Low-level patterning of pronominal subjects and verb tenses in English

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This paper explores patterns of co-occurrence of selected subject pronouns (I, you, she, he) with past, present, and future tense uses of English verbs, with a focus on give, send, and bring. Statistically significant overuse and underuse of the subject pronouns are determined by reference to overall frequencies of subject pronouns and verb tenses in two corpora of spoken language. A key result is that I is overused with give, send, and bring in the future tense but underused in the present and past tenses. Co-occurrence preferences such as these are not easily intuited and demonstrate the value of corpus-based methodologies in refining our notions of the semantics of argument structure.


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