness stepped forward in the next few days, the police
would make some progress.
b. And, if the witness had stepped forward in the next few days, the
police would have made some progress.
In (2), we see a contrast between the simple past subjunctive conditional and
the past perfect subjunctive conditional in that only the latter is felicitous. The
context of utterance has made a witness salient. Therefore, the requirement
(presupposition) that there be a contextually salient witness is satisfied. Now,
the predicate to step forward also triggers an existence presupposition: in the
example, the presupposition will be that the (contextually salient) witness exists at the time of predication (sometime in the next few days). The simple
past subjunctive conditional in (2a) requires that the set of worlds historically
accessible be compatible with the existence of the salient witness in the near
future. However, since we know that there was no witness in the actual world,
that possibility is actually foreclosed at the utterance time. Hence, the requirement for the simple past subjunctive conditional is not met and the sentence is
infelicitous. The felicity of the past perfect subjunctive conditional in (2b), on
the other hand, follows from its weaker requirement: the witnesss existence is
required to be consistent with what was possible at some salient past time, not at
the utterance time. This salient past time is obviously the time when it was still
possible for someone to witness the robbery. Note that the presupposition that
causes the infelicity of (2a) is not the presupposition triggered by the definite
article but the presupposition triggered by the main predicate.
Example (3) makes a very similar point. The indefinite a thief should be
understood de dicto.

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(3) In the chaos that followed yesterdays demonstration, a thief might have
broken into the store. He would have stolen the Monet. It would have
been a disaster: . . .
a. #even if the thief were caught by the police as early as tomorrow, the
painting would already be gone.
b. even if the thief had been caught by the police as early as tomorrow,
the painting would have already been gone.
Even though there is a salient thief in the context of utterancethe thief who
might have broken into the store and would have stolen the Monetonly the
past perfect subjunctive conditional in (3b) is felicitous. The infelicity of (3a)
follows because, given the temporal structure of simple past subjunctive conditionals, the existence presupposition triggered by the predicate is required to
be compatible with what is possible at the utterance time. Since there is no thief
who broke into the store and stole the Monet, the conditional is infelicitous. On
the other hand, the past perfect subjunctive conditional in (36) only requires
that the existence of the thief be compatible with what was possible at some
past time; this presupposition is indeed satisfied since the context has made
salient worlds (foreclosed now) where there is a thief who broke into the store
and stole the Monet.1
The same facts hold if instead of the definite phrase the sentence has pronoun,
as shown in (4) under the interpretation where he refers to the witness.
(4) There was a robbery yesterday. Unfortunately, it happened in the middle
of the night. Nobody witnessed anything. The police have no leads.
a. #If he stepped forward in the next few days, the police would make
some progress.
b. #If he had stepped forward in the next few days, the police would have
made some progress.
Just as with (1), the infelicity of both (4a) and (4b) is due to the fact that the
context has not made any witness salient. Now, if the context does make a
witness salient, then if the salient witness is a witness not in the actual world
but in some other possible worlds, only the past perfect subjunctive conditional
will be felicitous. This is shown in (5).
(5) There was a robbery yesterday with no witness. There might have been a
witness, though. That would have been nice because . . .
a. #if he stepped forward in the next few days, the police would make
some progress.
b. if he had stepped forward in the next few days, the police would have
made some progress.

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121

The conclusion is that the absence of a contrast between simple past and past
perfect subjunctive conditionals when the anaphoric component of the definite presupposition is not satisfied by the context does not show that the theory
proposed here is incorrect. This is because, if the context dependence of the
presupposition is not resolved, the sentence is undefined, regardless of whether
it is embedded in a simple or a past perfect subjunctive conditional.
In the next section, we will look at the behavior of additive presuppositions
in subjunctive conditionals in light of the observations made here about the
definite article.
4.2 Additive Presuppositions

As too and again are well-known additive particles, in this section we will look
at examples of subjunctive conditionals containing these two triggers.
Let us begin with too. Consider the following example from Kripke 1990, 11:
(6) If Herb and his wife both come to the party, the boss will come too.
Kripkes observation is that the presupposition triggered in the consequent is not
only that someone other than the boss will come to the party but also that neither
Herb nor his wife is the boss. This seems correct, but notice that it does not
follow from an existential view of the presupposition triggered by too. Indeed,
nothing in (7) (where the existential presupposition is clearly spelled out) entails
that Herb or his wife is not the boss. Therefore, if the presupposition triggered
by too were the existential presupposition that someone other than Herb and
his wife will come, the inference would be unaccounted for.
(7) If Herb and his wife both come to the party, then there is someone other
than the boss who will come to the party.
Following ideas in Kripke 1990 and the implementation and elaboration of
those ideas in Heim 1992, let us take too to mean something like in addition
to x: it associates with focus (represented with the subscript F), and it carries
an index that is used to retrieve the intended referent of x. This is shown in
(8), where the presupposition triggered by too is that some contextually salient
individual (other than Mary) is here.
(8) John1 is here and [Mary]F is here too1 .
There are two elements in the presupposition: (i) an anaphoric element (assigning a contextual value to the variable x), and (ii) the requirement that the
individual assigned as a value to x is here. Obviously, computing (ii) will be
possible only if anaphora has been resolved. Therefore, we expect that the

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difference between simple past and past perfect subjunctive conditionals will
appear only in contexts that allow anaphora to be resolved. I believe that this
prediction is confirmed by the data.
(9) Jack hasnt seen Spielbergs most recent movie and will not see it
tomorrow.
a. #If Jack saw it [tomorrow]F too1 , he would regret it.
b. #If Jack had seen it [tomorrow]F too1 , he would have regretted it.
The problem with both counterfactuals in (9) is that there is no salient time
other than tomorrow when Jack saw Spielbergs movie (in the actual or any
other world). Now consider a slightly different context, in which counterfactual
worlds where Jack saw Spielbergs most recent movie have been made salient.
(10) Jack hasnt seen Spielbergs most recent movie, and will never see it.
He could have seen it yesterday1 , and. . .
a. #if he saw it [tomorrow]F too1 , he would regret it.
b. if he had seen it [tomorrow]F too1 , he would have regretted it.
As expected, the simple past subjunctive conditional sounds odd in this context,
and that is because the presupposition that Jack saw the movie yesterday (the
contextually salient time other than tomorrow) is not compatible with the actual
world at the utterance time. The past perfect subjunctive conditional requires
that presupposition to be compatible with the actual worlds history at some
past time: that is, some time when it was still possible that Jack would see the
movie. Hence, (10b) is felicitous.
The same points can be made with respect to again. (11a) and (11b) are infelicitous because the context has made salient no eventuality of Jacks going to
Vancouver before this summer, so the anaphoric component in the presupposition triggered by again cannot be resolved and the rest of the presupposition
cannot be constructed and checked.
(11) Jack never went to Vancouver. This summer he is not going anywhere.
a. #If he went to Vancouver again1 [this summer]F , he would regret it.
b. #If he had gone to Vancouver again1 [this summer]F , he would have
regretted it.
Things are different in (12). The context has made salient an eventuality of
Jacks going to Vancouver, but because this eventuality is not actual, only the
past perfect subjunctive conditional will be felicitous.
(12) Jack never went to Vancouver and never will go. He might have gone
[last summer]1 , and . . .
a. #if he went to Vancouver again1 [this summer]F , he would enjoy it.

