INTRODUCTION – INFLECTIONAL MORPHOLOGY The present course will deal with the traditional parts of speech, in particular with

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 – 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.

There are different types of states: basic-level states and derived stative predicates. which can be stopped or terminated at any time. that is. English syntactically distinguishes between: . Events consist of stages/phases rather than undifferentiated moments.TELIC] separates situation types into telic and atelic. the imperfective may focus on preliminary or iterated/repeated stages: She was jumping up and down.B. the endpoint is arbitrary. they are [+ dynamic] or [stative]. The imperfective viewpoint (be – ing) is also related to duration. [+/. but the subject is not an agent. In other cases. (the verb has a direct object/internal argument. (repeated activity from a semelfactive) The plane was landing. With instantaneous events. Duration is grammaticized overtly or covertly. achievements and semelfactives). Thus. Telic situation types are directed towards a goal/outcome. N. 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. The feature [+ telic] is not relevant for states because they are unbounded and have an abstract atemporal quality. yet the situation is an activity) N. as it is with accomplishments and achievements (e. dispositions.B. desire. basic states are: know the answer. since imperfective focuses on the internal stages of durative situations.STATIVE] covers the distinction between ‘stasis’ and ‘motion’ and separates situation types into the classes of states and events (activities.[+/. continue). [+/. happen. be tall. they predicate a quality or property of an individual (possession. Telic events are not limited to events that are under the control of an agent.g. they have a culmination point. involving causation (which includes both agentive and non-agentive subjects).durative Durative Durative Durative Instantaneous Instantaneous +/. take place or culminate. (preliminary stage from an achievement) States Activities Accomplishments Achievements Semelfactives STATES +/. Events are doings. States are characterized by the features [+ stative] and [+ durative]. location. which lack an interval.DURATIVE] distinguishes between situation types that take time (activities. activity and change. In English duration is explicitly indicated by adverbials (for phrases) and main verbs (keep. want. the verb is intransitive/atelic) b) John pushed the cart for hours. accomplishments. Basic-level states According to the type of referent they apply to. break). In The rock fell to the ground. there is a final point given by the expression ‘to the ground’. (telicity given by the particle ‘up’. The goal may be intrinsic to the event. Typical. consisting of undifferentiated moments.stative Stative Dynamic Dynamic Dynamic Dynamic +/. states. Intuitively. belief and other mental states.telic Atelic Atelic Telic Telic Atelic States are stable situations. in this case constituting its natural endpoint. etc). accomplishments) and instantaneous events (achievements and semelfactives). as it is for activities and semelfactives. basic states separate into predicates that apply to individuals (kinds of objects or objects) or to stages of individuals. States are the simplest of situation types. States are said to ‘hold’ whereas events occur.

