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Errors in the Use of Verb Forms

There were the most errors in the use of verbs in our research. Therefore we divided them
into following categories:

1. Errors in the use of verb forms

2. Errors in the use of verb tenses

Each category was analysed separately. We recognize several verb forms in English. EFL
learners have to know to use verb forms correctly. This area of English was also analysed and
evaluated in our research. Our findings showed that verb forms had been the most difficult
part of English grammar for them. We found out forty-nine errors (34,2 %) of all errors which
learners had made in the use of verb forms. Using SST by Dulay et al. (1982) we divided
these errors into the following groups:

1. omission of items within the verb forms = 6 errors (12,2 %)

2. addition of items within the verb forms = 12 errors (24,4 %)

3. misformation of verb forms = 31 errors (63,4 %)

2.2.1.1 Omission of Items within the Verb Forms

This type of error was made by six primary pupils (12,2 %) in the sentence:

11. How many foreign countries have you visited? (Primary pupils used verb form visit
instead of visited in the sentence: How many foreign countries have you visit?)

They used correct verb tense (present perfect) in the sentence but the verb form of the main
verb visit had been used incorrectly. They omitted marker ed when they had formed past
participle of the verb visit.

2.2.1.2 Addition of Items within the Verb Forms

We identified twelve errors (24,4 %) when primary pupils had added some redundant
elements in their sentences. They made following errors:

02. He read an interesting book. (Six primary pupils used the verb form readed instead of
read in the sentence: He readed an interesting book.)

They formed past tense of the verb read by adding ed to the base form. It was an incorrect
procedure because they should use simple past form of the verb read.

10. Could she lend me some money? (Five primary pupils used lends instead of lend in the
sentence: Could she lends me some money?)
Using the third person singular morpheme s they made the error. We always use a modal
auxiliary verb with a main verb which is the bare infinitive (i.e. without morpheme s which
is typical for the third person in singular).

20. Will you help me? (Only one primary pupil made an error when he/she had tried to
combine two forms of future tenses together in the sentence: Will you going to help me?)

He/She used going to construction excessively in this sentence.

2.2.1.3 Misformation of Verb Forms

We identified seven sentences in our research where primary pupils had used wrong forms of
verbs. The total number of these errors was thirty-one (63,4 % of all errors). It was the most
numerous type of errors in our research. These errors were found out in the sentences:

He read an interesting book. (They used form red instead of read in the sentence: He red an
interesting book.)

This error was made by five primary pupils. They used written verb form which did not exist
in English. We pronounce past participle verb read as /red/.

05. I have never drunk Japanese tea. (Seven primary pupils used past simple verb form drank
instead of past participle verb form drunk in the sentence: I have never drank Japanese tea.)

We pronounce past participle verb form drunk as /drk/.

07. Some people are afraid of mice. (Three primary pupils made an error when they had used
verb form is instead of verb form are in the sentence: Some people is afraid of mice.)

They did not respect the rule subject and verb agreement because they had used verb form is
with plural noun people. On the other words, the plural subject takes the plural verb.

10. Could she lend me some money? (Six primary pupils used the wrong form of a main verb
because they had used the verb borrow instead of lend in the sentence: Could she borrow me
some money?)

Probably, they were not aware of the meaning of the verb borrow because this word means
to take while lend means to give.

16. Have you ever broken a mirror? (Five primary pupils used past simple verb form broke
instead of past participle verb form broken in the sentence: Have you ever broke a mirror?)

They tried to use the correct verb tense (present perfect) but the verb form broke had been
incorrect.

17. My sister is not living with us now. (Two primary pupils used the verb to do, i.e. third
person singular verb form does instead of the verb to be, i.e. is in the sentence: My sister does
not living with us now.)
However primary pupils tried to use present continuous by using present participle of the
main verb living they had also used the wrong verb form of the present tense to do (does
instead of is).

19. How is this word written? (Three primary pupils used wrong verb form writted which
does not exist in English instead of past participle verb form written).

They wanted to form the past participle verb form by adding ed to the main verb.

2.2.2 Errors in the Use of Verb Tenses


Errors in the use of verb tenses point to the learners incapability to make a decision which
verb tense should be used and to use the correct verb tense. These errors are often combined
with verb form errors and we can say that they often overlap each other. Error Analysis in our
research showed twenty-five errors in this category (i.e. 17,5 % of all errors). In the other
words, primary pupils made these errors because they had used wrong verb tenses in their
sentences. According to SST we could categorize this type of errors as misformation.
Confusion or wrong use of verb tenseswere found out in the following sentences:

04. Why do not you buy yourself a new coat? (Two primary pupils used future simple tense
instead of present simple tense in the sentence: Why will you not buy yourself a new coat?)

05. I have never drunk Japanese tea. (He/She used past simple tense instead of present perfect
tense in the sentece: I never did not drink Japanese tea.)

06. I am going to tell her about it tomorrow. (Two learners formed this sentence by using
present simple tense instead of the structure going to which is not a tense but a special
expression to talk about the future. They wrote the sentence: I tell her about it tomorrow.)

08. How long have you been playing the piano? (We detected two errors in the use verb
tenses when primary pupils had used past continuous tense instead of present perfect
continuous in the sentence: How long were you playing the piano?

10. Could she len dme some money? (Three primary pupils formed interrorgative sentence in
present tense by using modal verb can instead of could which is typical for the past: Can she
lend me some money? )

11. How many foreign countries have you visited? (Two primary pupils used past simple
tense instead of present perfect tense in the sentence: How many foreign countries did you
visit?)

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13. I want to learn English. (He/She used present continuous tense instead of present simple
tense in the sentence: I am wanting to learn English.)

15. Our teacher told us about it. (Three primary pupils used past continuous tense instead of
past simple tense in the sentence: Our teacher was telling us about it.)

17. My sister is not living with us now. (Five primary pupils used present simple tense instead
of present continuous tense in the sentence: My sister does not live with us now.)

19. How is this word written? (Two primary pupils used past simple tense instead of present
tense in passive: How did this word write?)

20. Will you help me? (Two primary pupils used present simple tense instead of future simple
tense in the sentence: Do you help me?)

We summarized errors in the use of verb tenses in the following table 3:

Errors in the Use of Articles


The use of articles is often a big problem especially for those learners whose mother language
does not contain articles. Unlike English we know that Slovak language does not contain the
articles. Therefore Slovak primary pupils have to learn the rules of their correct usage. We
found out twenty-one errors in the use of articles (i.e. 14,7 % of the total number of errors)
which had been made by seventeen primary pupils in their written works. According to SST
we divided these errors into three groups. We ordered them as follows:

1. omission of articles = 10 errors (47,6 %)

2. addition of articles = 9 errors (42,9 %)

3. misformation of articles = 2 errors (9,5 %)

We illustrated these errors in the picture 3.

2.2.3.1 Omission of Articles

Nearly the half of errors in the use of articles was caused by the omission of them. The total
number of omitted articles was ten (47,6 %).

The sentences where articles were omitted:

02. He read an interesting book. (In this sentence the definite article an was omitted a three
times.)

04. Why do not you buy yourself a new coat? (In this sentence the definite article a was
omitted a three times.)
08. How long have you been playing the piano? (The definite article the was omitted once.)

16. Have you ever broken a mirror? (In this sentence the definite article a was omitted a three
times too.)

We use indefinite articles before general, non-specific, singular nouns, which are countable.
We always use definite article the in phrase ...play the piano....

2.2.3.2 Addition of Articles

This type of errors was represented by nine errors (i.e. 42,9 %). Primary pupils made these
errors because they had added extra articles to the sentences. Our analysis showed that pupils
had added extra both definite and indefinite articles to the sentences.

The errors of this type were found out in sentences:

05. I have never drunk Japanese tea. (Three pupils added definite article the in the sentence:
I have never drunk the Japanese tea.)

07. Some people are afraid of mice. (Two pupils added indefinite article a in the sentence:
Some people are afraid of a mice.)