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123

b. if he had gone to Vancouver again1 [this summer]F , he would have


enjoyed it.
4.3 Change-of-State Verbs

The verb to stop is a clear example of a change-of-state verb. The sentence in


(13a) asserts that there is a time within tomorrow such that John will not be a
smoker at that time. The sentence also seems to presuppose that John will be
a smoker up to tomorrowmore precisely, up to the time immediately before
the time of the stopping.
(13) a. John will stop smoking tomorrow.
b. John will not stop smoking tomorrow.
The negative sentence in (13b) asserts that there is no time within tomorrow
such that John will not be a smoker then. Like its positive counterpart, the
sentence presupposes that John will be a smoker up to tomorrow.
Kripke (1990) and Heim (1990) have argued that the presuppositions triggered by change-of-state verbs such as to stop are not existential presuppositions
but contain an anaphoric element. Heims example in (14) illustrates this point.
(14) John is cooking. He will stop (cooking) when tomorrows football game
starts.
Upon hearing (14), we infer that the cooking that John is engaged in right now
will continue until tomorrow. If the presupposition triggered by stop in the
second sentence were the existential proposition that some event of cooking by
John will continue until the beginning of tomorrows football game, we would
be unable to explain why we infer that it is the current event of cooking that
will continue until tomorrow, even though the latter inference is pragmatically
strange.
Kripke (1990) makes a similar point. Here is a slight variation on one of his
examples.2
(15) If Sam watches the opera, he will stop (watching the opera) when the
Redskins game comes on.
We naturally understand the Redskins game to follow the opera watching described in the antecedent. In other words, we understand the opera mentioned
in the antecedent to be the same as the opera that Sam will be watching up
until the Redskins game comes on. Just as in (14), if stop merely presupposed
that some watching of the opera by Sam will continue until the Redskins game,
it should at least be possible to understand (15) as talking about two possibly

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different events of watching the opera. Instead, the sentence seems to force a
reading where it is the opera mentioned in the antecedent that Sam will watch
up until the game comes on.
The proposal is that the presupposition triggered by stop contains an
anaphoric element, just like the presupposition triggered by too. However, the
parallelism between too and stop breaks down. To see this, consider another
of Kripkes examples (1990, 16). An occurrence of too without a suitable
antecedent in the discourse is odd.
(16) Sam is having dinner in New York tonight, too.
This is not true for the verb to stop, which does not seem to be obligatorily
anaphoric. In observing this fact, Kripke considers examples like (17).
(17) Jill has stopped smoking.
Kripke points out correctly that (17) can be uttered even if Jills smoking was
not salient in the context, as long as it is known to the participants in the
conversation that Jill smokes.3 This means that, when uttered out of the blue,
(17) simply presupposes that Jill used to smoke and this presupposition can
easily be accommodated in the context of utterance. If we were to assume that,
just as in the case of too, the presuppositional contribution of to stop always
included an anaphoric element, we would incorrectly predict an out-of-the-blue
utterance of (17) to be as odd as an out-of-the-blue utterance of (16).4
What I am going to suggest is that the anaphoric element that both Kripke and
Heim have pointed out is not really a component of the presupposition but an
optional component of the meaning of the verb complement of to stop (which
in example (17) is the verb to smoke). Following Katz (1995) and Kratzer
(1998), among others, I will assume that (at least eventive) verbs contain an
event variable. This event variable can be either existentially bound (e.g., by
aspectual operators as in Kratzer 1998 or by existential closure) or interpreted
as a free variable whose value will be a contextually salient event of the relevant
type. Depending on how the event variable in the main predicate is interpreted,
the presupposition triggered by to stop will vary accordingly. For example, if
the event variable in (13a), repeated in (18), is left free, then the sentence will
be felicitous if there is a salient smoking by John in the context of utterance
and the presupposition that that event of smoking by John will continue until
tomorrow is satisfied.
(18) John will stop smoking tomorrow.
This explains the difference between (16) and (17), despite the similarity we
observed between (14)(15) on the one hand and (6) (repeated in (19)) on the

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125

other: while the anaphoricity of the presupposition triggered by too is obligatory


because it is part of the meaning of the particle itself, the anaphoricity of the
presupposition triggered by to stop stems from the fact that the event variable of
the embedded predicate is interpreted anaphorically and as a result is optional.5
(19) If Herb and his wife both come to the party, the boss will come too.
What happens in subjunctive conditionals? Consider the following pair from
Ippolito 2003, 168 (slightly modified by replacing to quit with to stop):
(20) Lucy was a heavy smoker but she stopped smoking ten years ago, after
she had pneumonia. A new law was passed last week requiring people
who have stopped smoking to take a new medical test (the law is not
retroactive). This test detects long-term problems in ex-smokers but is
very painful. Thinking about Lucy, I say:
a. #Good for her! If she stopped smoking tomorrow instead, she would
have to take the new painful test.
b. Good for her! If she had stopped smoking tomorrow instead, she
would have had to take the new painful test.
The observation is that in a context in which Lucy is no longer a smoker,
the simple past subjunctive conditional is not felicitous, whereas the past perfect subjunctive conditional is. Note that the presence of the adverb instead
ensures that it is the stopping that happened ten years ago that is counterfactually supposed to happen tomorrow. Crucially, since a particular stopping event
is essentially linked to the particular habit that it is a stopping of and since a person can only stop a particular habit once, supposing that that particular stopping
happens tomorrow (instead of when it actually happened) forces the supposition that the particular smoking habit that Lucy had ten years ago continues
until tomorrow.
In both cases, the presupposition triggered in the antecedent is that the salient
smoking habit by Lucy extends until tomorrow. In the context of utterance, there
is a salient smoking habit by Lucy, the one that ended ten years ago. Therefore,
the presupposition needed to be satisfied is that that particular smoking extends
until tomorrow. Now, this presuppositon is not compatible with the actual world
since in the actual world that smoking habit ended ten years ago. Therefore, the
possibility presupposition cannot be satisfied by the set of worlds historically
accessible at the utterance time. In order to satisfy the possibility presupposition,
we need to consider worlds that diverged from the actual world just before Lucy
stopped smoking ten years ago, where she did not stop when she actually did
and has not yet stopped at the utterance time. No such worlds are historically

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accessible from the actual world at the utterance time, and the conditional in
(20a) is infelicitous.
The past perfect subjunctive conditional in (20b), on the other hand, is felicitous because the reference time precedes the utterance time and can be a time
just before it became impossible that the contextually salient smoking by Lucy
would continue until tomorrow. The pair in (20) conforms to the generalization
uncovered in chapter 3.
However, the complement of to stop, can also be interpreted existentially
so that the presupposition that is triggered is an existential proposition. The
prediction is thatunlike what happens with the additive particle too, which
is obligatorily anaphoricaccommodation of the existential presupposition is
possible. Therefore, we should find examples where a simple past subjunctive
conditional is felicitous even if Lucy no longer-smokes at the utterance time.
The counterpart of (20a) in (21), crucially without instead, shows that this
prediction is fulfilled.
(21) Lucy was a heavy smoker but she stopped smoking ten years ago, after
she had pneumonia. A new law was passed last week requiring people
who have stopped smoking to take a new medical test (the law is not
retroactive). This test detects long-term problems in ex-smokers but is
very painful. Thinking about Lucy, I say, Good for her! If she stopped
now, she would have to take the new painful test.
The absence of instead allows the antecedent to be about (i) a stopping event
other than the one that took place ten years ago and (ii) a habit of smoking
different from the one that ended ten years ago. The conditional in (21) is then
understood as shown in (22).
(22) If she smoked and stopped now, she would have to take the new painful
test.
Finally, consider a case where it is not known whether Lucy is a smoker. In this
scenario, the past perfect subjunctive conditional is not felicitous, as we expect
given the counterfactual antipresupposition discussed in section 3.4.4.
(23) I dont know whether Lucy started to smoke recently, but . . .
a. if she stopped in the future, she would have to go through that painful
test.
b. #if she had stopped in the future, she would have had to go through
that painful test.

