Modality and the V wh pattern

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Pattern Grammar (Hunston 8: Francis 2000) has typically focused mainly on complementation patterns, but Hunston (2003, 2011) has speculated if Pattern Grammar should incorporate the study of modality by considering the interaction between modal meaning and particular patterns. This paper presents a quantitative study that finds an association between verbs followed by interrogative clauses (the V wh pattern) and modal verbs/the to—infinitive. This is followed by a qualitative investigation to classify according to meaning phrases focused on the sequence to V wh: four main groups (purpose, dilficulty, deontic meaning, volition/intention) are found. The findings raise the prospect of both broadening the scope of Pattern Grammar and improving our understanding of modality from a phraseological perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorpus Perspectives on Patterns of Lexis
EditorsHilde Hasselgard, Jarle Ebeling, Signe Oksefjell Ebeling
Place of PublicationAmsterdam/Philadelphia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789027271914
ISBN (Print)9789027206632
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2013


  • modality
  • pattern grammar


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