Conditionals, modality, and Schrödinger’s cat: Conditionals as a family of linguistic qubits

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


An intriguing characteristic of conditionals is that they are modally dense constructions, without being modal markers themselves. This chapter will examine the modal nature of conditionals through the lens of construction grammar. It will be argued that the main utility of conditionals does not lie in pairing conditions with consequents, nor in establishing the factuality or actualisation of conditions and consequents, but in leaving issues of factuality or actualisation unresolved. The chapter proposes that conditional constructions are better regarded as environments of indeterminacy, in that they modalise what is communicated through them. More precisely it will be argued that conditionals can be usefully treated as the linguistic equivalent of quantum bits (qubits). The chapter will also discuss the characteristics that define the family of conditional constructions, and those differentiating between different family members.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe-assessing Modalising Expressions
Subtitle of host publicationCategories, Co-text, and Context
EditorsPascal Hohaus, Rainer Schulze
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Apr 2020


  • conditionals
  • modality
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Theory
  • construction grammar
  • qubits

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  • If-conditionals and modality: a corpus-based investigation

    Gabrielatos, C., 20 Jul 2011.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

  • If-conditionals as modal colligations: A corpus-based investigation

    Gabrielatos, C., Davies, M. (ed.), Rayson, P. (ed.), Hunston, S. (ed.) & Danielsson, P. (ed.), 2007. 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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