while ‘activity’ is associated with human agency. although they involve no agency or change. lie. enjoy. (habitual) He writes novels. may also have an achievement interpretation in the context of adverbs like ‘suddenly’ or with completive adverbials. but never ‘finish’. which describe relatively stable. “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. run along the beach. laugh. which are stative at the basic level of classification.) vs. Multiple events also include iterations.B. think about. etc. paint the fence (acc.).a) Individual level predicates: permanent. Perception verbs (see). Processes are atelic. The progressive is acceptable with these predicates only if the subject denotes a moveable object. Here. an activity has an arbitrary endpoint. walk in the park. which denote transitory properties and apply to stages of individuals. perch. find pebbles on the beach all afternoon. Process sentences consist of verb constellations presenting a process situation. I saw a star. stand). She was hungry at noon. sprawl. with verb constellations of position and location (sit. love) and some verbs of mental states (know. the jewels glittered). non-temporary states (know. verbs of feeling (like.). (individual level predicate) *London is lying on the Thames. the progressive has a stative interpretation (they denote temporary states). there are other means of changing the telicity of a constellation. non-transitory inherent properties that apply to individuals (objects or kinds). (achievement) ACTIVITIES (PROCESSES) The term ‘process’ is favored over ‘activity’ because. durative. They are semantically stative precisely because they denote properties that hold over individuals or patterns/generalizations over events rather than specific situations. dream. which is why they simply ‘stop’ or ‘terminate’. read at a book (activ. be widespread). The socks are lying on the bed. it rained for hours. for instance using a particular preposition: read a book (acc. desire. hence the ungrammaticality of the third sentence in which London does not qualify as a moveable object. understand). be in the garden. etc. that is. such as achievements and semelfactives: cough for five minutes. Its termination is merely cessation of activity. changing into individual level predicates. (stage level predicate) London lies on the Thames. be angry). c) Individual / stage level predicates: with interval statives. . if used in the simple present or past. be tall. They are compatible with expressions of simple duration and punctuality: He was angry for an instant. and b) Stage level predicates: temporary states (be available. (state) Suddenly. These qualify as multiple-event processes: eat cherries. The verb constellations may consist of: a) an atelic verb and compatible complements (if any): push a cart. that is. (state) I liked him in a second. play chess/the piano. An activity does not have a goal or natural endpoint. (habitual) N. write letters. Compare: I saw the city hall from my window. paint away at the fence (activ.) vs. They may appear in the progressive. sleep. repetitions of instantaneous events. dynamic events. (achievement) I like music. Derived statives a) generic sentences b) habitual sentences Events can be recategorized into states. drink wine. Tigers eat meat. b) an atelic durative verb with a complement that is cumulative or uncountable. etc. (generic) My cat eats carrots. whereas usually the progressive is associated with an active interpretation. c) in English. be drunk.

they are interpreted as derived durative processes/activities consisting of a series of repeated. remember. The maid swept the floor clean. miss the target. repair a car. consisting of a process and an outcome / change of state and having successive stages in which the process advances to its conclusion. win the race). resultative constructions (which lexicalize both the causing activity and the resulting state) qualify as accomplishments: The wind shaped the hills into cones. recognize. lexical causative verbs are accomplishments ( break a window. Accomplishments are conceptualized as durative events. lose. 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. etc. drink a glass of wine. d) Atelic verbs and resultative phrase: The alarm clock ticked the baby awake. kick the ball. nor resultant stages. etc. ACHIEVEMENTS Achievements are instantaneous. notice. cool the soup. instantaneous events: cough. reach the top. reach the top.ACCOMPLISHMENTS Accomplishments describe change-of-states prepared (brought about/caused) by some activity/process. accomplishment constructions consist of constellations that have: a) Atelic. flap a wing. this instantaneous type does not conceptualize it. remember. The predicates are reinterpreted as multiple-event activities: John was kicking the ball when I saw him. win the race. notice. c) Atelic. Achievements focus mainly on the change of state. hiccup. durative verbs and certain prepositions: The boy ran out. lose the watch. (activity) The predicates that do not presuppose a preparatory activity are known as ‘lucky achievements’: find. THE ASPECTUAL RECATEGORIZATION OF VERB PHRASES Predicates shift from their prototypical class due to various elements in the verb constellations: . cook a pie. simply leaving out or backgrounding the causing activity and causing factor. Semelfactives do not have preliminary stages. Verbs plus particle constructions also read as accomplishments: throw something away/down/up/aside/in. (achievement) The plane was landing. John kicked the ball for five minutes and then left. durative verbs and directional complements: The kid walked to school. hit. b) Atelic. slam/bang the door. recognize. When they occur with period adverbials and the progressive. iterated semelfactive events. leave. knock. die. 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. SEMELFACTIVES Semelfactives are atelic. shelve the books. single stage events that result in a change of state. arrive. accomplishments are complex events because they have other event types as their components. discover. find a penny. Thus. He sang himself hoarse. Even if some achievements may be preceded by some preparatory activity (land. poison your roommate ). the change being the completion of the process: build a bridge. durative verbs and countable arguments: They drank a glass of beer and left. Stereotypic achievements are: die. Also. Thus. In a nutshell.

