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Properness is a semantic property of NPs in Generalized Quantifier Theory. An NP is interpreted in a model M as a proper generalized quantifier Q if Q is neither the empty set nor the power set (i.e. the set of all subsets) of the domain of entities E. (More formally: Q =/= 0 and Q =/= Pow(E).) An NP is improper only if it is not proper. If there are no dogs in E, then all dogs, for instance denotes the power set of E, and hence is an improper NP. A proper quantifier denotation Q is also called a sieve because it only lets through those VP denotations that together with Q make a true sentence.



  • Barwise, J. & R. Cooper 1981. Generalized Quantifiers and Natural Language, Linguistics and Philosophy 4, pp. 159-219
  • Gamut, L.T.F. 1991. Logic, language, and meaning, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.