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Root semantics

Modal verbs have two kinds of meanings: root meanings, which include dynamic and deontic meanings, and non-root or epistemic meanings. The Afrikaans modals, sal, gaan, wil and moet (neg. moenie must.AUX.MOD=not mustn't), hoef (te), mag, kan and behoort (te) are listed in Table 1, along with their English equivalents, preterite forms (if extant), root meanings, truth value and epistemic probability. Behoort te and hoef te may be described syntactically as quasi-modals because of the obligatory addition of an infinitival te particle. Root meanings are often influenced by the relationship between the “source of modality” and the entity represented by the sentential subject. Thus in (1a) the subject, jy you.2SG is the object or recipient of an obligation, while the subject of (1a), hierdie probleem this problem, is the source rather than the object of the general ‘obligation’ or ‘necessity’ expressed by moet.

Example 1

a. Jy moet nou daardie oproep maak.
you.2SG must.AUX.MOD now that call make.INF
You should make that phone call right now.
b. Hierdie probleem moet vandag opgelos word.
this problem must.AUX.MOD today solve.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
This problem must be solved today.

Another semantic or functional distinction is between the present and preterite usage of Afrikaans modals. Afrikaans modals form a morphological class of their own, much like English modals and in contrast to Dutch modals. This is illustrated, for instance, by the modal mag, English may and Dutch mocht . While English might is no longer the past tense of may and Afrikaans mog has virtually disappeared, Dutch mocht is still the past tense form of mogen.  Next the set of Afrikaans modals will be discussed briefly.

Sal is involved in various types of ‘prediction’, for example in a confident statement about a future occurrence (2a), or characterising someone or something in terms of their typical actions (2b).

Example 2

a. Dit sal môre reën.
it will.AUX.MOD tomorrow rain.INF
It will rain tomorrow.
b. Sy sal elke dag gaan inkopies doen.
she will.AUX.MOD every day go.LINK shopping do.INF
She would go shopping every day.

When a speaker explicitly identifies with such future projection, this may be referred to as an ‘intention’, and when the projection is shared with an addressee, it becomes a ‘promise’. Both ‘intentions’, if expressed, and ‘promises’ have the force of speech acts (see Pragmatics):

Example 3

Ons sal dadelik werk maak daarvan.
we will.AUX.MOD immediately work make.INF PN.of
We will immediately see to it that it gets done.

As senses such as ‘intention’, ‘promise’ and ‘prediction’ all involve future actions and states of affairs, sal – but not wil as in the case of English will – is often employed for future reference as such, as in:

Example 4

Môre sal dit beslis reën.
tomorrow will.AUX.MOD it definitely rain.INF
Tomorrow it will definitely rain.

Sal and wil therefore do not form a pair with future reference like shall and will in English.

The preterite form sou introduces 'uncertainty' in predictions, and may indicate that the speaker is not the source of information, in which case the modal has an evidential meaning.

Example 5

Drinkwater sou tydens die marathon beskikbaar wees.
drink.water shall.AUX.MOD.PRT during the marathon available be.INF
Drinking water is/was supposed to be available during the marathon.

Sou also renders a prediction hypothetical, as in:

Example 6

Daar sou water op Mars wees.
there shall.AUX.MOD.PRT water on Mars be.INF
There is said to be water on Mars.

Sou introduces a tentative element in promises, as in:

Example 7

Ek sou jou môre kon help.
I shall.AUX.MOD.PRT you.2SG tomorrow can.AUX.MOD.PRT help.INF
I might be able to help you tomorrow.

Sou is used in conditionals, as in:

Example 8

As dit sou reën, sou die paaie te glad wees.
if.CNJ it shall.AUX.MOD.PRT rain will.AUX.MOD.PRT the roads too slippery be.INF
If it were to rain, the roads would be too slippery.

As an auxiliary gaan is a competitor of sal in present-day Afrikaans, cf.

Example 9

a. Hulle sal beslis die beker wen.
they shall.AUX.MOD definitely the trophy win.INF
They will definitely win the trophy.
b. Hulle gaan beslis die beker wen.
they go.AUX.MOD definitely the trophy win.INF
They are definitely going to win the trophy.

While both express ‘prediction’, gaan seems to be more subjective in involving the speaker and his/her actions, and also more clearly expresses inchoative aspect.

Wil may mean ‘to want to (10a), ‘be willing to’ (10b) or ‘be imminent, be on the point of’  (10c). The anterior aspect, already present in (10c), is emphasized by means of reduplication in (10d).

Example 10

a. Hy wil skoolhoof word.
he want.to.AUX.MOD principal become.INF
He wants to become headmaster.
b. Ons wil jou wel help, maar het nie nou die middele nie.
we want.to.AUX.MOD you.2SG really help.INF but.CNJ have.PRS not now the means PTCL.NEG
We would really like to help you but don't have the means right now.
c. Die standbeeld wil omval.
the statue want.to.AUX.MOD collapse.INF
The statue is about to fall over.
d. Die standbeeld wil-wil omval.
the statue want.to.AUX.MOD-want.to.AUX.MOD collapse.INF
The statue is on the point of collapsing.

Past tense is expressed by wou want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT – and wou-wou want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT-want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT – in the senses of ‘wanting to’ and ‘being imminent’.

Wil also has a cohesive function; the main and subordinate clauses are related by the fact that wens wish in the main clause and the ‘volition’ expressed by the modal wil share a semantic field, as in (11a). Wil may, however, be omitted without a change of meaning, as in (11b).

Example 11

a. Ek wens die rampe wil nou ophou.
I wish the disasters want.to.AUX.MOD now cease.INF
I wish the disasters would stop now.
b. Ek wens die rampe hou nou op.
I wish the disasters hold now up
I wish the disasters stopped now.

Moet expresses the related senses of ‘obligation’(12a) or ‘necessity’(12b).

Example 12

a. Hy moet eers die voorbereidings tref.
he must.AUX.MOD first the preparations make.INF
He should first of all make preparations.
b. Die produk moet van 'n goeie gehalte wees.
the product must.AUX.MOD of a good quality be.INF
The product should be of good quality.

Moet is used as a transitive verb with clausal object in (13):

Example 13

Jy moet dat ek vir jou die helfte terugbetaal.
you.2SG must.AUX.MOD that.COMP I for you.2SG the half back.pay.INF
You should allow me to pay you back half the amount.
F.Bloemhof: Doodskoot, 2016, 145

In both instances, the past tense can be expressed by moes. A factual or counterfactual interpretation is possible for a proposition like that in (14a); a counterfactual interpretation is more likely if the main verb is a perfect, as in (14b).

Example 14

a. Sy moes gisteraand die orkes dirigeer.
she must.AUX.MOD.PRT last.night the orchestra conduct.INF
She had to conduct the orchestra last night.
b. Sy moes gisteraand die orkes gedirigeer het.
she must.AUX.MOD.PRT last.night the orchestra conduct.PST.PTCP have.AUX
She should have conducted the orchestra last night.

