Date: Sat, 2 Jul 1994 08:19:00 +1200
From: "George Halliday (09)483-9039" HALLIDAYG[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SCHOOLS.MINEDU.GOVT.NZ
Subject: Re: Double modals in Utah
Defining Modals More Tightly
As I conceded the term modal can and is used in different ways.
For the purposes of the thread which was discussing a particular
syntactic usage and its distribution, the definition on morphological
and syntactic grounds is the most useful.
I didn't bother to spell out all the syntactic classes in detail as
I presumed that the defining of this particular class would be old hat
to those on the list. Nor did I state that this class is limited (a
closed set) because as stated previously it varies slightly with dialect.
Two syntactic features are as suggested already lack of do support
and the bare infinitive without to.
Ought does vary too. I don't use it at all in my English, using should
instead. My wife does but she has do support:
I didn't ought to do it.
Used to - has do support for I would say most speakers
Didn't you used to go there a lot?
I know there are speakers who say oughtn't, and I have seen in old-fashioned
books for learners - Usedn't - so there is some variation - language is
Finally I would use the terms "modal verb" or simply "modals" in a different
way to "modal expressions" and include "ought, have to" in the latter. I
would probably wish to work "is to" and "used to" into a description of
aspect. It all depends on your model (or brand of religion). As for
me, I'm not keen on government or bondage.