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Yurovitskaya L.N. TEMPORALITY, PROBABILITY AND ANTINOMY AS BASIC CATEGORIAL ATTRIBUTES OF SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD / L.N. Yurovitskaya // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2018. — № 4 (16). — С. 9—11. — URL: (дата обращения: 08.12.2021. ). doi:
Yurovitskaya L.N. TEMPORALITY, PROBABILITY AND ANTINOMY AS BASIC CATEGORIAL ATTRIBUTES OF SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD / L.N. Yurovitskaya // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2018. — № 4 (16). — С. 9—11. doi:


Юровицкая Л.Н.1
1Кандидат филологических наук, доцент, Самарский государственный технический университет
В статье рассмотрены понятийные атрибуты, входящие в семантическое поле возможного, которое актуализируется в рамках Сослагательного наклонения в английском языке. В результате исследования показано, что основе предложений в Сослагательном наклонении лежат ситуации, противоречащие фактическому положению дел, т.е. контрафактические, антиномические ситуации. Они представляют действия не как реальное, а как желаемое, вероятностное, обусловленное (возможное или невозможное). Показано также, что Сослагательное наклонение с необходимостью обладает темпоральной выраженностью, заложенной в самой семантике возможного и актуализуемой в грамматических формах.
Ключевые слова: сослагательное наклонение, поле возможных значений, антецедент, консеквент, контрафакт, антиномичность, трехчленная модель поля вероятностных значений.
Страницы: 9 - 11

Yurovitskaya L.N.1
1PhD in Philology, associate professor, Samara State Technical University
The article deals with the philosophical aspect of the attributive characteristics of the semantic structure of possibility expressed by Subjunctive mood in English. It is shown here that the situations contradicting the real state of things make the basic meaning of the sentences in Subjunctive mood; they are counter-fact and antinomy. They don’t represent the action as a real one, but as possible, probable or impossible and improbable. It is also proved that Subjunctive Mood is inevitably connected with temporal characteristics conveyed in the semantics of its grammatical forms.
Keywords: Subjunctive mood, field of probable meanings, antecedent, consequent, counter fact, antinomy, three-member pattern of the field of probability.
Pages: 9 - 11
Почта авторов / Author Email:


Beside material world, a man is conscious of other worlds which are non-material and only potentially existent. However, for all the absence of material element in these worlds, they are nonetheless real. According to G.W. Leibnitz, everything exists that can be thought of without contradiction.[2] Hence, matter is not a necessary attribute of the world of  reality, but still may occur  in it accidentally.  A. Schopenhauer stated that the imaginary world (or possible world) possesses a far more important element of its reality — it can be expressed in the language; — consequently investigating its linguistic structure equals to accepting its reality. [7]


In contemporary linguistics the term “world of possibility” is used for methodological analysis of   propositional notions, such as perception, supposition, trust, memory, etc. In this context it is understood as a theoretical and cognitive instrument to describe empirical world. The term “world of possibility” is widely used in logics.  Jakko Hintikka, a recognized expert in epistemic logics, suggested and substantiated this notion.  He describes it “either as possible state of things or as possible development of events” [quoted in: 5, P.26].

Within the frame of Modal Logics “Possible worlds is the category which can be applied to define “true – or false status of modal utterances”. [3, P.119]. Logical modeling and Philosophical analyses of the mentioned areas prove helpful and efficient in developing this problem.


The 20th century witnessed the interest to the semantics of “possible worlds” which may be interpreted either as possible state of things or possible development of events.  A.P. Babushkin points out that “one of the basic aspects of the semantics of possible worlds is an individual choice of these worlds”.  What is meant by “possible” or “necessary” is not always  the whole  set of possible worlds,  but  something limited by the context of speech acts and, first of all, by the exact knowledge the speaker possesses.” [1, P.7].

Logical and philosophical meaning of the theory of “world of possibility” is inexhaustible, according to A.P. Babushkin. And their linguistic and semantic explications are of special interest and have utter importance.  Contemporary linguistics expanded its scope of interest and has concentrated on cognitive and mental aspects of speech acts.  At present, it is the object of linguistic study and is interpreted as imaginative world denoted by linguistic signs.

A.P. Babushkin distinguishes the following types of the “worlds of possibility”:

— the nearest world

— possible world

— “assumed roles” world

— parallel world and the world of imaginary perspectives

— the world of lost opportunities

— irreality

— maximally approachable world

— world of potentialities

-world of doubts, guesses and hypotheses

-world of alternatives

-world of prescriptions

-anti-world [1, P.22-48].

