Exploring the Relationship Between Modality and Readability Across Different Text Types

Document Type : Research Article


Iran University of Science and Technology


With regard to the relationship between the use of modality and readability levels of
texts, 2 opposing views have been raised. The first view endorses direct positive
relationship between modality and readability in the sense that the use of modality
increases textual understandability. The second view is that the use of modality leads
to an increase in the number of words, resulting in readability reduction of the texts.
Hence, the present study tries to first compare argumentative, expository, and
narrative text types in terms of the use of modalities; then, it explores the possible
interplay between metadiscourse use and readability indices of the texts. To this end,
33 representative texts from different discourse modes were analyzed in terms of the
degrees of idea density and the frequencies of metadiscourse signals. The results of
Spearman rank correlation coefficients did not show any statistically significant gotogetherness
between metadiscourse use and readability. Moreover, the focused text
types were not significantly different in terms of the use of metadiscourse modalities,
except for shift topic and hedging markers. Targeting intelligibility indices and
stylistic devices as dimensions of textual quality, the present study offers implications
for writing research and materials design purposes.