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Functions of Modal Predicates in Contemporary Russian, English, German, French, Italian and Spanish Languages

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2013. Vol. 2. No. 4. Pp. 355-360.
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Vasilev L. M.
Bashkir State University
32 Z. Validi Street, 450076, Ufa, Russia


The article discusses the semantics of modal predicates in several Indo-European languages: Russian, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish. Modal (modal evaluative) predicates as the corresponding particles characterize predicative and communicative aspects of statement; they serve as the main (propositional) predicate aspect or as introductory words (= secondary predicate) of statement's communicative aspect, expressing in both cases attitude of a speaker to the content of the statement. Four groups of modal predicates of specified languages are analyzed in the article: 1) predicates that express an opinion about possibility of the supposed 2) predicates that express confidence in possibility of the supposed 3) predicates that express opinion about necessity of realization of the supposed 4) predicates that express opinion about admissibility of realization of the supposed. The author examines the possible use of these words in the function of different parts of speech (adjective, adverb, etc.), as well as their syntax peculiarity. For example, the predicates of the first group as adjectives function as predicate of personal and impersonal sentences: This is possible (but it is not: This is perhaps), It is possible that I shall come (= I shall come possibly); Russian: Это возможно ‘This is possible’ (но нельзя: Это наверное), Возможно, что я приеду (= Я, возможно, приеду) ‘It is possible that I shall come (= I shall come possibly)’; German: Das ist wahrscheinlich 'This is possible’, Es ist wahrscheinlich daß er wird kommm (= Wahrscheinlich er wird kommen) ‘It is possible that he will come (= He will come possibly)’; French. C’est possible ‘This is possible’, Il est possible que elle viandra (= Elle viandra possiblement) ‘It is possible that she will come (= She will come possibly)’; итал. Questo è possible ‘This is possible’, È possible que il ha ragione (= Il ha possiblemente ragione) ‘It is possible that he is right (= He is right possibly)’; Spanish: Esto es probable ‘This is possible’, Es muy possible que el está fatigado (= Èl está fatigado probablemente) ‘It is possible that he is tired (= He is tired possibly)’. In the final part of the article a conclusion is made that examined modal predicates are most similar in Italian and Spanish. French and English are close to them. The most specific modal predicates are in Russian and German.


  • • modal predicates
  • • predicate
  • • introductory words
  • • personal sentences
  • • impersonal sentences