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The French future tense and English will as markers of epistemic modality

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The future tense in French and the modal auxiliary will in English can both express conjecture. This use is generally considered marginal compared to that of referring to future time. A unified analysis of the French future tense and of English will needs, however, to be able to account for the former. In this paper I attempt to show how this particular modal value is intrinsically related respectively to the tense system of French and to the modal system of English and consequently why no real correspondence may be posited between the two languages, the future of conjecture being seldom translated by will and vice versa.

Keywords: English/French; epistemic modality; future tense

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Université Paris 7 Denis-Diderot

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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