11. How many foreign countries have you visited? (Only one pupil added definite article the
in the sentence: How many the foreign countries have you visited? )

13. I want to learn English. (Three pupils added definite article the in the sentence: I want to
learn the English.)

We found out there a lot of errors, for instance: errors in the use of indefinite articles a in
front of the noun in plural, errors in the use of definite article the in front of a proper noun
instead of zero article error in the use of definite article the in front of a noun with general
meaning.

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2.2.3.3 Misformation of Articles

We found out two errors (9,5 %) of this type because primary pupils had used wrong forms of
articles in their sentences.

The sentences where articles were used incorrectly:


08. How long have you been playing the piano? (He/She used indefinite article a instead of
definite article the in the sentence: How long have you been playing a piano?)

16. Have you ever broken a mirror? (He/She used the wrong form of indefinite article, i.e. he
or she used an instead of a: Have you ever broken an mirror?)

Primary pupils ignored the rules of the use both indefinite a definite article in their sentences.

2.2.4 Word Order Errors


The major difference between English and Slovak language is that English is analytic
language but Slovak is synthetic. The word order within both languages is different too.
English has got fixed word order. We cannot change the word order in English sentence
because their meaning would be changed. Unlike English there is free and unfixed word
order in Slovak language.

These errors were 4th the most numerous category of errors in our research. We found out
eighteen errors (12,6 % of all errors) when primary pupils used wrong word order in their
sentences. We evaluated this category of errors separately because learners had placed
various grammatical constituents in wrong order many times.

The big problem for Slovak pupils was the placement of both nouns and verbs within
interrogative sentences (i.e. Inversion).

04. Why do not you buy yourself a new coat? (Two primary pupils formed this sentence:
Why you do not buy yourself a new coat?)

08. How long have you been playing the piano? (Two primary pupils wrote this sentence:
How long have been you playing the piano?)

11. How many foreign countries have you visited? (Two primary pupils formed the sentences:
How many foreign countries you have visited?)

18. What were you thinking about? (Two primary pupils formed this sentence: What you
were thinking about?)

They confused the placement of some pronouns within the sentences:

10. Could she lend me some money? (He/She wrote this sentence: Could me lend she some
money?)

20. Will you help me? (He/She formed this sentence: Will me help you?)

Some of them made errors when they had placed prepositions incorrectly within the
sentences:

06. I am going to tell her about it tomorrow. (He/She wrote this sentence as follows: I am
going to tell her tomorrow about it.)
18. What were you thinking about? (He/She formed this sentence: What were you about
thinking?).

Two primary pupils were not able to make correct form of the verb have got in negation.

09. I have not got a lot of money on me. (They wrote this sentence as follows: I have got not
a lot of money on me.)

Two primary pupils wrong formed the interrogative sentence when they had placed
demonstrative pronoun incorrectly.

19. How is this word written? (Two learners wrote this sentence as follows: How this is word
written?)

He/She changed the word order within other sentences:

01. This information is not very important. (He/She wrote: This is not information very
important.)

19. How is this word written? (He/She formed this sentence: How written is this word?)

2.2.5 Errors in the Use of Prepositions


Errors in the use of prepositions were the other significant category of errors in our research.
The total number of these errors was ten (7,0 %) and they were found out in seven pupils
works. In the other words, thirty per cent of pupils made some errors in the use of
prepositions. We divided these errors according to Surface Strategy Taxonomy (SST) into
four groups. The structure of these errors was as follows:

1. omission of prepositions = 5 errors (50,0 %)

2. addition of prepositions = 3 errors (30,0 %)

3. misformation of prepositions = 2 errors (20,0 %)

The types of errors in the use of prepositions were also illustrated in the picture 4.

2.2.5.1 Omission of Prepositions

This type of errors is characterized by the absence of a preposition in an utterance, i.e. some
primary pupils omitted some prepositions in their written answers. The total number of
omitted prepositions was five (50,0 % of all errors in the use of prepositions).

Prepositions were omitted in the following sentences:

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09. I have not got a lot of money on me. (Preposition on was omitted once: I have not got
a lot of money me.)

18. What were you thinking about? (Preposition about was omitted a four times: What were
you thinking?)

We have to use preposition of place on in the previous sentence (09). We always place
preposition about at the end of an interrogative sentence (18).

2.2.5.2 Addition of Prepositions

We detected three errors when extra prepositions had been added. This type of error is called
simple addition and it is one of the subtypes of addition. The occurrence of this error
comprised 30,0 % of all errors in the use of prepositions.

Examples of sentences where extra prepositions were added:

08. How long have you been playing the piano? (Preposition on was added in the sentence
once: How long have you been playing on the piano?)

14. Answer my question! (Preposition on was added in the sentence twice: Answer on my
question!)

We can see two situations when the preposition on cannot be used in these sentences.

2.2.5.3 Misformation of Prepositions

During our analysis we found out two errors (20,0 %) of this type. These errors were
characteristic by the use of the wrong forms of prepositions. In the other words, the forms of
prepositions were misused. These errors were made by two primary pupils.

Examples of sentences where the prepositions had wrong forms:

09. I have not got a lot of money on me. (Preposition for was used instead of on once: I have
not got a lot of money for me.)

12. Listen to me! I am talking to you. (Preposition on was used instead of to once: Listen to
me! I am talking on you.)

2.2.6 Spelling Errors


The English contains over 800,000 words. Each word can be a possible source of spelling
errors for EFL learners. Due to this fact they should pay attention to the vocabulary which
they use in both speaking and writing. We analysed twenty-three written works and there we
found out nine spelling errors (6,3 % of all errors). We divided these errors according to SST
as follows:

1. omission of letters within the words = 5 errors (55,6 %)

2. addition of a letter within the word = 1 error (11,1 %)

3. misformation of the word = 1 error (11,1 %)

4. misordering of letters within the words = 2 errors (22,2 %)

Structure of spelling errors is illustrated in the picture 5.

2.2.6.1 Omission of Letters within the Words

We divided five errors (55,6 %) which primary pupils had made when they had omitted some
letters within the words.

02. He read an interesting book. (He/She omitted vowel e within the word interesting as
follows: He read an intresting book.)

06. I am going to tell her about it tomorrow. (Two pupils omitted consonant r

within the word tomorrow as follows: I am going to tell her about it tomorow.)

16. Have you ever broken a mirror? (He/She omitted consonant r within the word mirror as
follows: Have you ever broken a miror?)

19. How is this word written? (He/She omitted consonant t within the word written as
follows: How is this word writen?)

2.2.6.2 Addition of a Letter within the Word

Only one error (11,1 %) was found out when primary pupil had added an extra letter within
the word.

05. I have never drunk Japanese tea. (He/She added consonant s within the word Japanese as
follows: I have never drunk Japanesse tea.)

2.2.6.3 Misformation of the Word

There was only one error (11,1 %) in pupils written works.

20. Will you help me? (He/She made spelling error when he/she had written the word helf
instead of help in the sentence: Will you helf me?)

The word helf does not exist in English.

2.2.6.4 Misordering of Letters within the Words


We detected two errors of this type (22,2 %) when he/she had placed letters within the word
incorrectly.

05. I have never drunk Japanese tea. (He/She made an error within the object tea when he/she
had changed the letter order as follows: I have never drunk Japanese tae.)

11. How many foreign countries have you visited? (He/She changed the letter order within
the adjective foreign as follows: How many foreing countries have you visited?)

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2.2.7 Errors in the Use of Pronouns


Pronouns are other significant linguistic category in language system. There are many
subcategories in their structure and a lot of pronouns in each category. However both their
system and the usage are difficult for many learners they were not the top problem for
primary pupils in our research. Our analysis detected six errors (4,2 %) of all errors which
primary pupils had made in their written works. These errors were made by five pupils.

Structure of types of errors in the use of pronouns by Slovak primary pupils was following:

1. omission of a pronoun = 1 error (16,6 %)

2. addition of a pronoun = 1 error (16,6 %)

3. misformation of pronouns = 4 errors (66,8 %)

This structure of errors in the use of pronouns is illustrated in the picture 6.

