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1.5.4.2. The uses of the perfect tenses
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This section discusses the uses of the perfect tenses. We will assume that the default interpretation of these tenses is as given as in Figure 26, repeated below for convenience, and that eventuality k can thus precede, follow or overlap with n/n'; in other words, the default interpretation of the present j of eventuality k is identical to the present/past i of the speaker/hearer. The perfect tense thus only differ from the simple tenses discussed in 1.5.4.1 in that eventuality k is presented as completed within j.

Figure 26: Perfect tenses in Dutch

We will further argue that the more restricted and more special interpretations of the perfect tenses do not need any special stipulations but follow from the interaction of three types of linguistic information.

Example 357
a. Temporal information (tense and adverbial modification)
b. Modal information (theory of possible worlds)
c. Pragmatic information (Griceʼs maxim of quantity)

The discussion will mainly focus on the present perfect as we will assume that the argumentation carries over to the past perfect; we will see, however, that the use of the past perfect sometimes triggers some special effects.

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[+]  I.  Default use

Perfect tense situations represented by Figure 26 normally arise if the speaker provides a second hand report. When Els promised the speaker yesterday that she would read the paper under discussion today, the speaker may utter example (358) at noon to report this promise, even if Els has not yet completed the reading of the paper, that is, if she is still in the process of reading it or will start reading it later that day.

Example 358
Els heeft vandaag mijn artikel gelezen.
  Els has  today  my paper  read
'Els will have read my paper today.'

That the present perfect may also refer to eventuality overlapping or following n is an immediate consequence of our claim that Dutch does not express the binary feature ±posterior within its verbal system. This finding also favors the binary tense theory over the Reichenbachian approaches to the verbal tense system given that the latter does not have the means to express it, and must therefore treat such cases as special/unexpected uses of the present perfect.
      The choice between the past and present perfect is often related to the temporal location of some other event. Consider the examples in (359): the present tense in example (359a) requires that the exam is part of the present-tense interval (and in fact strongly suggests that it will take place in the non-actualized part of it), whereas (359b) strongly suggests that the exam is part of the past-tense interval preceding speech time n.

Example 359
a. Ik heb me goed voorbereid voor het tentamen.
  have  me well  prepared  for the exam
  'Iʼve prepared well for that exam.'
b. Ik had me goed voorbereid voor dat tentamen.
  had  me well  prepared  for that exam
  'Iʼve prepared well for that exam.'

Similarly, an example such as (360a) will be used to inform the addressee that the window in question is still open at the moment of speech, whereas (360b) does not have this implication but will rather be used in, e.g., a story about a break-in that happened in some past-tense interval.

Example 360
a. Ik heb het raam niet gesloten.
  have  the window  not  closed
  'I havenʼt closed the window.'
b. Ik had het raam niet gesloten.
  had  the window  not  closed
  'I hadnʼt closed the window.'
[+]  II.  Non-linguistic context: monitoring of k

The interpretation of example (358) can be restricted by pragmatic considerations. In the context given above the split-off point of the possible worlds precedes present-tense interval i, and therefore also precedes speech time n. However, if the speaker is able to monitor Els' doings during the actualized part of the present-tense interval ia, the split-off point of the possible worlds coincides with n, and in this case example (358) would normally be used to refer to the situation depicted in Figure 29, in which eventuality k precedes n; cf. Verkuyl (2008).

Figure 29: Perfect tenses in Dutch (split-off point of possible worlds = n/n ')

That k normally precedes n in the situation sketched above is illustrated in (361a). Recall that Section 1.5.4.1, sub II, referred to this preferred reading of (361a) in order to account for the fact that the present in (361b) normally cannot be used to refer to some event preceding n.

Example 361
a. Jan heeft vandaag gewerkt.
k precedes n
  Jan has  today  worked
  'Jan has worked today.'
b. Jan werkt vandaag.
k follows or overlaps with n
  Jan  works  today
  'Jan will work today.'

