Any as inherently modal

Veneeta Dayal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


The primary theoretical focus of this paper is on Free Choice uses of any, in particular on two phenomena that have remained largely unstudied. One involves the ability of any phrases to occur in affirmative episodic statements when aided by suitable noun modifiers. The other involves the difference between modals of necessity and possibility with respect to licensing of any. The central thesis advanced here is that FC any is a universal determiner whose domain of quantification is not a set of particular individuals but the set of possible individuals of the relevant kind. In a theory of genericity utilizing situations, an any phrase can be seen as having a universal quantifier binding the situation variable of the common noun. This inherent genericity is argued to be at the heart of the intuition that any statements support counterfactual inferences and do not involve existential commitments. A conflict in presuppositions is shown to account for the incompatibility of unmodified any phrases in affirmative episodic statements and the crucial role played by modification in ameliorating this clash is explicated. In the case of modals of necessity, the interaction between the universal force of any and the particular modal base is shown to be crucial. In view of these facts it is argued that FC any is not directly licensed by modal or generic operators as generally assumed but that its felicitous use is sensitive to the pragmatics of epistemic modality. Turning to its polarity sensitive uses, language internal as well as crosslinguistic evidence is presented to distinguish it from FC any in having the existential quantificational force typical of indefinites. The paper concludes by suggesting that the common tie between them is that they both occur in statements that apply to a class of entities, rather than to particular members of the class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-476
Number of pages44
JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language

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