Using Surface Strategy Taxonomy we were able to describe these errors as follows:

2.2.7.1 Omission of a Pronoun

There was only one error of this type (16,6 %) which we had found out in pupils written
works.

10. Could she len dme some money? (Indefinite pronoun some was omitted in the
interrogative sentence: Could she lend me money?)

We use indefinite pronoun some in front of uncountable nouns where this pronoun usually
expresses the quantity of something.
2.2.7.2 Addition of a Pronoun

We identified one error (16,6 % of all errors in the use of pronouns) when a primary pupil had
added extra pronoun in a sentence.

14. Answer my question! (Personal pronoun you was incorrectly added in the sentence: You
answer my question!)

We omit the personal pronoun you in an imperative sentence when we express the second
person (i.e. without a subject).

2.2.7.3 Misformation of Pronouns

We say about misformation of the pronouns when we find out the use of wrong form of the
pronoun in a sentence. We identified four errors (66,8 % of all errors in the use of pronouns)
when primary pupils had used wrong forms of the pronouns.

Sentences with errors:

04. Why do not you buy yourself a new coat? (Three primary pupils used the wrong form of
reflexive pronoun yourselves instead of yourself in the sentence: Why do not you buy
yourselves a new coat?)

We can say that both object in singular (a new coat) and Slovak translation of the word (you)
indicate the use of reflexive pronoun yourself.

07. Some people are afraid of mice. (Only one primary pupil made an error in the use of the
pronoun in this sentence. The pupil used the wrong form of indefinite pronoun when he had
written each instead of some in the sentence: Each people are afraid of mice.)

When he/she used each instead of some he/she had changed the sense of the whole sentence.

2.2.8 Errors in the Use of Plural Nouns


We can say that in English, just like Slovak, the nouns are inflected for grammatical number
that is singular or plural. Slovak plurals are always regular whereas English has got a range
of ways in which plurals are formed. This category of errors was represented in our research
by five errors (3,5 % of all errors) which primary pupils had made in their written works. We
divide these errors according to SST as follows:

1. incorrect addition of morpheme -s = 2 errors (40 %)

2. misformation of plural nouns = 3 errors (60 %)

Structure of errors in the use of plural nouns is illustrated in the picture 7.

2.2.8.1 Incorrect Addition of Morpheme s


We detected two errors (40 %) when primary pupils had added incorrectly morpheme s
when they had formed plural of a noun.

We found out these errors in sentence:

07. Some people are afraid of mice. (Primary pupils wrote this sentence with error: Some
peoples are afraid of mice.)

We can term this error as Double markings because the noun people we use only in plural
and the use of morpheme s is incorrect.

2.2.8.2 Misformation of Plural Nouns

We analysed three errors (60 %) when primary pupils had formed plural of a noun in a wrong
way.

07. Some people are afraid of mice. (Three pupils used object mouses instead of mice in the
sentence: Some people are afraid of mouses.)

This type of error is also called as Regularization error. Noun mouse is in singular and its
plural form is mice. We term this form of plural as Mutation plural. There are plenty of nouns
in English whose plural is formed in this way. Slovak EFL learners need to learn these forms
of plurals because their mother language does not contain them.

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2.3 Research Conclusions


We transformed our findings into the following research conclusions:

Errors in the use of verb forms were the most frequent category of all error categories in our
research. We detected forty-nine errors (34,2 %) of this type and we divided these errors
according to Surface Strategy Taxonomy into three types. The most numerous type of errors
was the misformation of verb forms (thirty-one errors, 63,4 %). There were found out eight
cases when non-existing verb forms had been used in sentences (e.g. red instead of read,
writted instead of written). There were found out twelve errors when primary pupils had used
simple past verb forms instead of past participle verb forms (e.g. broke instead of broken,
drank instead of drunk). Primary pupils made three errors when they had not respected the
rule subject and verb agreement and had used wrong verb form people is instead people are.
Six of them used wrong verb form (borrow instead of lend) because they had not been aware
of both the meaning and the use of these verbs. And finally, two learners used incorrectly
verb form to do (does) instead of to be (is) in third singular person. Primary pupils made less
errors (twelve, i.e. 24,4 %) when they had added some redundant elements within the verb
forms (e.g. readed instead of read, lends instead of lend etc.). The omission of items within
the verb forms was the type of errors which had been found out a six times, i.e. 12,2 % (e.g.
visit instead of visited). We tried to find out the causes of the errors which primary pupils had
made in the use of verb forms. They had two main problems: formation of verb forms and
their use in writing. Most of them were not able to form the correct verb forms, they often
used verb forms which do not exist and sometimes they did not know the meaning of verbs
which they had used in their sentences. Most of them did not know irregular verbs and they
were not able to use them in a correct way. Due to these facts they need to improve their
learning in this area of English grammar.

We found out twenty-five errors (17,5 %) in the use of verb tenses. Primary pupils made
these errors because they had confused (or wrong used) verb tenses in their sentences. We
categorized this type of errors as misformation of verb tenses. There were eleven sentences of
twenty where the errors were detected. Structure of verb tense errors was illustrated in table
3. There are several rules for each verb tenses in English, how to use them and when to use
them correctly. Therefore we will not explain these rules separately for each error in the use
verb tenses which we found out in our research. We want to point out the essence of the
problem. The use of present perfect tense (or present perfect continuous) was the problem for
Slovak primary pupils. They confused these verb tenses and used past tenses (simple or
continuous) instead of present perfect tense (five errors, sentences No. 05, 08, 11). Probably
the absence of present perfect tense in Slovak language is the cause of errors in their
sentences. They also mixed up present simple tense with present continuous tense in their
sentences (six errors, sentences No. 13, 17) and present simple tense with future simple tense
(four errors, No. 04, 20). We found out the problems in the formation of sentences in passive
voice (two errors, sentence No. 19). Past simple tense was confused with past continuous
tense a three times (sentence No. 15). Both the construction going to and planned future
were the problem for two primary pupils who had formed their sentences in a wrong way
(sentence No. 6). English grammar errors in the area of the verb tenses are common and easy
to make. The difference in both languages English and Slovak influenced the results of our
research. The absence of some verb tenses (e.g. perfect tenses) in Slovak language as well as
different construction of verb tenses in English caused some errors in this area of English
grammar. As for the causes we see a possibility for Slovak primary pupils how to avoid the
errors in the use of verb tenses in English. They have to learn English verb tenses and
memorized them. Then they should practise verb tenses regularly in their speaking and
writing.

Our analysis showed that primary pupils had made a lot of errors in the use of articles. Their
total number was twenty-one (14,7 % of all errors). This area of English grammar was the
third area where the most errors had been detected. The errors were divided into three groups.
The most frequent types of errors were omission of the articles (ten errors, 47,6 %) and
wrong addition of the articles (nine errors, 42,9 %). Only two errors (9,5 %) were identified
as misformation when pupils had used wrong forms of articles in the sentences. We may say
that both definite and indefinite articles were omitted in pupils works. We found out nine
errors when articles a/an had been omitted in front of countable, general nouns in the
singular. Definite article was omitted once. We also detected nine errors when articles had
been added incorrectly. There were two errors in the use of indefinite articles a in front of
the noun in plural, three errors in the use of definite article the in front of a proper noun
instead of zero article and four errors in the use of definite article the in front of nouns with
general meaning. These types of errors are often made by EFL learners whose mother
language does not contain articles. Slovak language does not contain them. On the other
hand, it is inevitable for Slovak learners to know the rules of their usage.

We found out that word order errors were the problem for Slovak primary pupils because they
had made eighteen errors (12,6 % of all errors) in their written works. We may say that fifteen
primary pupils of all (i.e. 65 %) made these errors in their sentences. Due to the difference
both languages English and Slovak these errors are common in pupils speaking and writing.
We found out several areas where Slovak primary pupils made lots of errors when they had
formed their sentences. They used wrong word order within interrogative sentences because
they had not respected indirect order of words in their sentences (e.g. sentences No. 04, 08,
11, 18). They also confused the placement of some pronouns in the sentences (e.g. sentences
No. 10, 20). Learners made a few errors when they had placed preposition incorrectly within
some sentences (e.g. sentences No. 06, 18). Some of them were not able to make the correct
form of the verb have got in negation and they used wrong word order (e.g. sentence No.
09). Slovak primary pupils have to use correct word order within a sentence because the
meaning of English sentence depends on the placement of words within a sentence.

