Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Tense, Aspect, TP

Major Advisor

Zeljko Boskovic

Associate Advisor

Susanne Wurmbrand

Associate Advisor

Jonathan Bobaljik

Associate Advisor

Stefan Kaufmann

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation investigates syntactic and semantic properties of the aspectual-temporal domain, arguing that TP is not universal.

Chapter 1 assumes a cross-linguistic structural difference in the nominal domain with DP projected only in languages with overt articles, and explores the idea that the difference has a clausal parallel, with TP being the correlate of DP. By postulating a link in terms of morphological realization of projections, I propose TP is projected only in languages with overt temporal morphology; languages without it lack TP. Correlating the presence of DP and TP provides the right split regarding finiteness mismatches in VP-ellipsis (Chapter 2) and aspectual tenses (Chapter 4).

Chapter 2 examines VP-ellipsis under finiteness mismatches between the elided and antecedent VP. I show languages differ in its availability, arguing that the explanation here lies in the presence/absence of the TP-layer: only no-TP languages allow finiteness mismatches. In TP-languages, the lack of identity in the T-feature in such cases violates the feature-identity requirement for ellipsis.

Chapter 3 discusses VP-ellipsis under aspectual mismatches in Serbian, showing that VP-ellipsis is restricted by aspect, not finiteness, thus supporting the claim from Chapter 2 that Serbian is a no-TP language. This Chapter also provides new insights regarding the phasal partitioning of clauses and proposes a phase-based parallelism requirement on ellipsis.

Chapter 4 investigates the semantic consequences of the presence/absence of TP. I show that, in the absence of TP, temporal interpretation can be derived by aspectual and modal components. Furthermore, the no-TP analysis accounts for various non-deictic temporal interpretations, as shown for Serbian. This Chapter also demonstrates that Serbian and Bulgarian differ regarding aspectual tenses, arguing that the difference stems from the presence of TP in Bulgarian, and its absence in Serbian. Chapters 4-5 explore semantic distribution of various verbal forms; I show that these forms are often misclassified, calling for their re-examination.

By examining verbal morphology of a number languages, Chapter 5 establishes a correlation between temporal morphology and the presence/absence of TP in a language, which is then postulated as the main criterion in establishing the TP/no-TP language distinction: languages without temporal morphology lack TP.