No Can Do Modal Verbs


  • Gašper Ilc University of Ljubljana



modal verbs, polysemy, time reference, tense, context, narrative techniques, translation


The paper presents the systems of modal verbs in Slovene and English, and it focuses on comprehension and usage problems that advanced students of English may have when dealing with modal verb constructions. The paper identifies the key factors that give rise to various problems, such as in-vacuo vs. in-context treatment of modal verbs and absolute vs. relative temporal relations. It is argued that most students fail to fully understand contextualised modal verb constructions mostly due to the polysemy of modal verbs as well as their relative tense value. This is particularly the case when a (narrative) text containing modal verb constructions has a past time reference, and combines different narrative techniques.


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16. 06. 2008

How to Cite

Ilc, G. (2008). No Can Do Modal Verbs. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 5(1-2), 9-21.