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Modality map

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Finding your way around modality

The concept of modality and the ways in which English expresses mood is a complex area and there are a number of guides on this site which address various aspects of the systems.

Here's a map to help you navigate to the parts you want.  The menu is below or you can click on the area of the map that interests you.

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Where next?


modality index for links to all relevant guides to modality
types of modality: epistemic, deontic, dynamic, alethic introduces the four main types of modality on the left of the diagram and provides an alternative way of dealing with modality in the classroom.  There are links from that guide to the four main types.
suasion concepts such as hortation (persuading), the optative (wishing) and the imperative (demanding)
certainty expressing certainty and uncertainty in English, including considerations of, particularly, epistemic modality
obligation expressing obligation and permission (or the lack of either) including considerations of, particularly, deontic modality
likelihood epistemic modality and ways of expressing degrees of likelihood and the overlap between epistemic and alethic modality
requirement deontic modality and ways in which degrees of obligation and requirement can be expressed
ability and willingness dynamic modality and ways to express ability and willingness using can and will
central modal auxiliary verbs such as can, should etc.
semi-and marginal modal auxiliary verbs such as need, dare, let, be about to, be supposed to etc.
modality: tense and aspect examining how the two ideas work with modal auxiliary verbs
the subjunctive looking at some ways English has of expressing the imagined, wished for or possible
non-modal-verb modality covers some of the above and extends it to include epistemic and other forms of modality
mood mood bears the same relationship to modality that time bears to tense.  This is a short guide to it.
PDF document for a list of primary and modal auxiliary verbs with their main functions
test yourself click on this link to go to six linked tests on types and realisations of modality in English