Modal verbs always keep the variable {ON}; we do not say, *we are maying, *we have mighted, or *we have been musting, but there is a way to think about Modal syntax as “modifying” the real time Aspect, the variable to be {ON} or {IN}, {TO}, {AT}.


{ON} You read.
{IN} You are reading.
{TO} You have read.
{AT} You have been reading.


You may read.
You may be reading.
You may have read.
You may have been reading.

We can choose to perceive modified real time with real-time frames.

93. You may have read the book, but you haven’t played the grammar computer game. — We know that someone has read a book.

93a. You may have read the book, would you tell? — We guess if someone has read a book.

For syntax without auxiliary HAVE, we yet may tend towards the open Modal frame, rather than the closed real-time. We can use our language intuitions: simply think which frame feels better.

93b. I may play the game one day;
93c. I must see the game movie.

Language intuitions are not anything unconscious: intuitively or common sense as well, we might say it is an open matter with a Modal, and a thing of a marked boundary in real time, if we compare the examples:
94. She may be reading;
(or doing something else, open frame).
94a. She is reading;
(the phrasing does not bring anything else, closed frame).


Spring Flowing Colors

Let us now see how our syntax expands and how cognitive frames would be distributed: Modal verbs would close their frame with auxiliary HAVE, and real time would open its frame for ancillary extents.

It is logical to ask, if our Modal Net would render the variable {IN} an empty parameter, with a closed Modal frame: auxiliary HAVE is an anchor and not a time extent, with the Modal Net (■→CHAPTER 10), whereas in syntactic order, we first have the net and only then the particle ING:
94b. She may / might have been readING.

Our Progressive does not become empty, because it is not a parameter: it is a variable. Variables are flexible, they can work in time more than in order, so the Modal net does not nullify ING whatever way.

For figurative talk and theory altogether, we can manage just balancing the variables {ON} and {IN}, with Modal form relativity. Imagery for Modal verbs really does deserve to be a pleasant thing.


■→This text is also available in Polish.


In the first part of the language journey, feel welcome to consider a picture for
■ the grammatical Past, Present, and Future;
■ the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect;
■ infinitive, auxiliary, and head verb forms;
■ the Affirmative, Interrogative, Negative, and Negative Interrogative;
■ irregular verbs and vowel patterns: high and low, back and front.
Third edition, 2022.

Electronic format USD 2.99

The world may never have seen her original handwriting, if her skill was taken for supernatural. Feel welcome to Poems by Emily Dickinson prepared for print by Teresa Pelka: thematic stanzas, notes on the Greek and Latin inspiration, the correlative with Webster 1828, and the Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity.
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