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the grammatical categories/inflectional categories traditionally associated with the major parts of speech such as tense, aspect, mood, for the verb (number, gender, case, determination for nouns, pronouns etc, comparison for adjectives and adverbs). Language as an object of study has been approached from different perspectives: traditional (descriptive; meant to observe and enumerate aspects of language); structuralist (descriptive; an attempt to reflect the systematic character of language); generative (language is a body of rules by means of which all the sentences can be obtained). The structure of language can be analyzed in terms of levels of representation. For any utterance there are: - a phonological level – strings of phonemes - a morphological level – morphemes and words - a syntactic level – phrases and sentences - a semantic level – semantic concepts: events, objects, states, processes “Morphology” is a term based on the Greek words morphe (=form/structure) and logie (=account/study). In fact, the term can apply to any domain of human activity that studies the structure or form of something. In linguistics, morphology is the sub-discipline that accounts for the internal structure of words. There are two types of complexity of word-structure: one is due to the presence of inflections and another due to the presences of derivational elements. Both operations add extra elements to what is known as the base. Derivation refers to word formation processes such as affixation, compounding and conversion. Derivational processes typically induce a change in the lexical category of the item they operate on and even introduce new meanings (-er adds the meaning of agent/instrument). Inflection encompasses the grammatical categories/markers for number, gender, case, person, tense, aspect, mood and comparison. It is defined as “a change in the form of a word to express its relation to other words in the sentence”. Inflectional operations do not change the category they operate on ( goes or grammars are just variants of one and the same word go and grammar). Actually, they are formal markers that help us delimit the lexical category of a word, i.e. the parts of speech. In this respect, lexical items (words) that are distributionally similar (i.e. have the same distributional properties) form classes. (Traditionalists: parts of speech, structuralists: form/morpheme classes; generativists: lexical categories). All these terms are intended to designate elements from the same pool – N, V, A, Adv, P etc. – but the different terms are associated with the theoretical frames in which they were used and, hence, with methods of doing lg. research specific for that theoretical framework.
Inflectional affixes have the following characteristics: They produce closure upon words (can no longer attach a derivational element to them) Inflected forms are organized in paradigms, i.e. they are in complementary distribution; for instance, nouns occurs in pairs hat – hats, book – books. The elements of a paradigm may evince the phenomenon of suppletion – one of the forms is not phonologically related to the other: went for go, better for good. A paradigm can be defective – lacks a form: can - *cans, trousers - *trouser. Inflections are formal markers (semantically they are empty, abstract); they help us delimit the lexical category of the word to which they attach. In other words, each lexical category (major part of speech) is characterized by specific inflectional markers. Case, number, gender, and determination characterize nouns. Tense, aspect, mood, number and person characterize verbs. Person, number and –in some cases – gender characterize pronouns. Adjectives and adverbs are characterized by comparison. Although all of them lack descriptive content, they pass on the descriptive content of the category they depend on.
Traditional approaches: The basic unit of analysis was the word. Words operated as signs, i.e. as instruments for the description and understanding of reality. They were classified into parts of speech and set into paradigms of declension and conjugation. Traditional theories described words in terms of the traditional list of Aristotelian categories. Aristotle assumed that the physical world consisted of things (substances), which had certain properties (called accidents). Transferred to morphology, the substance of a word (its meaning) had to be distinguished from its accidents, i.e. the different forms it assumed in linguistic context. Thus, certain accidental categories were considered to be typical for particular parts of speech: nouns (inflected for case, number, gender; verbs for tense, number, person, mood, aspect). Hence, what are traditionally referred to as grammatical categories correspond to the accidental categories, and this explains the older term ‘accidence’ for what is also known as inflectional variation. The Aristotelian opposition matter vs. form also helped grammarians distinguish between major and minor parts of speech. Only major parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs) were meaningful. The other parts of speech (conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, determiners, quantifiers, etc.) known as minor parts of speech did not signify anything of themselves but merely contributed to the total meaning of sentences by imposing upon them a certain form or organization. Thus, in delimiting parts of speech, traditionalist grammars, called ‘notional’, employed three criteria: meaning, inflectional variation and syntactic function. Meaning was basic and it was correlated with the other two criteria. The last two criteria are based on formal properties, so they define parts of speech in terms of their distribution. Notional definitions were incorrect in that they were circular – a term was explained by resorting to the same term. For instance, the noun was defined as the name of a living being or lifeless thing. But ‘virtue’ is neither a lifeless being, nor a living being, the only reason for saying that ‘virtue’ is a thing is that the word that refers to it is a noun. Structuralist approaches: It is a formal approach. Language was regarded as a system of relations, the elements of which had no validity independently of the relations of equivalence and contrast that held between them (syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations). It excluded meaning from its analysis and was based only on the distribution of the items analyzed. In structuralism, the lexical items (the traditional major parts of speech) and the grammatical items (typically the minor parts of speech and inflectional affixes) are distinguished in terms of paradigmatic oppositions and fall into two classes: open vs. closed classes of items. Open classes (nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs) have large numbers of items and new members can be added by coining or borrowing. Closed classes (conjunctions, prepositions, determiners, pronouns, etc. and inflectional affixes) include terms that have no descriptive content, having a fixed/limited number of items. Generative approaches: They are similar to the structuralists approaches in the sense that the lexical/grammatical categories can be defined only through their roles in the rules and principles of grammar. NB grammatical categories in generative approaches no longer refer to inflectional markers, but to syntactic categories (sentence, noun phrase, verb phrase etc.). Generative grammars operate with two types of categories: lexical and grammatical/syntactic categories. Lexical categories (N, V, A) coincide with the traditional parts of speech and the structuralist open classes, and grammatical categories (NP, VP, AP) correspond to phrases or syntagms – specific sequences of words. Each lexical category has a corresponding syntactic phrase - N → NP. In other words, syntactic phrases are projections of lexical categories. Then we translate the syntactic information in N → NP into functional information (i.e. the subcategorisation frame [_ NP] which is characteristic of a transitive verb is converted into functional information by stating that direct objects are characteristic of transitive verbs). According to this theoretical model, it is not lexical categories (N, V, A etc.) that correspond to semantic categories, but major syntactic categories (NP, VP, AP etc.) The syntactic categories are in a relation of correspondence with semantic categories such as events, processes, states, individual objects etc. We shall clarify this later on when we discuss number, aspect etc. As we shall see, events are represented by the syntactic category of verb phrase, e.g. read a novel, paint a picture. Objects will be represented by
the syntactic category of noun phrases: the chair, a chair, my chair, this chair etc. In other words, the ontological (semantic) categories are represented by major syntactic phrases, not by lexical categories. The lexical categories are defined in terms of features to be found in their lexical entries in the lexicon. These features include morpho-syntactic categories, i.e. inflections. Various parts of speech display certain categorical similarities, which can be represented in terms of shared features. The most important opposition for the parts of speech system is the opposition between verbal and nominal categories. Parts of speech are analyzed along the dimension [+/- V] or [+/- N]. The [+/- N] categories (A, N) are marked for gender, number and case, while the [+/- V] categories are not characterized by these features. Adjectives and adverbs share the inflectional/functional category of comparison. Another important opposition is between lexical categories and functional categories. This opposition is in part the same as the structural distinction between open classes (N, V, A etc.) and closed classes (Determiner, Inflection, Complementizer etc) of items. The open classes are defined as classes with descriptive/semantic content (N, V, A) containing indefinitely many items and which allow conscious coining, borrowing etc. On the other hand, functional categories include free morphemes: determiners, quantifiers, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, complementizers etc. and bound morphemes/inflectional affixes: inflections for tense, aspect, agreement/number. Hence the term ‘functional categories’ covers minor parts of speech and inflectional categories. They form a closed set of items which - never occur alone, - have a unique Complement and can’t be separated from it, - lack descriptive semantic content, - act as operators placing the Complement in time, in the world - are heads of lexical categories. Information expressed by inflection is not always dictated by syntactic structure. There are two types of inflection: - Inherent/morphological inflection (not required by the syntactic context): number with nouns and pronouns, person for pronouns, gender for nouns. - Contextual/syntactic (which follows from syntax): number and person in verbs, case in nouns. For instance: They are running in the field now. He is running home now. They – 3rd p.pl. – information contained in the lexical meaning of they. Hence, inherent. Are running vs. is running is contextual information provided by the context in which the verb is used and triggered by the presence of an agreement between the subject and the verb. Gender for nouns is inherent. E.g. queen. Case for nouns is contextual (triggered by the type of verb – double transitive as in ask somebody a question or a verb with dative and accusative as in lend money to someone). THE CATEGORY OF ASPECT Aspect – a notion of time, distinct from tense, which describes the internal temporal structure of events What Tense and Aspect have in common: both are functional categories delimiting the lexical category Verb, they are related morpho-syntactically (realized by verb inflections and auxiliaries) and semantically (both partake of the notion Time but in distinct ways). Where Tense and Aspect differ: Tense – represents the chronological order of events in time as perceived by the speaker at the moment of speaking; it locates the time of the event in the sentence relative to NOW Aspect – gives info about the contour of the event as viewed by the speaker at a given moment in time Traditional grammars: aspect is used for the perfective – imperfective opposition, referring to different ways of viewing the internal temporal constituency of a situation
The perfective – provides a holistic view upon the event, looking at the situation from outside The imperfective – is concerned with the internal phases of the situation, it looks at the situation from inside Current approaches: aspect covers two perspectives. It is still used to refer to the presentation of events through grammaticized viewpoints such as the perfective and the imperfective (viewpoint / grammatical aspect). In addition, the term also refers to the inherent temporal structuring of the situations themselves, internal event structure or Aktionsart (situation/eventuality-type aspect). Situation/eventuality type aspect refers to the classification of verbal expressions into states, activities, achievements, accomplishments and semelfactives (how we conceive of situations or states of affairs). Both viewpoint aspect and situation type aspect convey info about temporal factors such as the beginning, end and duration of a state of affairs/situation. However, we need to draw a clear line between them as situation types and viewpoint aspect are realized differently in the grammar of language, i.e. they differ in their linguistic expression: - viewpoint aspect (perfective vs imperfective) is signaled by a grammatical morpheme in English (be-ing); it is an overt category - situation type aspect is signaled by a constellation of lexical morphemes. Situation types are distinguished at the level of the verb constellation (i.e. the verb and its arguments (subjects and objects) and the sentence (adverbials)). Situation types lack explicit morphological markers. Situation type aspect exemplifies the notion of a covert category. Compare: She ate an apple. She was eating an apple. She walked to the park. She was walking to the park. The two components of the aspectual system of a language interact with each other in all languages, although across languages, aspectual systems vary considerably, especially the viewpoint subsystem. Situation types can be distinguished as covert categories in all languages. Since Aspect can be assumed to be defined as the interaction of the lexical meaning of the verb, the nature of its arguments (subjects and objects) and grammatical inflection, aspectual meaning holds for sentences rather than for individual verbs or verb phrases. Sentences present aspectual info about situation type and viewpoint. Although they co-occur, the two types of info are independent. Consider: Mary walked to school. (perfective – past tense, goal / natural endpoint) Mary was walking to school. (imperfective – be-ing, goal not reached) Mary walked in the park. (perfective, no goal; the event was simply terminated) Conclusion: Aspectual info is given by the linguistic forms of the sentences: situation type is signaled by the verb and its arguments, while viewpoint is signaled by a grammatical morpheme, usually part of the verb or verb phrase. The perfective viewpoint gives info about endpoints (beginning and end) while the imperfective gives info about internal or other stages or phases. The domain of aspect offers choices within a closed system to the speakers of a language. There is a small, fixed set of viewpoints and situation/eventuality types. One of each must be chosen whenever a sentence is framed. In other words, speakers’ choices in presenting actual situations are limited by conventional categorization, conventions of use and the constraints of truth. ASPECT - Conceptual features of the situations types There are three semantic features that help us distinguish among situation types: [+/- stative], [+/- telic] and [+/- durative]. They function as shorthand for the cluster of properties that distinguishes them.
