Gnomic Aspect - English


English has no means of morphologically distinguishing a gnomic aspect; however, a generic reference is generally understood to convey an equivalent meaning. Use of the definite article the or a demonstrative determiner usually implies specific individuals, as in "the car he owns is fast", "the cars he owns are fast", or "those rabbits are fast", whereas omitting the definite article or other determiner in the plural creates a generic reference: "rabbits are fast" describes rabbits in general. However, the definite article may also be used in the singular for classes of nouns, as in "The giraffe is the tallest land mammal living today", which does not refer to any specific giraffe, but to giraffes in general.

English generally uses the simple present tense as the equivalent of a gnomic aspect, as in "rabbits are fast" and "water boils at 212 °F", though the past tense ("Curiosity killed the cat") is sometimes used. The auxiliary "will" can also be used to indicate gnomic aspect ("boys will be boys"). The simple present is used with specific references for the equivalent of a habitual aspect, as in "I run every day"; likewise, the auxiliary "will" is used with specific references for the habitual aspect, as in "he will make that mistake all the time, won't he?". Thus in English the gnomic aspect takes the same form as the habitual aspect.

Read more about this topic:  Gnomic Aspect

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