Modality and Subordinators

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book connects two linguistic phenomena, modality and subordinators, so that both are seen in a new light, each adding to the understanding of the other. It argues that general subordinators (or complementizers) denote propositional modality (otherwise expressed by moods such as the indicative-subjunctive and epistemic-evidential modal markers). The book explores the hypothesis both on a cross-linguistic and on a language-branch specific level (the Germanic languages). One obvious connection between the indicative-subjunctive distinction and subordinators is that the former is typically manifested in subordinate clauses. Furthermore, both the indicative-subjunctive and subordinators determine clause types. More importantly, however, it is shown, through data from various languages, that subordinators themselves often denote the indicative-subjunctive distinction. In the Germanic languages, there is variation in many clause types between both the indicative and the subjunctive and that and if depending on the speaker’s and/or the subject’s certainty of the truth of the proposition.


  • Jackie Nordström
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • Propositional modality, Germanic languages, Realis-Irrealis, Subordination, Language Typology
Original languageEnglish
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages336
ISBN (Print)978 90 272 0583 4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameStudies in Language Companion Series

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Swedish (015011001)