DURATIVE] distinguishes between situation types that take time (activities. (the verb has a direct object/internal argument.telic Atelic Atelic Telic Telic Atelic States are stable situations. accomplishments) and instantaneous events (achievements and semelfactives). [+/. involving causation (which includes both agentive and non-agentive subjects). there is a final point given by the expression ‘to the ground’. Telic situation types are directed towards a goal/outcome.TELIC] separates situation types into telic and atelic. With instantaneous events.g. English syntactically distinguishes between: . happen. dispositions. they have a culmination point. Duration is grammaticized overtly or covertly. which lack an interval. In English duration is explicitly indicated by adverbials (for phrases) and main verbs (keep. (telicity given by the particle ‘up’. Telic events are not limited to events that are under the control of an agent.durative Durative Durative Durative Instantaneous Instantaneous +/. Intuitively. Basic-level states According to the type of referent they apply to. The imperfective viewpoint (be – ing) is also related to duration. the verb is intransitive/atelic) b) John pushed the cart for hours. States are characterized by the features [+ stative] and [+ durative]. they are [+ dynamic] or [stative]. Thus.B. location. The existence of telicity does not necessarily imply the presence of an internal argument (a syntactic object) and conversely the existence of an internal argument does not imply telicity: a) John stood up in a second. since imperfective focuses on the internal stages of durative situations. accomplishments. break). as it is with accomplishments and achievements (e. N. in this case constituting its natural endpoint. consisting of undifferentiated moments.stative Stative Dynamic Dynamic Dynamic Dynamic +/. yet the situation is an activity) N. the imperfective may focus on preliminary or iterated/repeated stages: She was jumping up and down. (preliminary stage from an achievement) States Activities Accomplishments Achievements Semelfactives STATES +/. desire. activity and change.B. take place or culminate. etc). (repeated activity from a semelfactive) The plane was landing. In The rock fell to the ground.STATIVE] covers the distinction between ‘stasis’ and ‘motion’ and separates situation types into the classes of states and events (activities. [+/. be tall. achievements and semelfactives). basic states separate into predicates that apply to individuals (kinds of objects or objects) or to stages of individuals. Events are doings. Events consist of stages/phases rather than undifferentiated moments. want. belief and other mental states. States are the simplest of situation types. The goal may be intrinsic to the event. Typical. continue). but the subject is not an agent. basic states are: know the answer. as it is for activities and semelfactives. that is. States are said to ‘hold’ whereas events occur. states. which can be stopped or terminated at any time. There are different types of states: basic-level states and derived stative predicates. The feature [+ telic] is not relevant for states because they are unbounded and have an abstract atemporal quality. the endpoint is arbitrary.[+/. they predicate a quality or property of an individual (possession. In other cases.
think about.a) Individual level predicates: permanent. an activity has an arbitrary endpoint. which describe relatively stable. be tall. Processes are atelic. desire. there are other means of changing the telicity of a constellation. paint the fence (acc. repetitions of instantaneous events. understand). Compare: I saw the city hall from my window. but never ‘finish’. They are compatible with expressions of simple duration and punctuality: He was angry for an instant. Derived statives a) generic sentences b) habitual sentences Events can be recategorized into states.) vs. non-temporary states (know. etc. hence the ungrammaticality of the third sentence in which London does not qualify as a moveable object. etc. drink wine. The progressive is acceptable with these predicates only if the subject denotes a moveable object. etc.B. dream. changing into individual level predicates. the progressive has a stative interpretation (they denote temporary states). such as achievements and semelfactives: cough for five minutes.). be widespread). be in the garden. The socks are lying on the bed. and b) Stage level predicates: temporary states (be available. walk in the park. They may appear in the progressive. find pebbles on the beach all afternoon. b) an atelic durative verb with a complement that is cumulative or uncountable. (state) I liked him in a second.). (habitual) N. which is why they simply ‘stop’ or ‘terminate’. These qualify as multiple-event processes: eat cherries. love) and some verbs of mental states (know. (stage level predicate) London lies on the Thames. stand). with verb constellations of position and location (sit. Here. run along the beach. the jewels glittered). write letters. perch. whereas usually the progressive is associated with an active interpretation. They are semantically stative precisely because they denote properties that hold over individuals or patterns/generalizations over events rather than specific situations. c) Individual / stage level predicates: with interval statives. c) in English. verbs of feeling (like. read at a book (activ. non-transitory inherent properties that apply to individuals (objects or kinds). may also have an achievement interpretation in the context of adverbs like ‘suddenly’ or with completive adverbials. Tigers eat meat. lie. Multiple events also include iterations. (achievement) I like music. (state) Suddenly. play chess/the piano. which denote transitory properties and apply to stages of individuals. which are stative at the basic level of classification. that is. (generic) My cat eats carrots. (habitual) He writes novels. it rained for hours. durative. (achievement) ACTIVITIES (PROCESSES) The term ‘process’ is favored over ‘activity’ because. (individual level predicate) *London is lying on the Thames. “process” encompasses both activities associated with human subjects (external causation) ( he swam/slept/strolled in the park) and activities that are not cases of human agency (the ball rolled/moved. be drunk. for instance using a particular preposition: read a book (acc. although they involve no agency or change. She was hungry at noon. while ‘activity’ is associated with human agency. if used in the simple present or past. that is. paint away at the fence (activ. Its termination is merely cessation of activity. sleep. The verb constellations may consist of: a) an atelic verb and compatible complements (if any): push a cart. Process sentences consist of verb constellations presenting a process situation. dynamic events. Perception verbs (see). . I saw a star. enjoy. be angry). laugh. sprawl. An activity does not have a goal or natural endpoint.) vs.
Stereotypic achievements are: die. recognize. Verbs plus particle constructions also read as accomplishments: throw something away/down/up/aside/in. discover. lose. shelve the books. SEMELFACTIVES Semelfactives are atelic. recognize. In a nutshell. When they occur with period adverbials and the progressive. remember. iterated semelfactive events. John kicked the ball for five minutes and then left. arrive. die. single stage events that result in a change of state. etc. resultative constructions (which lexicalize both the causing activity and the resulting state) qualify as accomplishments: The wind shaped the hills into cones. drink a glass of wine. win the race). consisting of a process and an outcome / change of state and having successive stages in which the process advances to its conclusion. miss the target. The maid swept the floor clean. notice. repair a car. hit. Thus. accomplishment constructions consist of constellations that have: a) Atelic. find a penny. this instantaneous type does not conceptualize it. (achievement) The plane was landing. d) Atelic verbs and resultative phrase: The alarm clock ticked the baby awake. Accomplishments are conceptualized as durative events. durative verbs and directional complements: The kid walked to school. etc. leave. instantaneous events: cough. nor resultant stages. they are interpreted as derived durative processes/activities consisting of a series of repeated. THE ASPECTUAL RECATEGORIZATION OF VERB PHRASES Predicates shift from their prototypical class due to various elements in the verb constellations: . accomplishments are complex events because they have other event types as their components. Also. Thus. Even if some achievements may be preceded by some preparatory activity (land. Achievements focus mainly on the change of state. b) Atelic. hiccup. But remember that we can focus on the preliminary stage and turn the achievement into an activity if we employ the progressive: The plane landed. flap a wing. lose the watch. durative verbs and countable arguments: They drank a glass of beer and left. He sang himself hoarse. notice. kick the ball. cook a pie. win the race. reach the top. Semelfactives do not have preliminary stages. poison your roommate ). The predicates are reinterpreted as multiple-event activities: John was kicking the ball when I saw him. remember.ACCOMPLISHMENTS Accomplishments describe change-of-states prepared (brought about/caused) by some activity/process. reach the top. ACHIEVEMENTS Achievements are instantaneous. An accomplishment is a causal structure of the type “e 1 causes e2) where e1 is the causing activity/process and e2 is the resulting (change of) state. knock. lexical causative verbs are accomplishments ( break a window. simply leaving out or backgrounding the causing activity and causing factor. (activity) The predicates that do not presuppose a preparatory activity are known as ‘lucky achievements’: find. durative verbs and certain prepositions: The boy ran out. c) Atelic. the change being the completion of the process: build a bridge. cool the soup. slam/bang the door.
scratch. (state) He is killing a chicken for dinner. the achievement recategorizes into an activity. Tom walked for an hour. (activity) If the direct object of an accomplishment or an achievement is a mass noun. states. (activity) He plays chess (every day). (activity) He discovered a treasure in the backyard.(1) Subject: If the subject of an achievement is an indefinite plural noun phrase or a collective noun. Some verbs can have several readings even though the verb phrase does not undergo any change of the type illustrated above: Tom read a book for an hour. it turns into an accomplishment. N. Tom wrote the essay in two hours. (activity) / This burns like fire. (accomplishment) If an activity combines with a locative noun phrase. they become activities. (achievement) Tourists discovered that beautiful castle for years. (accomplishment) ASPECTUAL CLASSES OF VERB PHRASES AND THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT . (accomplishment) (4) Tense: Habitual sentences always designate states. (accomplishment) Tom ate popcorn for an hour. Almost any verb can become part of a habitual sentence if used in the simple present. (state) Activity verb phrases such as rub. The tourists have discovered a beautiful castle. kill turn into states when used in the simple present form. accomplishments and achievements recategorize into activities unfolding at a certain reference time. (activity) The battalion was crossing the border for twenty minutes. (activity) Tom walked to the building in ten minutes. Tom ate his hamburger in three minutes. it becomes an accomplishment. it turns it into an activity. (accomplishment) Tom wrote essays for two hours. (achievement) Tom has been discovering lice in his son's hair for three days. (activity) (2) Direct Object: If the direct object of an accomplishment or achievement is a bare plural noun phrase. (activity) Tom walked two kilometers in half an hour. He played chess for two hours. Tom walked in the woods for an hour. burn. cut. designating a general characteristic of the subject: The wood is burning in the fireplace.B. (activity) / Tom read a book in an hour. (activity) (3) Adverbials: If an activity is combined with an adverbial of extent. (activity) / She combed her hair in two minutes. (state) (5) Progressive / Continuous Aspect: When used in the progressive aspect. (accomplishment) She combed her hair for two minutes. sometimes with a frequency adverbial. (activity) / Your behavior kills me.
(2) mental cognition verb phrases: know. meanwhile. However.ACTIVITY VERB PHRASES Used in the continuous aspect. imagine. trust. / I was only imagining those ugly scenarios. hope. nod. he slipped on a banana skin and broke a leg. think. activity verb phrases designate processes unfolding at a certain reference time. all day / night long. they express temporally and spatially limited processes unfolding at a certain reference time. / She is taller than you. slam / bang the door. believe. They built their house in two years. the verb will never appear in the continuous (be tall. . / While she was rehearsing for the show. tap. They hope to win. When they appear in the continuous. etc. / You're being a total bastard. be young. Her lips were trembling. kick. they acquire an activity reading. (general properties) He is being rude tonight. etc. / Meanwhile he was trying to find out who had robbed him. in which case the use of the progressive is required. as. When used in the progressive. describe a series of repeated processes rather than a single process: The boy was kicking the ball against the wall. the man was already drowning.). outcome or result that is suspended when the respective verb phrases combine with the progressive aspect. Hence. knock. The implication is that their behavior is deliberate and they can put an end to it if they want to. with or without adverbials expressing duration (all the time. allow us to refer to only a temporally limited stage of the individual. / I'm thinking of giving up smoking. (achievement) When his son came running to help him. / As he was crossing the street. which refers to situations of limited duration. Compare: I imagine she will agree to your proposal. ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS The internal structure of accomplishments and achievements presupposes a final goal. they do not normally combine with the progressive. etc. there are certain state verb phrases that may appear in the continuous. tremble. Compare: He is a teacher. etc. I think he is wrong. (process unfolding now) The second set of sentences describes temporary activities under the control of the individuals.). (activity) STATE VERB PHRASES States are defined as having an abstract quality and an atemporal interpretation. pat. They are said to designate a property of the subject that lasts throughout time. changing their meaning. They refer to a manifestation of the individual. her maid was sewing her dress for the gala. (accomplishment) They were building the house when the accident happened. semelfactives: jump. (1) to be + property-designating adjectives and nouns: If the adjective / noun designates a permanent property of an individual. for some time. (activity) The man fell into the river and drowned. certain adjectives / nouns express properties that can be altered and thus. not to a characteristic property of his. all the while. The river is flooding. The dog is jumping up and down. be old. Sometimes they describe two simultaneous processes and are connected either by and or by subordinating conjunctions such as while. When they occur in the progressive. wonder. / He was hoping against hope that there was still a chance of success. etc. Yet.
(5) other property designating verb phrases: belong. feel Also referred to as 'verbs of perception'. (6) locative verb phrases: sit. / Are you belonging to the local library? The castle costs a fortune. hear. they do not occur in the progressive if they denote a general characteristic of a certain individual / object. Even if they make reference to an act of perception unfolding at a specific moment like NOW. Everybody envied everybody in that room. they express temporary properties.(3) physical cognition verb phrases: see. etc. stand. TENSE TIME VS TENSE (TIME IS REFLECTED BY TENSE) - Time is objective in the sense that it does not have absolute reality outside the form of our perception of the world. It they combine with the progressive. taste. / He will be despising me heartily. See and hear even acquire new meanings when appearing in the continuous: The court is hearing the evidence tomorrow. there is . I'm seeing the doctor next week. / The mistake is costing us dearly. / He is standing near the pole. / I'm smelling your perfume to see if I can guess what it is. The milk tastes sour. dislike. Verbs like weigh or measure have a behavior similar to that of perception verbs. it is not inherent to objects.Time is an epistemic notion as it mirrors our experience of the world. Instead. etc. . we perceive it as unidirectional (forwards).a personal subjective estimate of duration . rest. If used in the progressive. . etc.Time has a linear representation. the atemporal quality of the state verbs is replaced with the temporal quality of the process unfolding for a certain period of time. lie. . want. they describe processes going on for a limited period of time. Again. like. (they are listening to and trying the case). Such verbs appear in the continuous if their subject represents a moveable object and describe temporary states: Her new house stands / (*is standing) at the corner of our street. remain. contain.Time is durationally infinite and segmentable. In this case the subject is attributed intention or purpose: You smell nice. / *I'm hearing the wind blowing. which preserves the sequential character of our perception of the world. smell. / I was envying him his freedom at the time.a public estimate based on the periodicity of natural phenomena Accordingly. that is. Time is segmented by two different procedures: . measure. weigh. / He is tasting the soup to see if it's got enough salt. / I can hear the wind blowing. they avoid the use of the continuous. I despise bad behavior. The necklace belongs to me. miss. (I have made an appointment) (4) emotive verb phrases: love. the subject deliberately does the action of 'weighing' or 'measuring': The baby weighs six pounds. consist. / The nurse is weighing the baby. hate. they appear accompanied by the modal verb CAN: I hear the wind blowing.
