The English gerund vs. the to-infinitive: The case of aspectual constructions

The present paper is concerned with the complementation patterns of four aspectual verbs, i.e. begin, start, continue and cease, each of which co-occurs with two types of non-finite complementizers – the gerund and the to-infinitive. The paper analyses the distributional properties of each pair of the aspectual constructions (e.g. begin to do/ begin doing)  with the corpus-based method known as a distinctive collexeme analysis – a method geared specifically to investigating the interaction between syntactic constructions and lexemes which fill those constructions. The analysis shows that the pairs of constructions with the same matrix verb do not represent arbitrary alternations but are semantically motivated. The main aim of this contribution is to shed some new light on the schematic semantics of the gerundive and infinitival complements and thereby account for the motivated nature of their distribution.

Keywords: aspectual verbs, complementation, gerund, to-infinitive, distinctive collexeme analysis


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