Questions tagged [tense]

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

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28
votes
5answers
8k views

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 ...
25
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2answers
990 views

Are there any non-Indo-European languages with go-periphrasis?

Some Indo-European languages have a construction called go-periphrasis, by which some form of the verb go is used in conjunction with the main verb to mark tense. Most languages that have this feature ...
14
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4answers
513 views

Which languages conflate (imperfective) past and irrealis, and why?

In English, the "simple past" form of a verb can sometimes be used to convey irrealis meanings, without any preterite sense: If I was rich, I'd buy a Porsche. If you only knew! I wish I was there ...
12
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3answers
835 views

Is there any language that doesn't express Tense but allows “aspectual coercion”?

Mandarin Chinese appears to be a language that may not express tense (at least in the way I will define below), and it does not seem to allow aspectual coercion. By not expressing Tense I mean, such ...
10
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2answers
736 views

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 ...
10
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3answers
521 views

Do languages with high use of grammatical aspect generally lack grammatical tense?

From my understanding of Chinese, the language lacks any sort of grammatical tense but is instead very aspect driven when describing actions. Is this a reoccurring pattern among languages with a high ...
9
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5answers
278 views

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 ...
9
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1answer
893 views

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'...
9
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2answers
369 views

Which indigenous languages have marked Ancestral/Mythological Past in grammars?

I have found a mention on such a system among some South American native languages in Adam Jacot de Boinod's book I Never Knew There's A Word For It. Non-academic reading, which doesn't make it less ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Is there a difference between a preterite and an aorist?

I am reading about aorist and preterite verb forms. It seems that they are both forms which express perfective aspect and past tense. Is the difference between them simply in differing terminology or ...
7
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3answers
814 views

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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2answers
1k views

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) ...
7
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3answers
346 views

Relationship between possession (“to have”) and tenses (“I have seen”)

In several Indo-European languages the verb that denotes possession (to have) is also used to construct verb tenses. Some examples: I have seen ... I have a dog. (English) Am văzut ... Am un câine. (...
7
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2answers
156 views

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?
6
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2answers
582 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
299 views

Why isn't the future participle more diffuse in modern languages?

The Ancient Greek had a participle for the future tense, and the only language I know it uses the future tense is Esperanto. Is there a reason why the future participle appears to be rare cross-...
6
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2answers
441 views

How did English and Portuguese develop the construction “have+pp”?

Native Portuguese speakers (myself included) often have a hard time dealing with the English present perfect tense-aspect. In English, the present perfect is used for expressing past actions with ...
6
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5answers
378 views

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.
6
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1answer
518 views

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, ...
6
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1answer
197 views

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 ...
5
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4answers
620 views

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 ...
5
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3answers
277 views

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 ...
5
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2answers
337 views

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, ...
5
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2answers
150 views

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 ...
5
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2answers
6k views

Languages with no past tense?

Is there a name for languages that have no specific past tense? For example, in the language of Kiribati there is no separation between past and present tense. To indicate the past, one must specify ...
4
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3answers
484 views

What is the present tense expressing future?

Perhaps this question has been asked before, I may have looked for the wrong terms then because I haven't found the answer. I would like to know more about the usage of the present tense in sentences ...
4
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3answers
188 views

Imperfective aspect or Future tense?

There is a suffix in Kyrgyz and I am not sure whether it denotes future tense or imperfective aspect. Are there any tests which can help me to distinguish between imperfective aspect and future tense?
4
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2answers
284 views

What's the best term for the group of concepts pertaining to verbs which includes tense, mood, and aspect?

There are many named concepts which relate to verbs across many languages. The three most well known would be tense, aspect, and mood. But person, number, and voice are others, and there must be many ...
4
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1answer
910 views

Rules of forming past participle tense and perfect tense of a verb in Latin? [closed]

What are the rules of forming past participle tense and perfect tense of a verb in Latin? For example, about the word "parsimony (n.)", from etymonline early 15c., from Latin parsimonia "...
4
votes
1answer
212 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
454 views

How future tense was expressed in PIE?

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, ...
3
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1answer
321 views

How is the hesternal past, crastinal future etc. conveyed?

Hesternal Past tense describes an event occurred yesterday (in an absolute tense system) or the day preceding the day under consideration (in a relative system) and the crastinal future describes and ...
3
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0answers
36 views

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 ...
2
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4answers
2k views

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. ...
2
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1answer
1k views

What does “speech time” mean?

Tense is the grammatical expression of the location of events in time. It anchors (or ‘grounds’) an event to the speaker’s experience of the world by relating the event time to a point of reference. ...
2
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3answers
265 views

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 ...
2
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5answers
699 views

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 ...
2
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2answers
217 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
885 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
116 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
617 views

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 ...
2
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0answers
52 views

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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0answers
38 views

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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0answers
76 views

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 ...
2
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0answers
72 views

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, ...
2
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4answers
194 views

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 "...
2
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0answers
48 views

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 &...
2
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0answers
48 views

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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2answers
139 views

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 ...