A Corpus-Based Study of Modal Verbs Use in English Writing by EFL Learners



Based on the comparison between Chinese University Students Writing Corpus and LOCNESS, this study attempts to explore the use of modal verbs in English writing by Chinese EFL learners. The results show that EFL learners preferred to use modal verbs of high value which indicates a high degree of impoliteness. In addition, as compared with native speakers’ use, learners overused all types of modal verbs. They used less modal verbs of low value which are with a variety of semantic connotations and appropriate politeness degree. This study reveals that generally, EFL learners are lack of the pragmatic knowledge of modal verbs, and it is hard for them to distinguish the differences between different modal verbs. A series of modal verbs instruction suggestions are proposed as well.


Modal verbs; Corpus-based study; Pragmatic value

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/9975


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