Examples such as (362a), in which the completion of eventuality k is situated in the non-actualized part i of the present might help us to understand better how the more restricted interpretation in Figure 29 arises. As will be discussed more extensively in Subsection III, temporal adverbial phrases may restrict the precise location of eventuality k within interval j; the temporal adverbial phrase om drie uur indicates that the completion of the eventuality of Marie reading the speaker' s paper will take place before 3:00 p.m.; see also Janssen (1989). The reason why example (362b) normally does not refer to eventualities following n in the situation sketched in Figure 29 may be that the relevant point of time at which eventuality k must be completed is taken to be speech time n by default; making this point of time explicit by, e.g., adding the adverb nu'now' is only possible if the speaker intends to emphasize that the relevant evaluation time is the speech time.

Example 362
a. Marie heeft mijn artikel om drie uur zeker gelezen.
  Marie has  my article  at 3:00 p.m. certainly  read
  'Marie will have read my article by 3:00 p.m.'
b. Marie heeft mijn artikel gelezen.
  Marie has  my article  read
  'Marie has read my article.'

Although an account along these lines seems plausible, the examples in (363) show that it cannot be the whole story. In these examples, the adverb vandaag'today' again modifies j and the adverbial phrase tot drie uur'until 3:00 p.m.' restricts the location of eventuality k to some subinterval of j preceding 3:00 p.m. The comments between square brackets indicate, however, that even in situations where the speaker is able to monitor eventuality k, present-perfect examples such as (363a) are normally used if k is completed before speech time n, whereas simple present examples such as (363b) are normally used if k will be competed after n.

Example 363
a. Vandaag heeft Jan tot drie uur gewerkt.
n > 3:00 p.m.
  today  has  Jan until 3:00 p.m.  worked
  'Today, Jan has worked until three p.m.'
b. Vandaag werkt Jan tot drie uur.
n < 3:00 p.m.
  today  works  Jan  until 3:00 p.m.
  'Today, Jan will work until 3:00 p.m.'

The fact that (363a) cannot have a future interpretation suggests that something is still missing. The following subsection tries to fill this gap by showing that Aktionsart may also restrict the temporal interpretation of the perfect tenses.

[+]  III.  Adverbial modification and Aktionsart

As in the case of the simple tenses, the temporal interpretation of the perfect tenses can be restricted by means of adverbial modification. It seems, however, that the situation is somewhat more complicated given that Aktionsart may likewise constrain the interpretation of the perfect tenses: more specifically, atelic predicates differ from telic ones in that they only allow a future interpretation of the perfect under very strict conditions.

[+]  A.  Adverbial modification

The interpretation of example (358) can also be restricted by grammatical means, more specifically, by the addition of temporal adverbial phrases. If we assume that the examples in (364) are uttered at noon, example (364a) expresses that Els has finished reading the paper in the morning (before speech time n), and (364b) that Els will finish reading the paper in the afternoon (after speech time n).

Example 364
a. Els heeft vanmorgen mijn artikel gelezen.
  Els has  this.morning  my paper read
  'Els has read my paper this morning.'
b. Els heeft vanmiddag mijn artikel gelezen.
  Els has  this.afternoon  my paper  read
  'Els will have read my paper by this afternoon.'

Given that the perfect tense focuses on the termination point of the event, it is immaterial for the truth of example (364b) whether the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb overlaps or follows speech time n. This means that the adverbial phrase vanmiddag'this afternoon' is compatible both with eventualities that overlap and eventualities that follow n. Example (364b) can thus refer to the situation in Figure 30.

Figure 30: Perfect tenses in Dutch (adverbial modification)

The effect of adding temporal adverbial phrases is thus that time interval j, which must include the termination point of the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb, is restricted to a subpart of i that may be situated in the actualized part of the present/past time interval, as in (364a), or in its non-actualized part, as in (364b).
      Temporal adverbial phrases do not, however, necessarily restrict temporal interval j, but may also modify the event time interval k. The latter can be observed in example (365), in which vanmiddag'this afternoon' modifies j and the adverbial PP voor het college'before the course' modifies k, with the result that the termination point of event time interval k must be located within the time interval j denoted by vanmiddag and must precede the moment in time where the nominal complement of the preposition voor is situated.

