Наслеђе 48 (2021), стр. 105-115

АУТОР(И): Tiana M. Tošić Lojanica

Е-АДРЕСА: tiana.tosic@filum.kg.ac.rs

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DOI: 10.46793/NasKg2148.105TL


The paper investigates  two  constructions  commonly  thought  to  be semantically equivalent, S can V and S be able to  V.  Both modal can and semi-modal be able to are used to express ability that could be described as either mental or acquired accomplishment, pertaining to past or present. The difference between them is typically denoted as general ability or that someone managed to do something on a particular occasion. If not limited by the main verb (e.g. there is a constraint against can after another modal verb), can and be able to are mostly interchangeable. Starting from the premise that every construction carries meaning which is dependent on the meaning of lexical elements occurring in that construction, the aim is to shed light on the usage of the two verb constructions and the degree of their interchangeability  by examining their complements. To compare and contrast the two constructions, we rely on a corpus-based and quantitative method of collostructional analysis (Gries and Stefanowitsch 2004), or specifically on distinctive collexeme analysis which allows us to determine if the V slot in the construction is preferred by or restricted to particular lexemes. As S can V and S be able to V are highly attested in the corpus, the research is restricted only to their meaning of the present ability


Construction, can, be able to, present ability, collostructional analysis, collexeme analysis, corpus analysis


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