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127

4.4 Factive Verbs

Factive verbs also seem to support the generalization in chapter 3. The intuitions of my informants were not as sharp here as with change-of-state verbs,
but the native speakers asked to judge the felicity of simple past and past perfect
subjunctive conditionals mostly judged only the latter felicitous in situations
where the presuppositions in the antecedent were not compatible with the actual
history at the utterance time. It is worth noticing that, even when speakers did
not rule out simple past subjunctive conditionals in situations where the presuppositions in the antecedent were not true, they still preferred the past perfect
counterpart of the conditional.
Consider the following examples with the factive verbs to realize, to regret,
and to be sorry (where capital letters and the subscript F in (26) indicate the
presence of focus on the direct object of to fire):
(24) Mary and John got married today. There were some allegations that John
stole from his company last year, but an investigation cleared him. He
clearly didnt do anything wrong. Im really glad he was found innocent
because . . .
a. #if tomorrow Mary realized that he stole from his company last year,
she would be devastated.
b. if tomorrow Mary had realized that he stole from his company last
year, she would have been devastated.
(25) John and Sue were supposed to marry this morning, but he broke off the
engagement when he found out that she had cheated on him. I am glad
he found out in time because he is very conservative:
a. #Even if he regretted marrying her as early as tomorrow, he would
never divorce her.
b. Even if he had regretted marrying her as early as tomorrow, he would
never have divorced her.
(26) I am glad Mary didnt follow my hasty advice and didnt fire John
yesterday, because . . .
a. #if tomorrow for some reason she were sorry that she fired him, she
would fire MEF.
b. if tomorrow for some reason she had been sorry that she fired him,
she would have fired MEF.
These examples illustrate that factive verbs pattern just like other kinds of
presupposition triggers with respect to the contrast between simple past and
past perfect subjunctive conditionals discussed above: in situations where the

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presuppositions in the antecedent are inconsistent with the actual world, past
perfect subjunctive conditionals are always preferred. For some speakers, the
contrast between these two types of conditionals is quite strong; for others,
it is weaker. However, even for those speakers who detect a weaker contrast
between the two types of subjunctive conditionals, it is never the case that in
these contexts a simple past subjunctive conditional is preferred to a past perfect subjunctive conditional.
4.5 Cleft Sentences

The contrast illustrated in previous sections also emerges when we consider


cleft sentences. Consider the three variants of the same example in (27)(29).
(Some of my informants didnt find (29ab) grammatical.) Notice that in all
three variants the same pattern holds.
(27) Tomorrows baseball game has been canceled due to the weather. Our
team has three pitchers. John, a good pitcher, was not going to play
tomorrow since he injured himself last week. Bill and Fred are terrible
pitchers but, since John is injured, one of them was certain to play. You
seem upset that tomorrows game has been canceled but I am actually
relieved.
a. #Why are you upset? We were going to lose the game! If it were Bill
who pitched tomorrow, we certainly would lose, and if it were Fred
who pitched tomorrow, it would be just as bad.
b. Why are you upset? We were going to lose the game! If it had been
Bill who pitched tomorrow, we certainly would have lost, and if it
had been Fred who pitched tomorrow, it would have been just
as bad.
(28) (Same context)
a. #Why are you upset? We were going to lose the game! If it were Bill
pitching tomorrow, we certainly would lose, and if it were Fred
pitching tomorrow, it would be just as bad.
b. Why are you upset? We were going to lose the game! If it had been
Bill pitching tomorrow, we certainly would have lost, and if it had
been Fred pitching tomorrow, it would have been just as bad.
(29) (Same context)
a. #Why are you upset? We were going to lose the game! If it were Bill
to pitch tomorrow, we certainly would lose, and if it were Fred to
pitch tomorrow, it would be just as bad.

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129

b. Why are you upset? We were going to lose the game! If it had been
Bill to pitch tomorrow, we certainly would have lost, and if it had
been Fred to pitch tomorrow, it would have been just as bad.
Take (27). Just as for the other triggers considered above, the infelicity of the
simple past subjunctive conditional is caused by the fact that the requirement
that the presupposition triggered in the antecedentthat someone will pitch
tomorrowbe consistent with the actual world at the utterance time is not
met. On the other hand, the past perfect subjunctive conditional is felicitous
because it requires that the presupposition that someone will pitch tomorrow
be compatible with the actual world at some (contextually salient) past time
(i.e., the time just before the possibility that someone will pitch tomorrow
got foreclosed). In (27), that is arguably the time when tomorrows game was
canceled.

An Asymmetry between the Past and the Future

My goal in this book has been to account for infelicitous instances of simple
past subjunctive conditionals such as (1) and (2).
(1) John was sick yesterday and couldnt go to the concert. Now he is well.
Too bad. #If he were sick tomorrow instead (of yesterday), he could
go/could have gone.
(2) I called John yesterday to wish him a happy birthday, but it was the wrong
day. His birthday is tomorrow and he got really upset.
I am mortified. #If only I called him tomorrow instead (of yesterday), he
would be happy.
Since simple past subjunctive conditionals can be counterfactuals (think of If
John were dead now, his grandchildren would be rich, uttered when John is still
alive), the infelicity of (1) and (2) cannot be due simply to the counterfactuality of their antecedent. According to my proposal, (1) and (2) are infelicitous
because in simple past subjunctive conditionals, the one layer of past we see is
interpreted as a past tense manipulating the time argument of the accessibility
relation but not the reference time (i.e., the time relevant for checking whether
the presuppositions are satisfied). Shifting the accessibility time guarantees
that there will always be historically accessible antecedent-worlds, even when
there are no antecedent-worlds accessible at the utterance time (because the
possibility described has already been foreclosed). However, presuppositions
are checked at the reference timethat is, the time at which the whole conditional (the bare conditional embedded under a c-commanding past tense) is
evaluated: presuppositions are required to be compatible with the set of worlds
historically accessible at the reference time. The one layer of past we see in (1)
and (2) shifts the accessibility time but not the reference time to the past and,
as a result, the utterance time remains the time at which the whole conditional
is assessed and the presuppositions are checked. Since in (1) and (2), the

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possibility presupposition triggered by the antecedents is incompatible with the


set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance time, the conditionals are
infelicitous.
To rescue these cases, the possibility presupposition in the antecedent needs
to be checked at a time (immediately) before the antecedent became foreclosed,
when it was still possible for John to be sick tomorrow instead of yesterday and
for me to call John tomorrow instead of yesterday. A second layer of past allows
us to do precisely this by shifting the reference time to a contextually salient
past time.
In explaining these cases, my proposal employs the assumption that the
universe is indeterministic: that is, that the state of the world at time t is not
determined by the preceding facts together with the laws of nature. For any
time tn , chance plays a role in choosing the state of the world at tn+1 . Let us
call this indeterministic theory T .
Could someone accept something similar to T in order to explain (1) and (2)
but without indeterminism? Let us call this version of the theory T  . Unlike T , T 
is deterministic: the state of the universe at time t is determined by the preceding
facts together with the laws of nature. According to T  , the future should not be
represented as a broomstickthat is, as a set of possible continuations given
the actual history up to a given time.1 This is because, according to T  , at each
point in time only one possible continuation is available. Possible worlds are
viewed as entire histories. Given two possible worlds w and w , either they are
exactly alike throughout all of time, or else they are not exactly alike through
any stretch of time (Lewis 1979, 460). In this version of the theory, there is no
asymmetry of time in that both the past and the future are said to be necessitated
or settled. We can probably do without indeterminism to handle cases like (1)
and (2). In order to see that T  can handle these cases, we need to elaborate on
this analysis in a little more detail. The truth-conditions proposed above would
need to be changed in order to accommodate the fact that we now have entire
world histories to quantify over. One possibility, reminiscent of Lewiss (1979)
Analysis 1 of counterfactuals, is that we quantify over those world histories that
are like the actual world up until some transition period that shortly precedes
the time at which the antecedent possibility became foreclosed in the actual
world. Since this is a deterministic framework, this transition period would
have to involve a little miracle when the deterministic chain of events is broken.
After that point, history proceeds in these worlds according to the actual laws
of nature; that is, no more miracles are required to occur to ensure that these
worlds converge again with the actual world (see the list of priorities discussed
in section 1.2.2). Let us focus on (2). In order to rule out (2) as infelicitous,
the felicity condition for simple past subjunctive conditionals would have to