Example 365
Ik heb vanmiddag je artikel voor het college gelezen.
  have  this.afternoon  your paper  before the course  read
'This afternoon, Iʼll have read your paper before the course starts.'

In (365) the modifier of j precedes the modifier of k and it seems that this is the normal state of affairs (in the middle field of the clause at least). In fact, it seems that the two also have different locations with respect to the modal adverb; the examples in (366) show that the adverbial modifiers of interval j normally precede modal adverbs like waarschijnlijk'probably', whereas modifiers of the event time interval k must follow them.

Example 366
a. Jan was gisteren/vandaag waarschijnlijk om 10 uur vertrokken.
  Jan was yesterday/today  probably  at 10 oʼclock  left
  'Jan had probably left at 10 oʼclock yesterday/today.'
b. Jan is morgen waarschijnlijk om 10 uur al vertrokken.
  Jan is tomorrow  probably  at 10 oʼclock  already  left
  'Jan will probably already have left at 10 oʼclock tomorrow.'

That the modifier of k must follow the modal adverbs can also be supported by the two examples in (367): in (367a) the adverbial phrase om tien uur precedes the modal adverb and the most conspicuous reading is that the leaving event took place before 10 o'clock; the adverbial phrase thus indicates the end of time interval j within which the eventuality must be completed; in (367b), on the other hand, the adverbial phrase om tien uur follows the modal adverb and the most conspicuous reading is that the leaving event took place at 10 a.m. Note that English does not have similar means to distinguish the two readings; the translations of the examples in (367a&b) are truly ambiguous; cf. Comrie (1985:66).

Example 367
a. Jan was om 10 uur waarschijnlijk al vertrokken.
  Jan was at 10 oʼclock  probably  already  left
  'Jan had probably already left at 10 oʼclock.'
b. Jan was waarschijnlijk al om 10 uur vertrokken.
  Jan was probably  already  at 10 oʼclock  left
  'Jan had probably already left at 10 oʼclock.'

      It seems that adverbial modification of k in present-perfect examples with a future reading must result in placement of the termination point in between speech time n and the time (interval) referred to by the adverbial phrase. If we maintain that the sentences are uttered at noon, this will become clear from the contrast between the fully acceptable example in (365) and the infelicitous, or at least marked, example in (368); the semantic difference is that whereas the modifier voor het college in (365) places the completion of k between noon and the course that will be given later that afternoon, the modifier na het college'after the course' in (368) places it after the course (and hence also after speech time n).

Example 368
# Ik heb vanmiddag je artikel na het college gelezen.
  have  this.afternoon  my paper  after the course  read
'This afternoon, Iʼll have read your paper after the course.'

That the future completion of k must be situated between n and some point referred to by the adverbial phrase that modifies k is even clearer if the modifier refers to a single point in time: the adverbial phrase om 3 uur in (369) refers to the ultimate time at which the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb must have been completed.

Example 369
Vanmiddag heeft het peloton om 3 uur de finish bereikt.
  this.afternoon  has  the peloton  at 3 oʼclock  the finish  reached
'The peloton will reach the finish this afternoon at 3 oʼclock.'

      Similar restrictions do not occur if the completion of eventuality k precedes speech time n. If uttered at noon, the sentences in (370) are equally acceptable, despite the fact that the event time interval is only situated between breakfast and the time of utterance in (370b).

Example 370
a. Ik heb vanmorgen je artikel voor het ontbijt gelezen.
  have  this.morning  your paper  before breakfast  read
  'This morning, I read your paper before breakfast.'
b. Ik heb vanmorgen je artikel na het ontbijt gelezen.
  have  this.morning  your paper  after breakfast  read
  'This morning, I read your paper after breakfast.'

      In past perfect constructions such as (371), we seem to find just the same facts, although judgments are a bit more delicate. If eventuality k is placed after n' the adverbial phrase must refer to some time after the completion of the event, as in (371a), which is equally acceptable as its present time counterpart in (370a). Example (371b) violates this restriction and is therefore marked and certainly less preferred than its present-tense counterpart in (370b).

