Research questions

The bulk of my research is on nominal genericity. I am also interested in countability, possessives and partitives.

Reference to subkinds (PhD, supervised by Fred Landman)

The subkind reading of nouns

What is the scope of the instance-subkind ambiguity of nouns? What is the relation between the readings? How does the subkind reading interact with grammatical features and denotation?

The availability of the subkind reading

What decides which nouns can refer to subkinds without attaching to kind? What distinguishes between bird and student in I wonder what the most widespread {bird, #student} is?

Inclusion in the subkind relation

What are the truth-conditions of sentences of the form Oaks are a kind of tree and Fishing is a kind of sport? Especially given that not every oak is a tree and not every case of fishing counts as sport.

The subkind reading of nouns and binominal kind

What are the similarities and differences between nouns with the subkind reading and ones combined with binominal kind?

Bare NPs and the kind-instance ambiguity

What is the relation between kind-reference by bare NPs (e.g. Dogs are widespread) and the episodic instance-level use of bare NPs (e.g. Dogs are sitting on my lawn)?

The instance-level use of subkind-denoting NPs

What is the nature of the usage of nominals with kind to refer to instances of the kind(s)? This is exemplified in:

  1. This sapling (🌱) is a kind of tree. predication, unquantified
  2. Fred is every kind of doctor. predication, quantified
  3. There’s a kind of tree in the garden. existential sentence, unquantified
  4. There was every kind of local wine. existential sentence, quantified
  5. This kind of animal is sitting on my lawn. demonstrative

Kind-denoting NPs

Mass definite generics

Why does modification license mass definite generics in English?

Degraded kind-denoting bare plurals

Why are certain kind-denoting bare plurals degraded as direct objects and post-copular?


Object mass nouns and subkind-countability (with Kurt Erbach)

Is lack of subkind-countability a defining characteristic of object mass nouns?

Erbach, Kurt & Aviv Schoenfeld. 2022. Object mass nouns and subkind countability. Glossa 7(1). DOI:

Numeral modification of plural mass nouns

Why is it that when countability is limited, round numbers are less subject to the limitation?

Possessives and partitives

Possessives relations and maximality

Under what conditions must a possessive denote the maximal entity which fits its descriptive content?

  • Schoenfeld, Aviv. To appear. Possessive relations and maximality. Proceedings of the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.

Partitives and word order

What is the relation between the word orders in two of John’s good friends and two good friends of John’s?