Title

The Syntax of Modal Constructions in English

Publication Title

Lingua

Publication Date

1972

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1016/0024-3841(72)90059-9

Keywords

English modals, verbs, syntax

Disciplines

English Language and Literature | Linguistics | Modern Languages | Syntax

Abstract

A re-analysis and classification of English modals are proposed. Most of the candidates for inclusion in the modal category are eliminated since they are independently generated as verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Those included are further classified into the 'pure' (M) and the 'quasi' (Q) by their ability to combine internally in the auxiliary. On syntactic grounds, then, Chomsky's re-writing rule is revised as. Aux -> Tense(M)(Q)^n(have + en)(Q)^n(be + ing) (Q)^n. Based on this segmentation, both modals and quasi-modals are examined regarding their selectional characteristics as well as their relationships to certain transformation. The paper concludes that despite tenuous evidence surrounding their semantics, the syntax of English modal constructions can be described by a single rule.

Publisher

Elsevier

Publisher Location

Amsterdam, Netherlands


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