This typology needs further development because it does not exhaust the essence of this problematic field.   Besides, real medial root cannot be deduced to make the abovementioned differentiation possible.  More than that, all the above-mentioned “worlds” are not members of the same logical sequence because they belong to different semantic groups in principle.

Yu.S. Stepanov describes a set of linguistic means reflecting the phenomenon of “possible worlds” in English semantics. He distinguishes modal words and word combinations, conjunctions, particles, etc. [4, P.5]. But according to this author “the worlds of possibility” are represented mainly by Subjunctive mood.

However, modal words and word combinations, conjunctions and particles, though complete, are not exhaustive of either of “worlds of possibility” though they may be present in any of them.  Thus, the term “worlds of possibility” would be insufficient for this situation.  It is necessary to introduce a wider notion — “field of possible meaning” where the whole set of language means mentioned by Y. S. Stepanov would be applicable. In this case these means will not contradict the basic meaning of the term “world of possibility”.

   According to M. A. Shelyakin, possible suppositions of events and their connections which substitute real events or really non-existent events include counter-opposition to reality [6, 125].


We posit three attributive characteristics to the field of possible meanings: temporality, probability and antinomy. These characteristics breed the very essence of the field in its language implementation. They are basic in the semantics of probability and are expressed in grammatical forms of Subjunctive mood.

Let us consider the set of attributive characteristics in the field of possible meanings revealed in sentences including verbs in Subjunctive Mood.  Any conditional sentence is a two-member sentence. Let us apply two notions to go into their semantic structure – antecedent and consequent, borrowed from Logics. Antecedent is the first member of such sentence forming a certain condition.  Consequent is the second member of the sentence signifying consequence.  Conditional sentence are based on situations which contradict factual things, that is contra factual situations.

Such  analysis of conditional sentences makes it possible to implement  a new approach to explication of the  field of possible meanings on the one hand; on the other hand, it attempts to show  an inner differentiation of our three-member pattern of the  field of possible meanings.

The latter are perceived through utterances with subjunctive forms of a verb.

This pattern of the field of possible meanings can be seen in conditional sentences of the first type:

“If you find the treasure then we will go shares”… [11].

The first sentence member – antecedent “If you find the treasure…” may have a set of anticipated variants which can prescribe the range of values for the second member of conditional proposition, that is, consequent: if P, then q1 q2 q3.  For example, if you find the treasure, q1 – we will be rich; q2 – we will buy a big luxurious house, q3 – we will give it to a deserving charity, qn… The consequent variability reveals a probable field of events development (in other words, potential states), what is in fact a basic attributive feature of a sentence in Subjunctive mood.  Antecedent and consequent are unfolding in the same temporal coordinate system.  They refer to the future and though this reference is not a sine qua non condition of semantics of the possible existence, conditional sentences cannot be imagined without temporal characteristics as such. Antinomy of the situation lies in counter-opposition of the fact (you have not yet found the treasure) and possibility (if you find it), and also in the consequent variability (we will go shares). But this probability is not rigidly determined.  Probability does not imply rigid determinism in principle but exists potentially as one of many scripts.

Conditional sentences built according to: “If P (took place in the past), then q (is taking place in a real moment of time)” belong to the so-called “mixed” type of conditional sentences and possess different temporal characteristics. 

“And with that answer, he left me: I would much rather he had knocked me down”. [8]

Here antecedent refers to the past, and the consequent is in the present; however their positions in the sentence may be reversed. This type of temporal reference is not always evident in the sentence itself and rather may be deduced from the situational context.  Such a construction is based on counter-factual situation contradicting factual state of things: I am unhappy (I would feel better) – he had not knocked me down (if he had not knocked me down). The facts and the possibility complement and harmonize the sentence sense frame directing it towards probable actualizations.  Non-realized probability of the action (he did not knock me down) does not mean the absence of this probability in general but rather emphasizes the emotional lacuna caused by a possible but not preformed action.

Let us consider next a conditional sentence where both antecedent and consequent refer to the past:

“If I had known you had been coming, Tom, I would have had something for breakfast. I would rather have such a surprise than the best breakfast in the world myself; but yours is another case, and I have no doubt you are as hungry as a hunter”. [9].

As the condition (antecedent) in the sentence did not take place in the past,( that is, the host did not know about the guest’s arrival), the supposed consequent did not take place either – the host had no opportunity to meet his guest in a hospitable manner.  In this case the antinomy is explicated both in time and possibility. The consequent follows from the context but is not explicit in the sentence itself.

Another feature of such sentences may be “improbability” of possible meaning which is connected not so much with formal markers of subjunctive mood but rather with additional connotations pertaining to stylistic specificity of a sentence.