The source of the ‘obligation’ or ‘necessity’ expressed by moet/moes is highly context dependent, and may vary from an agent external to the sentential subject such as the speaker, as in (15a), to elements of a diffuse situation, as in (15b).

Example 15

a. Julle moet asseblief nou inkom.
you.2PL must.AUX.MOD please now in.come.INF
You must please come inside now.
b. Die grond moet nou verdeel word.
the land must.AUX.MOD now divide.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
The land must be divided now.

Negative imperatives, such as prohibitives, are not expressed directly by a lexical verb in Afrikaans, but consist rather of the verb preceded by the modal moet with optional subject (indicating to whom the prohibition applies). If moet and nie not are juxtaposed, they are commonly contracted to moenie, as in (16a) and (16b). In (16c), moet is separated from nie by the subject.

Example 16

a. Moenie aan daardie gogga raak nie!
must.not.AUX.MOD.IMP on that bug touch PTCL.NEG
Don’t touch that bug!
b. Moenie  jy  al die probleme probeer oplos nie!
must.not.AUX.MOD.IMP you.2SG all the problems try.LINK solve.INF PTCL.NEG
Don’t try to solve all the problems yourself!
c. Moet jy  nie al die probleme probeer oplos nie!
must.AUX.MOD.IMP you.2SG not all the problems try.LINK solve.INF PTCL.NEG
Don’t try to solve all the problems yourself!

Moet is also used in a cohesive function, after main clauses expressing ‘will’ or ‘expectation’; the main and complement clauses are pragmatically linked in that the speaker’s expectation is tantamount to an obligation from the perspective of the addressee:

Example 17

Ek wil hê jy moet nou daarmee begin.
I want.to.AUX.MOD have.INF you.2SG must.AUX.MOD now PN.with begin.INF
I want you to begin with it now.

Kan expresses senses such as  the ‘non-restriction’ of action, ‘being in a position to,’ ‘possibility’ and the dynamic sense of having the ability to perform an action, all of which are related to ‘capability’.  In the following examples meanings such as ‘non-restriction’ (18a), ‘possibility’ (18b), ‘capacity’ (18c) and ‘ability’ (18d) are demonstrated.

Example 18

a. Die sluis is oop en die water kan weer deurvloei.
the sluice is open and the water can.AUX.MOD again through.flow.INF
The sluice is open and the water can flow through again.
b. Dit kan môre mooiweer wees.
it can.AUX.MOD tomorrow nice.weather be.INF
The weather may be good tomorrow.
c. Die voorsitter kan enigiemand afdank.
the chairperson can.AUX.MOD anyone fire.INF
The chairperson can fire anyone.
d. Hy kan die ingewikkeldste probleme oplos.
he can.AUX.MOD the most.complex problems solve.INF
He is able to solve the most complex of problems.

Kon expresses past tense in (19):

Example 19

Hy kon die ingewikkeldste probleme oplos.
he can.AUX.MOD.PRT the most.complex problems solve.INF
He was able to solve the most complex of problems.

Kon is also employed to make a proposition more speculative, as in (20a), or an offer more tentative, as in (20b):

Example 20

a. Die man met die grys hare kon selfs haar oupa wees.
the man with the grey hair can.AUX.MOD.PRT even her grandfather be.INF
The man with the grey hair could even be her grandfather.
b. As jy mooi vra, kon ek jou miskien help.
if.CNJ you.2SG nicely ask.PRS can.AUX.MOD.PRT I you.2SG perhaps help.INF
If you ask politely, I might be able to help you.

Kan, which echoes ‘possibility’ expressed by kans chance in the main clause, enhances interclausal cohesiveness in the following sentence:

Example 21

Die kans dat julle kan wen, is maar skraal.
the chance that.COMP you.2PL can.AUX.MOD win.INF be.PRS somewhat slender
The chances that you will be able to win, are quite slender.

Mag expresses ‘permission’, as in (22a), and  ‘possibility’, as in (22b) – the latter employed in epistemic sense:

Example 22

a. Die voorsitter mag enigiemand afdank.
the chairperson may.AUX.MOD anyone off.thank.INF
The chairperson is entitled to fire anyone.
b. Dit mag môre mooiweer wees.
it may.AUX.MOD tomorrow nice.weather be.INF
The weather may be good tomorrow.

The obsolescent preterite form mog may express past tense, as in (23a), or is used in epistemic function, as in (23b).

Example 23

a. Die voorsitter mog hom wel afdank.
the chairperson may.AUX.MOD.PRT him indeed fire.INF
The chairman was indeed entitled to fire him.
b. Dit mog die droogte gebreek het.
this may.AUX.MOD.PRT the drought break.PST.PTCP have.AUX
That might have broken the drought.

The sense of ‘possibility’ inherent in mag creates semantic congruence with the uncertainty implied in the main clause:

Example 24

Die dokter was besorgd dat sy pasiënt dalk iets mag oorkom.
the doctor was concerned.ADJ that.COMP his patient perhaps something may.AUX.MOD befall.INF
The doctor was concerned that his patient might come to harm.

Behoort te be supposed to expresses ‘duty’ or ‘expectation’ rather than ‘obligation’:

Example 25

Hy behoort sy plig te doen.
he ought.AUX.MOD his duty PTCL.INF do.INF
He is supposed to do his duty.

Epistemic use is also possible:

Example 26

Hulle behoort nou al tuis te wees
they ought.AUX.MOD now already at.home PTCL.INF be.INF
They should be home by now.

Hoef commonly co-occurs with the negative nie NEG, as in (27a), and expresses ‘absence of obligation’ rather than ‘prohibition’. In (27b) it is used in a yes/no question to enquire about ‘obligation’ and in (27c) it forms part of a restrictive statement, with net only as restrictive adverbial. In (27d) hoef indicates median probability in epistemic usage.

Example 27

a. Sy hoef nie sewe-uur al hier te wees nie.
she need.AUX.MOD not seven-hour already here PTCL.INF be.INF PTCL.NEG
She needn’t be here as early as seven o’clock.
b. Hoef ek al hierdie vergaderings by te woon?
need.AUX.MOD I all these meetings at PTCL.INF attend.INF
Need I attend all these meetings?
c. Jy hoef net te sê jy sal daar wees.
you.2SG need.AUX.MOD only PTCL.INF say.INF you.2SG will.AUX.MOD there be.INF
You only need to say that you’ll be there.
d. Hy hoef nie haar pa te wees nie
he need.AUX.MOD not her dad PTCL.INF be.INF PTCL.NEG
He needn’t be her father.

For the basic meanings of the modal verbs the term root meaning is used; this covers dynamic and deontic meanings, and contrasts with epistemic meanings, which are non-root [see Epistemic usage]. The term root, which is traditionally employed, is not particularly felicitous as the root meaning may not be basic but rather based on more abstract – or less differentiated – senses such as ‘necessity’ or ‘possibility’.