it turns into an accomplishment. kill turn into states when used in the simple present form. burn. (accomplishment) ASPECTUAL CLASSES OF VERB PHRASES AND THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT . (activity) / Your behavior kills me. sometimes with a frequency adverbial.(1) Subject: If the subject of an achievement is an indefinite plural noun phrase or a collective noun. Almost any verb can become part of a habitual sentence if used in the simple present.B. Tom walked for an hour. (activity) (2) Direct Object: If the direct object of an accomplishment or achievement is a bare plural noun phrase. (accomplishment) (4) Tense: Habitual sentences always designate states. (activity) / Tom read a book in an hour. (state) Activity verb phrases such as rub. (activity) / This burns like fire. The tourists have discovered a beautiful castle. it becomes an accomplishment. the achievement recategorizes into an activity. (achievement) Tom has been discovering lice in his son's hair for three days. scratch. (activity) Tom walked to the building in ten minutes. (activity) Tom walked two kilometers in half an hour. (activity) He discovered a treasure in the backyard. (activity) If the direct object of an accomplishment or an achievement is a mass noun. it turns it into an activity. designating a general characteristic of the subject: The wood is burning in the fireplace. (activity) / She combed her hair in two minutes. (accomplishment) Tom ate popcorn for an hour. (achievement) Tourists discovered that beautiful castle for years. Tom wrote the essay in two hours. (activity) The battalion was crossing the border for twenty minutes. Tom walked in the woods for an hour. (accomplishment) If an activity combines with a locative noun phrase. states. they become activities. (state) He is killing a chicken for dinner. Tom ate his hamburger in three minutes. N. He played chess for two hours. (activity) (3) Adverbials: If an activity is combined with an adverbial of extent. (accomplishment) She combed her hair for two minutes. (activity) He plays chess (every day). cut. accomplishments and achievements recategorize into activities unfolding at a certain reference time. 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. (state) (5) Progressive / Continuous Aspect: When used in the progressive aspect. (accomplishment) Tom wrote essays for two hours.

activity verb phrases designate processes unfolding at a certain reference time. which refers to situations of limited duration. they acquire an activity reading. etc. etc. slam / bang the door. be old. (2) mental cognition verb phrases: know. they express temporally and spatially limited processes unfolding at a certain reference time. think. When they occur in the progressive. meanwhile. the man was already drowning. (general properties) He is being rude tonight. They built their house in two years. outcome or result that is suspended when the respective verb phrases combine with the progressive aspect. all the while. / You're being a total bastard. The dog is jumping up and down. / She is taller than you. They are said to designate a property of the subject that lasts throughout time. (process unfolding now) The second set of sentences describes temporary activities under the control of the individuals. semelfactives: jump. they do not normally combine with the progressive. knock. changing their meaning. tap. with or without adverbials expressing duration (all the time. When used in the progressive. kick. I think he is wrong. . / While she was rehearsing for the show. Hence. The river is flooding. there are certain state verb phrases that may appear in the continuous. They refer to a manifestation of the individual. not to a characteristic property of his. / He was hoping against hope that there was still a chance of success. describe a series of repeated processes rather than a single process: The boy was kicking the ball against the wall. (achievement) When his son came running to help him. in which case the use of the progressive is required. tremble.). pat. / I'm thinking of giving up smoking.ACTIVITY VERB PHRASES Used in the continuous aspect. he slipped on a banana skin and broke a leg. Compare: He is a teacher. believe. Compare: I imagine she will agree to your proposal. Her lips were trembling. etc. The implication is that their behavior is deliberate and they can put an end to it if they want to. (1) to be + property-designating adjectives and nouns: If the adjective / noun designates a permanent property of an individual. / Meanwhile he was trying to find out who had robbed him. (accomplishment) They were building the house when the accident happened. (activity) STATE VERB PHRASES States are defined as having an abstract quality and an atemporal interpretation. etc. ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS The internal structure of accomplishments and achievements presupposes a final goal. However. imagine. Sometimes they describe two simultaneous processes and are connected either by and or by subordinating conjunctions such as while. wonder. hope. / As he was crossing the street. certain adjectives / nouns express properties that can be altered and thus. all day / night long. / I was only imagining those ugly scenarios. When they appear in the continuous. Yet. be young. as. trust. (activity) The man fell into the river and drowned. nod. allow us to refer to only a temporally limited stage of the individual. They hope to win. for some time. etc.). the verb will never appear in the continuous (be tall. her maid was sewing her dress for the gala.