Asymmetry between Past and Future

133

require that the presuppositions in the antecedent be consistent with the actual
world: since in the actual world I already called John to wish him a happy
birthday, the presupposition that that particular call is possible tomorrow is
not satisfied. Thus, the conditional is infelicitous. Examples like (2), therefore,
cannot distinguish between T and T  .
However, in the spirit of Bachs (1989) natural language metaphysics, I will
argue here that the best account of our linguistic intuitions must include an
indeterministic view of time and that we should prefer T to T  . Consider the
following variant of (2).
(3) Mary is the most absent-minded person I know. She forgot that Johns
birthday is next week. She is sure it is tomorrow and will call him then to
wish him a happy birthday. As we can imagine, he will be very upset.
If she called him next week instead, he would be happy.
In a deterministic framework, an utterance of the future sentence Mary will call
John tomorrow is either true or false. Assuming determinism, let us suppose
that it is true that Mary will call John tomorrow. According to T  , the future is
settled: there is only one possible future compatible with the actual history up
to the utterance time. This means that at the utterance time it is settled that Mary
will call tomorrow. In T  , the possibility presupposition in the antecedentthat
the salient event of Marys calling John is possible next weekis not satisfied
since that eventuality will occur tomorrow. Therefore, if future statements such
as Mary will call John tomorrow can be true as T  predicts, we should find (3)
to be as infelicitous as (2) was. However, this is not the case: unlike (2), (3) is
acceptable.
Let me state the problem more clearly. If we represent the future as being as
settled as the past, and if fixed facts about the past suffice to cause a presupposition failure in a simple past subjunctive conditional, then fixed facts about
the future should suffice to cause a presupposition failure in a future-oriented
subjunctive conditional as well. But as we have just seen, our intuitions about
future-oriented subjunctive conditionals point toward an asymmetry between
the past and the future.
Unlike what is true of T  , one of the tenets of the indeterministic theory T is
that at each time t, we can represent ts past as settled and ts future as open. A
sentence S is true in a world w at a time t if it expresses a proposition that is true
in all the possible continuations of ts history at t, false in a world w and at a
time t if it expresses a proposition that is false in all the possible continuations
of ws history at t, and neither true nor false if it expresses a proposition that is
true in some continuations and false in others.

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In (3), the contingent statement Mary will call John tomorrow is neither
true nor false as assessed at the utterance time because the proposition that
Mary will call John tomorrow is true in some continuations and false in others.
The possibility presupposition in the antecedentthat it is possible that the
salient eventuality of Marys calling John will occur next weekneeds to be
compatible with the set of worlds historically accessible at the utterance time.
Since, as noted above, it is not determined at the utterance time that the salient
event of Marys calling John will occur tomorrow, it is consistent with the actual
history up to the utterance time that that call will occur next week (instead of
tomorrow). Therefore, the conditional is correctly predicted to be felicitous.
In (2), on the other hand, the salient event of calling John happened before
the utterance time and therefore the possibility presupposition carried by the
antecedent cannot be satisfied by the set of worlds historically accessible at the
utterance time.
T easily accounts for the contrast between cases like (2) and (3). The tempting
conclusion is that the theory of natural language that best explains our linguistic
intuitions about subjunctive conditionals is indeterministic.
Could a past perfect future subjunctive conditional be used in circumstances
similar to the ones described in (3)?
(4) Mary is the most absent-minded person I know. She forgot that Johns
birthday is next week. She is sure it is tomorrow and will call him then to
wish him a happy birthday. As we can imagine, he will be very upset.
If she had called him next week instead, he would have been happy.
Insofar as speakers find (4) acceptable, they detect a meaning difference
between the use of a simple past and the use of a past perfect subjunctive
conditional. Here is another example.
(5) A: I decided to arrive tomorrow instead of next Monday when I was
originally scheduled to arrive.
B: I am glad youll arrive here tomorrow.
a. If you arrived here next Monday instead, it would be too late to see the
exhibition I told you about.
b. If you had arrived here next Monday instead, it would have been too
late to see the exhibition I told you about.
The intuition is that the use of the past perfect forces a counterfactual reading
of the antecedent event. This is not surprising since we already saw in section
3.4.4 that, because of their counterfactual antipresupposition, past perfect future
subjunctive conditionals are normally felt to be more contrary to fact than their
simple past counterparts and past perfect subjunctive conditionals about the

Asymmetry between Past and Future

135

past. But is this compatible with the indeterministic assumption that the future
is open? First of all, recall that we are assuming that indeterminism is the
negation of the claim that all physical events are determined by the universes
initial conditions together with the laws of nature. Therefore, indeterminism
is compatible with some physical events being determined. Now, my claim is
that (5b) is acceptable because the speaker is making the assumption that it is
settled that the hearer will arrive here tomorrow. The possibility of both (5a)
and (5b) strengthens the asymmetry between the past and the present: past
events cannot be undone, and therefore future antecedents whose possibility
or other presuppositions have been foreclosed in the past must use the past
perfect. However, since the future is technically open, if the foreclosing event
is claimed to happen in the future, then either we stick to the strict open-future
hypothesis, thus using the simple past subjunctive conditional, or under special
circumstances we can suspend our strict belief in the open future and assume
that the future is settled with respect to the antecedent proposition. Indeed, if
the future claim in (5) is weakened by adding a modal adverb such as probably,
(5b) is no longer felicitous, as shown in (6b).
(6) A (talking on the phone with B): I will probably arrive there tomorrow.
a. B: Good, if you arrived here any other time instead, it would be too
late to see the exhibition I told you about.
b. B: #If you had arrived here any other time instead, it would have been
too late to see the exhibition I told you about.
The infelicity of (6b) supports the idea that (5b) is felicitous because we are
allowed to suspend our disbelief about future claims if we have no reason for
disbelieving other than indeterminism itself: that is, if we believe that a future
statement is very likely to be true (given things we know or expect) and we
have no reason to believe that is not going to happen other than our general
belief that the universe is indeterministic.

Conclusion

When interpreting a subjunctive conditional (and a counterfactual in particular),


how are we going to select the set of antecedent-worlds quantified over by the
modal? This is the question that I set out to answer in this book. As the work
of Lewis, Stalnaker, Kratzer, and others has shown, a notion of similarity is
crucial in selecting the relevant set of worlds. The task for previous theories
and for the one I have proposed is to be able to articulate in sufficient detail
exactly how to measure similarity.
The main tenets of the theory defended in this book are these. There are
two components in the meaning of the modal operator woll that contribute
to the selection of the relevant set of worlds: an accessibility function and a
similarity function. Crucially, while the former is time-dependent, the latter is
an overall measure of similarity. Moreover, when evaluating a conditional, we
need to check whether its presuppositions are satisfied. I have proposed that
the requirement is that the presuppositions be compatible with what I called the
reference time. The reference time can coincide with or follow the accessibility
time but cannot precede it.
Let us begin with the accessibility relation. I suggested that the accessibility
relation in would -conditionals is historical: given a world w at a time t, the
worlds historically accessible from w at t are those worlds that share the same
history as w up to t. Assuming indeterminism, all the worlds historically accessible from w at t are all of ws possible futures at t. At time t, there is no
matter of fact about ws future at t: the future is unsettled and nonreal. As time
goes by, some possibilities are actualized while others are foreclosed. This idea
is reminiscent of Lewiss (1979) asymmetry-by-fiat analysis, which Lewis does
not endorse in his paper. While the list of priorities that Lewis proposes (instead of the asymmetry-by-fiat analysis) accounts for problematic cases like
Fines (1975) nuclear holocaust example, it does not account by itself for the
contrast between simple past subjunctive conditionals and future past perfect
subjunctive conditionals. Whatever general principle would rule out the simple

