Marked and Unmarked Mood of Verbs in English and Arabic: A Semo-Grammatical Study of Modal Auxiliaries in English and Arabic

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Khalid Jassim Mohammed, Safa Nooraldin Salman, Mahmood K. Ibrahim


Mood is the verbal property that indicates whether a certain item in the sentence structure is governed or not. A modal verb is, therefore, a type of verb used to indicate modality, such as likelihood, ability, permission and obligation. The current study gives a detailed semantic analysis about modal auxiliary verbs in English and Arabic. However, it is known that the semantic system of modal auxiliary verbs in English is well organized, whereas the system of these verbs is not. Accordingly, this study comes against the long-adopted view that marginalize modal auxiliary verbs in Arabic. It is palpable that Arabs and Arabsts have been fairly cautious in the treatment of Arabic moods. They have not investigated the sematic ranges of Arabic verb moods, though their works are devoted to the treatment of tense and the historical evolution of the Arabic verb. They survey, in few pages, the verb˗tense and verb moods with almost no semantic signification. In addition, they did not explore the intricate of relations that connect words together. Not only this, but most of them have even gone as far as to deny the existence of a system of moods in Arabic. In his book The Syntax of Modern Arabic Prose (1975:77), Cantarino claims that "Arabic has never developed a full system of moods". In fact, the Arabic modal system is not grammatical, rather it is mostly lexical. Therefore, any lexical unit that expresses a modal meaning can be part of the system regardless of its grammatical category. The study tries to list the modal auxiliary verbs in English and Arabic and the particles behaving like modal auxiliaries. It also proves that certain particles, e.g. على, can be used independently of verbs realizing the meaning of obligation (cf. 1:B below).

The list of Arabic verbs presented is composed of modal auxiliary verbs and particles behaving like modal auxiliaries. It, therefore, categorizes some modals as particles and others as auxiliary verbs. Consider the following pair of examples: 

  1. A: ﭽﭣ ﭤ  ﭥ      ﭧﭼ ([1])

B: ﭽ  ﮮ    ﮯ    ﮱ  ﯓ  ﯔﭼ ([2])

In (1:A˗B) above, the items underlined belong to different parts of speech. Thus, in (1:A), the verb اكاد belongs to the category of verbs and realizes the meaning of nearness or proximity, while the particle على in (1:B) belongs to the category of prepositions and realizes the meaning of obligation.



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