The changing verb phrase in present-day British English
Modal Auxiliaries: A Case Study of MUST, HAVE TO and HAVE GOT
- Is there evidence that the core modals in Present-Day English
- If MUST is found to be decreasing can this be related to an
increase in "rival" semi-modal forms?
- Is there support for the idea that core modals are becoming
Summary of main findings:
- There is a statistically significant decline in the frequency
of MUST and a statistically significant rise in the frequency
of HAVE TO.
- HAVE GOT TO has decreased over the thirty year period (this
is not statistically significant).
- When viewed as proportions of total MUST, root uses remain constant
(around 39%) snd epistemic uses show a slight increase; there
is no evidence that MUST is becoming monosemous.
- In root contexts, HAVE TO is more frequent than MUST even in
the 1960s corpus (LLC). By the 1990s, HAVE TO is more than twice
as frequent as MUST, suggesting that HAVE TO is taking over some
of the uses of root MUST.
- Epistemic uses of HAVE TO and HAVE GOT TO are rare throughout
the thirty year period.
These results were presented at ICEHL 15, Munich, and ISLE 1, Freiburg,
in 2008, and published as Close and Aarts (2010). The paper and
conference handouts can be downloaded from the main page for the
project, The changing verb phrase in present-day
This page last modified
28 May, 2015