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Modality is a very vague concept that refers to the way in which a speaker uses a proposition in a discourse context. It is a cover term for concepts relating to illocutionary force (such as imperative, declarative, interrogative, optative), for concepts relating to possibility and necessity (and sometimes also volition), and for concepts relating to the speaker's commitment to the truth of the sentence (epistemic modality and evidentiality).



The term modality comes from logic, where it has been in use at least since the 16th century.


  • Palmer, F.R. 1986. Mood and modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

other languages

German Modalität