I was curious about evidentiality. In Turkish, evidentiality can be seen as {-mIş} suffix, but English does not have any suffix to express. Take a look at this sentence:

Babası ona yeni ayakkabı almış.

father+GEN he+DAT new shoe buy+EVI

Apparently, his father bought new shoes to him.

Modality is defined as the speaker's expression, belief etc. statements. Aspect is defined as how the verb related to the flow of time.

If I say evidentiality is a modal, it also contains an imperfective function in Turkish, or if I say evidentiality is an aspect, it has the speaker's expression as you can see in English translation (an "appearantly" meaning and imperfective verb bending of "buy"). Not only English translation, but also its express can be sensed in Turkish by its native speakers.

So I was curious how to call evidentiality: A modality or an aspect?

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    The answer is Yes. Inflections and constructions expressing Tense, Aspect, and Modality interact so frequently (and are inflected together paradigmatically so often in synthetic languages) that typologists generally refer to them together just as TAM. TAM markers also interact significantly with other Operators, like Negation and Quantifiers.
    – jlawler
    Jun 23, 2014 at 19:04
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    Evidentiality is usually treated as modality. You can test with aspectual and evidential suffixes (which I assume exist in Turkish), which one precedes the other. If the evidential suffix cannot precede the aspectual affix, then evidentiality is modality. You may want to look at Bybee (1985): Morphology: A study of the relation between meaning and form (John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam). Jun 23, 2014 at 19:06
  • Actually it is better to test the paradigmatic usage of modality and aspect as Gross says.
    – Eray Erdin
    Jun 23, 2014 at 20:11
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    Evidentiality is now commonly added to the other three to give TAME. Jun 24, 2014 at 0:37
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    Ah, Progress. The way to make a name in linguistic theory has always been to make a name in linguistic theory.
    – jlawler
    Jun 24, 2014 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


Evidentiality is very closely related to modality. It isn't related to aspect. But, morphemes very often combine multiple meanings, and they can form paradigms with semantically unrelated morphemes.

I don't know much about Turkish, but Wikipedia calls -miş a 'inferential perfective'. It describes it as

The inferential past or miş-past can be understood as asserting that a past participle is applicable now; hence it is used when the fact of a past event, as such, is not important; in particular, the inferential past is used when one did not actually witness the past event.

My interpretation would be that the -miş suffix marks both inferential evidentiality and perfective aspect. It primarily contrasts with the perfective suffix -di. If you don't want the perfective aspect or its implied past tense, then you can use one of the compound sufixes to override the perfective part of -miş.

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