MODAL PARTICLES are words which express the speaker’s attitude to what is being said.
They are words like aber, doch, ja, mal, schon, etc., which alter the tone of what is being said and make sure that the speaker’s intentions and attitudes are clearly understood. They can typically
• appeal for agreement • express surprise or annoyance • tone down a blunt question or statement • sound reassuring
There is no full agreement as to which words can be classifi ed as modal particles (called in German Abtönungspartikeln or Modalpartikeln). Their function is quite like that of adverbs of attitude (see 7.3.2), and like them they cannot be negated. In general, though, they are less independent and they cannot normally occur in fi rst position in a main clause, before the main verb.