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past conditional in (1a) uttered when the plants have already died, it would
incorrectly rule out its past perfect counterpart as well.
(1) The plants died last week.
a. #If the plants died next week, I would feel guilty.
b. If the plants had died next week, I would have felt guilty.
As pointed out several times throughout this book, the infelicity of an example like (1a) uttered when the plants have died already cannot be due to the
counterfactuality of the antecedent itself (i.e., the fact that the plants are indeed
dead at the utterance time). It can easily be shown (as in (2)) that simple past
subjunctive conditionals can be counterfactual.
(2) John is dead. If he were alive, I would be happier.
So, how can we explain the fact that sometimes simple past subjunctive conditionals can be counterfactual and sometimes they cannot? I suggested that the
distinctive layer of past that we see in all subjunctive conditionals is not interpreted within the conditional itself (by which I mean the bare conditional itself:
the tripartite structure composed of the modal operator, the antecedent clause,
and the consequent clause), but (after movement) above it, c-commanding the
bare conditional and binding the time argument of the accessibility relation.
This allows the modal to select antecedent-worlds historically accessible from
the actual (evaluation) world at a past time. This allows a would -conditional to
be counterfactual, that is, to be about possibilities that are already foreclosed
at the utterance time. All that matters is that there be some antecedent-worlds
accessible at some past time. Since this is (almost) always the case, a would conditional can be counterfactual. This explains (2). Why is (1a) infelicitous,
then? I proposed that, when evaluating a subjunctive conditional, any presupposition in the antecedent (and those in the consequent not entailed by the
antecedent) must be compatibile with what is possible in the actual world at
the reference time. In simple past subjunctive conditionals, the reference time
is the utterance time. The problem with (1a) is that, in a context where the
plants are already dead, the existence presupposition in the antecedent (that the
plants exist) is incompatible with what is possible at the utterance time. Unless
a second past shifts it to the past, the reference time will coincide with the utterance time. Assuming that the reference time cannot precede the accessibility
time, conditional structures where the reference time has been shifted to the
past can only be structures where the accessibility time is also past. In other
words, conditionals where the reference time is past can only have the structure of past perfect subjunctive conditionals. This explains why the past perfect
version in (1b) is felicitous: the presupposition that the plants exist will need to

Conclusion

139

be compatible with what is possible at a salient past time. This is arguably the
time just before the plants actually died, when the possibility that they would
die next week was still open.
As for the similarity function, I took similarity to be an overall measure of
comparison. That is, it is not time-dependent in the way the accessibility relation
is. Why do we need it? We need it because, even though when evaluating a
subjunctive conditionalspecifically, a counterfactualwe need to go back to
a past time t when antecedent-worlds were still accessible, (at least) some facts
about ts actual future will be relevant in selecting the right set of antecedentworlds.1 In chapter 3, we saw how similarity needs to be constrained in order
to account for our intuitions in the coin-tossing and Bertha examples discussed
there. With regard to those examples in sections 3.6.1 and 3.6.2, I argued that,
in evaluating a counterfactual of the form if , would , we keep a proposition
true in the actual world unless is equivalent to or (contextually) entailed
by , the primary proposition we are removing in order to accommodate
or entails .
My goal in this book has been to give a compositional analysis of would conditionals that will explain English speakers intuitions of truth and felicity.
In doing so, I also wanted to account for the crosslinguistically robust generalization that would -conditionals and their counterparts in other languages
are marked by one or two layers of past morphology (one being the past on
would itself in English). My proposal is that one or two layers of past are interpreted outside the bare conditional; that is, they c-command the tripartite
WOLL+antecedent+consequent structure (see section 3.5 for details). In section
3.5.2, I made some speculative remarks about the mapping between the morphology and the semantics of would-conditionals and, in particular, about the
relation between the past (or pasts) in the antecedent and the past (or pasts) in the
consequent. However, the lack of a clear account for the syntax of conditional
sentences forced me to leave open the question of the exact mapping between
the morphology and the semantics in subjunctive conditionals. I am hopeful,
though, that future inquiries into the semantics of would -conditionals in English and crosslinguistically will shed light on these and other questions and
will strengthen the analysis I have proposed in this book.

Notes

Chapter 1
1. Even though this book is essentially an investigation of subjunctive conditionals in
English, its findings can be extended to the large number of languages (related and
unrelated genetically to English) that mark subjunctive conditionals with past tense
morphology.
2. As is clear from the discussion in the text, when talking about nontemporal uses of
the past tense, I refer to the fact that this past tense is not interpreted as locating the
hypothetical eventuality described in the antecedent in time. However, as we will see,
according to the analysis proposed in this book even this occurrence of the past tense is
temporal, but the time that is manipulated by the temporal operator in this occurrence
is not the time of the eventuality; rather, it is the time parameter of the modal operator.
3. These are the conditionals that Iatridous (2000) calls future less vivid conditionals.
4. Adamss (1970, 90) original pair was this:
(i) If Oswald hadnt shot Kennedy in Dallas, then no one else would have.
(ii) If Oswald didnt shoot Kennedy in Dallas, then no one else did.
5. Another example of this type of counterfactual indicative conditional is (i).
(i) If that is a real diamond, I am the Easter Bunny.
As in (3), the consequent in (i) is clearly known to be false and thereforeassuming
that the speaker believes (i) to be trueit follows that the antecedent must be false too.
Conditionals such as (i) seem to be felicitous either in contexts where someone (other
than the speaker) has just revealed that she believes that the antecedent proposition
is true or in contexts where someone (other than the speaker) has questioned whether
the antecedent is true. By uttering (i), the speaker (who believes that the antecedent is
false) wants to rule out the truth of the antecedent by relying on (a) the interlocutors
acceptance of the falsity of (i)s consequent and (b) the truth of (i).
6. The adverb almost is here to allow for the case in which the antecedent is an impossible proposition.
7. This is the case of a vacuously true conditional.

142

Notes

8. Also, w has the following properties: it is transitive, strongly connected, selfaccessible, and strictly w -minimal; inaccessible worlds are w -maximal; accessible
worlds are more similar to w than any inaccessible world is; and the ordering is weak
(i.e., ties are permitted). See Lewis 1973 for definitions of all these concepts.
9. In section 3.6, I will elaborate more on the notion of similarity and what constrains
it in ways that will be relevant to Fines example.
10. This idea is an extension of the idea first introduced by Lewis (1975) for his analysis
of the semantics of adverbs of quantification such as always.
11. Other factors such as the aspectual properties and type of the predicate embedded
under the modal also play a role in disambiguating the interpretation of the modal.
12. Here I am simplifying the analysis of epistemic must. See von Fintel and Gillies
2007 for a detailed discussion of epistemic modality.
13. Von Fintel and Gillies (2010) have actually argued against the Kratzerian analysis
of epistemic must, which makes epistemic must sentences truth-conditionally weaker
than their nonmodal counterparts. Their claim is that must is strong and that the sense
that when someone utters must p she is less sure about p is due to the evidential nature
of epistemic modals. I will not pursue this further; see von Fintel and Gillies 2010 for
the details of the proposal.
14. See Kratzers work, in particular Kratzer 1981a, 1986, 1991.
15. Kratzer (1981b) argues that there can be many sets of propositions that characterize
what is the case in a world uniquely. Kratzer calls these sets partitions. A partition
function (i.e., a function that assigns to every world a partition of it) is contributed by
the utterance context: different contexts will make different partitions salient. See the
discussion surrounding (26) for more on partitions.
16. The definition of common ground is rather complicated and I will not go into its
details here. See Stalnaker 2002 for a detailed discussion.
Chapter 2
1. As noted in chapter 1, these conditionals owe their name subjunctive to the fact that
in several languages with rich verbal morphology, they are marked by the subjunctive
mood. In this book, I have nothing to say about why the subjunctive mood occurs
in some languages to mark the distinction shown above. Following Iatridous (2000),
I will assume that mood is not a necessary ingredient of counterfactuality and that
language-specific morphological rules are responsible for its occurrence.
2. We will not worry here about the resolution of anaphora necessary to interpret the
pronoun they in (4) and (5).
3. Iatridou is aware of this and acknowledges the existence of these problematic data
in footnote 26 of her 2000 article.
4. See section 1.4 for a discussion of this issue and several analyses of the counterfactuality implication of subjunctive conditionals proposed in the literature.

