Questions tagged [tense]

A grammatical category expressing the time when a state or action denoted by a verb occurs.

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Origin of “will” in Germanic, wouldn't it be subjunctive?

Small print: This is language specific about English, but tangential to Germanic to a certain degree that is likely out of ELU's scope. . As a follow-up to this Q and several ones like it about the ...
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Are there languages that wouldn't use present tense to describe what is in a picture?

Since "present tense" might not be meaningful for some languages, the question could better be phrased as "Are there languages that wouldn't describe the actions in a picture with the same tenses or ...
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Can first order logic represent a past occurring adverbial dependent clause with a present main clause to form the perfect tense?

Can first order logic represent a past occurring adverbial dependent clause with a present main clause to form the perfect tense? Is this the way to represent an adverbial dependent clause with first ...
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Two questions about Icelandic (syntax)

The following sentence is from Icelandic language: Mér vir›ast tNP [hestarnir vera seinir] meDAT seemPL the-horsesNOM be slow ‘It seems to me that the horses are slow.' ...
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Is there empirical support for this implicational universal: “if a language has no plural morphology, it has no tense marking”?

The WALS map that crossclassifies number and past tense morphology shows that they tend to covary. I want to know if people with a deeper knowledge of linguistic typology can vouch for this ...
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Why does Spanish have obsolete tenses?

In Spanish, there are a few tenses that exist but are almost never used in daily life, like the subjunctive future and future perfect tenses. They are only utilized in legal documents and older pieces ...
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Is future tense in English really a myth?

Does English really have two tenses - present and past? Some linguists argue that it is a Latinate fallacy to think that English has three tenses. Some English professors and even some native ...
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Does a difference of tense count as a difference of meaning in a minimal pair?

Does a difference in tense count as a difference in meaning in a minimal pair? Here's a made up example to illustrate my question: If we know that: [wuga] means "read" [wugi] means "reading" Can ...
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Do most languages have the same basic verb tenses?

I am a student learning languages who is interested in linguistics! In trying to keep myself organized with my own study sheets, I wanted to know, do all languages have the same basic verb tenses? I'm ...
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What’s the standard way to gloss a morpheme that provides subject, object and tense?

If there a Leipzig standard to gloss a suffix like “1st person subject, second person object, past tense” My best guess is 1.S.2.O.Past And then what if it’s first person exclusive 1.EXCL.S....
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Why is participial clause tenseless?

Participles, among the non-finite verbal inventory, most often appear to be taken by linguists as being tenseless or having the feature [-tense]. This is due to their interaction only with the Aspect ...
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Cases when past or present tense are the same in writing but convey the tenses while speaking [closed]

Warning: I have no background in linguistics, I just had a question that I thought of today. I wrote this to someone: "I think old women from the 60's put their cigarettes in it." And I was ...
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Why is the Romanian tense system so “simple”, compared to other Romance languages?

It appears like Romanian has only 5 inflected/conjugated tenses (excluding imperative), while all other Romance languages have much more. For example, in Spanish, French and Italian, there are 7(8) ...
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Do we assume Tense head for tenseless languages?

Do we assume a TP/IP projection for the syntax of a tenseless language?
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Is there a term for 'relative' tenses?

By 'relative tenses', I mean a form of tense that is independent of the main tense that indicates when an event occurred relative to the past or future. Examples in English would be: Simple tense: ...
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Example of a tenseless sentence

I just learned about Tenseless languages, such as Chinese. But I'm interested to see what this looks like and/or means. For example, wondering if one could write a tenseless sentence in English and ...
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Is there a language where semantic aspect determines which tense is unmarked in a verb?

For every language there is a tense that is morphologically closest to the root, e.g. English present is more basic than perfect since perfect either adds a suffix -(e)d or has ablaut as tense marker. ...
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Difference between tense & Grammatical aspect?

I know this question has been posed before, and I know also that there were different versions of putting it depending on models and different kinds of reasoning. What I want to understand, is the ...
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Is there any language where the past tense is the base form of a verb?

The fictional language Flaidish has this feature. But I recently found out about a natural language (Mixtec) where the present isn't the base form of a verb, its the future tense. I found this ...
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Suffix -ed indicating current state

I'm noticing that some English verbs use the -ed suffix to indicate the current state. Using this example: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/base Specifically, the verb sense, ‘the film ...
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Are there languages where the tense depends on time elapsed between events?

In all the languages I am familiar with (mostly English and my native German as well as some rudimentary Italian and French, so all somewhat related.), the tense of a verb only indicates the time of ...
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What are some languages with inflected future tense?

I recently realized that English has no inflected future tense. I would like to study a language that has an inflected future tense. What options are available?
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Is there a name for the tense some Romance languages used to use for stories?

I've seen it before, but I don't know what it would be called. I know that some of the Romance languages used to have a specific tense used only for stories (at least, fictional ones). They're no ...
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How did “will” lose the meaning “want” in English?

Will used to mean want (and sometimes still does) but in other Germanic languages, such as Dutch and Norwegian, the cognate still means want. What was different about English to cause this?
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Are there languages with tense that lack a pluperfect?

This is something I've been thinking about. It would be rather hard to tell a story without using a pluperfect. I know there are languages that lack tense, like Chinese, but what about languages that ...
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How can the perfective aspect apply to the present tense?

The perfective aspect is makes it so that the verb is viewed "outside" the verb, while imperfective verbs have an internal view into the verb. This makes sense for past tense verbs, in order to view ...
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Is there really a perfect tense?

I went through my entire English and French educations learning nothing about aspect. We only learned about tenses and a little bit about mood. With that K12* vocabulary, we'd call J'avais mangé l'...
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Is pluperfect an aspect or a relative tense?

I have heard that pluperfect is simply past tense relative to a subsequent past moment rather than to the moment of the utterance. “I had blown out the candle” indicates that this event occurred ...
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Why is the past subjunctive used within conditional clauses in English and Spanish?

In English and Spanish (and likely other languages), the past subjunctive is used with conditional clauses: It would be better if we went to the beach. Sería mejor si fuéramos a la playa. Here, ...
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Tomorrow, he should pretend he *was* on a bus

"He is afraid of flying. When he flies tomorrow, he should pretend he was on a bus instead of an airplane." I uttered the above statement in a recent conversation. Of course, I could replace the "...
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Are there any known natural languages in which tense is never (or very rarely) expressed through the modification of verbs?

I should probably confess up front that I don't have a great deal of knowledge of foreign languages, but I have lately taken a strong interest in the structure and nature of language, and have spent a ...
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How can I write subject and predicate phrases so they can be interchanged for a multiple-choice test and still have subject-verb agreement?

I’m trying to write a large set of multiple-choice test questions that can easily be randomized by interchanging their subject phrases and predicate phrases. I’m having some difficulty finding verbs ...
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Lithuanian possessive perfect

Can someone explain what exactly the 'possessive perfect' is? The book I read gave the following example: Turiu atsinešęs maisto. have:PRS.1SG bring:PTCP.PST.ACT.NOM.SG....
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Usage of pluperfect in English to talk about metaphysical possibility in the present

I hope that this is the right SE site to ask my question (as opposed to philosophy.SE and english.SE). I am interested in and know some logic, so I talk often with philosopher of language, even ...
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“Please to be <VERB>ing” in Indian english

I've noticed this form being used by English speakers from India. In standard English the infinitive form of "to be" is not normally combined with verbs modified with "-ing" (normally used for ...
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Do auxiliary verbs always express different aspect/mood/tense?

Do auxiliary verbs always serve to express a mood or aspect that is different from simple indicative (or a tense)? Or are there cases where a sentence is in simple-indicative-present with the presence ...
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English verbs with more than one past tense [closed]

In English, there are verbs that have two valid past participles. An example for such a verb would be sow which has the two forms sowed and sown. Are there English verbs that have more than one valid ...
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Is there a language in which the present tense expresses only present time reference?

Is there a language in which the present tense exactly expresses present time reference? English may use present tense to express past events(known as historical present) and future events(especially ...
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Why does French use “be” as the auxiliary for a few verbs? [duplicate]

In French, there are a set of 17 verbs lovingly called the Vandertramps: Devenir (to become) Revenir (to come back) . & Monter (to climb) Rentrer (to reenter) Sortir (to exit) ...
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Diagnostic for Finiteness

For a language that does not have overt morphological tense and any tense distinctions (e.g. Malay), how is it possible to discern whether a clause is finite or non-finite? Is it possible to use ...
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Tenses/Voices that show whether something is finite or not

Are there any languages which have a tense or voice that shows whether something is finite. For this example only I will indicate in the present tense that something is finitely true by adding an &...
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How verb tenses evolve

I have two questions on this topic. The firstmay be too general, but basically, I am curious as to how tenses evolve and whether tenses between languages can be used to help find out whether languages ...
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Do any language lack a present tense different from that used in Indoeuropean languages?

i wonder if the present tense (a tense denoting the present and only the present) is a universal in languages that have tense. Or do some languages have a present tense that extends into the recent ...
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What are some languages that are least/most tense-sensitive? [closed]

I'd like to know what are some extremes. My mother tongue is Japanese, and it's quite less tense-sensitive compared to English since it doesn't have the past-perfect. But I wonder what some even less ...
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Grammatical Aspect and Lexical Aspect

This is my first question here. I normally participate in ELU. This question was posted yesterday https://english.stackexchange.com/q/289903/129806. The OP asks why They build a house next to mine. ...
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Have the Spanish tenses stopped evolving?

I suspect that evolution of Spanish tenses stopped, while being in the middle of replacement of conjugated tenses by compound tenses. In some scenarios compound tense was adopted, in some other cases ...
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Is there any language where time is grammaticalised by inflections on something other than its verbs?

I wonder if there's a language where grammatical tense is not expressed by inflections on its verbs, but by inflecting some other part of speech?
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Can present tense be more marked?

Are there languages that overtly mark present tense, rather than future/past? In other words, is the present ever more marked? There doesn't seem to be a way to search for it in WALS, unfortunately.
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Are there any languages with a plufuture for tense sequencing?

(I admit a Romance bias in asking this question, perhaps expressing what I'm looking for is quite common in other families) After answering a question recently on the Spanish SE on tense sequencing, ...
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In Latin protases, what's the different between the future and future perfect tenses?

In Latin, so-called "future more vivid" conditionals can take one of two tenses in the protasis: Future: Si aedificabis, venient "If you build it, they will come." Future perfect: Si aedificaveris, ...