It is known that PIE had no grammatical future tense.

As such, I wonder how future events were expressed in PIE. Whether they used go-periphrasis, desiratives or a form of the root bheudh- (grow, develop)?

1 Answer 1


The reference to future was inferred from the context, much like in today's German: Ich arbeite morgen nicht (I won't work tomorrow). The adverb "tomorrow" indicates that the speaker conveys a future event. Without a semantic clue in the sentence, the preceding discourse might be an indication.

The go-periphrasis is a much later development.

  • 4
    While the disagreement among the daughter languages as to how to form a future certainly strongly implies that there was no future tense, I'm wondering how Atamiri can state this so dogmatically. How do we know what syntax they used?
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 14, 2013 at 19:14
  • What is the evidence that the subjunctive - the PIE general irrealis mood - was not used for the future? Nov 15, 2013 at 7:55

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