This paper examines the uses of modal auxiliary verbs in English research article (RA) Introductions and Conclusions in applied linguistics. Variation in distribution of the modal auxiliaries in the two rhetorical sections is observed in terms of moves and steps from Swales s (2004) framework for the Introduction section and from the combined framework of Bunton (2005) and Yang and Allison (2003) for the Conclusion section. It is found that can and may are most frequent in Move 1 of the Introduction and Move 1-Step 5 of the Conclusion, where writers make a point based on previous research and current research, respectively. The analysis of modal auxiliaries in RAs supports Thompson s (2002) suggestion in his analysis of Ph.D. Theses/Dissertations that modal auxiliaries, such as can and may, in academic writing express not only tentativeness but also a certain degree of objectiveness.
3. Results and Discussion