Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 129–155

Why will is not a modal


DOI: 10.1007/s11050-008-9028-0

Cite this article as:
Kissine, M. Nat Lang Semantics (2008) 16: 129. doi:10.1007/s11050-008-9028-0


In opposition to a common assumption, this paper defends the idea that the auxiliary verb will has no other semantic contribution in contemporary English than a temporal shift towards the future with respect to the utterance time. Strong reasons for rejecting the idea that will quantifies over possible worlds are presented. Given the adoption of Lewis’s and Kratzer’s views on modality, the alleged ‘modal’ uses of will are accounted for by a pragmatic mechanism which restricts the domain of the covert epistemic necessity operator scoping over the sentence.


ModalityFuture tenseWillGenericityAssertion

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FNRS, Laboratoire de Linguistique Textuelle et de Pragmatique CognitiveUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium