A mode of utterance which has implications for the placement of the intonational nucleus. Counter-assertive mode is used to contradict or correct assertions which the speaker thinks are erroneous. In English, counter-assertive mode is signalled by placing the nucleus on the auxiliary, which may be inserted especially for this purpose, or on the negative marker not. This type of nucleus placement is an example of minimal focus marking. Examples of counter-assertive utterances are the second parts of each of the dialogue exchanges below. The nuclear syllables are indicated by underlining.
A: But John doesn’t speak French
B: John does speak French.
A: You said you wanted cabbage?
B: I do not want any cabbage.
A: Well, they can come on Thursday then.
B: They can’t come on Thursday.