The root and other meanings of modals are highly context dependent and overlap greatly  (cf. (De Villiers 1971:82). Modal meanings are also partly determined by the relationship between the initiator or source of the modality and the sentential subject, i.e. whether the subject may be considered agent, patient, instrument, etc. vis-à-vis the modal force, or is just vaguely related to it. The modal source may, for instance, be the person who desires to perform an action (wil to want to), gives permission (mag may) or compels someone else to do something (moet must‘must’). As is the case with English modals, the preterite or past tense forms do not always match semantically or functionally with the present tense forms. In certain cases, particularly in dependent clauses, modals which seem omissable may contribute to strengthening the semantic relationship between a main and subordinate clause and therefore have a cohesive function.

Extensive overviews of the meanings and functions of Afrikaans modals are provided by De Villiers (1971) and Van Schoor (1983). Table 1 provides an overview of Afrikaans modal auxiliaries, henceforth referred to as modal verbs or simply as modals. This is followed by a more detailed exposition of their meaning and usage.

Table 1: Afrikaans modals and quasi-modals

Table 1
MODAL VERB English equivalent Preterite form Root meaning(s) Truth value Epistemic probability
sal will sou prediction, future projection necessity high
gaan to be going to - intention necessity high
wil to want to wou wish, desire - -
moet must, should moes obligation necessity high
moenie must/should not prohibition necessity -
hoef (nie) te to need to, need not - obligation, requirement necessity low
mag may, to be allowed to mog (obsolescent) permission possibility median
kan can kon capability (permission) possibility median
behoort te to be supposed to, ought to - duty, expectation possibility median
[+]sal ‘will’, sou ‘would, should’

Sal will is almost always used as an auxiliary, but can, on occasion, be used as a transitive verb, cf.

Example 28

Ek sal dat Roos vir ons tee maak.
I will.AUX.MOD that.COMP Roos for us tea make.INF
I will ask Roos to make tea for us.
C.B. le Roux: Koek, 2006, 96

The modal auxiliary sal in particular, is characterised by semantic overlapping or fuzzy boundaries between meanings and functions such as ‘prediction’, ‘necessity’, future reference, and epistemic and directive function.

Sal is employed to express various related types of ‘prediction’, for example the prediction of future events (29a, 29b), the prediction of existing but yet unobserved situations as is customary in scientific hypotheses (29c) and (29d), and for characterising someone/something  by predicting their habits or customs on the basis of observation (29e). 

Example 29

a. Môre, miskien vannag nog, sal dit reën
tomorrow perhaps tonight even will.AUX.MOD it rain.INF
Tomorrow, perhaps even tonight, it will rain.
D.Sleigh: 1795, 2016, 44
b. Jaffie sal darem seker ook nou-nou hier wees.
Jaffie will.AUX.MOD hopefully possibly also now-now here be.INF
Surely Jaffie will hopefully be here in a short while.
A.Phillips: Evangelis, 2009,124
c. Dit [the noises] sal insekte wees, weet sy.
it will.AUX.MOD insects be.INF know she
It will be insects, she knows.
K.Brynard: Tuisland, 2016, 248
d. Hoe hulle dit regkry om ... hulle kwynende dorpe se moraal hoog te hou, sal net hulle weet.
how they it manage for.COMP their dwindling towns POSS morale high PTCL.INF keep.INF will.AUX.MOD only they know.INF
How they will manage to keep the morale of their dwindling towns high, only they will know.
A.Botes: Swart, 2013, 86
e. Party ... lammers sal sommer bo-oor die ooie ... probeer klim om die water by te kom. 
some lambs will.AUX.MOD just above-over the ewes try.LINK climb.INF for.COMP the water at PTCL.INF come.INF
Some lambs would simply try to climb over the ewes in order to reach the water.
L.P.Bredenkamp: Jan Leendert, 2009, 24

Prediction, particularly the hypothetical kind (29c, 29d), is very similar to epistemic use [see Epistemic usage]. A possible difference with epistemic use is that epistemic sal is usually employed to indicate strong probability rather than mere hypothesis. Future prediction (29a) is, however, clearly differentiated from epistemic use, as is the use of  prediction for the purpose of characterising (29e). Characterisation, unlike epistemic usage, implies the repeated manifestation of a trait: the speaker predicts that a particular action or state of affairs will be observable at any given time.  

In the following example ‘prediction’ and ‘necessity’ overlap, while ‘future reference’ is also salient:

Example 30

Só het die heerskappy en oorheersing van die man oor die eeue beslag gekry – om te sê hoe dinge ís en sál wees ...
so have.AUX the sovereignty and domination of the man over the centuries finality get.PST.PTCP for.COMP PTCL.INF say.INF how things be.PRS and will.AUX.MOD be.INF
In this way the sovereignty and domination of the man became institutionalised over the centuries – to say how things are and will be ...
W. Jordaan: Beeld, 2016/10/26

‘Intention’, which according to Van Schoor (1983:148) is the only primary meaning sal and its preterite sou have in common, is expressed in (31) (see Pragmatics).

Example 31

a. maar ons sal vir ons nog boekrakke kry
but.CNJ we will.AUX.MOD for us more bookshelves get.INF
but we’ll get hold of some more bookshelves
b. Sy sou binnekort trou.
she shall.AUX.MOD.PRT soon marry.INF
She intended to get married soon.

Sal and its preterite form sou do not form a “future tense” pure and simple, in the sense of the dedicated futures of for instance Latin or French. Most modal senses,  such as ‘prediction’, ‘intentionality’, ‘volition’, ‘obligation’, ‘ability’, ‘possibility’ and ‘necessity’ contain an element of ‘futurity’, though future reference as such occurs most stripped of modal senses in propositions with sal and gaan:

Example 32

Dit sal/ gaan môre sneeu!
it will.AUX.MOD / go.AUX.MOD tomorrow snow.INF
It will / is going to snow tomorrow!

However, even here these modal senses are still present if compared to the factual tone of:

Example 33

Môre sneeu dit!
tomorrow snow.PRS it
Tomorrow it's going to snow.

Eggins (2004:175) points out that any additions (here of a modal verb) paradoxically reduce the certainty of a statement: (T)he more we say something is certain, the less certain it is. If we are sure of something, we do not use any modality.

In the following example, in which the possible outcomes of an action are predicted, a future perfect (sal gemaak het will have made ) is followed by a future (sal lag will laugh ):

Example 34

Hy sal 'n totale gek van homself gemaak het. Almal sal daaroor lag.
he will.AUX.MOD a complete fool of himself make.PST.PTCP have.AUX all will.AUX.MOD PN.over laugh.INF
He would have made a complete fool of himself. Everyone will laugh about it.
M.Heese: Maestro, 2016, 145

In the next example, both instances of sou are hypothetical:

Example 35

As jy hom die vorige dag so sien sit en koerant lees het, sou jy nooit raai hy sou so iets doen nie.
if.CNJ you.2SG him the previous day so see.LINK sit.LINK and newspaper read.INF have.AUX shall.AUX.MOD.PRT you.2SG never guess.INF he will.AUX.MOD.PRT so something do.INF PTCL.NEG
If you saw him sitting reading the paper the previous day, you wouldn’t have imagined that he would do such a thing.
Beeld, 1999/7/30

Van Schoor (1983:150)mentions a specialised stylistic use of sal/sou, which he refers to as ‘dramatising’ (dramatiserend).