Our research also showed that Slovak learners had made some errors in the use of
prepositions. The total number of these errors was ten (7,0 % of all errors). Using SST we
divided these errors into three groups. The most frequent errors were prepositions which had
been omitted in the sentences. There are four errors in the use of prepositions when
preposition about should be placed at the end of a sentence and this preposition was omitted
by pupils. This sentence had a question form. We also found out an error when the
preposition of place on was omitted in a sentence. We detected three cases when the extra
preposition on was added in sentences. The use of the wrong form of a preposition was
identified in two sentences (one error in each sentence). Causes of the appearance of errors in
the use of prepositions can be different. We can say that there are some causes of their
appearance in pupils works. Firstly, we state that there are a lot of differences in the use of
prepositions between English and Slovak sentence. Secondly, some Slovak pupils do not
know the rules of their usage in English sentences and they often omit the prepositions.
According to some authors, these errors are typical for EFL learners.

Our Error Analysis showed nine spelling errors (6,3 % of all errors) which learners made in
their written works. These errors were divided according to SST into four groups. The most
frequent type of errors was the omission of letters within the words (five errors, 55,6 %).
Consonant doubling was the biggest spelling problem for Slovak primary pupils. They often
omitted some consonants within the words (e.g. mirror miror, tomorrow tomorow, written
writen). We can say that there is no reliable rule in English whether to double a consonant
or not when we use similarly sounding words. Therefore Slovak primary pupils have to
memorize word by word when to double and when not to. The similar error (i.e. 11,1 %) was
found out when a learner had used extra consonant within the word Japanese Japanesse. We
also found out two errors (22,2 %) when primary pupils had used a wrong letter order within
the words (e.g. tea tae, foreign foreing). Only one primary pupil (11,1 %) used the word
helf (instead of help) which does not exist in English vocabulary. It is difficult to define
causes of occurrence of spelling errors. Primary pupils had ample time to revise and self-
correct their written works before handing in. Therefore we say about errors. According to
some authors, they can also be caused by dyslexia. However these spelling errors were not
the top problem for Slovak primary pupils in our research they should use their vocabulary
carefully.

We analysed some errors in the use of pronouns during our research. Primary pupils made six
errors (4,2 %) of all detected errors in their written works. This area of English grammar did
not cause primary pupils many problems because this grammar category took next-to-last
place in the scale of errors. We may summarize our findings as follows. Errors which learners
made in the use of the pronouns had been divided according to SST into three groups. The
most errors were found out in the use of incorrect forms of pronouns (66,8 %). For instance,
they used the wrong form of reflexive pronouns yourselves instead of yourself, they also used
the indefinite pronoun each instead of some. The same percentage of occurrence of errors
(16,6 %) was found out in the following use of pronouns: a pronoun which had been omitted
in a sentence and a pronoun which had been incorrectly added in a sentence. There was found
out only one error of each type. English contains a lot of pronouns. Sometimes, EFL learners
do not know both the system of pronouns and their use in practice. Probably it was the cause
of occurrence of errors in pupils written works which had been analysed in our research.

The use of plurals was not difficult for Slovak primary pupils due to the occurrence of errors
in their written works. We analysed five errors in the use of plural forms of nouns (i.e. 3,5 %
of all errors) which pupils had made. They made the least number of errors in this category of
errors. We identified only two types of errors. We divided them according to SST as follows:
incorrect addition of morpheme s (two errors, 40 % of these errors) and misformation of
plural nouns (three errors, 60 % of these errors). We found out them only in the sentence
No.7. The first type of error was Double markings. According to SST by Dulay et al. (1982) it
is a subtype of errors within the addition. Learners added morpheme s incorrectly to the
noun people which we use only in plural. The second type of error is called Regularization
error. Learners used a wrong form of plural when they used word mouses instead of word
mice in their sentences. This form of plural is called Mutation plural and this category of
English plural contains plenty of plurals which Slovak EFL learners have to learn. Possible
causes of occurrence of errors in learners works were as follows. Probably, primary pupils
were not aware of the number of noun people (which is always used in plural) and therefore
they had formed plural by using morpheme s. On the other hand, the ignorance of plural
forms which are known as Mutation plurals was the cause of errors.

2.4 The Suggestions for Improving Pedagogical Practice.

Taking the results of our research into consideration we were able to present our attitude
towards errors. In our opinion they are an important part of teaching and learning process
because they help teachers and pupils to focus their attention on areas of the language, which
are not sufficiently fixed.

We tried to formulate following suggestions for teaching practice:

Slovak teachers of English should not be afraid of using translations of the rules when
discussing grammar. In our opinion, it would be a great help for the pupils to point out the
differences and similarities between Slovak and English.

We would suggest doing grammar revision before writing tests or essays etc., focused on the
most difficult areas pupils have problems.

Teachers should give learners a chance for self-correction.

Teachers should correct all grammar errors which pupils had made in their written works.

Teachers should point out the most frequent learners` errors and to explain the ones in detail.
In the other words, they should discuss errors with the students.

It is necessary to give information to students about symbols which we use in our correction
process.

Moreover, learners should write more compositions, papers as well as dictations etc. It would
help them to practice correct English spelling.

We suggest the repeating all parts of English grammar which are the most difficult for Slovak
primary learners.

Taking advantage of knowledge of modern English methodology, teachers should prepare


their grammar lessons in a gripping way. It would also help students to learn grammar rules
during the lesson. For example, teachers should apply the communicative language teaching
method when they explain English grammar.
A BRIEF GLOSSARY OF MODALITY

by Richard Dury

adverbs: adverbs can be 'harmonic' (reinforce the modality of the auxiliary), or can modify
the modality in a different direction (perhaps we could). The same is true of adjectival and
nominal expressions. Verb phrases (matrix verbs in main clauses (I think that) can also
have a similar or different modality from a modal verb in the subordinate clause.
Parenthetical verbs ( - I think - ) are perhaps best treated as similar to adverbs.

agent-oriented modality: a supercategory proposed by Bybee (1985) and used by used by


Bybee & Fleischman (1995: 5) applying to all modalities in which conditions are predicated
on an agent (obligation, desire, ability, permission and root possibility). It is opposed to
speaker-oriented modality (speech acts that aim at getting something done: imperatives,
optatives, permissives) and to epistemic modality which applies to a whole proposition and
communicates the speaker's stance concerning its truth. It seems to boil down to the same
thing as 'root modality' (i.e. a combination of deontic and dynamic modalities).

alethic (or logical) modality: (Gk aletheia truth) concerned with the degree of certainty of
a proposition. For example, the must of We must have a visitor expresses a.m. when it means
"This follows from what we already know" (Trask). This is a category of modal logic and
Clear cases of "alethically modal" sentences do not occur frequently in everyday discourse
(Keifer 2518a). This modality ranges from logical impossibility through possibility to logical
necessity (von Wright 1951: 1-2).

ambiguity vs merger: a distinction made by Coates (1983): (i) he must mean business is
ambiguous (it could be either epistemic ('I infer that') or deontic ('it is necessary that..)) and
this will be determined by inspecting a larger context; (ii) at that price, it ought to be good is
a merger (where the modal interpretation is inevitably indeterminate between epistemic ('I
infer that') and deontic ('the producer has a moral obligation to offer a good product')).
Palmer (1990: 21-2) questions this. Other terms used in this semantic area are: blending,
indeterminacy.

background: The context which determines the modal reading can be construed as a set of
propositions (the background) from which certain conclusions can be drawn (Keifer
2517a). In everyday language the deontic background may just consist of what a recognised
authority... wishes (Keifer 2518a).

basic event schema: basic concrete representations from which languages make the shift
towards abstract concepts like tense, aspect and modality (cf Heine 1993), e.g. motion
scheme > future in going to; volition scheme > future in will etc.

