Modality in English and German


  • Abbas Ebrahimi


The meaning of modality has always been concerned with forces that either determine or condition the human action. The forces that are important for the use of modality are primarily of two kinds. Firstly, the free will of human being, secondly, the power of circumstances. According to Lyons the two main concepts of modality are "necessity" and "possibility". These concepts are dependent on the two forces mentioned above. Necessity and possibility may therefore be divided into other concepts such as intention, determination, persistence, compulsion, duty, hope, prediction, assumption. To express all these ideas, language mainly used modal auxiliaries. According to Palmer there are two basic assumptions concerning modality. The first is that modality may be regarded as a grammatical category just as we view aspect, tense, number, gender, etc. The second is that this category can be identified, described, and compared across different languages. This paper, therefore, concentrates on some major English- German modal auxiliaries through which modality may be expressed and compared. The concept of "wish" is excluded here and it will be dealt with in a separate paper.



How to Cite

Ebrahimi, A. (2008). Modality in English and German. Translation Studies Quarterly, 6(23). Retrieved from



Scientific Research Paper