The historical development of the verb <i>doubt</i> and its various patterns of complementation

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The present paper discusses the historical development of the verb doubt. In Present Day English, doubt is usually considered to yield whether-clauses in affirmative sentences and that-clauses in negative ones. However, this has not always been the case in the history of English. During the period from late Middle English to early Modern English, the same verb provides various constructions like infinitives, gerunds, lest-clauses, and but-clauses. Moreover, the history of English saw the development of I doubt as an epistemic phrase. By contrast, the development of the epistemic use is not prominent in negative sentences, which is most probably related to the development of no doubt as well as the simultaneously ongoing development of the auxiliary do.


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