Modality



Modality is the selection of words used to express how definite we are about  something. It can express from being uncertain (low modality) to very certain (high modality). It is used when we are discussing a point of view.

Point of view

Low modality

Regular exercise may improve the health of your heart.

High modality

Regular exercise will improve the health of your heart.

Degrees of modality

Low modality → high modality

Might go → should go → will go will → definitely go → could possibly go.

It could be hot outside. → It is probably hot outside. → It is hot outside.

Language features

Modality can be expressed through various language features:

Verbs

  • can
  • could
  • have to
  • must
  • might
  • should
  • would
  • ought to
  • couldn’t
  • might not
  • had better
  • may
  • shall
  • seem
  • believe
  • think
  • appear.

Adverbs

  • impossibly
  • positively
  • possibly
  • scarcely
  • certainly
  • definitely
  • most certainly
  • surely
  • unquestionably
  • seriously
  • apparently
  • obviously
  • rarely
  • occasionally.

Nouns

  • chance
  • opportunity
  • possibility
  • necessity
  • capacity
  • certainty.

Adjectives

  • potential
  • possible
  • certain
  • definite
  • clear
  • probable, likely
  • unlikely
  • total
  • essential
  • absolute
  • complete.
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