Notes

143

5. We saw above that in Ogiharas proposal, C ends up containing only one alternative
namely the alternative where the time variable is replaced by the contextually salient
past time referred to by the past tense.
6. These criticisms of Ogiharas proposal are from Ippolito 2003.
7. Arregui (2005) claims that the distinctive property of subjunctive conditionals is
being embedded under a past tense. Semantically, the antecedent and consequent clauses
do not contain a past tense; instead, the time variable in the predicate is bound by the
modal operator, which assigns to this variable a nonpast time. The fact that the two
clauses seem to have a past tense in them is claimed to be a case of feature agreement
with the higher c-commanding past tense, which provides the argument for the time
argument of the modal itself. See Arregui 2005 for details. See also Arregui 2008.
8. Earlier versions of these ideas can be found in Ippolito 2002b, 2003.
9. Whether they can or must be counterfactual is an important issue that will be addressed later. We will see in section 3.4.4 that the counterfactuality of a past perfect
future subjunctive conditional cannot be canceled, unlike the counterfactuality of a past
perfect subjunctive conditional about the past. Until section 3.4.4, for simplicitys sake
I will refer to this option as being merely possible.
10. The existence presupposition can also be argued to be triggered by the proper name
John in (49a) and (49b) (Frege 1892).
11. Indicative conditionals are typically not counterfactual. However, in section 1.1
I mentioned one kind of indicative conditional that is used counterfactually. The
examples are repeated here:
(i) a. If you are Santa Claus, I am the Easter Bunny.
b. If that is a real diamond, I am the Easter Bunny.
A second type of counterfactual indicative conditional is discussed in detail in Ippolito
2004. Unlike standard counterfactuals in Italian, which are characterized by subjunctive
mood in the antecedent and so-called conditional mood in the consequent, Italian indicative counterfactuals are characterized by the occurrence of the imperfect indicative in
both the antecedent and the consequent clauses. They are unlike regular indicative conditionals because only the imperfect tense can occur and they are unlike subjunctive
conditionals because the subjunctive mood is absent. Interestingly, this type of indicative
conditional is obligatorily counterfactual.
12. As noted earlier, this idea, developed in Kratzer (1981a, 1986, 1991), is an extension
of an idea first introduced by Lewis (1975) for his analysis of the semantics of adverbs
of quantification.
13. Technically, accessibility functions are not conversational backgrounds, but the
fomer can be straightforwardly defined in terms of the latter, as we saw in section 1.3.
14. The two semantic operations annotated for convenience in tree (61) are Functional
Application (FA) and Intensional Functional Application. The former is the mode of
composition familiar from Heim and Kratzer 1998. The latter is defined in Ippolito
2006b as follows:

144

Notes

(i) Intensional Functional Application (world and time version):


a. If is a branching node and {, } the set of its daughters, then, for any possible world and any assignment a, if [[]]w,a is a function whose domain contains


w .[[ ]]w ,a , then [[]]w,a = [[]]w,a (w .[[ ]]w ,a ).
b. If is a branching node and {, } the set of its daughters, then, for any time and

any assignment a, if [[]]t,a is a function whose domain contains t  .[[ ]]t ,a , then
 ,a
t,a
t,a

t
[[]] = [[]] (t .[[ ]] ).
15. Another modal analysis of woll, will, and would can be found in Condoravdi 2003.
16. See Ippolito 2006b for details and references on the extended-now analysis of the
perfect and the referential (presuppositional) analysis of tense, which are adopted there.
17. This is a very brief and coarse summary of the argument in Ippolito 2006b. See
the article itself for the details of this proposal within the framework of context change
semantics.
18. Here is the meaning of the present tense:
(i) [[pres5 ]]c,g,t,w defined only if g(5) O t; if defined, [[pres5 ]]c,g,t,w = g(5)
19. Recall that the past perfect subjunctive conditionals we are talking about here are
present and future past perfect subjunctive conditionals.
Chapter 3
1. As mentioned earlier, the existence presupposition can also be argued to be triggered
by the proper name John (see Frege 1892).
2. As we saw in the discussion of Lewis 1979, the question of what worlds count as the
closest to the actual world is a very complex one. We could follow Lewiss system of
priorities discussed in chapter 2, modified so as to apply to an indeterministic universe.
For example, the issue that clause 2 in Lewiss (1979) system of priorities is designed
to address does not apply in an indeterministic universe since, while the historical
accessibility relation guarantees that the worlds we consider are the ones identical to the
actual world up to the salient time, these worlds may diverge at a later time. In section 3.6,
we will consider several examples found in the literature on subjunctive conditionals and
we will discuss what these examples say about the way in which similarity is constrained
in the interpretation of subjunctive conditionals.
3. It is interesting to note that, in Reichenbachs tense semantics, (31b) is the present
perfects configuration. However, unlike in Ippolito 2006b, discussed in section 2.6,
I am not claiming here that in a simple past subjunctive conditional, a bare conditional
is embedded under a present perfect: all we have is a simple past forced to bind the
accessibility time of the modal, while the reference time coincides with the utterance
time by default. The configuration in (31b) is forced (i) by the fact that only one past
occurs and (ii) by the fact that this one past must bind the accessibility time of the modal.
4. These statements are puzzling for an indeterministic theory of the universe. If one
endorses determinism, then (once the context of utterance has supplied a referent for
any indexicals that might occur in the sentence) a statement like There will be a sea
battle tomorrow is either true or false regardless of when it is uttered or evaluated.

Notes

145

5. See von Fintel and Gillies 2010 for an alternative view of epistemic modality.
6. Some discussion of similar issues can be found in MacFarlane 2009.
7. Compare (57) with the infelicitous subjunctive conditional in ia.
(i) John lived from 1900 until 1980.
a. #If he lived from 2000 until 2080 instead, he would live in ia different world.
b. If he had lived from 2000 until 2080 instead, he would have lived in a different
world.
As is clear from the discussion in the text, the infelicity of a is due to the fact that the
eventuality of Johns being alive between 2000 and 2080 is supposed to happen instead
of the actual eventuality of Johns living, which happened between 1900 and 1980.
8. Note that this assumption by itself runs into problems when we try to account for the
felicity of (42) in chapter 2.
9. This latter part is the contribution of instead and its elided complement.
10. Examples of other referential analyses of tense are those found in Partee 1973 and
Kratzer 1998.
11. This raises the question of why the past tense is obligatory in the simultaneity
reading and the broader question of the relation between morphological features and
semantic interpretation. See von Stechow 2003 for explicit proposals about these issues.
See also the remarks in section 3.5.2 of the text.
12. It follows that it should be possible to add instead to the antecedent and still have
a felicitous sentence.
13. See section 3.7 for some remarks on indicative will-conditionals.
14. Leahy (2011) has independently offered an account of the difference between indicative and subjunctive conditionals in terms of antipresuppositions. However, in his
account all subjunctive conditionals are lumped together. In this book, I have shown
that there exist significant distinctions within the realm of subjunctive conditionals and
that it is incorrect to assign all subjunctive conditionals the same felicity conditions.
From this perspective, the goal of this section of the book is to explain the noncancelable counterfactuality of past perfect subjunctive conditionals (about the future) as an
antipresupposition.
15. Ignore the fact that the embedded verb is in the subjunctive, a selectional feature of
the verb sperare hope.
16. Examples (106) and (107) can also have a nonprogressive, future-oriented interpretation. This fact, together with the fact that the periphrastic progressive form in Italian
has only the progressive interpretation, might be the reason why the most salient reading
of the nonperiphrastic form in (106) and (107) is the nonprogressive one. (i) and (ii) are
the periphrastic variants of (106) and (107). (Here and in (106)(107), IMP = imperfect,
SUBJ = subjunctive, and INF = infinitival.)
(i) Se Gianni stesse
facendo i compiti in questo momento
if Gianni stay.IMP.SUBJ doing the homework at this time