Events can be simultaneous with ST (at relation) or they can be sequential to it (before / after relations). Tense is a functional category that expresses a temporal relation to the orientation point (ST) in the sense that it locates in time the situation talked about. A proper interpretation of temporal forms presupposes an analysis of the relation between (i) (ii) tense specification of the V (i. If we assume that. i. All accounts of tense make interpretation sensitive to tense. adverb phrases and adverbial clauses and they specify RT together with tense inflections. its periodic relation to the sun. ST/NOW is a central point on the temporal axis of orientation according to which we interpret the ordering of events/states. tense inflection) and temporal adverbials. INFL identifies the event of the VP in the sense that it places that particular event in time. . TIME/TEMPORAL ADVERBIALS Time adverbials include adverbs. speech time (ST). we cannot conceive of this event without taking into account the complements of the respective verb as well as those explicit lexical means of placing the event in time: time adverbials. It means that when discussing temporal interpretation. roughly speaking. Tense inflections are strongly related to adverbials. time measurement is subjected to public agreement and it is based on the periodicity of some observable natural phenomena (revolution of the earth round its axis. In addition to this.e. On the other hand.e.e. we apply the relation of simultaneity wherever possible. We know that information about the selection of complements by a verb is part of the lexical entry of that verb in the lexicon and it represents more or less its descriptive content. the stars etc) TENSE: A DEICTIC CATEGORY Tense is generally defined as representing the chronological order of events in time as perceived by the speaker at the moment of speaking. which acts as a time adverbial giving a certain temporal reading or due to the fact that people tend to maximise available information. the moon. In fact they are not enough to express the temporal specification of a message. Tense is a deictic category. i. the descriptive content of a verb is the idea of event. characteristic of society. (then / future) This actually means that we associate with a sentence that is vague the temporal interpretation that requires the least additional information (sort of default reading). there are regular co-occurrences between tense inflections and time adverbials (there are adverbials that co-occur only with simple past or only with present perfect and there are others that co-occur with both). The latter add meaning to a sentence and during the process they might even disambiguate it. A VP consists of both its lexical head V0 and the complement(s) it has selected. Albert is playing tennis.- a personal time: man’s endeavor to measure duration by using his emotions as an instrument (time is expanded or contracted) a public time. (now / tomorrow) Albert was playing tennis. about predicate temporal interpretation. at least. we have to talk about sentence temporal interpretation or. the moment NOW is central in the sense that time past or time future represent DIRECTIONS whose ORIENTATION depends on ST. sentences without time adverbials may be non-ambiguous due to the context. TENSE: MORE THAN TENSE INFLECTIONS A common mistake in approaching the category of tense is the belief that tense inflections alone mirror time.
John crossed the border all afternoon. yesterday. 1. on Friday). Given that temporal adverbials also contribute to the aspectual interpretation of sentences we can establish a further classification that distinguishes among: duration adverbials. John noticed the painting in a second. Compare: *John went into the house all afternoon. etc. Susan was asleep for two hours. which receives a marked interpretation. (acc. (semelf. all afternoon. completive adverbials are telic compatible with telic situations and odd with atelics 1. 3. For years. a. Such clashes are resolved by a shift in the value of the verb constellation. Jerry wrote a report for two hours. (coercion into a process) 2. during the war. Mary wrote a sonnet in five minutes. I read a book for a few minutes. locating / frame adverbials and frequency adverbials. completive adverbials. John knocked on the door for two hours. within two months. the train arrived late. (?) Bill swam laps in an hour. all the time. (acc. Completive adverbials: in 2 hours. permanently. for hours. through August. since the war/Christmas. requiring compatibility with the situation type. (atelic) (?) John wrote a / the report for two hours. (acc. 4. at night. 3. they have various interpretations. into state – habitual) 6. . Aspectually. for a while. b. Jon played the sonata for two hours. (telic) *The train arrived late for two hours. they indicate the duration of the described event by specifying the length of time that is asserted to take contribute to the location of the event in time.Classification of time adverbials The relation between time adverbials and ST can be explicit or non-explicit. all day long. always. they locate the situation at an interval during which the event is completed/culminates. in a second. 2. We distinguish between: (i) (ii) anchored time adverbials which are in an explicit relation to ST in the sense that their temporal interpretations are determined relative to ST (now. Duration and completive adverbials also have an aspectual value (they are sensitive to the aspectual value of the situation). For months. tomorrow) unanchored adverbials which do not have an explicit relation to ST and which orient themselves to times other than the utterance time or to utterance time (in June. (ach. into process – iterative: many times) 5. Duration adverbials: for three months/a day/a week. Mary went to school in the morning. into state – habitual) The felicity of the aspectual reinterpretation is strongly dependent on linguistic context and knowledge of the world. This contextual interpretation is made possible by the process called coercion. more specifically within the stated interval compatible with atelic sentences. into activity) 3. Whenever telic events occur in the context of duration adverbials there is a clash between the aspectual properties of the situation type and the aspectual properties of the adverbials. 2. over the weekend. but odd with telic sentences compatible with states and processes (activities) 1. (atelic) Andrew swam for three hours. into process of the multiple-event type) 4.
As far as its factual status is concerned. i. namely ‘kinds’. in proverbs. in March. in instructions or when specifying game rules etc. Generic sentences are timeless statements expressing general or universal truths. once a week. at night. The past is considered to be factually determined since we know if an action took place or not in the past. anaphoric adverbials: relate to a previously established time: until. They can also appear with indefinite NPs. never. two years later. monthly. early. already 3. . The present expresses both situations whose time of occurrence is known and situations whose time of occurrence is not known. august 19. last week. VALUES OF PRESENT TENSE SIMPLE 1. Present simple is associated with stative verbs and it is used in scientific language. in 1987 PRESENT TENSE SIMPLE Present Tense Simple is associated with the present moment . Generic sentences are true of some particular entities. sometimes. today. in the sense that the adverbials refer to an interval elapsed before the beginning of the situations and not an interval during which the situations occur. whenever. before. referential adverbials: refer to a time established by clock or calendar: at six. every week/month etc. often. two weeks ago 2. The same interpretation as the latter occurs with achievements and semelfactives: “They reached the top in ten minutes” (after ten minutes). therefore. these NPs get a generic interpretation only when occurring in characterizing sentences. tonight. Kind referring expressions are bare plurals. at lunchtime. tomorrow.in the sense that it may refer either to a point in time identified with speech time (ST) or to an interval that includes the moment of speaking. “At the end of an hour/after an hour Mary began to believe in ghosts”. definitions. on Christmas. c. (?) Mary believed in ghosts in an hour. It ascribes a property to a subject. they impose an ingressive interpretation to the sentences. On the contrary. in three days. they indicate the recurrent pattern of situations within the reference interval they express a series of events which as a whole make a state of the habitual type: We often/always went/go to the mountains in wintertime. Locating adverbials / Frame adverbials: they locate situations in time by relating them to other times or to other situations they refer to an interval of time within which the described situation is asserted t have taken place according to the time of orientation we can distinguish three classes: 1. last Sunday. in the evening.the speech time . If (3) and (4) can be understood at all. Frequency adverbials: frequently. on Sunday. geographical statements.e.4. on Sundays. The possible telic reinterpretations are: “Bill swam his planned number of laps in an hour”. this year. deictic adverbials: oriented to the time of utterance (ST): now. daily. the future is the least factually determined time. proper names and quantified NPs but in this case the locus of genericity is not in the NP but rather in the sentence itself. “She knocked at the door in ten minutes” (after ten minutes). “In/after an hour Bill swam laps”. definite singular NPs and mass nouns. d. it appears in so-called ‘characterizing’ sentences. GENERIC VALUE – unmarked value Present Tense Simple used in generic sentences indicates the validity of a state at speech time without making reference to a particular situation or moment. the present is between the past and the future. till.
declare. Mourning Becomes Electra) It is true that in most cases the event does not occur exactly when it is mentioned. usually. books or movies and stage directions: Hagi takes the ball and passes it to Popescu. Blood is thicker than water. It is used in sports commentaries. never. We sentence you to prison for life.marked The instantaneous simple present refers to an event that is assumed to be simultaneous with the moment of speaking. Habitual sentences may be completely specified. Goal! First I roll out the pastry. Popescu sends the ball into the net. I hereby pronounce you man and wife. Events that are simultaneous with the moment of speaking may be expressed either by a simple present or a present continuous: He shuts the window. London stands on the Thames. war reports. whenever. Very often. the performative verb appears in the first person singular or plural and may be accompanied by hereby: I name this ship "Queen Mary". more often than not they have less than complete temporal specification. seldom) and specific (three times a week. they include adverbs of frequency classified into general (ever. INSTANTANEOUS VALUE .such as accept. twice a day. Since they do not focus on a particular situation but rather on its recurrence. often. and then I add the mixture and spread it… Here comes the winner! In ‘Gone with the wind’ Scarlet writes a letter. However. the use of the simple present is rather dramatic since it insists on the total completion of the event mentioned. whereas the continuous present represents a neutral description of an action going on at the moment of speaking. (unspecified frequency) He doesn't eat many vegetables. deny.Water boils at 100ºC. unlike generic sentences. Compare: They visit me every two days during holidays. every two weeks). However. When having an instantaneous value. habitual sentences refer to an individual or an object about which the respective property is true at speech time. 2. but this simultaneity is rather subjective than objective. pronounce. / He is shutting the window. Yet. (no frequency and no interval) 3. they do not point to a specific moment in time and in this respect they resemble generic sentences. HABITUAL VALUE – unmarked value Habitual sentences indicate that a situation is repeated with a certain frequency during an interval of time. and exclamations. indicating both the frequency and the interval during which an event takes place. The instantaneous present is also used in performative sentences that employ performative verbs verbs that themselves are part of the activity they report . (unspecified interval) He eats a lot of vegetables in winter. Seth and Minnie come forward as far as the lilac clump… He nudges Minnie with his elbow… (O’Neill. commentaries on pictures. In performative sentences the event reported and the act of speech are simultaneous simply because they are identical. (specified frequency and interval) They visit me every day. name. demonstrations. A performative act is felicitous on condition that the persons and the circumstances .
the anticipated event is attributed the same degree of certainty that we normally assign to present or past events. what he is recounting. (conditional clause) I don't know if it will rain. unless etc. For this reason the simple present with this value represents the only marked way to express the future time in English. (time clause) I don't know when I will see him. it is only a priest that can marry you and this can happen only in a church). Both habitual and generic sentences may receive instantaneous readings under certain circumstances: Swallows fly higher than doves. arrive in London at noon and set off for Glasgow in the evening. as vividly as if it were now present before his eyes". As Jespersen (1931:17) remarked. There is a contrast of meaning between the main clause and the subordinate. Compare: I will talk to him when I see him. whereas the event expressed in the latter is a fact that is taken as given. itineraries etc. The event referred to in the former is a prediction. the show will have already begun.marked The simple present may acquire a future value either in simple sentences or in subordinate adverbial clauses of time and condition introduced by after. the rule applies only to those cases in which when and if introduce adverbial clauses of time and condition. (habitual interpretation because of the plural direct object) He scores a goal. 5. The use of the simple present signals the fact that the future event is bound to happen.m. which provides an axis of orientation for the action predicted in the main clause. being typical of an oral narrative style. The simple present with this value often alternates with a time adverbial indicating the past: . NB.: The caravan sets off tomorrow morning.marked The use of the Simple Present with a past value is best known as the historic present and represents a storyteller's license. tomorrow. schedules. The use of the simple present with future value in adverbial clauses of time and condition has more than a syntactic explanation. FUTURE VALUE . the "historic present is pretty frequent in connected narrative: the speaker. as soon as. In the examples below the content of the adverbial clause is assumed to exist as a fact: I'll see what to do when I meet him. (generic reading) Look. forgets all about time and imagines. (direct object clause) / I don't know this. It refers to mostly official or collective future plans or arrangements that cannot be altered.involved in it are appropriate for the invocation of the respective procedure (for instance. It may relate to timetables. or recalls. if. (direct object clause) / I don't know this. (instantaneous interpretation) 4. (instantaneous reading because of the suggestion of instantaneous perception indicated by "Look") He scores goals. In simple sentences it is accompanied by a temporal adverbial indicating the future: The plane leaves for New York at 5 p. before. when. We leave Bucharest on Monday morning. By the time you get there. However. I will be very unhappy if our team does not win. PAST VALUE . as it were. in other words. the swallows fly higher than the doves. I will take my umbrella if it rains. Students are inclined to think that they must use only the simple present after clauses introduced by when and if.
which means that the moment NOW is excluded. Gore shakes hands with Mr. 1988:261) However. telling me the boss wants to see me in a hurry. (I.At that moment in comes a messenger from the Head Office. the simple present may also refer to imaginary situations. Although so far all the uses of the simple present have involved real facts. His lordship had no sooner disappeared behind the trees of the forest. the use of the present seems to transfer the verbal meaning from the initiating to the receiving end of the message. Bush.Brahms finishes his first symphony. Brahms was the last great representative of German classicism. Pitt writes in the March issue that… (in the correspondence column of a journal) In both cases the simple present emphasizes the persistence in the present of the effect of a past communication. Finally. / I just talked to him on the phone a moment ago. in historical summaries and tables of dates: MPs back school reform. At the same the historic present is employed when describing an artist and his work because this feels as if they were still alive. giving the reader the impression that he is actually witnessing the events described. However. / Ex-president dies of heart attack. last summer. This fictional use makes reference to no real time. the person uttering the sentence must have a definite time in mind suggested by means of specific time adverbs ( yesterday. Though tell and hear in the examples above refer to the initiation of a message. etc. The historic present is also used after verbs of linguistic communication such as tell. 614) PAST TENSE SIMPLE The simple past is used to locate a situation at some specified time in the past. The simple past may appear alone if the speaker who has a specific time in mind can assume that his interlocutor can . two days ago. Mr. and if he uses the past. There are two basic elements of meaning involved in the common use of the simple past. First. In such cases. a distinction has to be made between the historic present described above and the present forms employed to narrate fictional. learn. the situation described by the simple past takes place before the present moment. its use reminding one of the dramatic quality of the instantaneous present. / I bought this dictionary when I was in Lisbon. speakers do not need to locate a past event by means of a time adverb. hear: Mary tells me that you are going to buy new furniture. The difference between using the present and using the past simply involves the speaker's point of view: if he employs the present. but Lady Randolph begins to explain to her confidante the circumstances of her early life. Virg. (photo caption) 1876 . then he sees the artist as a person who died at a certain moment in the past.). but to an imaginary present time. LIX. in 1974. then he considers that the artist still survives through his work. the simple present often alternates with a past tense. say. Ch. it is also present in photographic captions in newspapers. He was born in London in 1952 and spent his entire life there. Second. Stefanescu. imaginary events. The fact was she had made a private marriage… (Thackeray. that is. the simple present appears in newspaper headlines to announce recent events. the content of the event or state described being actually recollected at speech time. so that communication is still in force for the receiver. (in a letter) Your correspondent Mr. Compare: Brahms is the last great representative of German classicism.