Still, if all hands had been got together, they would not have more than half filled the room. [10].

If we translate this sentence into Russian, temporality will be different. While in the English sentence the tense is in conformity with the rules of Subjunctive mood, in the Russian sentence temporality (expressed by the infinitive construction) may be defined by the situation context.

This connection may be various and be used in speech to express a set of non-verbalized but possible judgments, comparisons, intentions. They deal with awareness and evaluation of reality and go together with this or that personal attitude of the speakers to speech acts.


Thus, Subjunctive mood is a means of actualizing semantics of the field of possible meanings.  Conditional sentences are based on situations contradicting real state of things, that is counter-factual antinomy situations. Subjunctive mood expressed in a conditional sentence presents an action not as a real but as expected one (either possible or impossible). It will inevitably contain temporal characteristics inherent in semantics of probability and manifested in grammatical forms.

Список литературы / References:
  1. Бабушкин А. П. Возможные миры в семантическом пространстве языка. Воронеж: Воронежский межрегиональный институт общественных наук, 2001. 86 с.
  2. Лейбниц Г.-В. Опыты теодицеи о благости Божией, свободе человека и начале зла [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения:08.12. 2018).
  3. Слинин Я. А. Теория модальностей в современной логике // Логическая семантика и модальная логика. М.: Наука, 1967. С. 119-147.
  4. Степанов Ю. С. Пространство и миры – новый, «воображаемый», «ментальный» и прочие // Философия языка: в границах и вне границ: В 2 т. Харьков: Око, 1994. Т. 2. С. 3-18.
  5. Целищев В. В. Философские проблемы семантики возможных миров. Новосибирск: Наука, 1977. 191 с.
  6. Шелякин М. А. Об инвариантном значении и функциях сослагательного наклонения в русском языке // Вопросы языкознания. 1999. № 4. С. 124-136.
  7. Шопенгауэр А. Мир как воля и представление [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения: 08.12.2018).
  8. Bronte Ch. Jane Eyre. [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения:08.12.2018).
  9. Dickens Ch. Martin Chuzzlewit. [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения:08.12.2018).
  10. Dickens Ch. The Uncommercial Traveller [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения: 08.12.2018).
  11. Haggard H. Rider. Colonel Quaritch, V. C. [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения: 08.12.2018).

Список литературы на английском / References in English:
  1. Babushkin A. P. Vozmozhnye miry v semanticheskom prostranstve yazyka. [Probable worlds in a language semantic space] Voronezh: Voronezhskii mezhregional’nyi institut obshchestvennykh nauk, 2001. 86 s [in Russian]
  2. Leibnits G.-V. Opyty teoditsei o blagosti Bozhiei, svobode cheloveka i nachale zla [Theodicy] [Electronic resource]. URL: (accessed: 08.12.2018. [in Russian]
  3. Slinin Ya. A. Teoriya modal’nostei v sovremennoi logike[Theory of modality in Modern Logics] // Logicheskaya semantika i modal’naya logika. M.: Nauka, 1967. S. 119-147. [in Russian]
  4. Stepanov Yu. S. Prostranstvo i miry - novyi, "voobrazhaemyi", "mental’nyi" i prochie [Space and Worlds – New, ‘Imaginary’, ‘Mental’, and others] // Filosofiya yazyka: v granitsakh i vne granits: v 2-kh t. Khar’kov: Oko, 1994. T. 2. S. 3-18. [in Russian].
  5. Tselishchev V. V. Filosofskie problemy semantiki vozmozhnykh mirov. [Philiosophical Problems of the Semantics of Possible Worlds] Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1977. 191 s. [in Russian]
  6. Shelyakin M. A. Ob invariantnom znachenii i funktsiyakh soslagatel’nogo nakloneniya v russkom yazyke [On the Invariant Meaning and Functions of Subjunctive Mood in the Russian Language] // Voprosy yazykoznaniya. 1999. № 4. S. 124-136. [in Russian]
  7. Shopengauer A. Mir kak volya i predstavlenie [World as a Will and an Idea] [Electronic resource]. URL: als_wille_und_vorstellung (accessed: 08.12.2018).
  8. Bronte Ch. Jane Eyre [Electronic resource]. URL: (accessed: 08.12.2018).
  9. Dickens Ch. Martin Chuzzlewit [Electronic resource]. URL: (accessed: 08.12.2018).
  10. Dickens Ch. The Uncommercial Traveller [Electronic resource]. URL: (accessed: 08.12.2018).
  11. Haggard H. Rider. Colonel Quaritch, V. C. [Electronic resource]. URL: pg11882.html (accessed: 08.12.2018).

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