Biber's three categories of modal verbs: (i) permission/possibility/ability (can, could, may,
might), (ii) obligation/necessity (must, should, (had) better, have (got) to, need to, ought to,
be supposed to), (iii) volition/prediction (will, would, shall, be going to) (Biber et al. 1999:
485).

bleaching: modal auxiliaries can undergo semantic bleaching, e.g. can before private verbs (I
can see the ship). Whether they undergo semantic bleaching (and have a merely syntactic
function) in some argument clauses is not clear (I am surprised that you should ask me that,
We ask that he should be told / may be told / be told). [RD's note]

boulomaic modality: can be paraphrased as it is hoped/desired/feared/regretted that


Rescher (1968: 24-6) includes want under boulomaic modality (see also Simpson 1993: 47-
8). Perkins (1983: 11) classes boulomaic modality as a type of dynamic modality because of
the 'disposition' meaning. It could also be said that the disposition comes from the desire of a
human source so is similar to deontic volitive modalities where a subject aspires to influence
the world. It ranges from not-wanting through not-opposing to wanting. (Palmer (1986: 12)
suggests that 'bouletic' would be etymologically preferable.)
circumstantial modality: dynamic modality; when what is possible or necessary is dictated
by circumstances: Bill can only relax in his summer house (= the circumstances are such
that...), In the mountains pitched roofs must be built (= the circumstances are such that...).
The basis for our supposition is not everything we know already (the background for
epistemic modality), but circumstances of a certain kind.

Coates' 12 modalities: (i) obligation (strong), (ii) obligation (weak), (iii) permission, (iv)
volition, (v) prediction, (vi) ability, (vii) possibility (dy), (viii) possibility (ep), (ix) inference
(strong), (x) inference (weak), (xi) hypothesis, (xii) quasi-subjunctive (Coates 1983).

(i)-(v) are deontic, (vi)-(vii) dynamic, and (viii)-(xii) epistemic.

core meaning vs periphery: a distinction made by Coates (1983); periphery meaning is


dependent on context. This might be correlated with Leech's distinction (1987: 71) between
'logical element of meaning' and the 'practical (or pragmatic) element of meaning' of the
modal auxiliaries.

diachronic development of English modals: (i) desemanticization (semantic bleaching), (ii)


decategorization (shift in grammatical category and in word-class), (iii) cliticization (changes
in morphosyntactic properties), (v) phonetic erosion (changes in phonetic form). The former
full verb has become a 'grammatical concept' always followed by the main verb ('the verb-to-
TAM chain', Heine 1993: 47).

Keifer (1998: 596) says that although 'ability' seems historically to develop into 'root
modality' and then into 'epistemic modality', 'much of the detail remains unclear'. Problems
include (i) why did root modality split into circumstantial/dispositional and
deontic/boulomaic modality?; (ii) is there cross-linguistic support for the development of
ability into circumstantial/dispositional modality?; (iii) does modality evolve more from
'practical inference' or from 'conversational implicatures'?; (iv) the development of ability
into onjective epistemic modality is clear, but how does subjective erpistemic modality
(probability) develop? (v) how are pragmatic notions ('willingness', 'intention', insistence'
etc.) expressed in different languages and different stages of the language?

discourse-oriented modality: Palmer sees deontic modality as discourse-oriented (?since it


refers more to the speech-act).
deontic modality, deontics: (from Gk deon duty) concerned with the necessity or
possibility of acts performed by morally responsible agents (Keifer 2516b, Lyons 1977:
823); concerned with obligation and permission (Trask), relating to duties in terms of social
or institutional laws (Krkkinen: 150), involves the issuing of directives and is associated
with notions of such as permission or obligation (Lew 1997: 146). It is discourse-oriented
non-epistemic modality. Unlike epistemic modality, it refers to acts not propositions.

Deontic modality can be subdivided into (i) directives (deontic possibility: you may leave;
deontic necessity: you must leave), (ii) commissives (promises, undertakings: you shall be
rewarded), (iii) imperatives, (iv) others: volitives, evaluatives.

Another subdivision of deontic modality is: (i) possibility (permission) (you may leave); (ii)
necessity (obligation) (you must go); (iii) volition (He won't go).

Deontic modality excludes ability (physical and mental) and desire - these are categorized as
dynamic, though they typically have expression similar to that of permission and obligation.
Diachronically, deontic meanings come to acquire epistemic meanings.

Biber (1999: 485) points out two typical structural correlates of deontic modals: (i) the
subject is human, (ii) the main verb is dynamic (describing an activity that can be controlled).

dispositional modality: when possibility depends on the agents disposition: Jane cannot
sing today (= (i) it is not possible for Jane..., (ii) Jane is not allowed..., (iii) Jane doesnt
feel like... (dispositional modality)), John must sneeze (= Js dispositions are such that...).

dynamic modality: (from Gk dynamis 'strength, power') refers to physical necessity or


possibility (Krkkinen: 150); 'is concerned with the disposition of certain empirical
circumstances with regard to the occurrence of some event' (Perkins1983: 34), 'concerning
ability and volition' (Jacobsson 1994: 167 - though here 'volition' seems to contradict the idea
of non-subjectivity, see below). The term was first suggested by von Wright in 1951. Unlike
epistemic and deontic modality it is not subjective (John can speak French, Tomorrow I will
be thirty, Hell come, if you ask him, He has to come tomorrow, You can [=it is possible to]
smoke in here).

Bybee & Fleischman (1995: 13 n3) do not use this term claiming it comes from modal logic
and 'is less germane to the analysis of modality in natural language'. Nor does Biber (1999:
485), who subsumes it under "epistemic".

Palmer (1990: 36) points out that dynamic modality is concerned with the ability or volition
of the subject of the sentence and so is not subjective like other modalities, hence is less
centrally modal.
Dynamic modality seems less of a unified category than epistemic and deontic modality; it
has been subdivided into: (i) ability (I can play tennis); (ii) power (Oil will float on water);
(iii) futurity (I will/shall be 20 tomorrow); (iv) prediction (You will feel better after this
medicine), (v) habit (When he has a problem, he will work at it until he finds an answer).

epistemic modality, epistemics: (from Gk episteme knowledge) concerned with matters of


knowledge and belief (Keifer 2516b, Lyons 1977: 793). related to the speakers belief or
opinion about the validity of the proposition (Krkkinen: 150), modifies the truth of a
semantic proposition (Lew 1997: 146), 'truth-oriented, "attitude"' (Jacobsson (1994: 167),
'concerned with the speaker's assumptions or assessment of possibilities and, in most cases,
indicates the speaker's confidence (or lack of confidence) in the truth of the proposition'
(Coates 1983: 18); involved in the making of a representation that matches the world
(through the use of the senses or the intellect) (the 'theoretical manner of representation' or
'theoretical modality', James 1986: 13); epistemic uses are "logical" uses of modals (Bailey
1981: 182). It is extrinsic or extra-propositional, expressing the speaker's attitude towards the
content of a proposition. We may talk of (i) epistemic necessity (logically entailed by what
is known, or rather (in natural language) practically inferred from what is known,
deduction (Keifer 2518a) and (ii) epistemic possibility (compatible with what is known,
ib.), speculation. [Our 2 also adds epistemic prediction.] For Biber (1999: 485) epistemic
also includes dynamic modality. Another subdivision is between subjective and objective
epistemic modality. Epistemic modality may also be subdivided according to (i) the speakers
judgments of necessity and possibility (including the two above categories), and (ii)
evidentiality (expressed explicitly by evidentials), the evidential basis for what is said (Keifer
2517b). See non-epistemic modality.