146

Notes

(invece di guardare la televisione), sarebbe


un miracolo.
(instead of watch.inf the TV)
(it) would.be a miracle
If Gianni were doing his homework right now (instead of watching TV) it would
be a miracle.
(ii) Se Gianni stesse
dormendo ora, non potrei ascoltare la radio.
if Gianni stay.imp.subj sleeping now not (I) could listen.to the radio
If Gianni were sleeping right now, I couldnt listen to the radio.
17. We still need to say exactly what mechanism triggers this morphology in the
antecedent and consequent clauses. It is possible that this is some form of agreement.
18. Perf is the abbreviation for perfective. Following Kratzer (1998), I assume that either
a perfective or an imperfective operator can occur in a sentence, at least in English (and
languages relevantly like it).
19. Naturally, the examples in (121) raise some questions. The most pressing question
concerns the location of the third layer of past. As noted in the text, in these examples
the third layer of past occurs in the antecedent and not in the consequent; the question
is why.
20. A related proposal can be found in Heim 2008, a study of person, number, and
gender features on bound variables. Heim argues for a mechanism that she calls feature
transmission under variable binding: according to this rule, it is in the derivation to PF
that features of a DP may be copied onto variables it binds (Heim 2008, 48).
21. I will leave open the question of whether and how this stipulation might be justified
syntactically.
22. See Bhatt and Pancheva 2006 for an extensive discussion of the syntax of
conditionals.
23. Grnn and von Stechow (2008) have sketched an analysis of tense in subjunctive conditionals that would be hard to reconcile with the proposal in this book. This is
because, unlike the proposal advocated here, according to these authors would has no inherent temporal feature: in simple past subjunctive conditionals (or would -conditionals),
would is c-commanded by a present tense, whereas in past perfect subjunctive conditionals, would is c-commanded by a past. As far as I can tell, this is very close in spirit
to the proposal defended in Ippolito 2003. Unfortunately, as I argue at length in Ippolito
2006b, that kind of view cannot account for any of the semantic puzzles that are the
subject matter of this book.
24. As is clear from the discussion in section 2.3, even though Ogihara (2002) treats
the past we see in future past perfect subjunctive conditionals as a real past, his proposal
is different from other past-as-past proposals in that the past is not argued to take scope
over the modal (and the conditional structure in general), nor is it argued to contribute to
the selection of the possible histories quantified over by the modal. Schulz (2007) does
not mention Ogiharas proposal when discussing what she calls past-as-past proposals.
25. Two notes are in order here. First, when I talk about removing a fact, I mean
removing a proposition that is true in the actual world. Second, take a proposition .
If is entailed by a set of worlds A, removing means expanding A so as to include
-worlds as well. In other words, removing means that A no longer entails and
that both and are now compatible with it.

Notes

147

26. If is the counterfactual proposition expressed by an antecedent, in order to accommodate we need to remove the proposition true in the actual world. We call
the primary proposition that is removed in order to accommodate a counterfactual
antecedent. For example, take the counterfactual If I had bet on tails, I would have lost.
In order to accommodate the proposition that I bet on tails, I need to remove the primary
proposition (true in the actual world) that I did not bet on tails.
27. An overall similarity function was part of the truth-conditions of subjunctive
conditionals in Ippolito 2002a and subsequent work.
28. Two notes on Arreguis notation: sL refers to law-like situations and p and q
are temporally shifted propositions that will be bound by the modal. This last point is
irrelevant for the present discussion.
29. Subjunctive conditionals like (139) feel trivially true and very odd. Unlike subjunctive conditionals, however, indicative conditionals where the antecedent and the
consequent express the same proposition acquire a special pragmatic connotation, as
the following examples show:
(i) If you dont know the answer, you dont know the answer.
(ii) If youre hungry, youre hungry.
These conditionals seem to have special felicity conditions associated with their use. It
would be very interesting to investigate their meaning, in particular given the remarks
about subjunctive conditionals in the text. However, since such an investigation would
be well beyond the scope of this book and would take us too far afield, I will not pursue
this topic any further here.
30. Actually, Arreguis suggestion seems to run into the same problem with (127), since
there too we are supposed to look for possible worlds where I bet differently but the
outcome of the coin tossing in those worlds is the same as the actual outcome. In doing
so, according to Arregui, we would not be letting the modals (probabilistic) laws run
their course and decide on the outcome of the coin tossing in those worlds, and this
would render the counterfactual vacuous. Hence, Arreguis proposal seems to predict
incorrectly that, just like her (137), (127) should not come out true.
31. This is what I called the primary fact that is removed in order to accommodate a
counterfactual antecedent.
32. By now we know that there is nothing fake about so-called fake past. The past
we see in subjunctive conditionals is a real past tense; what is special about it is that it
manipulates the time argument of the modal instead of manipulating the time argument
of the VP/AspP.
For recent studies of indicative conditionals, see for example Kaufmann 2005 and
Grnn and von Stechow 2011.
33. This rules out the kind of will-less indicative conditionals illustrated in (i).
(i) a. If John played yesterday, he lost.
b. If John played yesterday, he must have lost.
34. Another possibility is to have a pres operator binding the time argument of the
modal. I will leave it to the future to explore these alternatives in more detail.

148

Notes

35. There could not be a past c-commanding the structure in (148) since that would
violate the constraint that the reference time cannot precede the accessibility time. See
the discussion of this issue in section 3.3.
36. Of course, these restrictions do not hold for all indicative conditionals, for example,
(i).
(i) If Oswald did not kill Kennedy, someone else did.
No will occurs here. It is standard to assume that indicative conditionals like this have
the familiar Kratzerian tripartite structure we have assumed for subjunctive conditionals,
where the antecedent and consequent clauses act as the restriction and nuclear scope of
a covert modal operator. However, these are not will-conditionals and therefore they are
beyond the scope of this section.
37. But see the remarks on this topic in section 3.3.
One idea to be pursued in the future is that (following a long line of researchers including En (1996) and Condoravdi (2003)), there is just one will, which is a modal
operator quantifying over possible futures (in a branching model of time), and that in
all occurrences of will the clause embedded under the modal contains a pres operator
ensuring the nonpast orientation of the eventuality in question. A past can occur embedded under will, but in this case only an epistemic interpretation is available. Here is an
example from Italian:
(i) Gianni avr
gi
comprato il biglietto.
Gianni have.fut already bought the ticket
Gianni must have already bought the ticket.
Something similar seems to happens in conditionals, as shown in (ii), even though what
the right interpretation of this sentence might be is not so transparent.
(ii) Se la luce spenta, Gianni sar uscito.
if the light is turned.off Gianni be.fut left
If the light is off, Gianni must have left.
Chapter 4
1. Consider the following case.
(i) In the chaos that is sure to follow tomorrows demonstration, a thief might break
into the store. He would steal the Monet. It would be a disaster: . . .
a. even if the police caught the thief soon after, the painting might already be lost.
b. #even if the police had caught the thief soon after, the painting might have already
been lost.
Here the facts are reversed. We can explain this as follows. Propositions about the future
that have not been foreclosed by a past event are considered possible. As long as the presupposition in is compatible with the actual world at the utterance time, the conditional
is acceptable. As for the past perfect version, if the antecedent is possible, then a past
perfect subjunctive conditional is always infelicitous, regardless of its presuppositions.
See the discussion of the antipresuppositions triggered by subjunctive conditionals in
section 3.4.4.

