Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In this thesis I examine the linguistic, semantic and sociolinguistic components of the English modal system and the difficulty the system presents to both instructors and learners of English as a second language (ESL). The purpose of this study was to determine what these components are and how they affect communication. I begin by defining what modality is and how it is manifested in English. The focus is upon the one-word modals and not the phrasal modals; however, some phrasal modals are explicated when a contrast exists between the meaning of the one-word modal and its phrasal equivalent. After the modal is defined, problem areas of form and meaning are explicated. Then, a review of how grammar, specifically modals, has been taught in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) follows. In this review, second language acquisition research is also examined for its influence on grammar pedagogy.


English Language and Literature