Modal words

The term ‘modality’ is a cover term for a range of semantic notions such as ability, possibility, hypothetically, obligation, and imperative meaning. This is a serviceable definition for practical purposes [29].

Modality refers to the system English uses to communicate fine shades of meaning along a positive-to-negative spectrum. English has an extensive system of modality. Generally, it allows expressing the degrees of:

usuality – how frequently something happens or is true;

probability, possibility or certainty – the likelihood of something happening or being the case;

obligation or necessity – how necessary it is for things to be done or to be a certain way;

ability – the ability of someone or something, to do something;

inclination – the inclination or willingness of someone to do something.

Modality can be expressed by using a range of grammatical items:

a modal auxiliary in the verb group (can, could, must, ought to, shall, should, may, might);

certain verbs which inherently convey meanings to do with obligation, necessity, usuality, inclination or probability (e.g. require, permit, want to, wish to, would like to, seem to, appear to, tend to);

adverbs and adjectives indicating probability, ability or usuality (e.g. surely, certainly, potentially, often, rarely, usually, capable, possible, probable, perhaps, maybe);

nouns indicating probability, certainty, usuality, obligation or ability (e.g. likelihood, possibility, capability, necessity, requirement, permission, potential [61].

Among means expressing modality, exactly the adverbs function as parenthesis.

The adverbs that appear in the first column of Table 2 (as the linguistic realization of the way of qualifying standpoints by commenting on the commitment to the propositional content) are treated in the literature under a variety of names such as „modal”, „epistemic”, „evidential”, „hearsay”, and „domain” adverbs [55].

Modal adverbs are used to express the speaker’s view of the truth value of a proposition (a clause or sentence) with which it is associated. They can be positioned next to an adjective or adverb word or phrase and can be considered as modifying such word or phrase. Even when used in this way, there is a paraphrase in which they modify a clause or sentence [37].

Here are some modal adverbs, which can be parenthesis in the sentence:

Allegedly, Apparently, Arguably, Assuredly, Believably, Certainly, Clearly, Conceivably, Conditionally, Credibly, Debatably, Dependably, Defensibly, Definitely, Doubtlessly, Evidently, Hypothetically, Impossibly, Incontestably, Indeed, Indisputably, Indubitably, Ineluctably, Inescapably, Inevitably, Likely, Manifestly, Maybe, Necessarily, Needlessly, Noticeably, Obviously, Ostensibly, Patently, Perhaps, Plainly, Positively, Possibly, Presumably, Presumptively, Probably, Purportedly, Really, Scarcely, Seemingly, Supposedly, Surely, Transparently, Truly, Unarguably, Unavoidably, Undeniably, Undoubtedly, Unnecessarily, Unquestionably

Certainly, surely, apparently, assuredly, clearly, undoubtedly, undeniably, obviously, and allegedly, maybe, perhaps, doubtlessly, supposedly belong to the group of adverbs that expresses shades of doubt or certainty. The first two adverbs convey conviction and the other two convey some degree of doubt. Clearly, evidently, and obviously belong to another group that expresses, in addition, the observation of a state of affairs. Seemingly falls in that same group, indicating some degree of doubt [55].

Sinclair, who offers the most diversified classification of adverbs, places the above adverbs under three different groups. The adverbs of the first group indicate “justification for a statement” (apparently, clearly, evidently, obviously). The adverbs of the second group indicate reality or possibility (allegedly, certainly, presumably, seemingly, supposedly). The adverbs of the third group, “assuming hearer’s agreement”, include once more the adverb apparently of the first group and the adverbs clearly, obviously of second group, next to naturally, of course, and plainly [20].

For example:

So there’s just no, seemingly, possible way that it could keep up with the demand right now [COCA, SPOK, 2010].

Undoubtedly, I have also gotten some events out of sequence due to the distance between me and those early childhood memories [COCA, ACAD, 2009]

I’d lost him in the midst of the chaos, but apparently, Katrice had decided to send him here with a story after he’d captured this “evidence” [COCA, FIC, 2011].

With the extra detail evident on the movie screen, it takes more effort to make the fantasy environment appear to be believably real [COCA, MAG, 1994].

“Definitely, if there is a discrepancy it must be solved,” Rogge said Monday in Prague. “We had the situation with gymnastics where sanctions were taken when the truth emerged. I can say that in this case, which I don’t know in detail, definitely, we would urge both parties to come up with the truth and then decisions will be taken. As I said I will check with my sports department” [COCA, NEWS, 2011].

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