Emotion verbs with <i>to</i>-infinitive complements: From specific to general predication

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This paper traces the evolution of <i>to</i>-infinitive complement constructions with the emotion matrix verbs <i>like</i>, <i>love, hate </i>and <i>prefer </i>over the past two hundred years. It proposes that when the matrix verb is not preceded by a modal auxiliary these constructions should be analysed in Present-day English as encoding general rather than specific predications. In Late Modern English, on the other hand, these same constructions were widely used to encode specific predications. Using data from the BNC and the Corpus of Late Modern English Texts, the chapter demonstrates how these constructions have become increasingly restricted to encoding general predications over the past two hundred years. This development is related to the parallel expansion of <i>-ing </i>complement constructions and of <i>to</i>infinitive complement constructions with modalised matrix verbs.


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