An epistemic comment may be supplied by a matrix verb (I think that), or a parenthetic


verb (- I think - ), sentence adverbial (apparently).

evidential (evidential particle/affix): a (usually obligatory) grammatical marker found in


some languages which express the evidence which the speaker has for making a statement
(Trask); evidentials are markers that indicate something about the source of the information
in the proposition (Bybee 1985: 184, qu. Keifer 2517b). The primary evidential parameter is
(i) direct (or attested) evidence vs (ii) indirect evidence (reported evidence, inferring
evidence) (cf Willet 1988: 57). Evidentiality is apparently not shown by grammatical features
in English.

existential modality: one of the four types of modality listed by von Wright (1951: 2);
Palmer says that alethic and existential modality are more the concern of logicians than
linguists, however he discusses examples such as Lions can be dangerous (1990: 6-7, 107-9)
as examples of existential modality whose explanatory glosses typically include the word
'some'. His gloss 'Some lions are dangerous' has been challenged, however.

extrinsic modality: extra-propositional modality, expressing the speaker's attitude towards


the content of a proposition. It covers the area of epistemic modality. For Biber (1999: 485) it
"refers to the logical status of events or states, usually relating to assessments of likelihood:
possibility, necessity, or prediction" and is synonymous with epistemic modality (which for
him, however, also includes dynamic modality).

Biber (1999: 485) points out two typical structural correlates of extrinsic modal verbs: the
subject is usually non-human, and the main verb usually has a stative meaning.

formulaic use of modals: formulas such as May I? or Could you? 'carry by convention a
certain illocutionary force' (Kiefer 1998: 597).

future: 'Future time reference is subtly bound up with modality, and is an essential
component of personal directives, including commands, requests, warnings,
recommendations and exhortations' (Coates 1983: 61).

harmonic phrase, harmonic combination, modally harmonic: modally harmonic describes


combinations of modal auxiliary and another modal word expressing the same degree of
modality (Lyons 1977: 807, Coates 1983: 45). Harmonic phrase - an element in the context
of the modal verb that reinforces, echoes or disambiguates (e.g. I'm sure in: There must be a
lot more to it than that. I'm sure it wasn't just that) (Coates 1983: 41). Harmonic combination
- two forms with the same modal meaning that are mutually reinforcing (Halliday 1970: 331,
Coates 1983: 45). Modally harmonic adverbs would seem to make a particularly important
contribution to modal meaning.

hedge: 'epistemic modality is always a hedge' (Coates 1983: 49)

hypothetical/ conditional/ remote/ secondary forms: could, might, would and should are
used in hypothetical propositions. Coates (1983: 108-9) refers to could as 'the Remote of
CAN' (on a parallel with 'the Past of CAN') (a label that derives from Joos 1964: 121), and
also as 'a hypothetical form' and 'a conditional'. These hypothetical forms' are often used
without any explicit conditional clause: to indicate that the proposition is hypothetical, as a
mark of politeness, to make a tactful suggestion. Bybee (1995) prefers the term 'hypothetical'.
Perkins (1982: 50-6) prefers conditional, while Bailey (1981) refers to 'secondary forms'.
Palmer (1990: 45) refers to tentative or unreal meanings of these forms. See past-tense
modals.

illocutionary force: 'the communicative purpose with which a sentence is used to perform a
speech act' (James 1986: 14); claimed to be similar to modality by Krkkinen (1987: 151)
since both communicate the speakers attitude or opinion.

intrinsic modality: forms part of the semantic content of the proposition; it covers the area
of root modality. For Biber (1999: 485) "Intrinsic modality refers to actions and events that
humans (or other agents) directly control: meanings relating to permission, obligation, or
volition (or intention)" and is synonymous with deontic modality.

irrealis mode: e.g. If he should, I shouldnt think, Its strange that he shouldCalled
irrealis modality by Bybee & Fleischman (1995: 9). Covers non-assertive modal meanings.
The subjunctive covers a similar area.

logical possibility: a term used by Biber (1999) to refer to epistemic and dynamic possibility.

Leechs 11 modal meanings: (i) possibility (theoretical, factual), (ii) ability, (iii) permission,
(iv) exclamatory wish, (v) obligation/requirement, (vi) rules and regulations, (vii) logical
necessity, (viii) prediction/predictability, (ix) willingness (weak volition), (x) intention
(intermediate volition), (xi) insistence (strong volition) (Leech 1971/1987: 73-104).

marginal modals: dare, need, ought to, used to, had better, would rather, be to, have (got) to.
See modals, modal auxiliaries, modal verbs.

Mindt's 17 modalities: (i) possibility/high probability, (ii) certainty/prediction, (iii) ability,


(iv) hypothetical event/result, (v) habit, (vi) inference/deduction, (vii) obligation, (viii)
advisability/desirability, (ix) volition/intention, (x) intention, (xi) politeness/downtoning, (xii)
consent, (xiii) state in the past, (xiv) permission, (xv) courage, (xvi) regulation/prescription,
(xvii) disrespect/insolence (Mindt 1995: 45).

modality: the essence of "modality" consists in the relativization of the validity of sentence
meanings to a set of possible worlds (Keifer 1994: 2515a); from a speakers-evaluation
approach, modality is the speakers cognitive, emotive, or volitive attitude toward a state of
affairs (Keifer 1994: 2516a), his commitment or detachment (Stubbs), his envisaging
several possible courses of events or his considering of things being otherwise (Keifer
1994: 2516b). Modality is another name for mood, but one applied more specially to certain
distinctions concerned with the speakers estimate of the relation between the actor and the
accomplishment of some event (Trask). Mood is a formal verbal category while
'modalities have been treated primarily in terms of modal meaning' (Koktov 1998: 600).
Modality may be expressed through verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, particles, intonation.
See: type of modality, background, subjunctive. not modality: excluded from the domain of
modality (by Keifer 1994): (i) factive evaluative predicates (e.g. it is good, it is amazing
that Bill passed the exam, i.e. no discussion of possible worlds), (ii) negation, (iii)
illocutionary verbs (I assert that...) (iv) perlocution (the effects of the speech act).

Ruthrof (1991) sees modality as the structurable field of the manners of speaking underlying
all utterances (this he also calls covert or inferential modality). This might be linked with
ideas of perspective or style (cf. Saukkonen 1991).

For Bybee & Fleischman (1995: 2), 'Modality is the semantic domain pertaining to
elements of meaning that languages express. It covers a broad range of semantic nuances -
jussive, desiderative, intentive, hypothetical, potential, obligative, dubitative, hortatory,
exclamative, etc. - whose common denominator is the addition of a supplement or overlay of
meaning to the most neutral semantic value of the proposition of an utterance, namely factual
and declarative' Modality can be expressed in various ways, 'morphological, lexical,
syntactic, or via intonation' (ib.).

For Schneider (1999: 13) and Bybee (1985), modality (more clearly revealed in main clauses)
consists of (i) speech acts (orders and wishes, i.e. deontic modality), and (ii) attitudes to truth-
content of the sentence (i.e. epistemic modality). Modality is indicated by various means
(subjunctive, modal verbs, parenthetical verbs, sentence adverbials, matrix verbs), but some
of these (subjunctive, modal verbs) can also be found in object clauses with a merely
syntactic function (cf Schneider 1999 ch. 1).

modal logic: has to do with the notions of possibility and necessity; epistemic modality has
to do with possibility/necessity of the truth of a proposition (involved with knowledge and
belief); deontic modality has to do with possibility/necessity of acts performed by morally
responsible agents (involved with the social functions of permission and obligation).

modals, modal auxiliaries, modal verbs: a morphosyntactic approach to modality starts


from the formal category of modal auxiliaries (cf. Palmer 1979: 4-5). However, modals are
difficult to define and do not all share the same properties. See: speakers evaluation. English
modals can be divided into (i) central modals (can, may, will, shall, must; could, might,
would, should), (ii) marginal modals or semi-modals: (a) dare, need, ought to, used to; (b)
had better, would rather, be to, have (got) to; (iii) be about to, be bound to, be going to, be
obliged to, be supposed to, be willing to, be able to. See non auxiliary modal expressions
and marginal modals.

