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Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2022, 5(2); doi: 10.25236/AJHSS.2022.050214.

Coercion and Information Structure in English Progressive Construction with Achievement Verbs


Xinglong Wang1,2, Liang Wang2

Corresponding Author:
Xinglong Wang

1School of Foreign Languages, Chongqing Jiaotong University, Chongqing, China

2College of International Studies, Southwest University, Chongqing, China


English progressive aspect which characterizes dynamicity and duration illustrates an ongoing process at a specific temporal point or during a temporal interval; therefore, achievement verbs and stative verbs generally cannot be used in English progressive aspect, but a large number of achievement verbs indeed appear in English progressive aspect. Regarding it as a construction, this paper explains this abnormal phenomenon based on the notions of coercion in Construction Grammar. According to the analysis, it can be found that “dynamicity” and “duration” are the core constructional meanings of the English progressive construction. Additionally, a prototype-based category of the concept ACTIVITY with the main properties of “causal control”, “dynamicity”, and “duration” as its main properties is built. Scalar adjustment and conceptual metonymy matter a lot in the process of coercion. When coarse-grained scalar adjustment is adopted, achievement verbs are coerced into undirected activities or directed activities. Through this coercion, the English progressive construction with achievement verbs obtains the interpretation of repetition or overall trend. When fine-grained scalar adjustment is adopted, the achievement verb in the English progressive construction can refer to this neighbouring dynamic durative process through part-part metonymy, which contributes to the interpretation of preparatory stage or plan. Furthermore, the information structure of English progressive construction is also explored.


Construction Coercion; the English Progressive Construction; Scalar Adjustment; Conceptual Metonymy; Information Structure

Cite This Paper

Xinglong Wang, Liang Wang. Coercion and Information Structure in English Progressive Construction with Achievement Verbs. Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences (2022) Vol. 5, Issue 2: 96-111. https://doi.org/10.25236/AJHSS.2022.050214.


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