This paper deals with complement clauses embedded under a present perfect. In such a context a simple past can exhibit the same ambiguity between a simultaneous and a shifted reading as if it were embedded under another simple past. Our purpose is to provide an explanation of this similarity. We begin with a review of Brugger's (1997) approach to the relevant data. Contra this author, we will first demonstrate that there is just one underlying structure for the three present perfects, i.e., the existential, the resultative and the continuative. Second, we will highlight the role of aspectual anteriority instead of temporal anteriority in the licensing of the simultaneous reading of the embedded simple past.
© Walter de Gruyter