Modal auxiliaries have unverblike properties that distinguish them from full verbs: (i) no
do-support, (ii) no SV inversion in questions, (iii) enclitic not (cannot), (iv) do not occur
together (Standard English only), (v) no S:V number agreement, (vi) no participles or
infinitives. (See NICE-properties). These formal distinctions do not hold in other languages.
The semantic distinction between m.a. and full verbs is difficult (auxiliary verbs or other
verbs used in English, where modals are used in other languages. e.g. the house is to be sold).
Warner 1995 claims that modal verbs are now lexical items, a word-class of their own, not a
sub-set of verbs. A symptom of this is the way that might have > might of. So English has a
distinctive word-class that realizes mood lexically i.e. modal verbs.

Modal auxiliaries (i) attribute properties to the subject of a sentence, (ii) determine the
illocutionary potential of a sentence (the range of illoc. forces that a sentence can have when
uttered) (James 1986: 14).

modal meaning: (Holmes 1984) the degree of certainty or uncertainty the speaker feels as
regards the validity of the proposition; similar to epistemic modality.

monosemantic approach to modality: an approach to modality (found, for example, in


Perkins 1983) that sees a 'basic' or 'core' meaning for each modal auxiliary. Another approach
would see 'a conglomeration of vaguely meanings, each linked in some way to at least one of
the others in the set, but not necessarily sharing any common feature with, or directly linked
to, all of them' (Palmer 1990: 15).

mood: grammatical category which expresses the degree or kind of reality assigned to a
sentence... mood shades off imperceptibly into modality, and also into evidential systems
(Trask). 'A system of inflections on verbs': indicative-subjunctive-imperative (James 1986: 1).
'Formal verbal categories' (Koktov 1998: 599). (i) sentence mood, a semantic category: the
modal value of sentence types (Keifer 1994: 2516a), several sentence types may express the
same s.m. (e.g. various question-types may express the s.m. of interrogativity). Perhaps three
basic types of s.m.: declarative/exclamative, interrogative, imperative/optative (the optative
mood - the speaker desires something to be the case). Declarative mood is unmarked but can
be given the meaning to take for granted to consider to be true; (ii) verbal mood, a
morphosyntactic category. Davidsen-Nielsen (1990) distinguishes between symthetic mood
(subjunctive and imperative) and analytic mood (modal verbs). For Bybee & Fleischman
(1995: 2) the term mood is used for a category of meanings that are 'expressed inflectionally,
generally in distinct sets of verbal paradigms, e.g. indicative, subjunctive, optative,
imperative, conditional, etc.

negation, negation of modality, negation of the proposition: affects the proposition (the
statement on which the modal statement comments) in epistemic modality; affects the
modality (the statement of possibility, necessity etc.) in root modality (he may not be at home
= 'it is possible that he is not at home'; we can't hear you = ' we are not able to hear you'). The
distinction is especially clear in epistemic vs dynamic may: you may not go = 'I do not permit
you to go' vs. You may not understand = 'it is possible that you do not understand'). The
exception is deontic must where it is the proposition that is negated (you mustn't be late = it is
necessary that you are not late). The terms 'auxiliary negation' and 'main verb negation' are
used by Quirk et al. (1972: 384; 1985. 794); Palmer (1990: 34) says this could be misleading
because 'formally it is the modal that is negated in both', and prefers 'negation of modality'
and 'negation of the proposition' (even though 'proposition' is not accurate for non-epistemic
modality).

neutral modality: Palmer's sub-category of Dynamic modality (1990: 37; opposed to


subject-oriented dynamic modality) meaning 'it is possible/necessary for', e.g. You can get
all sorts of things here and I must have an immigrant's visa. He accepts that 'there is some
indeterminacy between neutral and dynamic Can and between neutral and deontic MUST'
(1990: 37).

NICE-properties: syntactic properties shared by ModE auxiliaries have, be and do as well as


modal auxiliares: (i) Negation without do (isnt, mustnt vs doesnt go); (ii) Inversion without
do (is he?, must he? vs does he go?), (iii) Clitics (isnt, mustnt vs doesnt go), (iv) Ellipsis
without do (often called 'code': but I dont think Peter is /can vs but I dont think Peter did).
Ellipsis is also found in OE. Huddlestone (1976: 333) and Palmer (1990: 4) form the acronym
from Negation, Inversion, Code and Emphatic affirmation (contrastive emphasis on the
auxiliary, not on do). Modals are distinguished from the three 'primary auxiliaries' by (i) no -s
form of the 3rd psn pres. sing., (ii) no non-finite forms (being, to have etc.), (iii) no co-
occurrence (*may will)

non auxiliary modal expressions: (i) expressions incorporating be to (be going to, be
able to, be bound to ); (ii) modal lexical verbs: instruct, authorise, believe, insinuate,
allow, compel etc. (frequently met in the passive); (iii) modal adjectives: sure, certain, likely,
possible, necessary, probable etc.; (iv) modal adverbs: apparently, perhaps, possibly,
evidently etc.; (v) modal nouns: invitation, supplication, demand, thought, ability, will,
prohibition etc.

non-epistemic modality: epistemic modality refers to propositions, non-epistemic modality


to facts or events. Halliday (1970, 1976) calls it modulation, Coates (1983) calls it root
modality. It is often divided into deontic and dynamic modality (though Biber 1999 puts
dynamic with epistemic).

Palmer's 8 modal meanings: (i) Epistemic Possibility (may), (ii) Epistemic Necessity
(must), (iii) Epistemic W/S (will); (iv) Deontic Possibility (may, can), (v) Deontic Necessity
(must), (vi) Deontic W/S (shall); (vii) Dynamic Possibility (can), (viii) Dynamic W/S (will).
(Palmer 1990: 36-7)

(N.B. here W/S is used instead of Palmer's "?" to mark a degree of modality (as yet unnamed)
involving will and shall).

past-tense modals: would, should, might and could (and, to some extent, must). Their use is
divided into (i) past tense uses, (ii) hypothetical (or remote, or conditional) uses, and (iii)
present tense uses. Examples: (i) I could swim when I was only five, (ii) If you helped me I
could finish this in an hour, (iii) I suppose I could do it now. The hypothetical uses (the most
common) of past-tense modals may involve the retention of some lexical meaning (as in the
above example) or may only have a hypothetical conditional meaning (as in If we were all
millionaires, money wouldn't be worth anything) (this also applies to should, would and
might). Bybee (1995) explains that (a) a combination of past + modal sense (other authors say
just past sense alone) produces the hypothetical uses, that (b) the hypothetical use has
replaced the past use over time and that (c) hypothetical uses with an implicit if-clause
produce present-tense uses. When used as true pasts, they do not express punctual action, but
'past-habitual or past-posterior modality' (Bailey 1981: 183).
performative nature of modals: modal verbs can be seen as essentially performative
(involved in acts that are performed by the act of speaking): 'I judge that', 'I lay an
obligation on you to', 'I permit'. This explains why the modals have no past tense: the act
must take place in the present. (Palmer 1990: 10-11, 22-3).

perceptional modality: see article on adverbs by Anneli M-S

possibility: can be (i) epistemic (the road may be blocked) or (ii) deontic (the road can be
blocked). The difference is captured in the paraphrases (i) it is possible that, x and (ii) it is
possible for y to x.

possible worlds: ways in which people could conceive the world to be different (Keifer
1994: 2515a). These are the 'frameworks', 'contexts', 'worldviews', 'states of affairs',
'conceptual domains' or 'modalities' within which an event or proposition has a significance
or truth value (Perkins: 8)

practical modality: the meaning of the imperative and subjunctive moods (concerned with
'doing' and 'forward looking', suiting the world to words). See theoretical modality. Practical
modality is also concerned with the meaning of the root meanings of modal verbs, with the
lexical semantics of certain verbs (e.g. wish, request), and with the infinitive (they requested
us to go).

pragmatics: "deontic necessity" and "deontic possibility" are semantic notions whereas
obligation and permission belong to pragmatics (Keifer 2518a), i.e. imposing an obligation
or granting permission are speech acts. You may park your car here expresses deontic
possibility, but can only be a speech act if certain conditions are met (e.g. the speaker must
have the authority to grant such a permission) (ib.). Extensions of meaning to modals may
also be pragmatically motivated, e.g. We can meet tomorrow (possibility > suggestion), can
I help you? (ability > offer), Can you come here a minute please? (possibility > order).

quasi-modals: have to, be going to, be able to, be bound to


Quirk's 3 modal meanings: (i) permission-possibility/ability, (ii) obligation-necessity, (iii)
volition-prediction; the first of each pair is intrinsic (show some human control), the second
is extrinsic (not the result of human control but of human judgment; 'ability' in Group 1
doesn't fit this scheme very well, however). The pairing of meanings is justified by the fact
that the same modal verbs are used for both (will and shall being used for both volition and
prediction, for instance) (Quirk et al. 1985: 219). This categorization ignores the epistemic-
deontic-dynamic scheme (epistemic being divided between extrinsic possibility and extrinsic
necessity), though Palmer (1990: 38) thinks that the two are compatible.

rational modality: covers the indication of what is rational or reasonable in a given situation
The causes may be divided into two categories) (Palmer 1990: 105-6).