Example 36

Toe sal sy eers agterkom hy terg maar net.
then shall.AUX.MOD she first behind.come.INF he joke.PRS just only
Only then did she notice that he was just joking.

In literary usage, sal/sou might have a double (realis and irrealis) or anticipatory perspective, indicating at the same time that at speech time an action had not yet taken place (irrealis), but at a later point it did in fact take place (realis). This usage is telic, in that realisation of the action is envisaged from the start.

Example 37

a. Later sal sy my vertel die hommeltuig het drie wit Toyota-bakkies gesien.
later will.AUX.MOD she me tell.INF the drone have.AUX three white Toyota-trucks see.PST.PTCP
Later on she would tell me that the drone saw three white Toyota trucks.
D.Meyer: Koors, 2016, 576
b. Dié besluit sou hom nog duur te staan kom.
this decision will.AUX.MOD.PRT him still dear PTCL.INF stand.INF come.INF
He would pay dearly for this decision.
A.Blake: Broedertwis, 2016, 69
c. Die reën het teruggetrek, maar dit sou die hele oggend mistig bly.
the rain have.AUX back.draw.PST.PTCP but.CNJ it will.AUX.MOD.PRT the whole morning foggy remain.INF
The rain cleared up, but it would remain foggy throughout the morning.
J.Miles: Op 'n dag, 2016, 107

While epistemic meaning concerns the speaker’s own evaluation of the truth of a proposition, he/she may also invoke an external source or authority. The deverbal adverbial glo reportedly has this evidential function, as in (38a). Sou would, the preterite of sal will, has a similar function, and may refer to present or past evidence, cf. (38b)

Example 38

a. Hulle is glo taamlik welgestelde mense.
they be.PRS reportedly quite well.off people
They are said to be quite well off people.
b. Die koningin sou al die openbare parke besit.
the queen shall.AUX.MOD.PRT all the public parks own.INF
The queen is said to own all the public parks.

Conditional clauses may be introduced by a complementiser such as as if (39a), the preterite of sal (with inversion) (39b, 39d, 39e), or both as and sou (without inversion) (39c).

Example 39

a. As sy hart ophou klop, roep dadelik die dokter.
if.CNJ his heart stop.LINK beat.INF call.IMP immediately the doctor
If his heart stops beating, call the doctor immediately.
b. Sou sy hart ophou klop, roep dadelik die dokter.
shall.AUX.MOD.PRT his heart stop.LINK beat.INF call.IMP immediately the doctor
Should his heart stop beating, call the doctor immediately.
c. As sy hart sou ophou klop, roep dadelik die dokter.
if.CNJ his heart shall.AUX.MOD.PRT stop.LINK beat.INF call.IMP immediately the doctor
If his heart should stop beating, call the doctor immediately.
d. Sou sy meer ingestel wees op introspeksie, sou sy dalk gewonder het of ...
shall.AUX.MOD.PRT she more focused be.INF on introspection shall.AUX.MOD.PRT she perhaps wonder.PST.PTCP have.AUX whether.CNJ
Had she been more focused on introspection she might have wondered whether ...
D.Meyer: Proteus, 2002, 97
e. of miskien het hy op gunstiger voordele van die Britse owerhede gewag sou hy oorgee.
or perhaps have.AUX he on more.favourable advantages from the British authorities wait.PST.PTCP shall.AUX.MOD.PRT he surrender.INF
or perhaps he waited for more favourable advantages from the British authorities were he to surrender
A.Blake, Broedertwis, 2016, 87

In sum, the preterite form sou takes on several related values or functions, namely (cancelled) ‘intention’(40a), request mitigation (40b) and evidentiality (40c). In (40d) it has a hypothetical slant; in (40e) it has an anticipatory function and in (40f) it introduces a conditional clause.

Example 40

a. Ek sou vandag uithelp, maar ek kan ongelukkig nie meer nie.
I will.AUX.MOD.PRT today out.help.INF but.CNJ I can.AUX.MOD unfortunately not more PTCL.NEG
I would have helped today, but unfortunately I am no longer able.
b. Dit sou gaaf wees as julle kon help.
it will.AUX.MOD.PRT kind be.INF if.CNJ you.2PL can.AUX.MOD.PRT help.INF
It would be kind of you if you could help.
c. Hy sou haar pa wees.
he shall.AUX.MOD.PRT her dad be.INF
He is said to be her father.
d. Ek sou dink gaste sal toegelaat word.
I will.AUX.MOD.PRT think.INF guests will.AUX.MOD allow.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
I would imagine that guests would be allowed.
e. Hy sou uiteindelik al sy geld verloor.
he will.AUX.MOD.PRT eventually all his money lose.INF
In the end he would lose all his money.
f. Sou dit te laat word, verdaag ons die vergadering.
will.AUX.MOD.PRT it too late become.INF adjourn we the meeting
If it gets too late, we’ll adjourn the meeting.

Modal preterites are also found after the verbal particle te to, though in Afrikaans (unlike in Dutch) sal/sou never co-occurs with te, e.g.

Example 41

a. Om die brokstukke te kon/*sou optel, moes hy vroeg roer.
for.COMP the pieces PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD.PRT/*shall.AUX.MOD.PRT up.pick.INF must.AUX.MOD.PRT he early start.INF
To be able to pick up the pieces, he had to start early.
b. Om die brokstukke te moes/*sou optel, was 'n straf.
for.COMP the pieces PTCL.INF must.AUX.MOD.PRT/*shall.AUX.MOD.PRT up.pick was a punishment
To have to pick up the pieces, was an ordeal

The complementiser as may combine with sou to introduce an evidential complement:

Example 42

Die bewering as sou hy 'n opstoker wees, is heeltemal ongegrond.
the allegation as.CNJ will.AUX.MOD.PRT he an agitator be.INF is completely unfounded
The allegation that he would be an agitator is quite unfounded.
[+]gaan ‘to go, be going to’

Gaan is used as a main verb (43a), linking verb (43b) and modal auxiliary (43c), respectively, in the following examples:

Example 43

a. Sy gaan nou huis toe.
she go.PRS now house to.POSTP
She is going home now.
b. Hy wil nou 'n rekenaar gaan koop.
he will.AUX.MOD now a computer go.LINK buy.INF
He wants to go and buy a computer now.
c. Hulle gaan beslis die beker wen.
they go.AUX.MOD definitely the trophy win.INF
They are definitely going to win the trophy.

The difference between gaan as linking verb and gaan as auxiliary verb, is that only a linking verb can combine with the main verb in the verb-second position. While gaan expresses the modal sense of ‘intention’ in (44a), though the non-modal sense of 'go' is not excluded, it can only be a linking verb (i.e. 'go') in (44b).

Example 44

a. Môre gaan ons inkopies by Pick n Pay doen.
tomorrow go.AUX.MOD we shopping at Pick n Pay do.INF
Tomorrow we will shop at Pick n Pay.
b. Môre gaan doen ons inkopies by Pick n Pay.
tomorrow go.LINK do.INF we shopping at Pick n Pay
Tomorrow we go shopping at Pick n Pay.

