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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Mood in English and other languages has been defined as the inflectional expression of the grammatical categories of the indicative and subjunctive, categories which originally were distinguished in the need to discern fact (indicative) from non-fact (subjunctive). Modality, on the other hand, was a term used by Palmer (1986) to refer to the semantics of mood. The residue of such distinctions may still be found today in the bare subjunctive infinitive or ‘plain form’ (Huddleston and Pullum 2002), and a few idiomatic expressions (e.g., if I were you). However, the binary mood system of indicative versus subjunctive has been largely superseded over time by the modal verb system in English having a range of meanings from non-epistemic obligation and ability to various shades of epistemic possibility or probability. The categorization and diachronic development of such verbs present a perennially problematic area for the study of modality in English grammar.

Keywords: indicative, subjunctive, modal verbs, epistemic, categorization, diachronic

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