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ISSN : 1226-3206(Print)
Studies in Modern Grammar Vol.105 pp.123-140

A Study on Semantic Concepts of Epistemic Modals

Youn-Kyoung Lee*
* Professor, Kyungpook National University


According to the taxonomy of English modals by Hofmann (1966) and Palmer (1990), the present study aimed at examining Korean EFL teachers’understanding and teaching experience of semantic concepts of epistemic modals. For the data, a total of 42 teachers enrolled in the English education program at 2 graduate schools in South Korea participated in an online survey. Of the participants, 18 participated in a face-to-face interview. The findings revealed that the teachers’ understanding of English epistemic modals was very low, indicating 11.92% of accuracy rate on average. In particular, their understanding of expressing speakers’ positive inference showed the lowest accuracy rate (0%). Regarding the teachers’ experience of teaching epistemic modals, the survey indicated that more than 60% of the teachers had teaching experiences. However, the teachers merely focused on forms and meanings, not functions. Importance of being aware of the semantic systems of epistemic modals, which were to express a hierarchy for logical meanings, was discussed.