It is the whole context created by the advancing of the story that supplies the order of the events. However. Finally. two years ago. / My friend left for Poland in July.A. Any narrative normally presupposes. the simple past can be used without a definite adverb of time if the utterance refers to a comparison between present and past conditions as in: Bucharest is no longer what it was / used to be. Thus it becomes obvious that the definiteness of the event expressed by the simple past does not necessarily presuppose that the time in question be specified. S. the simple past is no longer accompanied by a time adverbial and the situations described by this tense are ordered by the laws governing the narrative mode rather than by information present in the sentences proper.Collected Stories) Moreover. but he is less of a nitwit than he was. the interplanetary transit vehicle Zeno VII made a routine journey to the moon with twenty people on board.e. Leech (1971: 10). VALUES OF PAST TENSE SIMPLE 1. such a retrospective view. . / A: What did you do there? / B: I had lunch. the simple past: A: Where have you been? / B: To the restaurant. "We are invited by this convention to look at future events as if from a vantage-point even further in the future. 2. in 1987. etc. '(…) She left him alone in the kitchen.(…)' (Dylan Thomas . last night. In this case the location of the event in time is established in relation to the moment of speaking NOW: Haydn was born in 1732. whether the events narrated are real historical events or just fictional situations devised in novels." . / I finished reading the book last night. only that it be specifiable. we use the simple past for narrative even when referring to future events as in science fiction. Thus. then set it down again and went out into the scullery. DEICTIC VALUE The simple past can be used deictically with a deictic adverb of time of the type yesterday. He picked up a chair. The latter is used to introduce an unspecified event that takes place anterior to the moment of speaking in a period that began in the past and includes the moment NOW. of course. in this case. I couldn't find her either. in the first two examples above the definiteness of the situation is confirmed by the definiteness of the participants involved (my message) or of the circumstances (Led Zeppelin did perform in Bucharest on a specific day which is officially known). Another particular case in which a past simple is used without a definite adverb of time involves a combination with the present perfect. / B: Well. speaker A specifies the past moment and speaker B does not need to mention it in his turn. In the year AD 2201. Once an anterior frame of reference is established for the discourse it is only natural to refer to the already introduced situation by means of a definite specifier. i.'In the Garden' . Then he stepped out into the garden and faced the enemies. in the imagination. NARRATIVE VALUE Since it deals with past events the simple past is a natural choice for narratives. and a great moth flew into his face. In the last example. He opened the garden door. / He is a nitwit.understand this either by inferring the time from the larger context in which the situation occurs or by making use of the definiteness of the participants involved: Did you remember to give him my message? Did you see Led Zeppelin perform live in Bucharest? A: I couldn't find Mary at the party last night.
which appears in everyday conversation making reference to the present feelings or thoughts of the speaker: A: Did you want me? B: Yes. the past form avoids a clash of wills. which indicates anteriority: I (had) read twenty more pages before I went to bed. simple past sentences allow the presence of both a time adverbial indicating the frequency specification and a time adverbial that supplies the interval during which the recurring event took place. He enjoyed and admired her paintings. (non-habitual) My dog chased my neighbor's cat / a cat. suggesting that speakers A and B have similar social positions. more polite. HABITUAL VALUE When used with this value. After I (had) finished dinner. in most cases they are used in combination with the continuous aspect. speaker A's question indicates politeness. PAST PERFECT VALUE This value is derived from a contrast between simultaneous past events and past events occurring in a sequence. Unlike simple present sentences in which the time adverbial specifies the event time . Compare: Brian runs a mile every day. which would have made a polite answer impossible. As soon as she saw / had seen me. the simple past refers to events recurrent within a given past interval of time. which adds a further overtone of politeness: . indicating the recurrence of the event. she rose quickly and left the room. (sequential) In the first example the order of the events can be reversed without altering the meaning of the sentence. On the other hand. allowing speaker A to either accept or decline the request. Although speaker B could have used the present instead of the past. (habitual) I went to the mountains three times that year. I went out with my friends. (habitual) 4.i. (non-habitual) My dog chased cats. and would have implied that the former was not at all pleased with speaker B making a request. Other verbs often present in similar contexts are wonder and think. The habitual interpretation can be rendered by the frequency adverbial whose determiner must be indefinite or by a plural indefinite object: I went to the mountains three times a year. Unlike a present form. the temporal relation between two consecutive events can be overtly marked by means of conjunctions (preserving the simple past in both the main clause and the subordinate clause) or by the auxiliary HAVE. I hoped you could give me a hand with the cleaning. Similarly. Brian ran a mile every day during his childhood. his choice of the respective verbal form renders the request indirect and thus. whereas a reversal of the order of the events in the second example is impossible basing our judgment on our knowledge about the way these activities can be performed. "Do you want me?" would have been rather imperative.e. (simultaneous) He unlocked and opened the door. The event of unlocking the door necessarily takes place before its opening and thus the simple past "unlocked" has past perfect value. 5. PRESENT TIME VALUE This represents a special development of the normal past meaning.3.
rather. the past tense specifies that an event occurred at a past time that is separated and distinct from the present. PRESENT PERFECT Past events can be predicated about either in the past tense or the present perfect from two different perspectives. In “John has already read the book”. In “John read the book last year”. so far. we understand that John’s reading the book in its entirety occurred at some unspecified time in the past. relevant to the present moment through its result: now. Thus. There have been several theories that tried to capture this distinction between the past simple and the present perfect: (a) The Indefinite Past Theory – present perfect locates events somewhere before the moment of speaking. but the event is related and.I wondered / was wondering if you could help me with the kids while I am away. The present perfect serves to locate an event within a period of time that begins in the past and extends up to the present moment (and includes it). Compare “You woke him up when you went to the bathroom ten minutes ago. I thought I might drop by later tonight if you don't mind. we can maintain the connection between the perfect and the perfective in view of the fact that what is 'summed up as a whole' (i. What we need to understand is that the 'result / completion' meaning is not intrinsic to the perfect. Have you known my uncle for a long time? . we should clarify the relationship between the English perfect and the perfective aspect. without identifying any particular point or interval of time. in contrast. In contrast. yesterday. ET is indefinite and “specified” only by indefinite adverbials: since 3 o’clock. plus the temporal adverbials it co-occurs with. the perfect may acquire different senses according to the type of aspectual class 'have' combines with: 1) continuative perfect 2) experiential perfect 3) resultative perfect 4) 'hot news' perfect CONTINUATIVE PRESENT PERFECT When the present perfect combines with state verb phrases in sentences that contain a durative adverbial (for instance. it stems from the interaction of the perfect form with the aspectual meaning of the verb phrase. a feature the past simple lacks. just like the other meanings of the present perfect.” to “You’ve waken him up” – the present perfect itself in the second sentence locates the effects of the event at NOW. yet. (c) The Extended Now Theory – speakers can psychologically ‘extend’ the present backwards by means of present perfect in English. etc. which is prior and thus distinct from the moment NOW. Before embarking upon an analysis of the two tenses mentioned above. John knows what the book is about. they express states extending over a period of time that lasts up to the present moment: I have lived in Paris since 1987. thus. perfective) may also be anterior to a certain moment in time. ET of past simple events is definite: at two o’clock. since / for phrases). etc. The castle has been empty for ages. Without renouncing the idea that the perfect marks anteriority. (b) The Current Relevance Theory – it is only present perfect that claims relevance at the moment NOW. since the English perfect is quite often related to the meaning of completion or result. the event of John’s reading the book in is entirety is specified/dated as occurring during last year. for two hours.e.
the adverbial of duration cannot be absent from the sentence or otherwise the construction acquires an indefinite past reading./ It has been snowing since noon. we may subsume it in the previous class as a type of 'recurrent continuative' perfect. this iterative use closely resembles the continuative use of the perfect and. RESULTATIVE PRESENT PERFECT . / A: Have you ever in your life seen anyone so entirely delightful? B: Only when I’ve looked in the mirror. A: Have you been to Edinburgh? B: Yes. Therefore. before (now): I have never seen such a majestic cathedral before. b) limited experiential: Have you had a letter to type today?/ She has already had three proposals this morning. that the number of occurrences is unspecified and on the other hand. the perfect expresses a habit and thus has a recurrent continuative reading: Mrs. on and off) EXPERIENTIAL PRESENT PERFECT With process and event verbs phrases (accomplishments and achievements). (i. I have. there are exceptions to this rule if the semantic content of the respective sentence suggests a period leading up to the present.Generally. Continuative: also with event verbs if in the progressive: e. without carrying any other information. The news has been broadcast at ten o'clock for as long as I can remember. ever. I have lived in Paris simply places the situation at some unspecified point in the past.g. they have constantly turned me down. I went to Hollyrood Palace. in which case we refer to recent indefinite past situations./ Ever since the house has been occupied the poltergeist have been acting up. already. that’s when I did. Such examples often contain adverbs like just. In I've had a good life or You've outstayed your welcome the adverbials of time are felt as implicit ('during my life' / 'so far' or 'for too long' in the case of 'outstay'). b) discontinuous continuative: He has been building the house for the last five years. that the time when it takes place is not mentioned. always. Used with process verb phrases and a frequency or a durative adverbial. such use is often accompanied by adverbials of time of the type never. He’s been sleeping for two hours. Jones has played the organ in this church for fifteen years. in fact.g. When I have tried to join their club. By 'indefinite' we mean on the one hand. last April. If the definite time when the experience occurred is mentioned. Since a habit is described as a state consisting of repeated events. yet or recently: Has the postman called yet? / They have already had breakfast. Have you ever been to the States? Have you visited the Dali exhibition? The temporal location of some events may be very close to the moment NOW. the perfect may refer to some indefinite situation in the past. A: And did you visit many places while you were there? B: Yes. the speaker shifts from Present Perfect to Past Tense: e. I have followed her behavior every day since she got here. Modes of occurrence: a) general experiential: He has never liked heavy metal. At the same time.e. Modes of occurrence: a) continuous continuative: I have been sitting in all day. A: When did you go? B: Oh.
until. (Sparta no longer exists. to introduce 'the latest' events. We say You will feel better after you have taken this pill if the pill conditions the well-being of the patient. with the perfect generates a resultative reading . (She is still alive. it implies that a transition comes to a final state valid at the present moment. but even if it is not. whereas Nepal obviously has relevance for the present. 'HOT NEWS' PRESENT PERFECT The perfect is often used in newspapers and broadcasts. The temporal location of such situations is generally mentioned in the second sentence. in those sentences that are semantically based on the cause . The simple past marks events assigned to a past that is concluded and completely separate from the present. In contrast. Last week. PRESENT PERFECT AND SIMPLE PAST As already stated. There is a special use of the present perfect instead of the simple present in adverbial clauses of time referring to the future introduced by after. when the event in the subordinate occurs before the one in the main clause. What differentiates them is their relation to the present. On the other hand. thus.) For generations. Compare: .) Hannibal brought / *has brought elephants across the Alps. Discourse topics condition the use of the present perfect in the sense that only those covering a period of time that includes the moment of speaking can be expressed in sentences that employ present perfect.effect relationship. the simple past is still employed at this point in the discourse: The struggling Romanian soccer club Jiul Petrosani has experienced what may be one of the more humiliating moments in recent sports history. March 1988) NB.that of Discourse Topic (defined as 'the subject matter under discussion in a certain context'). The presence of the perfect simply places emphasis on the order of the events: I shall leave when I finish / I have finished. This last observation relates to another notion . the club announced that it would trade midfielder Ion Radu to second-division club Valcea for two tons of beef and pork. there are contexts in which the perfect is obligatory. Similarly.The association of event verb phrases (accomplishments and achievements). For generations. which afterwards are described using the past tense. In such cases the present perfect is said to have a future value. the present perfect either involves a period of time lasting up to the present or has results persisting at the present moment.that is. especially in news reports. that presuppose a climax or end point. namely. The period referred to is rather assumed than named. (Nepal still exists. we use the present perfect: Come over and see us when our guests leave / have left. (She is dead. (Newsweek. etc. but our knowledge of the world allows us to employ the appropriate tense. the simple present is favored. let us compare the various uses of the present perfect with the simple past. once. Nepal has produced the world's greatest soldiers. The resultative meaning does not need the support of time adverbials: He has delivered the parcel.) The use of either the perfect or the past in the above sentences is to be interpreted pragmatically. The common factor is the inclusion of the present in its analysis. Consider the following examples of continuative. / He has recovered from his illness. Bearing this in mind. present perfect and simple past resemble in that both express anteriority to a given moment in time.) She was poor all her life. / The plane has landed. we talk about Hannibal or Sparta in the past because we know they no longer exist. when. when the events in the main clause and the subordinate temporally coincide. experiential and habitual perfect: She has been poor all her life. Sparta produced Greece's greatest warriors. In most cases the alternation of present simple and present perfect bears no significance.