As an auxiliary verb, which is our main concern here, gaan is in many ways a competitor of sal in present-day Afrikaans, perhaps more subjective by involving the speaker (and his/her actions) to a greater extent than in the case of a mere prediction. (However, in a longitudinal corpus study, Kirsten (2016:139) found that in the context of future reference, gaan was not employed with agent-oriented modality as is the case with sal, but rather to make objective predictions about the future.) Speaker involvement may also contribute to the expression of inchoative aspect, cf.:

Example 45

Ons gaan jou help, kom wat wil.
we go.AUX.MOD you.2SG help.INF come what will.AUX.MOD
We are going to help you at all costs.

Like sal, gaan (46a) may express ‘prediction’, with a gaan statement perhaps having a more subjective angle than one with sal (46b).

Example 46

a. Ons sal môre die werk klaar hê.
we will.AUX.MOD tomorrow the work finished.ADJ have.INF
We will have the work done by tomorrow.
b. Ons gaan môre die werk klaar hê.
we go.AUX.MOD tomorrow the work finished.ADJ have.INF
We are going to have the work done by tomorrow.

In both examples the completion of the work is predicted for the next day, but while sal only guarantees the completion of the work the next day, gaan relates the completion of the work to the efforts of those involved. And while both sal and gaan have an element of ‘intention’, gaan is aspectually inchoative, while sal is stative. This sense of gaan is exemplified by (47).

Example 47

Nee, ek is te arm. Ek gaan sommer hier in my woonstel bly en die gordyne toetrek.
no I be.PRS too poor I go.AUX.MOD just here in my flat stay.INF and the curtains pull.INF
No, I’m too poor. I’m just going to stay here in my flat and pull the curtains.
J.Kirsten: Wit plafon, 2009, 151

While sal expresses ‘certainty’ on the basis of future prediction, gaan expresses ‘certainty’ on the basis of speaker involvement. Gaan implies a certain route or progress towards a goal, which ties in with the ‘motion’ element in ‘go’.  As a modal auxiliary, gaan would then mean, ‘setting a process in motion of  which the outcome will be certain’.

[+]wil ‘to want to’/ wou ‘wanted to’

Wil/wou is occasionally used as a transitive verb, and is the only Afrikaans modal forming a past participle, cf. gewil will.PST.PTCP as in (48a) and (48b). In (48c) transitive wil is used in an evidential function.

Example 48

a. Kyk, hulle is magtig. Wat hulle wil, gebeur.
look.IMP they be.PRS powerful that.REL they will.MOD.PRS happen.PRS
They are powerful, to be sure. What they will, happens.
M.Heese: Maestro, 2016, 52
b. Dirk wíl sy oogspiere om nog fyner te fokus.
Dirk will.MOD.PRS his eye.muscles for.COMP even sharper PTCL.INF focus.INF
Dirk wills his eye muscles in order to focus more sharply.
R.Greeff: Hanna, 2002, 70
c. Die gerug wil dat die petrolprys gaan styg.
the rumour will.MOD.PRS that.COMP the petrol.price go.AUX.MOD rise.INF
It is rumoured that the petrol price is going up.

As an auxiliary, wil want to and wou wanted to generally express a present or past wish or desire. The sentential subjects in the following are the exclusive source of ‘volition’, whether human, as in (49a), (49b) and (49e), animal, as in (49c), or institutional as in (49d).

Example 49

a. Hulle wil weet presies waar jy werk.
they want to.AUX.MOD know.INF exactly where you.2SG work
They want to know exactly where you are working.
b. ... as jy wil kom gesels, is dit altyd reg.
if you.2SG want.to.AUX.MOD come.LINK talk.INF is it always right
if you want to come and talk, it will always be OK.
c. ... nie so baie perskes vanjaar nie. Die goggas wil die goed opvreet.
not so many peaches this.year PTCL.NEG the bugs want.to.AUX.MOD the stuff up.eat.INF
not so many peaches this year. The bugs want to eat the stuff.
d. die samelewing wil my nie aanvaar nie.
the society want.to.AUX.MOD me not accept PTCL.NEG
society refuses to accept me
e. Hy wou nog twee jaar aanbly op sy eie voorwaardes
he want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT another two year on.stay.INF on his own conditions
He wanted to stay on another two years on his own conditions.

The subject may remain the source of 'volition' without being the agent of the associated action, as in:

Example 50

a. Hy wil nie verplant wees nie; sy stekelige blaartjies hang.
he want.to.AUX.MOD not transplant.PST.PTCP be.INF PTCL.NEG his prickly leaf.DIM.PL hang.PRS
It refuses to be transplanted; its little prickly leaves are hanging’.
E.Baker: Ou begin, 2001, 212
b. Was byna of die gedierte geskiet wóú word.
was almost as.if.CNJ the beast shoot.PST.PTCP want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Was almost as though the beast wanted to be shot.
W.Anker: Buys, 2014, 30

However, where a second source of volition is implied, the subject only has a mediating function and ‘willingness’ rather than ‘volition’ as such is expressed:

Example 51

a. Ek wil jou wel help, maar kan nie vandag nie.
I want.to.AUX.MOD you.2SG indeed help.INF but.CNJ can.AUX.MOD not today PTCL.NEG
I am willing to help you, but can’t do so today.
b. Hulle wil dit nie erken nie, maar dit is so.
they want.AUX.MOD it not admit.INF PTCL.NEG but.CNJ it is so
They don’t want to admit it, but it is so.

When the subject takes on a non-agentive role, as in (52a), (52b) and (52e), indirectly refers to the subject, as in (52c), or agency is only vaguely identified, for instance as a force of nature, as in (52d), wil/wou takes on an anterior aspectual function and has the sense of imminent action, viz. ‘being about to, on the point of, imminent’. Anteriority rather than volition  is even more pronounced when the subject is  [- human], as in (52d). The difference between the volitional and aspectual senses of wil/wou may be ascribed to a difference between an ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ perspective on action, respectively (cf. Conradie 2016).

Example 52

a. Ons wil ons so doodlag daaroor.
we want.to.AUX.MOD us.REFL so dead.laugh PN.over
We want to break ourselves laughing about that.
b. Sy druk die foon dood. Sy wil huil.
she press the phone dead she want.to.AUX.MOD cry.INF
She hangs up. She feels like crying.
I. Roggeband: Noot, 2013, 192
c. Sy hart wil bars van vreugde.
his heart want.to.AUX.MOD burst.INF from joy
His heart is about to split open from joy.
M.Heese: Maestro, 2016, 29
d. Die reën wil nou uitsak.
the rain want.to.AUX.MOD now out.fall.INF
The rain is about to come down now.
e. Hulle wou hulleself morsdood lag.
they want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT themselves.REFL dead.ADJ laugh.INF
They were breaking themselves laughing.
E. Venter: Santa Gamka, 2009, 31

The aspectual sense of ‘being imminent’ may be emphasized by the use of  reduplication (also of the preterite wou) because Afrikaans reduplication is employed, inter alia, to signal ‘repeated attempt’ via its repetition function (cf. Conradie 2003). Wil/wou is the only Afrikaans modal verb to allow reduplication.