feel Also referred to as 'verbs of perception'. / He is tasting the soup to see if it's got enough salt. the atemporal quality of the state verbs is replaced with the temporal quality of the process unfolding for a certain period of time. 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. 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. / I'm smelling your perfume to see if I can guess what it is. . want. Time is segmented by two different procedures: . smell. consist. See and hear even acquire new meanings when appearing in the continuous: The court is hearing the evidence tomorrow. / I was envying him his freedom at the time. dislike. The necklace belongs to me. Instead. / The mistake is costing us dearly. measure. rest. we perceive it as unidirectional (forwards). The milk tastes sour. . stand. / Are you belonging to the local library? The castle costs a fortune. etc. Again. miss. etc. lie. taste. they describe processes going on for a limited period of time. I despise bad behavior.(3) physical cognition verb phrases: see. (they are listening to and trying the case). they appear accompanied by the modal verb CAN: I hear the wind blowing. the subject deliberately does the action of 'weighing' or 'measuring': The baby weighs six pounds. If used in the progressive.Time is an epistemic notion as it mirrors our experience of the world. hear. I'm seeing the doctor next week. Verbs like weigh or measure have a behavior similar to that of perception verbs.a personal subjective estimate of duration . / He will be despising me heartily. (6) locative verb phrases: sit. In this case the subject is attributed intention or purpose: You smell nice. which preserves the sequential character of our perception of the world. / He is standing near the pole. contain. (I have made an appointment) (4) emotive verb phrases: love. hate. it is not inherent to objects. Everybody envied everybody in that room. there is . like. they express temporary properties. / The nurse is weighing the baby. etc. / I can hear the wind blowing. / *I'm hearing the wind blowing. (5) other property designating verb phrases: belong. weigh. Even if they make reference to an act of perception unfolding at a specific moment like NOW. It they combine with the progressive. they avoid the use of the continuous.Time has a linear representation. they do not occur in the progressive if they denote a general characteristic of a certain individual / object.Time is durationally infinite and segmentable. .a public estimate based on the periodicity of natural phenomena Accordingly. that is. remain.

i. the moon. In fact they are not enough to express the temporal specification of a message. It means that when discussing temporal interpretation. A VP consists of both its lexical head V0 and the complement(s) it has selected. which acts as a time adverbial giving a certain temporal reading or due to the fact that people tend to maximise available information. All accounts of tense make interpretation sensitive to tense.e. 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. we apply the relation of simultaneity wherever possible. characteristic of society. i. TENSE: MORE THAN TENSE INFLECTIONS A common mistake in approaching the category of tense is the belief that tense inflections alone mirror time. 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). TIME/TEMPORAL ADVERBIALS Time adverbials include adverbs. If we assume that. INFL identifies the event of the VP in the sense that it places that particular event in time. In addition to this. Albert is playing tennis. Tense inflections are strongly related to adverbials. A proper interpretation of temporal forms presupposes an analysis of the relation between (i) (ii) tense specification of the V (i.- a personal time: man’s endeavor to measure duration by using his emotions as an instrument (time is expanded or contracted) a public time. we have to talk about sentence temporal interpretation or. The latter add meaning to a sentence and during the process they might even disambiguate it. roughly speaking. Tense is a deictic category. at least. (now / tomorrow) Albert was playing tennis. 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. . ST/NOW is a central point on the temporal axis of orientation according to which we interpret the ordering of events/states. 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. 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.e. On the other hand. 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. the moment NOW is central in the sense that time past or time future represent DIRECTIONS whose ORIENTATION depends on ST. speech time (ST). adverb phrases and adverbial clauses and they specify RT together with tense inflections. (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).e. the descriptive content of a verb is the idea of event. sentences without time adverbials may be non-ambiguous due to the context. tense inflection) and temporal adverbials. its periodic relation to the sun. about predicate temporal interpretation.

