Chinese modality, Lü Shuxiang, Li Jinxi, moral duty, mere necessity, modal interdefinability, negation scope
This article focuses on the investigations by Li Jinxi (1924), Lü Shuxiang (1942), Wang Li (1943, 1944) and Gao Mingkai (1948). The aim is shedding light on their notable anticipations of contemporary theories on modality. It will be shown that those works were not confined to a language-specific discourse but had the depth and vastness of the best General Linguistics tradition. After an introduction on the relevant seminal tenets on modality, the article presents five sections focussing on a different critical issue as analysed in the literature above. Namely, the attitudinal theme and the relation between sentential and verbal mood (Section 2); the illocutionary and propositional levels of modality (Section 3); the notion of modals as a semantic category (Section 4); the distinction between modalities of moral duty and mere necessity (Section 5); modal interdefinability and negation scope (Section 6).