Example 371
a. Ik had vanmorgen je artikel voor het ontbijt gelezen.
  had this.morning  your paper  before breakfast  read
  'This morning, Iʼd read your paper before breakfast.'
b. ? Ik had vanmorgen je artikel na het ontbijt gelezen.
  had this.morning  your paper  after breakfast  read
  'This morning, I read your paper after breakfast.'

Example (371b) is perhaps not as bad as one might expect, but this may be due to the fact that vanmorgen can in principle also be read as a modifier of the past-tense interval. The examples in (372) show that in that case the examples are fully acceptable (provided that the adverbial phrase refers to an eventuality preceding n').

Example 372
a. Ik had gisteren je artikel voor het ontbijt gelezen.
  had yesterday  your paper  before breakfast  read
  'Yesterday, Iʼd read your paper before breakfast.'
b. Ik had gisteren je artikel na het ontbijt gelezen.
  have  yesterday  your paper  after breakfast  read
  'Yesterday, I read your paper after breakfast.'
[+]  B.  Aktionsart

Modification of the time interval j by means of a time adverbial referring to some time interval following n is not always successful in triggering a future reading on perfect-tense constructions. The examples in (373) show that Aktionsart may affect the result: atelic predicates like the state ziek zijn'to be ill' or the activity aan zijn dissertatie werken'to work on his thesis' normally resist a future interpretation.

Example 373
a. Jan is vorige week ziek geweest.
state
  Jan is  last week  ill  been
  'Jan was ill last week.'
a'. * Jan is volgende week ziek geweest.
  Jan is next week  ill  been
b. Jan heeft vanmorgen aan zijn dissertatie gewerkt.
activity
  Jan has  this.morning  on his dissertation  worked
  'Jan has worked on his PhD thesis all morning.'
b'. ?? Jan heeft morgen aan zijn dissertatie gewerkt.
  Jan has  tomorrow  on his dissertation  worked

The unacceptability of the primed examples seems to be related to the fact discussed in Section 1.5.1, sub IB2, that the perfect has different implication for eventuality k with telic and atelic predicates; we illustrate this difference again in (374) for activities and accomplishments.

Example 374
a. Jan heeft vanmorgen aan zijn dissertatie gewerkt.
=( 373a); activity
  Jan has  this.morning  on his dissertation  worked
  'Jan has worked on his PhD thesis all morning.'
b. Jan heeft de brief vanmorgen geschreven.
accomplishment
  Jan has  the letter  this.morning  written
  'Jan has written the letter this morning.'

Although the examples in (374) both present the eventualities expressed by the projection of the main verb as discrete, bounded units that are completed at or before speech time n, they differ with respect to whether the eventualities in question can be continued or resumed after n. This option seems natural for the activity in (374a), as is clear from the fact that this example can readily be followed by ... en hij zal daar vanmiddag mee doorgaan'... and he will continue doing that in the afternoon'. The accomplishment in (374b), on the other hand, seems to imply that the eventuality has reached its implied endpoint and therefore cannot be continued after speech time n.
      Atelic and telic predicates also differ if it comes to modification by the accented adverb nu'now', which expresses that the state of completeness is achieved at the very moment of speech; atelic predicates allow this use of nu only if a durative adverbial phrase like een uur'for an hour' is added; see Janssen (1983) and the references cited there.

Example 375
a. Jan heeft nu *(een uur) aan zijn dissertatie gewerkt.
activity
  Jan has  nu     one hour  on his dissertation  worked
  'Jan has worked on his PhD thesis for an hour ... now.'
b. Jan heeft de brief nu geschreven.
accomplishment
  Jan has  the letter  now  written
  'Jan has written the letter ... now.'