neither of the two sentences is correct since Shakespeare is dead. resulting in different meanings. he came to ask me for money. (the past event is introduced by the perfect) Did you walk the dog? (said between husband and wife who refer to a particular time when the dog is usually walked) Contexts as that supplied by the second example also emphasize a characteristic of the present perfect.THEN]). a clause introduced by when will trigger the use of a past tense in the main clause as well because the subordinate functions as a definite time adverbial: When did you last see him? I haven't seen him since we met at Jane's party. If there is no time adverbial. while. *Shakespeare has quarreled with every playwright in London. "at the pragmatic level. etc. adverbs. Compare: Where did I put my gloves? to Where have I put my gloves? In the first example. there are contexts in which the two tenses are interchangeable . II. . the second only with the perfect and the last with both. The first class combines only with the past. when they describe recent events. a fact which can be evaluated entirely only on the basis of contextual factors" (Ioana Stefanescu. since. (definite time adverbial) I have already talked to him. In spite of the differences mentioned so far. because the time indicated by them is considered to be already given. the speaker focuses on the moment when he misplaced his gloves. Naturally. As already seen in the analysis of the simple past.e. Their alternation depends on the speaker's viewpoint. the present perfect is appropriate in all those uses in which the event described has relevance for the discourse topic. because such a topic would have relevance for the present moment. especially when it appears with recent indefinite past value. I've just received word that he isn't coming. perhaps trying to remember what he was doing at the time. adverbial clauses) classify into definite (bearing the feature [+THEN]. Americans tend to say Did you meet him yet?. the past tense is expected in (subordinate) clauses of time introduced by when. English Morphology. Since it specifies a definite moment in the past. The first sentence is appropriate if the discourse topic is 'great dramatists of the world' or 'impressive dramas in world literature'. I didn't recognize him / *haven't recognized him when I saw him. definite articles or personal pronouns): I have bought this bag in Cypress Street. How much did you pay for it? I paid 15 $. discourse topic) is about Shakespeare as a person and his activities. while the British say Have you met him yet? or I did it just now vs. 1988). The present perfect is less used in American English.Shakespeare has written impressive dramas. TIME ADVERBIALS IN RELATION TO PRESENT PERFECT AND SIMPLE PAST Time adverbials (i. vol. adverbial phrases. The basic difference between present perfect and simple past stems from the contrast definite / indefinite. indefinite (which are [-THEN]) and those that have both features (that is. since it is only natural to start conversations indefinitely and then to carry on using definite linguistic expressions (be they the simple past. then 'definiteness' is retrieved by assumption of a particular time from the context or is justified by the preceding use of a past or perfect tense: We met yesterday. this tense requires the use of a definite time adverbial which locates the respective event at a certain point in the past.e. this is used to initiate conversations. they are [+/.that is. But if the discussion (i. In conclusion. while in the second he concentrates on the present moment and is only interested in where they are at present.
up to now. the 'never' period. but if it is a numerical adverb that may contrast with twice or three times. ever.00 p. yet and before occur with the perfect if they mean 'as early / late as now' and with the past if interpreted as 'as early / late as then': I've already heard that piece. I saw him on Sunday morning. etc. Compare: I haven't read the paper this morning. Apart from them. but then they made up. for now.m. during these five years. which most likely occur with the simple past. after lunch. The difference in use between just and just now is the following: just can take either past simple or present perfect: I have just seen your sister. then. when used with the past tense. though since . Already. (uttered at 6. I met him only once when I was in Spain. (uttered at 10. although they do not make specific reference to it: He went out ten minutes ago. lately. Now is mainly associated with present tense: Now my ambition is/has been fulfilled. having no relation to the present and hence.) behave in a similar way.m. for the time being. must be restricted to a past temporal frame as in: I never liked bananas when I was a child where the time clause supplies the background. so far. the following adverbials are associated only with the present perfect: since. But it may also be a substitute for then and thus occur with past tense: Now my ambition was fulfilled. for phrases occur with both the perfect and the past. but I've seen her this July suggests that it is still July when I utter the sentence. The third group of adverbials allows the use of both the perfect and the past. I left home at 8.).00 a. hitherto. while just now is interpreted as a moment/second/minute ago and occurs only with the past tense: I saw your sister just now.The definite adverbials of time point to a specific moment in the past. soon. for the present. it may be used with both tenses: I was happy once in this house. I saw her this July implies that July is over. given the appropriate contexts: They haven't spoken to each other for three weeks.00 and got here at 12. On the other hand. I've seen the movie only once. / I just saw your sister. at 5 o'clock. still. a week / month / year ago. etc. next. We have been very busy so far.) I didn't read the paper this morning. They didn't speak to each other for three weeks. for instance. etc. Once appears with the simple past when it means 'on a certain occasion' or 'at one time'. It is interesting to notice that.) Today. ('as early as then') . on Monday. again depending on the context. they cannot occur with the present perfect (yesterday. before now: I haven't been able to talk to him since I last saw him at the mall. ('as early as now') I was already fed up with that piece. tonight and all phrases with this (this afternoon / month / year / Christmas / March. He hasn't done much work lately.00. always combine with both tenses. as yet. The difference lies in whether the event is viewed simply as a factor of experience obtaining at the moment of speech (with the present perfect) or within the context of the time at which it occurred (with past simple). Never. last night / Tuesday / week / month / year. there is the class of unanchored adverbs of the type in the evening. resulting in different interpretations.phrases cannot be used with the simple past.
past perfect is the tense we obtain if in Direct Speech we have present perfect or past simple: I have laid the table. then past perfect is obligatory: Lily was here. / *She said Lily was there. There are three reasons for which we attribute this value to past perfect: (a) its co-occurrence with [+then] adverbials (b) the fact that it is the equivalent of past simple in Direct Speech. he burned it. I had written the essay the previous evening. I had finished washing the clothes and I’d gone to bed early. (resultative) He had been at work for more than two hours. In conclusion. the past perfect occurs in both main and subordinate clauses introduced by when. By the time they went to dig it up. In this sense. She said the show had finished two minutes before. imperfect. (c) the fact that it can be used in narratives to tell ‘a story within a story’.PAST PERFECT Past perfect may appear with both [+then] and [-then] adverbials. again unlike present perfect. which acquires a past perfect meaning: When he came back from the States. etc. by the time. past perfect has three values: continuative. past perfect is optional: Yesterday I went to the market. [-then] Susan knew John had left at 5. Now I was anxious to go to school. if the verb expresses an event. In Indirect Speech. she had already hidden it in a new place. before. NB. As already exemplified in the sentences above. past perfect has two dimensions: (a) it parallels the semantics of present perfect. The past perfect can be substituted with the simple past. unlike present perfect which combines only with [+/-then] and [-then] adverbials: They had been there since 5. The show finished two minutes ago. / She said Lily had been there. until. (continuative) I had watched United lose twice that season. (b) it is seen as a past tense that expresses past anteriority . like present perfect. THE PERFECT PROGRESSIVE FORMS . in which case past simple sets the scene and past perfect expresses what had happened before: That morning I was quite content. resultative and experiential: Jim had dislocated his shoulder. She said she had laid the table. However. in some cases the substitution is semantically impossible: When he had read the letter / *when he read the letter. in which case it is said to have a pre-preterite value. [+then] Moreover. he landed a very important job . / She said she went/had gone to the market the day before. On the other hand. Mai mult ca perfect: always past perfect Past perfect: mai mult ca perfect. past perfect describes a past event that takes place before another past event or past moment: They found out where she had buried the treasure. (experiential) In Indirect Speech. NB. perfect compus. By Friday they had already found a way to get rid of her. If the verb expresses a state. past perfect may appear in narrative contexts. after.
1988. In fact. 302). quite often it is implied that the respective activity has just stopped: You've been walking too fast. even the most confident prognostication must indicate something of one speaker's attitude and so be tinged with modality" (Ioana Stefanescu. and for this reason. Apart from the simple present. Thus. That's why you're tired. take place tomorrow. It's time he woke up.It should be stated from the beginning that the use of the continuous aspect with the perfect forms is similar to the interaction of this aspect with other tense forms. Epistemic will and shall. we can predict what will happen. When they do. it is in the very nature of predictions to describe what might happen in the future. Actually. pp. (I haven't finished the job yet) Although the perfect progressive never refers to a 'present result'. Process verb phrases in the present perfect have the tendency to appear in the progressive as well. the semelfactives) acquire an iterative meaning: She's been knocking at my window for two minutes. on the contrary. there are five other linguistic forms that. it is no surprise that almost all the linguistic forms that express future time belong. it may imply that the effects of a certain action are still apparent at present. plans. Compare: I have pumped up three tires.that is. the continuous aspect simply reinforces the idea of continuity of an activity: He's been sleeping since ten o'clock. they are used to express future events. Therefore. non-factual states of affairs. in fact. Finally.e. it is a matter that depends rather on the aspectual class of the verb phrase. for instance. contain a future time implication: 1) Present Tense Simple 2) Present Tense Continuous 3) Be Going To 4) Future Tense Simple 5) Future Tense Continuous 6) Future Perfect (Simple and Continuous) PRESENT TENSE SIMPLE . The activity described by the verbal form does not necessarily carry on at present. English Morphology II. the perfect progressive also carries an emotive reading. It is only natural for future events / states to have modal or aspectual implications since "we cannot be as certain of future happenings as we are of events past and present. the only linguistic form that denotes a future event and has temporal sense alone . which have not happened yet and therefore merely translate into potential. and these situations describe our attitude towards possible. event verb phrases (accomplishments and achievements) turn into processes and the completion / result meaning is suspended.is the simple present tense combined with a future time adverbial. we can express intentions. Apart from these meanings. hence. it is certainly not the case of future events. promises or threats that we mean to carry out in the future. are modal verbs denoting predictions. to the sphere of modality or to the aspectual paradigm. state verb phrases of the locative type in the progressive develop a 'temporary or limited duration' meaning: I have been living in this castle for weeks now. it does not reflect any attitude on the part of the speaker . beside their basic modal or aspectual quality. Again. all epistemic uses of the modal verbs refer to people's present attitudes with respect to the future time sphere: The meeting can / may / must / shall / will. Non-durative process verbs phrases (i. possible courses of action. (The job is completed) I have been pumping up tires in the garage for the last quarter of an hour. When combined with the progressive. MEANS OF EXPRESSING FUTURITY If present and past situations are conceived of as facts. conveying 'irritation': You've been asking for money over and over again. etc.
*The sun is rising at 6. arrive. He's getting married in September. then I predict Y. in a narrative sequence). The presence of the simple present instead of a will / shall construction in the subordinate is justified by the fact that the situation contained in this clause is taken as a given fact. being generally accompanied by a future time adverbial. but I'm not going to buy anything. the continuous present signals a future event anticipated by virtue of a present plan. The verbs that enter such constructions are generally verbs of 'doing'. go. the simple present in main clauses denotes future facts. unless reference time is provided by the context (like. it is obvious that the continuous present with future value will not combine with state verbs normally incompatible with the progressive aspect. In contrast. In the first example we interpret Hillary as the agent who has deliberately made this plan. come. / School starts on Monday / next week. depart.00 tomorrow to prepare breakfast for the kids. . leave. the suggestion of imminence of these constructions. On the other hand. mostly in the near future.made by official authorities. The continuous present with future value is close in meaning to the going to form. and thus is always accompanied by a future time expression: Are you going to the auction tomorrow? Yes. reinforced by the presence of the purpose clause 'to prepare breakfast for the kids'. There is an entire range of verbs commonly used in such contexts. If we consider that the simple present with future value describes a definite occasion in the future in the same way the simple past refers to a definite occasion in the past. this does not mean that there are no present progressive sentences referring to the remote future. generally aiming at the near rather than the distant future. / We leave for Brasov tomorrow morning.As already discussed in the chapter on the values of the simple present. Future events expressed by means of the simple present are assumed to take place without fail. Compare: Hillary is rising at 6. end. When I grow up. programs or itineraries regarded as immutable: Tomorrow is Friday. it is determined by natural law. etc. the second example sounds absurd because the sunrise can't be planned. set off. we have an explanation for the obligatory presence of the future time adverbial in such sentences. committees. which is. like statements about the calendar. Therefore. verbs associated with announcements about timetables. Since such arrangements are supposed to be unalterable. they exist in as far as we make reference to remote future events determined in advance: I'm taking Mary shopping tomorrow. constructions with the simple present describing a future event are restricted to certain areas. program or arrangement.00 tomorrow. The reasoning behind such structures would be: "If X is a fact. we might say that the simple present with future value presents the highest degree of certainty as to the occurrence of a certain action in the future. while the going to form is used in a wider variety of contexts and not necessarily with a time adverbial. begin. hence.' Similarly. However. for instance. not possible future events. involving conscious human agency. in fact. schedules or organized events: start. a court of law. this tense denotes the future either in subordinate clauses of time and condition or in main clauses. etc. PRESENT TENSE CONTINUOUS When used with future value. it is easy to understand why they are normally collective or impersonal . since they express an arrangement or an intention. We attribute to such sentences the same degree of certainty we would attribute to present or past events. I'm going. At the same time. I'm joining the fire brigade. therefore. not as a prediction. the present continuous refers only to very definite arrangements.