Example 53

a. Haar beeld wil-wil terugkom in sy geheue.
her image want.to.AUX.MOD-want.to.AUX.MOD back.come.INF in his memory
Her image is on the point of returning to his memory.
L.van Nierop: Plesierengel, 2013, 193
b. Almal duik vir skuiling ... Dit wou-wou lelik word.
all duck for shelter it want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT-want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT ugly become
All were ducking to find shelter ... Things were on the point of getting ugly.
J.Miles: Voetstoots, 2009, 306

Wil/wou also has an inter-clausal cohesive function, in that wil/wou in the complement clause echoes the wish expressed in the main clause, as in (54a) and (54b).  Omitting the auxiliary does not imply semantic change, cf. (54c) and (54d).

Example 54

a. Ek wens jy wil weggaan!
I wish.PRS you.2SG want.to.AUX.MOD away.go.INF
I wish you would go away.
I.Roggeband: Noot, 2013, 191
b. Ek wens jy gaan weg.
I wish.PRS you.2SG go.PRS away
I wish you went away.
c. Sy wens hy wil haar storie oor plaaswerkers lees.
she wish.PRS he want.to.AUX.MOD her story about farm.workers read.INF
She wishes that he would read her story about farm workers.
R. Rust: Lyf onthou, 2012, 122
d. Sy wens hy lees haar storie oor plaaswerkers.
she wish.PRS he read.PRS her story about farm.workers
She wishes that he would read her story about farm workers.
[+]moet ‘must,to have to’, moes ‘had to’, moenie ‘don’t’

The modal moet has ‘obligation’ as its root meaning, as in (55a), to which the value of ‘necessity’ is closely related, as in (55b). In (55c), the speaker expresses his/her doubt about the necessity of a certain incident.

Example 55

a. Nou moet julle asseblief omdraai.
now must.AUX.MOD you.2PL please around.turn.INF
Now you must please turn around.
b. As ek wyn drink, dan moet dit soetwyn wees.
if.CNJ I wine drink then must.AUX.MOD it sweet.wine be.INF
If I drink wine, it has to be sweet wine.
c. Dat so iets nou met hom moet gebeur.
that.COMP so something now with him must.AUX.MOD happen.INF
That something like that should happen to him.
I. Roggeband: Noot, 2013, 110

The relationship between Afrikaans moet and English must in South African English and in particular the influence of the former on the latter is described by Wasserman & Van Rooy (2014) and Wasserman (2016). While the illocutionary strength of Afrikaans moet as 'obligation' has diminished during the second half of the 20th century (Wasserman 2016:34), must in South African English has remained an important vehicle for expressing 'obligation' and 'necessity' (Wasserman 2016:28). At the same time S.A.Eng. must also extend(ed) its semantic domain to express median obligation, becoming partly synonymous with should (Wasserman & Van Rooy 2013:1). It should therefore be appreciated that describing the meaning of Afrikaans moet by means of S.A.Eng. must and should may at times be misleading to speakers of other varieties of English!

‘Obligation’ in the past is expressed by the preterite moes. With preterite moes, the proposition is unmarked in regard to factuality, e.g. the proposition may be interpreted as factual (i.e. realised) or as a mere obligation.

Example 56

Dié Saterdagoggend moes ons die opname doen
that Saturday.morning must.AUX.MOD.PRT we the recording do.INF
That Saturday morning we had to do the recording.

The context enforces a factual interpretation in:

Example 57

Die hele dag moes ek al sy werk doen.
the whole day must.AUX.MOD.PRT I all his work do.INF
All day long I had to do his work.

Combined with the perfect, a counterfactual interpretation is likely (see Construction 1):

Example 58

Hulle moes vanoggend gaan stroop het maar gelukkig reën dit nou.
they must.AUX.MOD.PRT this.morning go.LINK harvest.INF have.AUX but.CNJ luckily rain it now
They should have harvested this morning but luckily it’s raining now.

In rare instances ‘obligation’ – which implies ‘futurity’ – is combined with past reference; the context of the following is a description of what an envisaged sculpture should look like:

Example 59

Neptunus moet staan, dink Gianlorenzo, en sy seun Triton moet pas uit die see verskyn het.
Neptune must.AUX.MOD stand.INF think Gianlorenzo and his son Triton must.AUX.MOD just out.of the sea appear.PST.PTCP have.AUX
Neptune should be standing, Gianlorenzo thought, and his son Triton should just have appeared from the sea.
M.Heese: Maestro, 2016, 236

In subordinate clauses, moet may take on a hypothetical value similar to sou would, were to:

Example 60

Ek wonder wat my skoolhoof en kollegas sal dink as hulle my nou moet sien.
I wonder what my principal and colleagues will.AUX.MOD think.INF if.CNJ they me now must.AUX.MOD see.INF
I wonder what my principal and colleagues would think if they were to see me now.
P. Stamatélos: Pastoor, 2013, 62

The source of ‘obligation’ or ‘necessity’ may vary from direct to diffuse; it may for instance be the speaker or the sentential subject, or have a source sharing both of these or difficult to pinpoint. In (61a), where the subject is directly addressed by the speaker, the speaker is clearly the source. In (61b) to (61d), the sentential subject takes on the role of ‘source of obligation or necessity’. In (61e), possible sources vary from a personal wish of the speaker to supposed municipal regulations or what the speaker considers to be his/her right. In (61f), a common wishing formula, the subject, as “receiver” of the wish, is clearly non-agentive. [see Modal pragmatics] A similar wish is echoed in (61g).

Example 61

a. Jy moet die werkie vandag klaarmaak.
you.SG must.AUX.MOD the work.DIM today finish.INF
You should finish the job today.
b. Dalk moet ek maar begin by die begin.
perhaps must.AUX.MOD I just begin.INF at the beginning
Perhaps I should just begin at the beginning.
A.Ferreira: Guts, 2013, 112
c. Maar Johnny moet die Mercedes nou juis verbysteek toe daar 'n vragmotor van voor af kom.
but.CNJ Johnny must.AUX.MOD the Mercedes now precisely pass.INF when.CNJ there a truck from front of come.PRS
But Johnny had to overtake the Mercedes just when a truck was coming from the front.
F.Bloemhof: Doodskoot, 2016, 161
d. Ek kan jou ongelukkig nie help nie. Ek moet nou rêrig loop.
I can you.2SG unfortunately not help PTCL.NEG I must.AUX.MOD now really go.INF
Unfortunately I can’t help you. I really have to go now.
E.Venter: Santa Gamka, 2009, 194
e. Die geraas moet dadelik ophou.
the noise must.AUX.MOD immediately stop.INF
The noise must stop immediately.
f. Julle moet mooi ry.
you.2PL must.AUX.MOD nicely drive.INF
Do drive carefully.
g. Sy sê sy gaan na hom verlang. En hy moet net veilig bly.
she say she go.AUX.MOD to him long.INF and he must.AUX.MOD only safe remain.INF
She says she is going to miss him. And he should keep safe.
D. Meyer: Kobra, 2013, 99

In Afrikaans negative imperatives or prohibitives are not expressed directly by a lexical verb, but are signalled by initial moet must + nie not, commonly contracted – only when it functions as a prohibitive – to moenie [muni]. This structure is ascribed to the language contact situation in which Afrikaans developed. Possible sources are Low Portuguese na mistinot must, mister meaning 'necessary', and the Malay particle jangan don’t, mustn’t (cf. Ponelis (1993:460). Moenie is commonly used as an interjection (62a) or to express a negative imperative or prohibition (62b). Moenie is optionally followed by a sentential subject (typically a pronoun such as jy you.SG or julle you.PL), as in (62c). The subject may also follow directly on initial moet , as in (62d), to parallel the inversion structure of a yes-no question.

