Expressing Necessity in Chinese: A Pilot Study

  • Shu-Yi EagleEmail author
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 31)


The purpose of the study is to examine how learners of Chinese as a foreign language use modals to express necessity, in hopes of providing current Chinese language educators with empirical results on necessity modals. There were two groups of participants in the study, 17 learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) from a State University in the United States and 28 native Chinese speakers (NC) from a private university in Taiwan. Participants from both groups were required to complete a questionnaire of two sections that were designed to obtain participants’ demographic information and knowledge of necessity modals. While the main examination lays on the responses of CFL learners, the NC group’s response works as a reference list that provides valuable insight of necessity modal usage. The results showed that the CFL group generated more epistemic necessity than the NC group, specifically 應該 yīnggāi ‘should or ought to’, while the NC group produced more deontic necessity; travel experience to Chinese-speaking countries does not necessarily have influence on the acquisition of necessity modals; and the amount of time the CFL participants spent on learning Chinese does not show much influence on the usage of deontic necessities, but it does affect usage of 必須 bìxū ‘have to’ and 得 děi ‘must.’


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Theory and PracticeUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkColorado SpringsUSA

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