The study of modal verbs from a pedagogical perspective: an analysis of textbooks and grammars


  • Ramiro Durán Universidad de Salamanca
  • Pilar Alonso Universidad de Salamanca
  • María Jesús Sánchez Universidad de Salamanca



Modal verbs, EFL classroom, grammars, textbooks, semantic values, pragmatic uses


This paper shows how the indiscriminate combination of the form-function criterion in the traditional presentation of modal verbs brings more confusion than light to the subject due mostly to the fact that the grammatical simplicity of modal verbs clashes with their semantic complexity. In order to verify the treatment of modals in the EFL classroom, both a reduced but representative sample of textbooks and English grammar books will be analysed. Based on the findings of research conducted in this field, this article concludes that when studying modals in the EFL classroom the pragmatic uses of modal verbs should be primed over potential polysemic often indeterminate semantic values and/or grammatical criteria based on a higher or lower rank of graded modality.


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