The rise of the periphrastic perfect tense in the continental West Germanic languages

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This article adopts the traditional claim in Dutch linguistics that periphrastic perfect-tense constructions gradually developed out of copular-like constructions with HAVE and BE. It argues that this development was made possible by the introduction of two morphological rules. The first rule derives verbal (event-denoting) participles from adjectival (property-denoting) participles, which gave rise to periphrastic perfect-tense constructions with transitive and mutative intransitive verbs. At a later stage this rule was replaced by a rule (still productive in present-day Dutch) that derives verbal participles from verbal stems, as a result of which the periphrastic perfect tense spread to non-mutative intransitive verbs. The article concludes by showing that this account is superior to Coussé’s (2008) flexible user-based account within the constructionist framework, which rejects the categorial distinction between adjectival and verbal participles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe perfect volume
Subtitle of host publicationPapers on the perfect
EditorsKristin Melum Eide, Marc Fryd
Place of PublicationAmsterdam/Philadephia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9789027259998
ISBN (Print)9789027208606
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameStudies in Language Companion


  • language change
  • periphrastic perfect tense
  • adjectival and verbal participle
  • copular and semi-copular verb
  • “double perfect” construction
  • generative grammar
  • construction grammar


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