Going to with the first meaning is restricted to human.that of 'future fulfillment of present cause' . I forgot. but with a slight difference in meaning. There's going to be a riot in this village. the subject can be either animate or inanimate and the expression can occur with both 'agentive' and 'non-agentive' / 'state' verbs: She is going to have a baby next month. For instance. I'll telephone for them now. It is only the second sentence that the speaker could offer as an excuse for not joining a friend for a game of snooker. The kind of verbs admitted in such structures are. Going to can be paraphrased by intend. In all the above examples the underlying assumption is that factors already at work at present are inevitably leading to a certain future state of affairs. I'm not going to do it again. and not state verbs: The detective is going to ask you a few questions.is less restrictive both in point of subject choice and choice of verb class.We might consider that there is a slight difference of emphasis between the two structures in a pair like: I'm going to have lunch with Jim tomorrow. The second sentence refers to an arrangement already made in the past. the expectation that this will happen is stronger than in the latter. We should distinguish between the going to expressing intention and the will + infinitive construction having the same meaning. Thus. . BE GOING TO The general meaning attached to this linguistic form is that of 'future fulfillment of the present'. thus. going to can be used to refer to periods remote from the moment of speaking: I am going to be a teacher when I grow up. Did you remember to book seats? / Oh no. I'm going to participate in the board meeting tomorrow is distinct from I intend to participate in the board meeting tomorrow in the sense that the former has a higher degree of certainty. and when it is clearly unpremeditated we use will + infinitive: I've hired a typewriter and I am going to learn to type. yet. I'm having lunch with Jim tomorrow. Though its nature brings it closer to the idea of imminence. What are you going to do with the money? I've reminded you once. when the intention is clearly premeditated. verbs of 'doing' ('agentive' verbs) that imply conscious exercise of the will. I think I'm going to cry. hence the implication that both the speaker and Jim know about it. A lot of paint was delivered here today. again. It's going to rain. The second meaning of going to . a sentence like It's going to rain would be uttered if the speaker saw black clouds already gathering in the gloomy sky. Very often either of the two can be used. this extends to two more specific meanings: 'future fulfillment of present intention' and "future fulfillment of present cause'. express their intentions. Sit down by the fire and I'll make you some tea. The first sentence reflects the speaker's present state of mind and it may well be the case that Jim has no idea about the speaker's plan. we employ the going to form. Are you going to redecorate your kitchen? You look frozen. or at least animate subjects endowed with will that can.
modal verbs that express prediction. hope. Birds will start to sing when spring comes. They are also specific of sentences with subordinates of condition and time. I'm sure / I suppose they won't agree to our project. expect. in which case the main clause contains the future structure and the subordinate employs a simple present (see chapter on the values of the simple present): If I throw this plate against the wall. it is easy to understand why going to refers to the immediate future and is also named 'current orientation' be going to: Look out! The glass is going to fall! ('I can see it already tottering'). Compare: The soup will cool soon. threats. believe. FUTURE TENSE SIMPLE There is no future tense in modern English. Shall and will are. I will know him when I see him. cognitive verbs. Reader: The Queen is visiting / is going to visit the southern part of the country tomorrow. etc. counseling patience. and still refer to a future event. Shall has a neutral predictive meaning only when used with the first person singular or plural: I shall never have the opportunity to thank him. Those verbs not normally used in the progressive will combine with the simple future: verbs of perception. the second should be interpreted as a warning for the addressee to. therefore something that involves the speaker's judgment and is directly related to the future time sphere. . You'll have plenty of time to finish your book. perhaps. in everyday conversation the listener will use other means of expressing such future events.Bearing this in mind. etc. Students must take into account the fact that shall and will also have other modal meanings (see chapter on Modal Verbs). think. verbs of possession. He'll be there by tomorrow. If the first sentence makes a prediction. 'Current orientation' going to contrasts with prediction will to the extent that the going to form carries this sense of inevitability. In fact. speculations and assumptions about the future (used after verbs such as doubt. In American English it is used in formal contexts: We shall never surrender to the terrorists. but for convenience shall and will combined with the bare infinitive are designated as future tense simple. refusals. such as the going to form or the present continuous for plans: Newspaper: The Queen will visit the southern part of the country tomorrow. They'll find out about your plans tonight.): Perhaps I'll find another teacher after this. in fact. The soup is going to cool soon. hurry and eat it before it cools. I expect the train will be late. it will smash into pieces. etc. The future simple is mainly present in newspapers and on TV in news broadcasts when formal announcements or announcements about the weather are made. they can express promises. They may express the speaker's opinions. Shall / will with predictive meaning appear in various contexts.
When I get home my dog will be sitting at the door waiting for me. It suggests that the event predicted by shall / will will occur independently of the will of the people involved in it as part of the ordinary course of events or as a matter of routine.m. The gardener won't be cutting the grass for some time. the modals in themselves do not express future time. won't cut denotes a refusal. On the other hand. this structure will naturally refer either to an activity in progress at a specific point in time (i. volition or plan. while the second example implies that their meeting is part of the ordinary course of events (perhaps they work or do business together). future tense continuous has a special meaning that applies to a single event viewed in its entirety and not as going on at a point around which it creates a temporal frame. In the first sentence the speaker announces a deliberate future action that will occur as a result of his wishes. there is no point in saying *it will rain without mentioning when it will happen. In this respect. Compare: I'll phone mum and tell her about your plans. The gardener won't cut down the tree. tomorrow. they simply suggest a prediction. . It is the adverbial that places this prediction in time.00 p. shall / will + infinitive does not appear without a time adverbial for obvious reasons. we can contrast future tense continuous with the will + infinitive construction as well as their negative counterparts. The first example suggests that he has deliberately arranged a meeting with the doctor. again in the future. I'd better move the computer in my room. whereas the second suggests that the lesson may have already begun and is in progress at the respective time. in the future) or to a temporary arrangement. I'll be phoning mum and I'll tell her about your plans. He says that it is perfectly all right as it is. Apart from these normal uses.e. FUTURE TENSE CONTINUOUS As it combines with the progressive aspect. As already mentioned. otherwise the sentence is factually empty. I'll be working in there next week. The first sentence states that the lesson will begin at the time mentioned. they'll be changing the guard in a minute and you'll get a good view. This use eliminates any idea of intention. in both cases. tomorrow.Generally. while won't be cutting suggests that the gardener's program requires otherwise. There is a contrast between future tense continuous and present tense continuous with future value: He is seeing the doctor tomorrow. future tense continuous matches the patterns of the present or past continuous: This time next week I'll be teaching them grammar. Thus.m. We can make even a further distinction between the two if we compare: I'm giving a lesson at 3. That is why this tense has been labeled 'future-as-a-matter-of-course': Stand here. Similarly. He'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow. the opposition is between a future with intention and a future without intention. I'll be giving a lesson at 3.00 p. as I've got a lot of other jobs for him to do first. in the second example the speaker implies that the talk on the phone will take place either as a matter of routine or for reasons that have nothing to do with the interlocutor's plans. In fifty years' time we'll be living entirely on pills.
In He is to return to England tomorrow the most likely meaning is that he . This happens either in narratives or when applying indirect / reported speech rules: He was going to tell her what we had done. are quite common in everyday speech. a request or a command. They were leaving town the next day. Still. to be near to. to be on the verge of / on the brink of). To be to is similar in meaning to have to / ought to and describes formal arrangements made as a result of an order / command. OTHER FUTURE TIME EXPRESSIONS There are other ways of referring to the future. but rather on the continuity of the action. Idioms such as 'You'll be losing your head one of these days' or 'Whatever will he be doing next?' suggesting comic exasperation. FUTURE -IN-THE-PAST FORMS In case sentences have a past time axis. The police will have heard of the theft by this time. When the focus does not concentrate on the result. all the future time expressions are modified according to the change of context and indicate future in the past situations. It cannot describe sudden. we use the progressive form: By the end of the day I will have been working for ten hours. of course. (repeated action) Future perfect can also be used to express an assumption on the part of the speaker: You won't have heard the news. to be ready to. which are both formal (to be to.In interrogative constructions. will + infinitive can express an invitation. the use of future tense continuous renders the question neutral. bearing no imposition on the part of the speaker: Will you please take the dog out for a walk? (request) Will you be taking the dog out for a walk? (question only) Since they are more polite and more tactful and do not put pressure on the addressee. would is preferred in literary style. such structures have become more frequent in every day conversation. (continuous action) By the end of the month he will have been teaching students for a year. She said she would call me later that week. violent or abnormal events. they occur with a time expression beginning with by: By the end of the term I will have read all the twelve volumes. On the other hand. to be about to and to be due to) and colloquial (to be on the point of. If be going to is considered the most common form used to express future in the past. FUTURE PERFECT TENSE SIMPLE / CONTINUOUS These structures are used to denote future events that take place before other future events or before a certain future moment. this use has been speculated in colloquial English with humorous or ironic effects. Generally. as they cannot be interpreted as part of a routine: * The terrorists will be killing the President tomorrow. there are restrictions in the use of this linguistic form. On October 21st they will have been married for twenty-five years.
the rational laws of deduction – probability. . it can retain its future meaning even when it is not accompanied by a future time adverbial: The chairman of the board is to meet union officials (tonight). To be about to and to be on the point of both refer to imminent actions and the former is used to replace the more colloquial going to in formal contexts: I think the play is about to start now.m. impossibility.the natural laws of physics. There are 3 general systems of principles that can be invoked when we talk about modality: . He can play the violin.legal authority/institution or one's social status according to which you have or you don’t have authority over somebody else. order. it suggests possibility. biology.35 a. Epistemic forms co-occur with the continuous infinitive to suggest an action in progress and with the perfect infinitive for past time reference and have no restrictions on the subject. whereas in He may be there already. referring to modalities that define the notion of physical and intellectual ability/capacity. permission. command.) . but then we imagine that things are different and in this way we talk about possible worlds. it is similar to the simple present with future value. The difference in meaning is reflected in their different syntactic behaviors. duty .inversion with the subject (May I borrow your car?) . The chairman of the board meets union officials tonight. The less developed modals do not observe it: You should be listening to what your sister is saying. impossibility. can and must). we experience certain states of affairs in the real world.has received explicit order to go back there.) Modals are polysemous words.deontic (root) sense: ability. / His flight is due at 7. certainty. To be due to refers to scheduled times: The ceremony is due to begin in ten minutes. May in a sentence like You may go now. When it denotes an official arrangement or plan. possibility. do not occur with the perfect infinitive and their subject is always [+ human]. impossibility . it will be noticed later that the rule holds true only for the most important modal verbs (may. / I am just on the point of proposing to her. *musted) . Deontic forms do not take the progressive. compulsion. vs. (deontic should combines with the continuous infinitive to suggest an action in progress at the moment of speaking) You ought to have paid closer attention to your guests. except that. Modal verbs evince two basic meanings: . these modalities refer to duty. indicates permission. appropriateness etc. past or present participles (*to may.epistemic sense: possibility. MODAL VERBS Modality refers to notions like possibility.no non-finite forms such as infinitives. anatomy etc.negative with not (You can’t throw plates at him!) . necessity.the social or institutional laws .no co-occurrence (*I must can do it. chemistry. *canning.3rd person: defective (compare: I can play the piano. unlike the latter. Though it proves to be a very felicitous distinction. The problem of polysemy: there is a syntactic approach based on the idea that the distinct meanings of the same modal are reflected in their distinct distribution. Modal verbs are a syntactically defined subset of auxiliary verbs with specific properties: . (deontic ought to combines with the perfect infinitive to suggest past time reference) CAN / COULD .
