The Interaction of Temporal and Modal Auxiliaries in Counterfactual Contexts in Swedish


  • Cecilia Falk University of Stockholm


In counterfactual contexts, the Swedish modal auxiliaries kunna „can,‟ skola „shall,‟ and böra „ought‟ can be combined with the temporal auxiliary ha „have‟ in either combination within the verbal complex, i.e. both sequences [ha-PRET + modal-PTC + verb-INF] and modal-[PRET + ha-INF + verb-PTC] are acceptable. In both cases, the action of the main verb is denied. In this paper, I argue that the common counterfactual meaning is obtained through different mechan-isms, depending on the type of inferences and implications triggered by the modals. The ordering variation is not available for måste „must,‟ where the sequence [modal-PRET + ha-INF + verb-PTC] cannot receive a counterfactual meaning. I will show that this is because måste triggers other infe-rences and implications compared to the three other modals.