Janssen suggests that this is due to the fact that the moment at which atelic predicates can be considered "completed" is not conspicuous enough to be pointed at by means of accented nu'now'; we are normally only able to pass judgment on this after some time has elapsed unless the rightward boundary is explicitly indicated by, e.g., a durative adverbial phrase. This inconspicuousness of the end point of atelic eventualities is of course related to the fact that they can in principle be extended indefinitely, and is probably also the reason why speakers will refrain from using the perfect if it comes to future atelic eventualities; like in example (375a), the speaker will use the perfect only if the extent of the atelic predicate is explicitly bounded by means of a durative adverbial phrase. In other cases, the speaker will resort to the simple present to locate atelic eventualities in the non-actualized part of the present.

Example 376
Morgen heeft Jan ??(precies een jaar) aan zijn dissertatie gewerkt.
  tomorrow  has  Jan     exactly one year  on his thesis  worked
'Tomorrow Jan has worked on his thesis for a full year.'
[+]  IV.  Multiple events

For the examples so far, we tacitly assumed that the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb occurs only once. Although this may be the default interpretation, the examples in (377) show that this is not necessary: example (377a) expresses that in the actualized part of the present-tense interval i denoted by vandaag'today', the speaker has eaten three times before speech time n. Similarly, the frequency adverb vaak'often' in (377b) expresses that within the actualized part of the tense interval i denoted by the adverbial phrase dit jaar'this year' there have been many occurrences of the eventuality denoted by the phrase naar de bioscoop gaan'go to the cinema'.

Example 377
a. Ik heb vandaag drie maaltijden gegeten: ontbijt, lunch en avondeten.
  have  today  three meals  eaten  breakfast  lunch and supper
  'Iʼve eaten three times today: breakfast, lunch and supper.'
b. Ik ben dit jaar vaak naar de bioscoop geweest.
  am  this year  often  to the cinema  been
  'Iʼve often been to the cinema this year.'

As expected, the default interpretation of examples such as (377) is that the eventualities precede speech time n. This default reading can, however, readily be cancelled. An example such as Als ik vanavond naar bed ga, heb ik drie maaltijden gegeten: ontbijt, lunch and avondeten'When I go to bed tonight, I will have eaten three meals: breakfast, lunch and supper' can readily be uttered at dawn or noon by, e.g., someone with an eating disorder who wants to express his good intentions.

[+]  V.  Habitual and generic clauses

The fact that the present/past-tense interval can contain multiple occurrences of the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb is exploited to the full in habitual constructions such as (378). These examples differ from the simple present examples in (346) in that they tend to situate the habit in the actualized part of the present-tense interval ia; for example, there is a strong tendency to interpret example (378b) such that Jan has quit smoking. It is, however, certainly not necessary to interpret perfect habituals in this way, as will be clear from the fact that example (378a) can readily be followed by ... en hij zal dat wel blijven doen'... and he will continue to do so'.

Example 378
a. Jan is (altijd) met de bus naar zijn werk gegaan.
  Jan has  always  with the bus  to his work  gone
  'Jan has (always) gone to his work by bus.'
b. Jan heeft (vroeger) gerookt.
  Jan has  in.the.past  smoked
  'Jan has smoked in the past/used to be a smoker.'

In contrast to the present-tense examples in (356), it does not seem possible to interpret the perfect-tense examples in (379) generically: the examples in (379a&b) are only acceptable if the subject refers to a (set of) unidentified individual(s); example (379c) can at best give rise to the semantically incoherent interpretation that a specific whale has become a fish.

Example 379
a. # Een echte heer is hoffelijk geweest.
  a true gent  is courteous  been
  'A true gent has been courteous.'
b. # Echte heren zijn hoffelijk geweest.
  true gents  are  courteous  been
c. * De walvis is een zoogdier geweest.
  the whale  is a mammal been
[+]  VI.  Conditionals and hypotheticals

Present perfect-tense clauses introduced by als'when' seem to allow both a conditional and a hypothetical reading, just like the simple present examples in (348) from Section 1.5.4.1. The conditional reading, which is illustrated in (380a&b), is again the default one. These examples involve identical strings but are given different glosses in order to express that a teacher could say this sentence either to his pupils in general to indicate that those who have fulfilled the condition expressed by the antecedent of the sentence may leave, or to a specific student if he does not know whether this student has fulfilled the condition.