However. When used with verbs of physical perception can actualizes the reference of the verb. To be able to is preferred when referring to a specific achievement. In interrogations the use of can to request permission is simply a matter of courtesy. we encounter the opposite phenomenon. be it written or spoken. You can go home when you have finished writing your essay. when making a decision at the moment of speaking about some event in the future. Ability in the future is expressed by means of either can or the periphrastic shall/will be able to with a difference in meaning. Compare: He could play the piano very well when he was a child. can is commonly used with verbs of perception (see. I can / *am able to swim.general permanent ability) Look. / I can see the swallows flying up in the sky. the hearer is not usually in a position to deny permission: Can I leave now? / Can I have the salt? Negative sentences use either cannot or may not to refuse permission: .now) Can is used in parallel with a synonymous expression having a fuller range of forms . To be able to is never used when referring to something going on at the moment of speaking (see example above). couldn’t will always imply that the event didn’t take place. . In formal and polite English. He can speak English. Policeman: You may park here. Do you hear the wind blowing? / Can you hear the wind blowing? Each pair of sentences has the same translation (Vad randunelele zburand sus pe cer. In this respect. Maybe we can go fishing next week. (strong recommendation) or You can jump in the lake if you feel like it. (El stie sa vorbeasca engleza.DEONTIC CAN Deontic can expresses physical or mental ability. Can is more widely employed than 'permission' may in colloquial English. can is like an aspectual marker (often not translated): I see the swallows flying up the sky. (particular) On the other hand. hear. The second meaning of deontic can is that of permission. to be able to has a specific meaning. In other words. Permission can has an additional pragmatic interpretation in sentences like: You can forget about your holiday. we use can: I hope they will be able to book seats for the concert tomorrow. Compare: Old man: You can park here as far as I know. could is used to express a habitual or recurrent event in the past. (generic) When he moved closer to the painting. unlike may which is employed when an authority gives you permission. . being perceived as the more respectable form. taste. remember. (Pot sa inot. referring to potential acts. In contrast. (sarcastic suggestion). not real ones. describing generic ability. To be able to refers to some event that will be possible in the future. Apart from replacing can in contexts for which the modal has no forms. / He can be nasty. However. Deontic can has two past forms: could and was / were able to. he was able to / *he could see that it was a fake. smell. and Auzi cum sufla vantul?). There is no difference between could and to be able to in negative sentences. May replaces can in all contexts. there is no rule or law that prevents you from performing a certain action. Can is also often used to express sporadic ability or an irregular pattern of behavior: She can be quite catty. feel) and cognitive verbs of the type believe. and in certain contexts we do distinguish between the uses of the two. understand. Similarly. though this context does not rule out the use of can: Mary has now recovered from her illness and is able to / can go to school. / Frenchmen can be arrogant. the use of can suggests that 'you have permission' rather than 'I give you permission'.to be able to. Was/were able to refers to the actual performance of a single successful achievement.
It is more frequent in negations and interrogations. (external negation) (it is not possible that he saw the light of the car) He may not arrive in time. but to a real contingency. For past time reference may is replaced by to be allowed to. the second sentence should be taken more seriously because it does not refer to a mere possibility that has occurred to the speaker. While cannot expresses the impossibility of some action to occur (appearing in cases of external negation). (internal negation) (it is possible that he does not arrive in time) For past time reference epistemic can combines with the perfect infinitive like any other epistemic modal: He can't have had time to hide the evidence. Permission may is also present in rules and regulations in formal English: A local health authority may. the second seems to be more forceful because it is interpreted as positively forbidding an action instead of negatively refusing permission.You may not leave yet. its semantic content accounts for the presence of permission may. not the speaker's. but the verb inside has past time reference. . In questions. the speaker uses either may not or must not if the authority prohibits some action (You may not visit that family. / She said that. The nurse said we might speak to the patient. (I do not permit you to leave…) You mustn't talk loudly in this auditorium. theoretical possibility. Roughly speaking. so the distinction persists only in colloquial English. Compare: The dollar can be devalued. may not suggests the possibility of something not happening (illustrating cases of internal negation): If he saw a light it can’t have been the light of the car. whereas in affirmative sentences may is preferred: He may be reading in the library. . he could join us. Could he have spread that vicious rumor about the twins? In this case. Can he be reading in the library? He can't be reading in the library. (It is possible to devalue the dollar. (I oblige you no to talk loudly in this auditorium) Though both sentences represent prohibitions. the modal has present time reference.factual possibility) When uttered. with the approval of the Minister. receive from persons to which advice is given under this section… such charges. Since the example above refers specifically to the powers a certain official is endowed with. may signals the hearer's authority. (if any) as the authority consider reasonable. whereas in reported speech might is used: I was eventually allowed to go abroad to visit my relatives. being similar to must. MAY / MIGHT DEONTIC MAY Deontic may is used to grant or give permission when the speaker has the authority to do so (see comparison to permission can above). in formal English may seems to be used to express both factual and theoretical possibility. . if he wanted.theoretical possibility) The dollar may be devalued. we can establish a distinction between can and may in affirmative sentences if we conceive of them in terms of the opposition factual vs. EPISTEMIC CAN Epistemic can expresses the possibility/impossibility of an action to take place. There is no past time for permission can with the exception of could used as a past tense form in reported speech: He said I could leave the next day. (It is possible that the dollar is devalued. such as a time of financial crisis. / You must not speak to her again!). When permission is denied. Unfortunately.
Although you are in charge. In this respect. the theoretical . but this doesn't give you the right to be rude.the teacher wants the essays tomorrow morning) Have to / have got to have either neutral or external orientation as to the source of obligation: I’ve got to be at London airport at 4. I couldn't push the door open. using may for present reference and might for past reference: Try as I might.EPISTEMIC MAY As already mentioned above. On the other hand. (internal obligation .factual possibility opposition disappears.) May with the sense of 'possibility' also appears in concessive clauses in colloquial English as an alternative to an although clause: You may be in charge. MUST. there is an idiomatic expression with try. epistemic may is used to express possibility. As already suggested. and hence. it is simply directed towards the speaker himself. (NB. Also. I might just start to trust you. . He can't have already discovered the secret of that tomb. (the speaker is in authority) When we consider the first person singular or plural (I must / we must). a sentence like A friend may betray you is interpreted more like a warning about a particular friend. I might well decide to come. May / might combines with several adverbs that emphasize the modal expression with both present and past time reference. so that we talk about selfcompulsion. may / might refer to events in the past: He may have already discovered the secret of that tomb. May / might as well expresses the idea that there is no alternative left to a bad situation: We might as well give up now because we don't stand a chance if we fight against them. for instance. (external obligation . (neutral) You must return all the books to the library by Friday. this doesn't give you the right to be rude. we notice that the idea of compulsion is not lost. For instance. This contrasts with the use of have to (I have to / we have to) which suggests that some external authority imposes the duty: I must finish writing the essay by tonight. When combined with the perfect infinitive. In this case the truth of the sentence or its falsity can be verified. he can never remember people's names. where can is preferred. focusing primarily on specific situations. Must has either neutral reference when. can basically focuses on general situations. HAVE (GOT) TO DEONTIC MUST / HAVE (GOT) TO The relationship between must and have to parallels that between may and can in both their deontic and epistemic meanings. epistemic may does not occur in interrogative sentences. Try as he may. The university says: These people must be expelled if they disrupt lectures. You have to make up a plan before you start. the speaker imposes something on himself through a sense of duty or self-discipline. it resembles 'permission' may. In a sentence like A friend can betray you it is suggested that friends sometimes do that. When employed with its deontic meaning.I have my own program and I want to stick to it) I have to finish writing the essay by tonight. the speaker says what somebody else requires or it can point to the speaker who is in some position of authority and imposes a duty. must expresses obligation.
not the speaker’s: Must I sweep the floor and wash the dishes myself? (= Are these your orders?) There is an even more restricted use of must in interrogatives with 'you' as subject that conveys a note of sarcasm: Must you really smoke those horrible cigars? In a sentence like If you must smoke. (it was necessary…) We had to make a trip to York to collect the bloody thing. (You are not obliged to answer that question. Must appears as such with past time reference only in reported speech: She said she must/had to go. having to).) Someone has to be hiding the truth. you get to knowledge by inference or reasoning. Consider: Do you have to be at school at 8 o'clock? (Is this what you have to do every day?) Have you got to be at school at 8 o'clock? (Is this what you have to do tomorrow morning?) In negative sentences must not negates the event indicating the obligation not to perform some action (internal negation). I don't see any explanation for the crash. While have to is used in formal language and has non-finite forms (will have to. Have got to is rarer in the past and does not imply that the event referred to took place. have got to is characteristic of colloquial British English and is more restricted in use because of its lack of nonfinite forms (*will have got to. it is the hearer’s authority that is involved. (It is impossible that everyone is telling the truth. Subject-oriented must needs no past tense (must is different from have to only in the present). while the latter refers to a specific occasion. WILL / WOULD DEONTIC WILL / WOULD VOLITION WILL . have to is stronger than must in the sense that it does not refer to a mere assumption or deduction. (the event took place) As already seen./ BE You must be joking. the evidence is such as to imply the truth of the sentence. unlike have to: We’d got to make a trip to York anyway so it didn’t matter too much. have to is used for past time reference replacing must.) Thus.Students have to be careful with their grades. Have to also expresses logical necessity: There has to be someone who knows the truth about his disappearance. the speaker pretends to interpret the hearer's need to smoke as something he cannot control rather than as a nasty habit he enjoys practicing. Shall/will have to is used if there is a suggestion that the necessity is future or conditioned: I shall have to keep silent for an hour. Like the other modals must is used for future events: We must do something about it tomorrow. In American English have got to has acquired an epistemic interpretation: AE You’ve got to be joking. Otherwise. Oh. When must is used in interrogative as well as in conditional clauses. it suggests that the possibility of the opposite state of affairs cannot be conceived of. go to the window. necessity is questioned in: Have you got to do it? / Do you have to do it? / Need I say more? There seems to be a difference between do you have to and have you got to in the sense that the former has a habitual or iterative meaning. The negative counterpart of epistemic must is can’t . / We’ll have to go out if you’re going to do it. she can’t. whereas needn't or don't have to negate the necessity (external negation): You mustn’t reveal what I’ve said. whereas the have to example expresses a downright accusation. For past time reference must combines with the perfect infinitive like all the other epistemic modals: He must have been flying too low. *having got to). Again the difference between epistemic must and epistemic have to is that between factual necessity and theoretical necessity. which is again extremely ironical. (It is impossible for everyone to be telling the truth.can situation: Someone must be hiding the truth.the “natural expression of impossibility”: She must be over 40. The must example above is interpreted as a simple suspicion.) EPISTEMIC MUST / HAVE (GOT) TO Epistemic must expresses logical necessity. paralleling the may . You have to have made some mistake here. (I oblige you not to reveal what I've said) You needn’t answer that question. Otherwise.
being more conditional than will. how they characteristically behave. volitional be willing to is more likely: I asked him and he was willing to come.person requests of the type: Will you bring me a glass of water? Who will tell me what I've done wrong? In such questions will is a polite variant of the imperative for the 2nd and the 3rd persons. strong volitional will is never contracted to 'll and always stressed in speech. POWER WILL Power will expresses properties of certain objects. The last two examples that employ second and third persons clearly imply that the speaker is exasperated at the interlocutors' stubbornness. which parallels volition would but retains an inanimate subject (She asked if the table would bear. don't complain that she's avoiding you. I asked him but he wouldn’t come. I won’t have my name on the title page. When volitional will is negated. Would in such questions is even more polite: Would you kindly tell me … / Would you be good enough… / Would you like to …? This type of volition will is also present in conditional clauses in the second and third persons: If you will say so. The third type of intermediate will occurs mainly with the first person expressing a promise or a threat and is usually contracted: I will pay him back for what he's done to me! We'll cut your allowance if you refuse to listen to us! We'll see about that when he returns. honey. For past time reference with subject-oriented will the form would is NOT used if there is an accomplished interpretation for the event. You know that certain drugs will improve your condition. Strong volitional will shows one's determination or intention to do something: I will see him today if that's what I want! 'I won't do it!' / 'Yes. so I can’t work.Volition will relates to either willingness (weak volition) or insistence (strong volition) or intention (intermediate volition). I shall have a cake. it expresses a strong refusal: They won’t give me a key. The door won’t open. The idea of willingness is commonly related to second . why will you keep asking stupid questions? If you will ask her out every time you see her. Unlike volition will whose subject is always a person or at least an animal endowed with willpower.) HABITUAL WILL Habitual will refers to a situation that takes place regularly or frequently as a consequence of a natural tendency of a person or an object: . But she loves him and she won’t leave him. I shan’t be happy unless she will come. but wouldn’t is normal. Volitional would is used in adverbial clauses of condition and after wish. Since it has such an emphatic meaning. you will. *I asked him and he would come. Instead.' Sandy. For past time reference we use power would. power will employs inanimate subjects and is subject-oriented (the source of power is intrinsic to the subject of will): The hall will seat five hundred.
(from previous knowledge why the lights were on. If there is reference to a past situation. then we use will in combination with the perfect infinitive: This will be the National Gallery. You shall never hear from me again. we infer that John is in his office). Epistemic will is like epistemic must in the sense that the conclusion is reached on the basis of the evidence available. Generally speaking must could replace will in all the examples above with only a slight difference in meaning as to the degree of certainty of the respective prediction: John must be in his office. (I can see the lights on). You shall receive a reward if you follow my advice. For past time reference we employ either would or used to with the difference that used to does not have the sense of an iterated situation. the sense of obligation being rendered in the form of a suggestion or piece of advice. it is distinct from will you? which inquires about the other person’s will or willingness. can suggest either a promise or a threat on the part of the speaker.A falling drop will hollow a stone. . for past reference combining with the perfect infinitive and acquiring a contrary-to-fact interpretation: You should pay more attention to what I'm telling you right now. therefore. not the will of the subject of the sentence ( shall is speaker-oriented). He would (often) buy strawberries in those days / whenever she came. however. John will be in his office. She’ll be sleeping now. In modern English we use must. that is why used to can combine with both state and activity verbs. Boys will be boys. A cat will often play with a mouse before killing it. SHALL / SHOULD DEONTIC SHALL / SHOULD The deontic meaning of shall is that of obligation. it is the will of the speaker who imposes an obligation. EPISTEMIC WILL / WOULD Epistemic will is related to the idea of probability. Shall you see John today? When shall you do it? Deontic should is a weaker equivalent of deontic shall. in the Bible and in legal statements or rules: He shall be punished if he does not obey. That will be John at the door. shall is an archaic form of order still present in fairy tales. In interrogations that employ the first person the speaker inquires about the wish or will of the addressee. used with second and third person subjects. unlike would whose usage is restricted to activity verbs only: He used to live in that house in those days. Shall I go? represents an offer to go (Do you want me to go?) Used with the second person shall describes a situation which is independent of the will of the person addressed. John will have received the book by this time. the inference concerning the present time as it involves a present situation. This imperious kind of shall. The first condition of legal justice is that it shall hold the balance impartially. Should has present and future reference.