Notes

149

2. Kripkes original example (1990, 18) is If Sam watches the opera, he will stop
watching it when the Redskins game comes on. I wanted to do without the pronoun it,
though, which I think weakens the point of the example.
3. Kripke distinguishes between what he calls the active context and the passive context,
the idea being that while the latter contains information that is known by the participants
in the conversation but not necessarily salient, the former contains only information that
has been made salient recently.
4. One might say that, unlike in the case of too, the presupposition triggered by to
stop can be accommodated. While this may be true, it leaves open the question of
why the presupposition of the change-of-state verb can be accommodated, unlike the
presupposition triggered by the additive particle.
5. In fact, it is possible to come up with variations of Heims and Kripkes examples
where the existential interpretation is preferred.
(i) John loves cooking and cooks every day. As a matter of fact, he is cooking right now.
His football team will play tomorrow at this time. He assured me that tomorrow he will
stop (cooking) when the football game starts.
Chapter 5
1. See (5) in chapter 1 for an example of a broomstick diagram.
Chapter 6
1. Recall that these facts are future relative to t but are past relative to the utterance
time, since there are no facts about the future from now.

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Stalnaker, Robert, and Richmond Thomason. 1970. A semantic analysis of conditional


logic. Theoria 36, 2342.
Thomason, Richmond, and Anil Gupta. 1980. A theory of conditionals in the context of
branching time. The Philosophical Review 89, 6590.
von Stechow, Arnim 2003. Binding by verbs: Tense, person and mood under attitudes.
In NELS 33, ed. by Makoto Kadowaki and Shigeto Kawahara, 379404. Amherst:
University of Massachusetts, Graduate Linguistic Student Association.

Index

Abusch, D., 1, 46, 86


Accessibility
function, 34, 67, 11, 13, 45, 57,
6163, 95, 103, 106, 137138
historical, 46, 49, 57, 60, 67, 94
time, 59, 6165, 6769, 73, 80, 82,
8788, 95, 97, 99, 104, 106, 113114,
131, 137138
Anaphora
resolution in presuppositions, 117118,
121126
Anderson, A. 1718, 2526, 55, 92, 97
Antipresupposition, 71, 8992, 126, 134
Arregui, A., 5, 3140, 65, 79, 102,
107110, 117118
Bach, E., 133
Beaver, D., 48
Bennett, J., 110
Broomstick
diagram representing an open future,
3, 132
Chemla, E., 8990
Conditional
bare, 4, 45, 4752, 5658, 59
indicative, 12, 4, 1619, 4243, 45, 51,
58, 63, 68, 112115
presuppositions in, 4044, 4752,
5356, 5859, 6162, 6871 (see also
Presupposition)
variably strict, 67
Condoravdi, C., 57

Conversational background, 1113, 45,


5657
Counterfactual
conditionals, 2, 45, 611, 2122,
4044 (see also Subjunctive)
strong counterfactuality of
counterfactuals, 8892 (see also
Antipresupposition; Presupposition,
maximize)
trivially true counterfactuals, 109
Dancygier, B., 98
Determinism, 9, 5758, 133
Event
anaphora, 35, 3839, 76, 83
pronoun, 3233, 36, 38, 74,
7879
Factive. See Presupposition
Future
asymmetry between past and, 1011,
131135
contingent statements, 6569
counterfactuals, 2122
possible futures, 3
Fine, K., 89, 137
Fintel, K. von, 1719
Gupta, A., 57
Heim, I., 4144, 47, 60, 81, 89, 101, 118,
121, 123124

158

Iatridou, S., 1, 4, 2324


Indeterminism, 3, 132135, 149
Instead
test, 53, 7374
Ippolito, M., 4041, 4452, 5658, 76,
99, 102103, 113, 118, 125
Irrealis, 12
Karttunen, L., 1819, 41, 4344, 59,
61, 70
Katz, G., 35, 3839, 124
Kratzer, A., 2, 1116, 39, 43, 56, 60, 74,
101, 108, 113, 118, 124, 137
Kripke, K., 121, 123124
Lewis, D., 2, 4, 611, 1314, 26, 5758,
85, 107, 132, 137
Lumping, 1516, 108
MacFarlane, J., 5, 6570, 115
Modal, operator, 4, 11, 1718, 32, 37,
4546, 49, 56, 57, 5960, 66, 70, 72,
102, 115, 137, 138
Modality, doubly Relative, 1116
Musan, R., 4, 41, 54, 6869, 71, 75
Ogihara, T., 1, 2731, 8486, 102
Operator
future, 6768
modal (see Modal, operator)
past, 60
perfect, 32, 34, 35, 37, 51
perfective, 32, 34, 3638, 40, 74, 76
woll, 4546, 50, 5861, 6364, 6768,
7072, 76, 8081, 8586, 99100,
113114, 137, 139
Ordering source, 1114, 4546, 5658
Palmer, F., 2324
Parsons, T., 34
Past
feature, 101
as instantiated by auxiliary have, 22,
24, 101
layers of, 45, 21, 2325, 28, 3031, 63,
80, 8488, 94, 96, 98, 102103,
131132, 138

Index

morphology, 21, 2526, 56, 96, 99,


101102, 139
nontemporal, 2, 4, 63, 68
operator, 60
past-as-past proposals, 102112
presuppositional, 81
as a quantifier over times, 60
tense, 12, 4, 19, 2124, 27, 46,
5051, 56, 5963, 68, 70, 72, 81,
84, 8688, 9396, 99100, 102,
113114, 131
Percus, O., 89
Peters, S., 1819
Possible worlds, selection of, 511, 56,
61, 66, 105106, 110
Predicate
eventive, 32, 35, 38, 40, 5455, 115
stative, 32, 35, 3840, 7475, 7879,
117
Presupposition
anaphoric, 117
in conditionals, 4044, 7071, 7179,
8283, 114, 117129
definite, 118121
existence, 4, 4142, 5455, 6869, 71,
75, 117, 119120, 138
factive, 127128
failure, 118, 133
maximize, 71, 8991
possibility, 7578, 83, 88, 117, 125,
132134
triggered by change-of-state verbs,
123126
triggered by cleft sentences, 128129
Quantification
over possible worlds, 6, 11, 32, 56, 102,
109110, 114
tripartite structure of, 4, 32, 45, 102,
113, 138139
Rooth, M., 2729
Sauerland, U., 89, 91
Schlenker, P., 89, 99
Schulz, K., 5, 103104, 107108,
110111

Index

Similarity
comparative, 78, 1314, 58
similarity function, 35, 4546, 58,
103104, 106, 137, 139
Stalnaker, R., 2, 1618, 4243, 58, 137
Stechow, A. von, 99100
Subjunctive
conditionals as opposed to indicative
conditionals, 16
in counterfactuals, 2, 611, 1316
morphology or mood, 1
in past perfect subjunctive conditionals,
3, 1011, 7992
in simple past subjunctive conditionals,
3, 1011, 5879
temporal mismatches in subjunctive
conditionals, 2152
Sweetser, E., 98
Tense
presuppositional, 81
as a quantifier over times, 60
sequence of, 84
Thomason, R., 16, 57
Time
accessibility, 5969, 73, 80, 82, 99, 104,
106, 113114, 131, 137
assessment, 5, 65, 6770
asymmetry of, 10, 131135
event, 64
reference, 5, 5965, 6870, 73, 76,
8088, 114, 126, 131132, 137138,
144
Will
conditionals, 58, 68, 112115
future, 6569
Would. See also Subjunctive, in past
perfect subjunctive conditionals;
Subjunctive, in simple past subjunctive
conditionals
in relation to woll, 46, 68, 86

159

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