On the Deliberative Use of the German Modal sollte

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11717)


This paper is about a particular use of the German modal sollte (‘should’) in the antecendent of conditionals as illustrated in (1)–(3). We call this use the “deliberative” use of sollte. We argue that on its deliberative use sollte doesn’t behave as the weak necessity modal it is standardly assumed to be. The distributional facts suggest that the use conditions of sollte-antecendents are closely related to the use conditions of conditional antecendents with the complementizer falls (‘in case’). Following a recent proposal by Hinterwimmer for falls, we propose that sollte in the antecendent of a conditional introduces a use condition that takes the truth of the antecendent proposition to be a truly open possibility against a given conversational background.


Epistemic modals Conditionals Subjunctive mood 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Waseda UniversityTokyoJapan

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