Example 380
a. Als je je spullen op geruimd hebt, mag je weg.
  when  one  his things  away  cleared  has be.allowed  one  go.away
  'When one has put away his things, one may go.'
b. Als je je spullen op geruimd hebt, mag je weg.
  when  you  your things  away  cleared  has be.allowed  you  go.away
  'If youʼve put away your things, you may go.'

The hypothetical reading of this sentence arises if the discourse participants know that the antecedent is not fulfilled in the actualized part of the present-tense interval, e.g., if the teacher addresses a specific pupil of whom he knows that he did not yet clear away his things; see the gloss and rendering of (381).

Example 381
Als je je spullen op geruimd hebt, mag je weg.
  as.soon.as  you  your things  away  cleared  has be.allowed  you  go.away
'As soon as youʼve put away your things, you may go.'

The fact that contextual information is needed to distinguish the two readings of the antecedent clause Als je je spullen opgeruimd hebt, mag je weg clearly shows that pragmatics is involved. It is, however, possible to favor a certain reading by means of adverbial phrases. As in the present-tense examples, the conditional reading in (380) is favored by adding an adverb like altijd'always' to the consequence: Als je je spullen opgeruimd hebt, mag je altijd weg'if one has put away his things, one may always go'. The same thing holds for the addition of al'already' to the antecedent since this locates the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb of the antecedent clause in the actualized part of the present-tense interval and thus blocks the hypothetical reading: Als je je spullen al opgeruimd hebt, mag je weg'If you have already put away your things, you may go'. Addition of straks'later' to the antecedent, on the other hand, will favor the hypothetical reading as it suggests that the speaker knows that the condition is not yet fulfilled at the moment of speech: Als je straks je spullen opgeruimd hebt, mag je weg'If you have put away your things later, you may go'.

[+]  VII.  Conditionals and counterfactuals

Past perfect tense utterances allow both a conditional and a counterfactual reading, just like the simple past examples in (351) from Section 1.5.4.1. The default conditional reading can be found in (382a), which refers to some general rule which was valid in the relevant past-tense interval. The conditional reading is not that easy to get if the pronoun je is interpreted referentially, as in (382b), which seems preferably interpreted counterfactually instead. This preference may again be pragmatic in nature. Given that the eventuality is situated in the past-tense interval, the speaker and the addressee may be expected to know whether or not the condition mentioned in the antecedent is fulfilled.

Example 382
a. Als je je spullen op geruimd had, mocht je weg.
  when  one  his things  away  cleared  had  be.allowed  one  go.away
  'When one had put away his things, one was allowed to go.'
b. Als je je spullen op geruimd had, mocht je weg.
  when  you  your things  away  cleared  had  be.allowed  you  go.away
  'If you had put away your things, you were allowed go.'

It is important to observe that the use of the simple past of the verb mogen'to be allowed' in the consequence does not necessarily imply that the leaving event denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb in the consequence is located before speech time n. In fact, the preferred interpretation of counterfactuals of the form in (382b) is that in possible worlds in which the condition mentioned in the antecedent is fulfilled, the leaving event would coincide with or follow speech time n. This will be clear from the fact that the use of the adverb gisteren'yesterday' is not possible in (383a). This shows again that the past-tense interval can include speech time n and thus overlap with the present-tense interval; see the discussion in Section 1.5.1, sub IC. Note that this restriction on adverbial modification is lifted if the consequence is put in the perfect tense, as in (383b).

Example 383
Als je je spullen op geruimd had, ...
  when  you  your things  away  cleared  had
'If youʼd put away your things, ...'
a. ... dan mocht je nu/morgen/*gisteren naar het feest.
  then  be.allowed  you  now/tomorrow/yesterday  to the party
  '... then you were allowed go to the party now/tomorrow.'
b. ... dan had je nu/morgen/gisteren naar het feest gemogen.
  then  had you  now/tomorrow/yesterday  to the party  been.allowed
  '... then you would have been allowed to go to the party now/tomorrow/yesterday.'

      An interesting fact about conditionals and hypotheticals is that the als-phrase alternates with constructions without als, in which the finite verb occupies the first position of the clause: the antecedent in (383) can also have the form Had je je spullen opgeruimd, dan ... With antecedents of this form, counterfactuals are often used to express regret or a wish; for obvious reasons the former reading is probably more likely to arise if the speaker expresses a counterfactual situation that involves himself. The parentheses in these examples indicate that under these readings the consequence is often left implicit.

Example 384
a. Had ik mijn spullen maar op geruimd, dan had ik weg gemogen.
  had  my things  prt  away  cleared  then had I  away  been.allowed
  'I regret that I hadnʼt put away my things/I wish Iʼd put away my things (since then Iʼd have been allowed to go).'
b. Had hij zijn spullen maar op geruimd, dan had hij weg gemogen.
  had  he  his things  prt  away  cleared  then had he away  been.allowed
  'I wish he had put away his things since then heʼd have been allowed to go.'

When the hypothetical involves the addressee, as in (385), the resulting structure is readily construed as a reproach. The construction is special, however, in that it is not possible to overtly express the subject of the antecedent, which strongly suggests that we are formally dealing with an imperative; see also the discussion of examples (179) and (180) in Section 1.4.2, sub I.

Example 385
a. Had (*je) je spullen maar op geruimd, (dan had je weg gemogen).
  had you  your things  prt  away  cleared  then had you  away  been.allowed
  'It is your own fault: if youʼd put away your things, youʼd have been allowed to go.'
b. Had (*je) niet zo veel gedronken (dan had je nu geen kater).
  had  you  not  that much  drunk  then  had  you  now  no hangover
  'It would have been better if you hadnʼt drunk that much (since then you wouldnʼt have had a hangover now).'

The counterfactual examples in this subsection all have in common that the speaker/hearer can be assumed to know whether or not the condition given in the antecedent is satisfied, which makes the conditional reading of these examples uninformative: the speaker could simply have given the addressee permission to leave. Because the counterfactual reading is informative (the speaker informs the addressee about the situation that would have arisen if he had fulfilled the condition expressed by the antecedent), Grice's maxim of quantity favors this interpretation. This shows that Grice's maxim of quantity is involved in triggering various types of irrealis meanings of past perfect-tense constructions.

[+]  VIII.  Denial of the appropriateness of a nominal description

Like the simple past in (356), the past perfect can be used to express that a given nominal description is not applicable to a specific entity. Imagine again a situation in which a pregnant woman enters a bus. All seats are occupied, and nobody seems to be willing to oblige her by giving up his seat. An elderly lady gets angry and utters (386) to the boy next to her, thus implying that the description een echte heer is not applicable to him.

Example 386
Een echte heer was nu allang opgestaan.
  a true gent  was nu a.long.time.ago  up-stood
'A true gent would have given up his seat a long time ago now.'
[+]  IX.  Conclusion

This section has shown that, as in the case of the simple tenses, the default reading of the perfect tenses is that the time interval j, during which the eventuality denoted by the lexical projection of the main verb must take place, is identical to the complete present/past-tense interval i: the completion of the eventuality may take place before, during or after speech time n/n'. In many cases, however, the interpretation is more restricted and may sometimes also have non-temporal implications. This section has shown that this can be derived without any further ado from the interaction between the temporal information (tense and adverbial modification), modal information encoded in the sentence (the theory of possible worlds) and pragmatic information (Grice's maxim of quantity)

References:
  • Comrie, Bernard1985TenseCambridgeCambridge University Press
  • Janssen, Theo1983Het temporele systeem van het Nederlands:drie tijden en twee tijdscompositiesGLOT645-104
  • Janssen, Theo1989Tempus: interpretatie en betekenisDe Nieuwe Taalgids82305-329
  • Verkuyl, Henk2008Binary tenseStanfordCSLI Publications
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