Example 62

a. Moe=nie!
b. Moenie aan daardie gogga raak nie!
must.not.AUX.MOD.IMP on that bug touch.INF PTCL.NEG
Don’t touch that bug!
c. En moenie jy dit drink nie, sê hy.
and must.not.AUX.MOD.IMP you.2SG it drink.INF PTCL.NEG say he
And don't you drink it, he said.
C. Marnewick: Clarence, 2012, 26
d. Moet jy nou nie worry nie, versta’ jy?
must.not.AUX.MOD.IMP you.2SG now not worry.INF PTCL.NEG understand you.2SG
You shouldn’t worry, do you understand?
D. Meyer: Kobra, 2013, 291

In subordinate clauses controlled by wil/wou hê want/wanted to havemoet/moes  has an inter-clausal cohesive function; it facilitates the link between main and subordinate clause by converting the speaker’s wish or expectation expressed in the main clause into an obligation in respect of the addressee in the subordinate clause, as in (63a) as against (63ai). Moet/moes thus adds no new meaning, and becomes redundant in the more formal and uncommon rendering with wil/wou as main verb rather than auxiliary and obligatory use of dat that as complementiser, as in (63b) as against (63bi). The same applies for wou hê ... moes , as in (63c) as against (63ci).

Example 63

a. ek wil nie dit moet gebeur nie.
I want.to.AUX.MOD not have.INF this must.AUX.MOD happen.INF PTCL.NEG
I don’t want this to happen.
Z. van der Berg: Ander mens, 2013, 70
a.' ? ek wil nie dat dit gebeur nie
I want.AUX.MOD not that.COMP this happen PTCL.NEG
I don’t want this to happen.
b. “Hand it over. Slowly. Ons wil rêrig nie hê iemand moet seerkry nie.”
hand it over slowly we want.to.AUX.MOD really not have.INF someone must.AUX.MOD hurt.get.INF PTCL.NEG
Hand it over slowly. We really don’t want anyone to get hurt.
D.Meyer: Kobra, 2013, 369
b.' ? Ons wil rêrig nie dat iemand seerkry nie.
we want.to.AUX.MOD really not that.COMP someone hurt.get PTCL.NEG
We really don’t want anyone to get hurt.
c. Ek wou hê jy moes kom kyk.
I want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT have.INF you.2SG must.AUX.MOD.PRT come.LINK look.INF
I wanted you to come and have a look.
A.P.Brink: Philida, 2012, 179
c.' ? Ek wou dat jy kom kyk.
I want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT that.COMP you.2SG come.LINK look.INF
I wanted you to come and have a look.
[+]kan ‘can’, kon ‘could’

Kan expresses ‘capability’ on a cline from the non-agentive sense of the ‘non-restriction’ of action or simply ‘being in a position to,’ as in (64a), to the agentive or dynamic sense of having the ability to perform an action, as in (68) and (69). Closely related is also the ‘possibility’ of an action taking place, with ‘permission’ as a derived sense, particularly in speech acts [see Modal pragmatics]. In the following examples meanings such as ‘non-restriction’, ‘possibility’, ‘capacity’ and ‘ability’ are demonstrated. In (64), action is not restricted.

Example 64

a. hy kan mos nog 'n ruk lank die kat uit die boom kyk.
he can.AUX.MOD surely still a while long the cat out.of the tree look.INF
surely he can suss things out for a while
P.J.Haasbroek: Vennoot, 2009, 164
b. Ja, jy kan seker maar so sê.
yes you.2SG can.AUX.MOD probably then so say.INF
Yes, I would imagine that one could say so.
J. Kirsten: Wit plafon, 2009, 150

The sense of ‘having the capability of being acted upon’ is also expressed by a deverbal adjective with [-baar] -able as suffix:

Example 65

Jou motor is nie onherstelbaar nie; dit kan nog herstel word.
your car is not irrreparable.ADJ PTCL.NEG it can.AUX.MOD still repair.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Your car is not irreparable; it can still be repaired.

Both (66a) and (66b) entail 'possibility', (66b) by way of a rhetorical question.

Example 66

a. Dit kan maar koud word in die Karoo in die winter.
it can.AUX.MOD rather cold become.INF in the Karoo in the winter
It can get rather cold in the Karoo in winter.
b. Hoe kan hy sommer net so siek word?
how can.AUX.MOD he just so ill become.INF
How can he get ill just like that?
P.J.Haasbroek: Vennoot, 2009, 191

In the following the context must determine whether the school boys in question are free to perform the action, are allowed to do so or are invited to do so.

Example 67

Hy sê toe al die skoolseuns kan daar kom werk.
he say then all the schoolboys can.AUX.MOD there come.LINK work.INF
He then said that all the schoolboys could come and work there.

In the following sentences ‘ability’ is expressed.

Example 68

a. Ek kan regkom, darem nie hééltemal hulpeloos nie.
I can.AUX.MOD right.come.INF after.all not completely helpless PTCL.NEG
I’ll be OK, not completely helpless, am I?
P.Stamatélos: Pastoor, 2013, 84
b. Dis 'n oulike ou maar ... hy kan op dees aarde niks reg doen nie.
it.is a nice guy but.CNJ he can.AUX.MOD on this earth nothing right do.INF PTCL.NEG
It’s a nice chap, but ... he can’t do anything right whatsoever.

In the ‘capacity’ meaning of kan, its preterite form kon expresses past tense, e.g.

Example 69

Jou motor kon gelukkig herstel word.
your car can.AUX.MOD.PRT fortunately repair.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Fortunately your car could be repaired.

