Subjunctive Questions in Serbian


  • Despina Oikonomou University of Crete
  • Ivona Ilić Humboldt University of Berlin


Subjunctive mood, Interrogatives, Prioritizing modality


We discuss Subjunctive Questions in matrix and embedded environments focusing on Serbian. Subjunctive Questions, which are common in Balkan languages, ask regarding the addressee’s prioritizing state whereas Indicative Questions ask regarding the addressee’s epistemic state. We argue that the source of prioritizing modality is subjunctive mood which is analysed as a prioritizing modal operator anchored to the matrix event (Hacquard 2006). Unlike non-interrogative subjunctives, we argue that subjunctive mood in questions is licensed due to the interrogative operator and not due to the embedding predicate (Bhatt 1999). In this way, we are able to account for the wider distribution of Subjunctive Questions compared to non-questions. Finally, we discuss the special pragmatic properties of Subjunctive Questions which are associated with the directive character of the possible answers.




How to Cite

Oikonomou, D., and I. Ilić. “Subjunctive Questions in Serbian”. Journal of Slavic Linguistics, vol. 31, no. FASL 30 issue, Dec. 2023, pp. 1-18,



FASL proceedings 2021