Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2023

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Program


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)




In Standard American English sentences, only one modal verb is typically allowed. However, in certain varieties of English, most notably the Double Modal Construction, spoken mainly in the American South, more than one modal is allowed. This thesis provides a syntactical analysis of a currently under-researched construction—the Would- Chuck Construction. Here, four modal verbs are allowed in the English middle field: first is typically will, followed by the perfect have, which is then followed by another modal and another perfect auxiliary. This results in a sentence resembling “I will have should have pet the cat.” When the linear order of the modal verbs is interrupted (by either negation, contraction, adverbs, or Subject-Auxiliary Inversion, the first have fails to appear, resulting in a sentence like “Will I should have pet the cat?” or “I will absolutely should have pet the cat.” To fully account for the patterns observed, the underlying structure must have only one true Aspectual Phrase, which is inserted into the tree in order to prevent a distinctness violation from occurring. When any of the above instances occur, and the linear order of the modal verbs is interrupted, no violation of a distinctness condition occurs, and the first Aspectual Phrase is not inserted into the tree. A survey of 64 participants demonstrated that 10.94% participants accept at least one instance of the Would-Chuck Construction


Matthew Barros

Additional Advisors

Kristin Van Engen