Some linguists claim that English doesn't have a future tense, and some do for German as well. This opinion was voiced out here as well,as an answer to What is the present tense expressing future?. I cannot determine whether this view is common or disputed, and if, to what extent.

However, if we are to assume that English doesn't have a future tense, there are arguments to support that point of view. But if it can be said that English doesn't have a future tense, one should also be able to define criteria for English (or any language) to actually have one. To rule out most obvious one - "if it is synthetic" - I'll make my question more specific:

What criteria - and why - would a syntactical construction with auxiliary verb have to meet in order to be regarded beyond (reasonable) doubt as real future tense for English? Essentially I'm asking about refutability.

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    I suggest rewording the question (remove the restriction to English), because starting from the assumption that English doesn't have a future tense, then if you hypothetically change the facts to satisfy some criterion for realness of a future tense, that language isn't English, is something similar to English. The other thing that could be clarified is what relevance auxilary-plus-verb has, apart from the fact that that's how we do it in English. What about a supposedly future-marking particle, or series of inflectional endings. Are tenses necessarily Aux+V (no)? I urge some generalizing.
    – user6726
    Mar 20, 2016 at 19:10
  • Well, I specifically want to assess the point of view that English has no future tense. But if someone claims that English has no future tense, he should be able to define what criteria English would need to meet to have one.
    – Veredomon
    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:09
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    @Veredomon Perhaps to form the future tense in a way consistent with how it forms its other tenses, and not through circumlocutions? If all tenses were synthetic, as you say, I don't think anyone would make the claim the future one was problematic. If all tenses were formed with Aux+V, I don't think anyone would single out the future tense as problematic. When two tenses are synthetic and one uses circumlocutions and auxiliaries .... well, if you have two brunette children and one red-headed stepchild, he's something else, isn't he?
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 21, 2016 at 13:03


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