Mary wrote a sonnet in five minutes. for a while. at night. into state – habitual) The felicity of the aspectual reinterpretation is strongly dependent on linguistic context and knowledge of the world. 2. (ach. For years. 3. into process – iterative: many times) 5. Duration and completive adverbials also have an aspectual value (they are sensitive to the aspectual value of the situation). more specifically within the stated interval compatible with atelic sentences. Compare: *John went into the house all afternoon. . (semelf. 3. 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. Completive adverbials: in 2 hours. etc. John knocked on the door for two hours. all afternoon. into activity) 3. For months. all day long. John crossed the border all afternoon. Such clashes are resolved by a shift in the value of the verb constellation. all the time. (telic) *The train arrived late for two hours. Susan was asleep for two hours. over the weekend. into process of the multiple-event type) 4. (?) Bill swam laps in an hour. (acc. Jon played the sonata for two hours. they have various interpretations. yesterday. always. 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.Classification of time adverbials The relation between time adverbials and ST can be explicit or non-explicit. a. (atelic) (?) John wrote a / the report for two hours. since the war/Christmas. 4. Aspectually. John noticed the painting in a second. permanently. into state – habitual) 6. on Friday). (atelic) Andrew swam for three hours. but odd with telic sentences compatible with states and processes (activities) 1. Jerry wrote a report for two hours. (acc. I read a book for a few minutes. 2. during the war. (acc. locating / frame adverbials and frequency adverbials. the train arrived late. b. completive adverbials. Mary went to school in the morning. Given that temporal adverbials also contribute to the aspectual interpretation of sentences we can establish a further classification that distinguishes among: duration adverbials. (coercion into a process) 2. completive adverbials are telic compatible with telic situations and odd with atelics 1. which receives a marked interpretation. Duration adverbials: for three months/a day/a week. 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. This contextual interpretation is made possible by the process called coercion. 1. 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. for hours. within two months. requiring compatibility with the situation type. they locate the situation at an interval during which the event is completed/culminates. in a second. through August.

Present simple is associated with stative verbs and it is used in scientific language. proper names and quantified NPs but in this case the locus of genericity is not in the NP but rather in the sentence itself. often. tonight. sometimes. “At the end of an hour/after an hour Mary began to believe in ghosts”. They can also appear with indefinite NPs. The same interpretation as the latter occurs with achievements and semelfactives: “They reached the top in ten minutes” (after ten minutes). in March. d. once a week. in instructions or when specifying game rules etc. referential adverbials: refer to a time established by clock or calendar: at six. 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. geographical statements. definitions. on Christmas. in three days. two weeks ago 2. it appears in so-called ‘characterizing’ sentences. the present is between the past and the future. On the contrary. “In/after an hour Bill swam laps”. this year. on Sundays. Generic sentences are timeless statements expressing general or universal truths. Frequency adverbials: frequently. “She knocked at the door in ten minutes” (after ten minutes). VALUES OF PRESENT TENSE SIMPLE 1. definite singular NPs and mass nouns. . Generic sentences are true of some particular entities. As far as its factual status is concerned. The possible telic reinterpretations are: “Bill swam his planned number of laps in an hour”. till. these NPs get a generic interpretation only when occurring in characterizing sentences.4. c. The present expresses both situations whose time of occurrence is known and situations whose time of occurrence is not known. never. (?) Mary believed in ghosts in an hour. today. in the evening. at night. The past is considered to be factually determined since we know if an action took place or not in the past. monthly.the speech time . in proverbs.e. before. last week. 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. whenever. they impose an ingressive interpretation to the sentences. august 19. 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. If (3) and (4) can be understood at all. tomorrow. It ascribes a property to a subject. deictic adverbials: oriented to the time of utterance (ST): now. every week/month etc. in 1987 PRESENT TENSE SIMPLE Present Tense Simple is associated with the present moment . 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. at lunchtime. therefore. already 3. i. namely ‘kinds’. Kind referring expressions are bare plurals. two years later. the future is the least factually determined time. 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. last Sunday. anaphoric adverbials: relate to a previously established time: until. daily. on Sunday.