The preterite form may also indicate a tentative offer or suggestion, as in (70a) and (70b),  logical inference, as in (70c) and (70d), or hypothetical situations, as in (70e) and (70f):

Example 70

a. Ons kon miskien vir u die onderdele bestel.
we can.AUX.MOD.PRT perhaps for you.2SG.FORM the spares order.INF
We could perhaps order the parts for you.
b. Die lug is vars en byna koel. Ek wens amper ons kon sommer hier voor die kamer slaap vannag.
the air is fresh and almost cool I wish almost we can.AUX.MOD.PRT just here in.front.of the room sleep.INF tonight
The air is fresh and cool. I almost wish we could just sleep here in front of the room tonight.
A.Ferreira: Tintin, 2013, 110
c. Hy kon mos nie 'n held wees as hy nie avonture beleef het nie.
he can.AUX.MOD.PRT surely not a hero be.INF if.CNJ he not adventures experience.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
Surely he couldn’t be a hero if he didn’t have adventures ...
W. Coetzer: Skerpioen, 2009, 50
d. Maar hulle kon hom juis net hier vermoor het, en dan sou die media gesê het: Kyk hoe rof is Suid-Afrika...
but.CNJ they can.AUX.MOD.PRT him actually just here murder.PST.PTCP have.AUX and then will.AUX.MOD.PRT the media say.PST.PTCP have.AUX look.IMP how rough is South Africa
But they could have murdered him on this very spot, and then the media would have said: Look how rough South Africa is.
D.Meyer: Kobra, 2013, 91
e. Ek wens jy kon vir Charlie sien.
I wish you.2SG.PRS can.AUX.MOD.PRT for Charlie see.INF
I wish you could see Charlie.
f. Hulle kon dit tog weer aanwerk, deesdae doen hulle dit maklik.
they can.AUX.MOD.PRT it indeed again on.work.INF nowadays do they it easily
Surely they could have sewed it [part of finger] on again; nowadays they do it easily.
J.Miles: Op 'n dag, 2016, 84

In what may be an ironical use of ‘ability’, kan is sometimes employed to characterise someone through his/her habits or customs (Ponelis 1979:253):

Example 71

Piet kan sommer sit en niks doen.
Piet can.AUX.MOD just sit.LINK and nothing do.INF
Piet has a way of just sitting there doing nothing.

Kan/kon in (72a), which is omissible without a change of meaning as in (72b), enhances cohesiveness by rendering the main and subordinate clause more congruent with each other as both kans chance and kan/kon can/could express ‘possibility’.

Example 72

a. Daar is 'n kans dat julle die lotto kan/kon wen.
there is a chance that.COMP you.2PL the lotto can.AUX.MOD / can.AUX.MOD.PRT win.INF
There is a chance that you could win the lotto.
b. Daar is 'n kans dat julle die lotto wen.
there is a chance that.COMP you.2PL the lotto win.INF
There is a chance that you could win the lotto.
[+]mag ‘may, to be permitted to’/mog ‘was/were permitted to’

Mag confers the ‘possibility to perform an action’, or more precisely ‘permission’ on the sentential subject, as in:

Example 73

a. Jy mag enigiets aantrek vir die partytjie.
you.2SG may.AUX.MOD anything on.put.INF for the party.DIM
You can wear anything to the party.
b. ... want daar mag jy niks verkeerd doen nie.
because.CNJ there may.AUX.MOD you.2SG nothing wrong do.INF PTCL.NEG
... because you’re not allowed to do anything wrong there.
c. As ek net 'n vraag mag vra ...
if.CNJ I only a question may.AUX.MOD ask.INF
If I’ll be permitted to ask a question ...

In epistemic usage [see Epistemic usage], mag signifies median certainty through ‘possibility’:

Example 74

a. ...ek is nie lekker vir daardie man nie. Hy mag miskien 'n onderwyser wees.
I be.PRS not easy for that man PTCL.NEG he may.AUX.MOD perhaps a teacher be.INF
I don’t feel comfortable about that man. Even though he’s a teacher.
E.Venter: Wolf, 2013, 90

The preterite form mog is becoming obsolete and is only used by older speakers to indicate past, as in (75a), or epistemic function, as in (75b).

Example 75

a. daardie tyd mog jy nie laat gekom het nie.
that time may.AUX.MOD.PRT you.2SG not late come.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
in those days you were not allowed to be late
M. de Klerk: RSG, 1998/4/28
b. wat ek ook al ... mog gesê het
what I also ever may.AUX.MOD.PRT say.PST.PTCP have.AUX
whatever I might have said
A.H. de Vries: Verbeel jou, 2009, 83

In its ‘possibility’ meaning mag may serve as a semantic link between a subordinate and main clause by echoeing the ‘uncertainty’ expressed by the latter, as in (76a); in this function mag may be omitted without a change of meaning, as in (2).

Example 76

a. Ek was bang sy mag verongeluk.
I was afraid she may.AUX.MOD die.in.accident.INF
I was afraid she might die in an accident.
b. Ek was bang sy verongeluk.
I was afraid she die.in.accident.PRS
I was afraid she might die in an accident.
[+]behoort (te) ‘to be supposed to, ought to’

In its root sense, behoort te be supposed to, ought to expresses ‘duty’ or ‘expectation’, rather than ‘obligation’ as in the case of moet, cf. (77a); in its epistemic sense, behoort (te) indicates median probability of an event or state of affairs, as in (77b) and (77c). [see Epistemic usage]

Example 77

a. Hy behoort nou die regte ding te doen en te bedank.
he ought.AUX.MOD now the right thing PTCL.INF do.INF and PTCL.INF resign.INF
He is supposed to do the right thing now and resign.
b. Die trein behoort te ry Vrydag.
the train ought.AUX.MOD PTCL.INF run.INF Friday
The train should run on Friday.
VivA-KPO, adjusted
c. nuus ... behoort Nederland al te bereik het.
news ought.AUX.MOD Netherlands already PTCL.INF reach.PST.PTCP have.AUX
news must have reached the Netherlands by now
D.Sleigh: 1795, 2016, 465
[+]hoef (nie) (te) ‘need/need not, should/shouldn’t’

Rather than expressing ‘prohibition’ as in the case of moenie, negative hoef indicates ‘absence of obligation’. Hoef te need to is commonly used in the negative in the meaning of ‘need not’ (more than 80% of the time in the TK corpus), as in (78a) and (78b), but may be positive in yes/no questions, as in (78c), or in restrictive statements with net or slegs (both ‘only’), as in (78d) and (78e).

Example 78

a. Sy hoef nie nou al die tuig neer te lê nie.
she need.AUX.MOD not now already the harness down PTCL.INF lay PTCL.NEG
She needn’t resign right now.
b. Dan hoef hy nie so baie te ry seker nie.
then need.AUX.MOD he not so often PTCL.INF drive.INF surely PTCL.NEG
Then surely he doesn’t need to drive so much.
c. Hoef ons regtig so te swoeg?
need.AUX.MOD we really so PTCL.INF toil.INF
Do we really need to toil so much?
d. U hoef egter net die teorie hiervan te verstaan.
you.2PL.HON need.AUX.MOD however only the theory PN.of PTCL.INF understand.INF
You (formal) need, however, only understand the theory of this.
e. Hy hoef saans net te gaan lê het en hy was wegwêreld.
he need.AUX.MOD evenings only PTCL.INF go.LINK lie.INF have.AUX and he was away.world
He only needed to lie down in the evenings and he was gone to the world.
F.Bloemhof: Doodskoot, 2016, 28

In epistemic usage [see Epistemic usage] we find:

Example 79

Dit hoef nie die enigste uitweg te wees nie.
this need.AUX.MOD not the only out.way PTCL.INF be.INF PTCL.NEG
This needn’t be the only way out.
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