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Greater than zero? A study of subject expression in modal constructions of necessity in Finnish everyday conversation

Julkaisun tekijät: Varjo Mikael

Kustantaja: University of Tartu Press

Julkaisuvuosi: 2022

Journal: Eesti ja soome-ugri keeleteaduse ajakiri

Tietokannassa oleva lehden nimi: Eesti ja Soome-Ugri Keeleteaduse Ajakiri

Volyymi: 13

Julkaisunumero: 2

eISSN: 2228-1339



Rinnakkaistallenteen osoite:


This article focuses on the variation of subject expression in modal constructions of necessity with pitää ‘must, have to’ in Finnish everyday conversations. In spoken Finnish, subjects are typically encoded with both a pronominal and a verbal marker although in principle it is possible to omit the pronominal subject. The modal verbs of necessity, however, are unipersonal which means that the verb does not show agreement with the person of the subject. Omitting the pronominal subject altogether is common in necessity constructions, typically resulting in a so-called zero-person construction which is a type of referentially open personal construction in Finnish. The present article sets out to explore the semantico-grammatical and discourse features of necessity constructions without an overt grammatical subject comparing them with those with a speech act pronoun as their subject. The Generalized Linear Mixed Model (GLMM) is employed to model the differences in the characteristics of the two constructions. After an overview of the statistical results, the article goes on to provide a qualitative analysis of the statistically significant differences. The quantitative findings indicate that different types of subject expression are entwined in the semantico-grammatical and discoursive characteristics of the modal constructions of necessity. The qualitative analysis then shows how these differences are reflected in the ways in which they are used as interactional resources.

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Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 15:28