Modal particle

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In linguistics, modal particles are always uninflected words, and are a type of grammatical particle. They are used to indicate how the speaker thinks that the content of the sentence relates to the participants' common knowledge.[1] Languages that use many modal particles in their spoken form include Dutch, Danish, German, Hungarian, Russian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese.[2] The translation is often not straightforward and depends on the context.


The German particle ja is used to indicate that a sentence contains information that is obvious or already known to both the speaker and the hearer. The sentence Der neue Teppich ist rot means "The new carpet is red". Der neue Teppich ist ja rot may thus mean "As we are both aware, the new carpet is red", which would typically be followed by some conclusion from this fact. However, if the speaker says the same thing upon first seeing the new carpet, the meaning is "I'm seeing that the carpet is obviously red", which would typically express surprise.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fabian Bross (2012): German modal particles and the common ground. In: Helikon. A Multidisciplinary Online Journal, 2. 182-209.
  2. ^ Dutch Grammar:politeness - Beleefdheid Modal particle - Modale partikels retrieved 2009-01-01 and Modal Particles By Keith Robinson, Wang Lingli retrieved 2015-08-04