Article published in:ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics
Vol. 123/124 (1999) ► pp. 37–55
Corpus analysis and pragmatics
a study of the negative structure fail to
Fail to belongs to a type of verbal structures which are in a syntactic construction with other verbs (e.g. fail to win) and which have meanings related to aspect or modality. In this paper we used the COBUILD corpus to analyse the discursive function of fail to and the meaning it adds to the verbal group where it occurs. The paper shows that with regard to function fail to is more similar to auxiliaries than to lexical verbs. Fail to is used in positive clauses to deny an expectation, which explains its association with non-durative aspect and with the modality meanings "non-achievement" and "unfulfilled obligation", and in rhetorical questions and negative clauses it is used to express the speaker's strong commitment to the certainty of a proposition.
Published online: 01 January 1999
AITCHINSON, J. and AGNIHOTRI, R.K.
BIBER, D., CONRAD, S. and REPPEN, R.
LEMMES, M. and WEKKER, H.
QUIRK, R., GREENBAUM, S., LEECH, G. and SVARTVIK, J.
SINCLAIR, J. McH.
TRAUGGOTT, E. and HEINE, H.