I am looking for the term describing the difference between:

  1. "The hotel is perfect."
  2. "I feel the hotel is perfect."

I am making a case that sentences with only this difference can be considered paraphrases (or at least semantically very close), as without further context it is always assumed that someone's statement is an expression of their thoughts/beliefs.

Some reading has made me think this maybe related to modality. The "I feel" is a hedge, it is there so that if anyone disagrees, the author has already stated it is just his own personal feeling.

Perhaps Hedge is the right word. Would I say that: "If we ignore hedging, statements 1 and 2 have the same meaning" ?

On the other hand, I would also like to capture other sentences:

  1. "As everyone says: the hotel is perfect"
  2. "I must say, the hotel is perfect."
  3. "Let it be known to all: the hotel is perfect."

I feel like all 2-5 are all exhibition a common class of transformation to statement 1. Is there a name for this change? The all refer to the speaker or listener and his actions about making statement 1.

2 Answers 2


'Hedge' is one correct term for (2), and perhaps (3) and (4).

These additions to the basic statement are known as pragmatic markers. There are many types; references to articles are given in previous threads. They add 'something' on top of the basic statement of the matrix sentence (eg an aid to processing [Firstly ... /]; a topic-change alert [Moving on ...]; a domain indicator [Politically speaking, ...])

That in (2) is a modal pragmatic marker (traditionally called a modal sentence adverb/ial). As the Wikipedia article says, these are

English particles [fragments] that express linguistic 'modality', indicating the mood or attitude of the speaker with respect to what is being said.

Actually, a more precise definition than the broad 'comment clause' is more useful {Wiktionary}:

Modal adverbs are used to express the speaker's view of the truth value of a proposition (a clause or sentence) with which it is associated.

This includes hedges, toning down bald statements (Probably, ... / Possibly, ... / In my opinion, ...).

Sentence (3) is another type of hedge, invoking popular support. It is itself a statement, and must be hyperbole. Arguably again modal, though the term 'hearsay marker' is also used.

Sentence (4) could be read as a modal, quite possibly a concessive; it could equally be an emphasiser (a pragmatic marker to help get the point across forcibly), but in mid-20th Century practice was more usually just a filler, a conversation-facilitating pragmatic marker (cf 'I say ...').

(5) sounds like an archaic attention-grabber.



is a writers' term for this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distancing_language

This page contains the statement that it lacks references

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