Rescher's 8 modalities: (i) alethic, (ii) epistemic, (iii) temporal, (iv) boulomaic, (v) deontic,
(vi) evaluative, (vii) causal, (viii) likelihood (Rescher 1968, qu. in Perkins 1983: 9).

root modality, root sense: the non-epistemic sense of modals, which deals 'with obligation,
permission, ability etc.' (Incharralde 1998: 1), 'agent-oriented, "influence" modality'
(Jacobsson 1994: 167), that refer to 'powers of volition' and make a representation that the
world has to match (the 'practical manner of representation', or 'practical modality', James
1986: 13); e.g. the sociophysical domain of John must leave now. (For the development of
epistemic modality from root modality, see Sweetser 1982, 1990; this is opposed by ****
who argues that ****). Root necessity covers both deontic and dynamic values
(Facchinetti 1998: 61). It has been called 'intrinsic modality' since it forms part of the
semantic content of the proposition (in contrast, epistemic - or extrinsic - modality is extra-
propositional and just shows the speaker's attitude towards the truth of the proposition). The
unity of 'root' modality is shown by the syntactic patterns in which it appears: usually an
animate subject, an agentive verbs and often a passive infinitive.

The term seems to have been coined by Hofmann 1976 (see note in Palmer 1990: 37).

semi-modals (quasi-modals, periphrastic modals): need and dare in ModE, also have to, is
to, ought to, used to. These all have some NICE properties, but are anomalous in various
ways (e.g. taking to infinitives, marked for tense and person, can occur in non-finite forms).
Have to evolves in ME (Fischer 1994); is to exists in OE (to translate Latin gerundives) but
really evolves in ME; ought to splits off from the main verb owe in ME (Denison 1993: 315);
for used to see Denison 1993 (323) and Visser (1969: 1425).

speaker-oriented modality: epistemic modality, which applies to a whole proposition and


communicates the speaker's stance concerning its truth. Opposed to agent-oriented modality
and subject-oriented modality. Palmer (1990: 7) says epistemic and deontic modality relate
to the speaker (i.e. they are concerned with the speakers - or reported speakers - and their
judgments and desires).

However, in an earlier work (1974: 100-3) he talks of discourse-oriented modality (deontic


modality in questions and requests, which involve both interlocutors) and speaker-oriented
modality (deontic statements, where the speaker is the deontic souce).

Bybee (1995) seems to use speaker-oriented modality in a different way to refer to speech
acts that aim at getting something done: imperatives, optatives, permissives.

speakers attitude: modality equals those linguistic means by which a speaker can express
his attitude towards the proposition. Modality is thus the attitude of the speaker towards the
content of what he says (Krkkinen: 150, Stubbs 1986: 15)

speakers evaluation of a state of affairs (modus): the dictum (what is said) and the modus
(how it is said). The modus (= modality) can be expressed in a full verb (I think it is raining,
I hope it will be raining), and adverbial (it is probably raining), a modal verb (it must be
raining), a mark on the verb (mood, tense: he would never have left us). The modus is
clearest when expressed in a higher predicate (the matrix) (I am astonished that...), which
contains an attitudinal, non-causative and transitive verb. This view of modality is consistent
with the definition of modality as envisaging several possible courses of events (Keifer
1994: 2516b), a qualification of the categorical and the absolute (Perkins 1983: 18)

subject-oriented modality: ascribes a certain property to the subject of a clause; one of the
three types of modality for Huddleston (1988: 78-9). SEE: type of modality. Palmer defines
dynamic modality at subject oriented (1990: 36, since it refers to the ability of will of the
subject, rather than the opinions (epistemic) or attitudes (deontic) of the speaker (and
addressee)). later, however, he divides dynamic modality into subject-orientated (I can swim)
and neutral (='it is possible/necessary for')
subjective vs. objective epistemic modality: Alfred may be unmarried (= (subjectively)
perhaps Alfred..., or = (objectively) I know that there is a possibility that Alfred...) (Lyons
1977: 797-8). S.m. refers to the speakers beliefs, o.m. refers to reality (and can be denied,
questioned, can be included in if-clauses and embedded under factive predicates: I know
that...). Subjective epistemic modality seems to be in many ways more basic in natural
language than objective epistemic modality (Keifer 2518b) and Coates confirms that 'in the
majority of cases Epistemic modals are subjective and Root modals are objective' (1983: 33).

subjunctive: In OE modality (speakers attitudes towards the factual content of the


utterance: (un)certainty, (im)possibility etc.) was expressed by means of the subjunctive,
which has largely disappeared with the loss of inflections and has been replaced in this
function by modal auxiliary verbs (plus a whole range of other means: adverbs, phrases,
intonation etc.).

syntactic patterns: The unity of 'root' modality is shown by the syntactic patterns in which it
appears: usually an animate subject, an agentive verbs and often a passive infinitive.
Epistemic modality, on the other hand, typically co-occurs with perfect or progressive
infinitive with existential (there/it) subject or inanimate subject, and with a stative verb. The
common syntactic patterns associated with each modal auxiliary are listed by Mindt (1998)
and Biber (1999).

TAM: time-aspect-modality; these are related grammatical concepts (cf. Givn 1984: 269-
318) that are mainly expressed by auxiliaries in English (especially time and modality).

temporal modality: one of Rescher's modalities (1968: 25); ranges from 'never' through
'sometimes' to 'always'. Like existential modality this refers to the target of description.

tentative forms: might, would, ought to, should (Palmer)

tests to disambiguate modal meaning: (i) he may do it (a) it is possible for him to do it
(dynamic modality), (b) it is possible that he will do it (epistemic modality); (ii) he must do
that (a) it is necesary for him to do that (deontic or dynamic modality), (b) he will
necessarily do that (epistemic modality)
theoretical modality: the meaning of the indicative mood (connected with 'viewing' and
'backward looking', suiting words to the world). It is also concerned with the epistemic
meaning of modal verbs (possibility, certainty, etc.). See practical modality.

type of modality: The interpretation of the type of modality is sometimes clear (he may
know the answer is epistemic), but generally it depends on the context (he may come
tomorrow can be epistemic (perhaps he will come) or deontic (he is permitted to come)).
Professor: You cant [= are not allowed to - deontic modality] sleep in my class - Student:
If you didnt talk so loud I could [= might succeed in doing so - epistemic modality].
Librarian: Quiet! The people near you cant [= find it difficult to - epistemic modality]
read - Johnny: They ought to be ashamed of themselves - Ive been able [=have possessed
the skill to - subject-oriented modality] read since I was six. This lack of formal
distinction of function derives from the fact that In most languages, the expressions of
certainty, necessity, and possibility are also used for obligations and permissions (Keifer
2518a) and that 'A characteristic feature of the modals is their semantic vagueness or even
determinacy' (Jacobsson 1994: 168). As a result there have been a great number of 'meanings'
assigned to them in a great variety of taxonomies (some of these are presented in this
glossary).

von Wrights 4 modes: (i) alethic, (ii) epistemic, (iii) deontic, (iv) existential (von Wrigjht
1951: 1-2).

REFERENCES

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UB: Ing.3.3681

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