The pragmatic contribution of Spanish pseudo-copular verbs in academic texts

The pragmatic contribution of Spanish pseudo-copular verbs in academic texts

This study discusses the pragmatic contribution of Spanish pseudo-copular verbs of the evidential macro-class (parecer ‘to seem’, resultar ‘come out’, etc.) in academic texts.  This class is integrated by modal verbs, ascertainment verbs, perception and presentation verbs, which add additional meaning to the predication either signalling the lack of the speaker’s commitment or the inferential process behind the claim (Cornillie, 2007; Morimoto and Pavón, 2007; Fernández Pereda, 2019). We take the framework of Hyland and Tse (2004) who provide an account of metadiscourse – a set of devices employed to organize the academic texts, engage the audience and indicate the author’s attitude. We also use the analysis of traditional vs. promotional strategies of academic writing (Hyland and Jiang, 2021). Based on the collected corpus from the Spanish journal Revista Española de Lingüística, we analyse pseudo-copular verbs, as well as pronouns and predicates employed with these verbs, as interactional resources, which are concerned with the writer’s evaluation and perspective towards the propositional content and the audience. We found that pseudo-copular verbs are employed as hedges, indicating the non-factual status of the proposition, predicates are used as attitude markers, boosters or hedges, and pronouns appear as self-mentions. While the use of hedging pseudo-copular verbs with predicates expressing subjective attitudes is reasonable, and their combination with hedging predicates is redundant but at least not contradictory, their use with boosting predicates is less expected, since hedges and boosters guide the hearer towards opposite interpretations: certainty vs. uncertainty about the proposition. However, this fact can be explained on the level of social interaction: the simultaneous use of hedges and boosters allow the authors to present their findings both as non-categorical and open for discussion and at the same time highly significant and relevant, which corresponds to traditional and promotional strategies of academic writing respectively.



Cornillie, B. (2007). Evidentiality and Epistemic Modality in Spanish (Semi-)Auxiliaries: A Cognitive-Functional Approach. Mouton De Gruyter.

Fernández Pereda, L. (2019). Pseudo-copular verbs of change in Spanish: results from the analysis of a corpus of learners and their possible effects on teaching. PhD Thesis. University of Leuven.

Hyland, K. & Jiang, F. (2021) ‘Our striking results demonstrate …’: Persuasion and the growth of academic hype. Journal of Pragmatics, 182, 189-202.

Hyland, K. & Tse, P. (2004). Metadiscourse in Academic Writing: A Reappraisal. Applied Linguistics, 25, 156-177.

Morimoto, Y. & Pavón Lucero, M.V. (2007). Pseudo-copular verbs in Spanish. Arco / Libros.


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