EFL Learners' Use of the Modals and Quasi-Modals of Obligation and Necessity

  • Received : 20120700
  • Published : 2012.09.30


This study examines the use of the modals and quasi-modals of obligation and necessity, which involves the layering of must, should, have (got) to, got to, and need to in a corpus of cross-cultural communication between EFL learners. The study compares the EFL learners' corpus with a sub-corpus of ICE-GB in terms of token counts and semantic/functional distributions because International Corpus of Standard varieties of English serves as common reference points for international comparison of varieties of English. The results showed that must, should, and have to were the main players in both the corpus of EFL learners and that of native speakers. However, some discrepancy exists between EFL learners' corpus and the native speakers' corpus in the use of the modals and quasi-modals of obligation and necessity. Compared to the corpus of native speakers, the corpus of EFL learners was distinctively different in the relative unpopularity of have to and in the comparative popularity of must particularly for root meaning. Suggestions were made for using computer corpora in understanding EFL learners' language use. And pedagogical implications were made for teaching English modality considering the current usage of the modals and quasi-modals in Standard varieties of English and helping the students develop pragmatic competence.