"We have to face the fact that maybe we won’t be able to stop every potential attack"
So, sometimes my ‘academic research’ involves searching online for good sentences. Playing around on the Corpus for Contemporary American English, I came across this gem. it features five modal terms, which is a ton, especially given how densely packed they are.
You might wonder what I mean by ‘modal’. The traditional class is a small set of auxiliary verbs: might, must, can, may, and should are the clearest examples. These words can be used to make statements about possibility, but also obligation and a slew of related notions involving desires and goals, dispositions and abilities.
Modality became the term for anything expressing what these words express, so other verbs (have to, ought to, need to), adverbs (possibly, certainly, permissibly), and adjectives (probable, unlikely, possible) make up most of the rest of the family in English.
I was searching for these types of adjectives in sentences when they are modifying nouns and this was the first hit for “every potential”. Although the modal status of a few of these is sometimes disputed, I count five:
- have to
- be able to
So the “fact” we have to face isn’t so much a fact as the possibility of a possibility in the inherently uncertain future. I really enjoyed this sentence and needed to share it.