The must variant reflects the speaker's certainty that his deduction is correct. (But. ought to represents a tentative counterpart of must and shall. The general meaning of epistemic shall is that ‘someone /something is disposed towards something’. Who touches pitch shall be defiled. You should have told me that you were hungry. EPISTEMIC OUGHT TO Epistemic ought to expresses potential probability. ought to gives the possibility of non-action. since there is evidence that leads him to the respective conclusion. the implication is that the obligation will not be fulfilled. (But I don't know whether you will or not) Hence. NEED / NEED TO . in fact. We may say He ought to go but he won’t but an utterance like He must go but *he won’t is impossible. again its meaning is related to that of epistemic must: Susan ought to be at her office now. For past time reference ought to selects the perfect infinitive: You ought to have been more careful with the children. (Perkins. OUGHT TO Very close in interpretation to should. (I am sure you will. Susan must be at her office now. denoting obligation or duty. It is used for assumptions about present or past situations (if combined with the perfect infinitive): The plane should be landing now. Compare: You must give some money to your sister. when used with a first person subject. If a driver says I ought to go slowly here. but if he says I must go slowly here. DEONTIC OUGHT TO Deontic ought to is similar in meaning to must. unlike must. 1983) Epistemic should is considered the conditional equivalent of epistemic shall. The parcel should have arrived by now. whereas He will have finished by now suggests that 'I am sure he has finished'. of which perhaps not one shall fall upon fertile ground and grow into a fair plant. he implies that he isn't going to go slowly.If I could have my way. with a single difference: while must suggests that the speaker is confident the interlocutor will do as told. he really intends to go slowly. Assumptions with epistemic should are less confident than assumptions with epistemic will. He should have finished by now means that 'I expect he has finished by now'. you didn't) EPISTEMIC SHALL / SHOULD Shall is interpreted epistemically when its modal base is the system of rational laws and where the empirical evidence implies the truth of the sentence: A flower shall produce thousands of seeds.) You ought to give some money to your sister. you should be sent to Siberia for what you've done. Moreover. the use of ought to implies that the speaker is not very certain the addressee will perform his duty. The ought to variant reflects the speaker's cautiousness in asserting that as he also takes into account that there is a slight possibility that something unexpected might have happened to require her presence somewhere else.
it indicates a theoretically possible or potential course of events that the world may take." (George Curme. / Does John dare to come? In the affirmative dare is used in the expression I daresay / I dare say. needn't also occurs with the perfect infinitive to refer to a past situation. the subjunctive is prescriptive. (lack of necessity) What needn't have done and didn't have / need to do have in common is the lack of necessity. At the same time. volition. need (a fi necesar) and need to (a avea nevoie) differ in point of grammatical behavior since the former is a modal verb and the latter a full lexical verb (which. / Dare John come? John doesn’t dare to come. relating facts to moments in real time. consequently. They differ in that the former implies that the action does take place. forms questions and negative forms with do). except in fairly formal English with hardly. lexical dare has an additional meaning ('to challenge') if used transitively and followed by object + full infinitive: Somebody dared me to jump off the bridge into the river. Lexical need occurs with a (passive) infinitive or a noun / pronoun object or a gerund: I need to know what time you'll get home. but as formed in the mind of the speaker as a desire. I needn't have driven to school to pick up Mary but I had forgotten she'd told me she had other plans. or. thus resembling shouldn't have and oughtn't have in as far as in all three cases the event does take place: You needn't have carried all this luggage by yourself. Modal need is mainly used in negative and interrogative sentences as a correlative of must. In How dare(d) you? / How dare(d) he / they?. and only rarely in statements. in the case of a statement. Yet. The gas tank needs to be refilled / refilling. 1935:391) While the indicative is informative. sometimes with more or less hope of realization. wish. DARE Dare resembles need to a great extent in that it has both modal and lexical variants and it also occurs in interrogative and negative sentences. Modal need doesn’t occur in ‘affirmative’ sentences. THE SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD Whereas the indicative expresses facts and is closely related to reality. I didn't have / need to pick up Mary from school because she phoned me saying she would walk home. which means 'I suppose': I daresay the plane will be delayed. In reported speech need is retained just like must: She believed she need not fear any persecution. the subjunctive "represents something not as actual reality. with more or less belief. the choice is between didn't have to and didn't need to (the lexical verb). while the latter implies that as a consequence of this lack of necessity. commentaries about theoretical or desirable situations or commands aimed at making somebody bring about a certain state of affairs. conception. thought. Students must pay attention to the distinct grammatical properties of dare as modal and lexical verb: John daren’t come. the action is no longer performed. in this case it expresses an unnecessary action which was nevertheless performed. sometimes with little or no hope or faith. Need not expresses lack of necessity similarly to the negative forms of have to or need to. I just need some money. The subjunctive expresses value judgments. When we refer to a past situation. the speaker expresses indignation at the actions of the interlocutor: How dare you shout at me? At the same time.Although they are close in meaning. scarcely or only: I need hardly mention how grateful I am for this opportunity. You need only touch one of the doors for the alarm to start ringing. .
the most widely used being should). (hypothetical past situation) An alternative to the last example is a structure introduced by unless (= only if not) always followed by the verb in the affirmative. If one situation depends on another. if can be followed by modal verbs that preserve their original meaning in these contexts: should. I'll give you a call. If I don't come back in time. It's rather late. I had better leave now. we can replace if with provided. I won't scold you again as long as you behave nicely. not all negative if sentences can be turned into unless sentences: They wouldn't have come to the meeting unless they had been invited. *I'll give you a call unless I come back in time. TO BE has WERE for all persons) and had + third form of the verb for the past subjunctive . which are followed by the indicative: I'll lend you the money provided you don't tell my mother. as well as the parallel structure happen to. but this requires the use of the gerund: I prefer reading to writing. (hypothetical situation) They wouldn't have come to the meeting if they hadn't been invited."It's important that you should go there. All of them have present and past forms. if it hadn't been for (for past reference) or but for.NEW FORMS The new forms of the synthetic subjunctive . American English tends to use this type of subjunctive in contexts such as "It's important that you go there. Would rather can be replaced by prefer. all followed by noun phrases: If it weren't for your interest in his studies. I would have drowned in the sea. the synthetic subjunctive classifies into an old subjunctive and a new one. will. on condition that or as long as. she wouldn't have managed to overcome that situation.The subjunctive can be either synthetic (using old inflectional forms) or analytic / periphrastic (employing modal verbs. Apart from the subjunctive forms mentioned so far. makes the possibility of an event seem unlikely: . Should after if. But for her ambition. he would fail all his exams. SYNTHETIC SUBJUNCTIVE . At the same time.second form of the verb for the present subjunctive (NB." SYNTHETIC SUBJUNCTIVE . However. would and could. If it hadn't been for Jim. In its turn.OLD FORMS The old subjunctive is used in formulas and after would rather (expressing preference) and had better (interpreted as suggestion or advice): Long live the Queen! So be it! Come what may! Grammar be hanged! I would rather go to the mountains than to the seaside." where British English uses the analytic subjunctive . The same context mentioned above allows the use of if it were not for (for present reference).are used in the following contexts: 1) after if: He wouldn't accept your apologies if he knew about your lies. I would rather have lived in the country.
) Had and were are in fact the auxiliaries most commonly involved in such emphatic structures. I can't help him. If you would fill in these forms now. (hypothetical) 4) after as if / as though to express an unreal comparison: He is looking at me as if I were his long-lost brother. I could grant you the loan sooner. . It's (high) time you informed her of your failure. the simple present) in the subordinate and a future form in the main clause (see present tense simple with future value).If you should hear from him/if you happen to hear from him. Apart from these two types of conditional tenses that employ subjunctive forms. It is also possible to employ the indicative after even if/though. 5) after it's (high) time we employ either the long infinitive or a For + Accusative + Infinitive construction to suggest that the right moment to do something has come. would in similar contexts is more tentative. however with a difference in meaning. NB. Were I to return sooner instead of If I were to return sooner. etc. Literary English also allows inversion of the subject and the auxiliary verb instead of an if clause (Had I arrived earlier instead of If I had arrived earlier. will in if sentences can also express obstinate insistence. quite often the second part of the sentence is left out: If only I won the competition! If only she had told me the truth. more polite: If you will join me to that meeting. NB. suggesting that the event in the conditional sentence necessarily precedes the event in the main clause: If you have finished your meal. usually referring to a bad habit: If you will laugh at people all the time. Compare: I still don't like him even if he tried to be nice to me last time I saw him. 2) after if only to add emphasis to a hypothetical situation or to suggest a sense of regret when combined with the past subjunctive. On the other hand. When we aim at emphasizing completion after if. They were acting as if they hadn't recognized him. or we use the present form of the subjunctive to imply that we are rather late in doing something: It's time (for us) to pack our luggage and go. I would be very grateful. I wouldn't have tried to talk her out of selling the car! 3) after even if / even though: They would reject her proposal even if she followed their instructions. there is a third possibility that uses the indicative (usually. will you inform me? Will after if introduces the idea of your willingness to do what is suggested. You wouldn't have found her even if you had hired a private detective. (factual) I wouldn't like him even if he tried to be nice to me. we use a perfect form. NB. no wonder nobody wants to talk to you. I will clear the plates. The negative counterpart of will indicates one's refusal to do something: If he won't listen to me.
7) after would rather when the speaker's preference involves another person's performance of an action: I would rather they invited me to the theater. prohibit. a piece of advice. urge. would you still have attempted to save the kid? Imagine we'd never spent this time together! 9) after in case. etc. Notice that a construction with would after wish is possible when the speaker intends to express an annoying habit. an order. we use either the indicative or the analytic subjunctive (to suggest greater improbability): I'll make a cake in case Father Ted drops by in the afternoon. how would you spend it? Supposing they hadn't arrived in time. suggesting theoretical or potential states or events. hope. It is my desire that she should be invited to our reception. Function of the verb / adjective contained in the main clause or the noun phrase that functions as the antecedent of the relative clause which contains the subjunctive. I desire that he should be granted the scholarship. beg. which introduces a contingency or possibility against which a precaution is needed in advance. I demand that they should be treated with more respect. to invite someone's cooperation or to indicate that either people or events frustrate his desires: I wish you would stop interrupting me. 2) after boulomaic verbs: want. recommend. command. order. I wish they hadn't left for Rome. such sentences often express either a command.6) after wish I wish he came back sooner. I'll save a seat for you in case you should decide to come. instruct. God forbid that your husband should find out you've been cheating on him! The king ordered that his kingdom should be divided among his sons. desire. propose. a resolution. advise. in object clauses: He suggested that we should take the path to the left. suggest etc. He would rather his daughter hadn't behaved like a fool. or a wish. I wish you would hurry up. etc. an intention. a suggestion. 8) after supposing / suppose or imagine: Suppose you inherited a huge fortune. wish. choose in object clauses: . It is desirable that he could obtain the loan to pay for his studies. I wish it would stop raining. THE ANALYTIC SUBJUNCTIVE This type of subjunctive appears in complement THAT-clauses of various kinds. SUBJECT AND OBJECT CLAUSES 1) after exercitive verbs: ask.
2) CONCESSIVE: Foolish though she may be.non-factive intransitive adjectives (in subject clauses): be good / right / best / important / essential / natural / (un)likely / necessary etc. but I know that she is shamming. - non-factive transitive verbs and adjectives (in object clauses): intend. arrange. I don't exactly understand it. 4) in assertive sentences after doubt. well.: It bothers me that he should be so obtuse. hate. I insist that the meeting should be over by ten. alarm. It doesn't matter that Max should have bought a Cadillac. It is odd that you should have agreed to such a proposal. say. persuade etc. I am most anxious that she should get the present I bought for her. It is very unlikely that he should have already received news from her. think. point out. I desire that you should comply with my request. We dared not speak for fear the enemy might hear us. imagine. prefer. He had sat between the twins so that he could court them. bother. in object clauses: He told them that I should be more careful with the kids. fancy. convince. . but I can imagine it. I don't think you will abandon her. - factive intransitive adjectives: be odd / tragic / amazing / surprising: It is amazing that they should survive after all this time. surprise. insist. I doubt that I should succeed. ADVERBIAL CLAUSES 1) OF PURPOSE: Let the dog loose so that he can have a run. 3) after verbs of linguistic communication: tell.I wish you should be here. matter.: It is important that you should understand the underlying meaning of his words. remark. she is kind of heart. It amazes me that you could give up on us so easily. 5) after emotive verbs and adjectives: . However little you may love her. I called in the hope that I might find you. - factive transitive verbs (in subject and object clauses): amaze. I didn't choose that they should shun her. He regretted that the little girl should be ill. astonish. be anxious / eager: I prefer that they should call before paying me a visit. We evacuated the building lest the walls should collapse. She convinced me that I should apply for a grant. inform. regret etc. complain in object clauses: And that you should deceive us.
4) OF RESULT: We should proceed in such a manner that the public may indorse our cause. She is so ill that she should be given an extra dose immediately. we would immediately evacuate the village. 3) OF CONDITION: Should the dam explode. . I could help you if you would agree to follow my advice.Whatever sins he may have. he can still be saved.
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