never. (unspecified frequency) He doesn't eat many vegetables. but this simultaneity is rather subjective than objective. deny. 2. However. the use of the simple present is rather dramatic since it insists on the total completion of the event mentioned. The instantaneous present is also used in performative sentences that employ performative verbs verbs that themselves are part of the activity they report . more often than not they have less than complete temporal specification. (specified frequency and interval) They visit me every day. and then I add the mixture and spread it… Here comes the winner! In ‘Gone with the wind’ Scarlet writes a letter. In performative sentences the event reported and the act of speech are simultaneous simply because they are identical. commentaries on pictures. / He is shutting the window. INSTANTANEOUS VALUE . the performative verb appears in the first person singular or plural and may be accompanied by hereby: I name this ship "Queen Mary". unlike generic sentences. whereas the continuous present represents a neutral description of an action going on at the moment of speaking. Blood is thicker than water. (unspecified interval) He eats a lot of vegetables in winter. and exclamations. (no frequency and no interval) 3. indicating both the frequency and the interval during which an event takes place. Yet. 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. When having an instantaneous value. war reports. London stands on the Thames. often. twice a day.marked The instantaneous simple present refers to an event that is assumed to be simultaneous with the moment of speaking. Goal! First I roll out the pastry. whenever. Compare: They visit me every two days during holidays. pronounce. HABITUAL VALUE – unmarked value Habitual sentences indicate that a situation is repeated with a certain frequency during an interval of time. they include adverbs of frequency classified into general (ever. A performative act is felicitous on condition that the persons and the circumstances . habitual sentences refer to an individual or an object about which the respective property is true at speech time. seldom) and specific (three times a week. demonstrations.such as accept. declare. Seth and Minnie come forward as far as the lilac clump… He nudges Minnie with his elbow… (O’Neill.Water boils at 100ºC. usually. Mourning Becomes Electra) It is true that in most cases the event does not occur exactly when it is mentioned. Habitual sentences may be completely specified. they do not point to a specific moment in time and in this respect they resemble generic sentences. books or movies and stage directions: Hagi takes the ball and passes it to Popescu. Popescu sends the ball into the net. Very often. We sentence you to prison for life. Since they do not focus on a particular situation but rather on its recurrence. However. It is used in sports commentaries. name. every two weeks). I hereby pronounce you man and wife.

(instantaneous interpretation) 4.involved in it are appropriate for the invocation of the respective procedure (for instance. The use of the simple present signals the fact that the future event is bound to happen. in other words. itineraries etc. The event referred to in the former is a prediction. (direct object clause) / I don't know this. the show will have already begun. as soon as. It refers to mostly official or collective future plans or arrangements that cannot be altered. There is a contrast of meaning between the main clause and the subordinate. what he is recounting. NB. as vividly as if it were now present before his eyes". which provides an axis of orientation for the action predicted in the main clause. Both habitual and generic sentences may receive instantaneous readings under certain circumstances: Swallows fly higher than doves. when. before. it is only a priest that can marry you and this can happen only in a church). The use of the simple present with future value in adverbial clauses of time and condition has more than a syntactic explanation. (conditional clause) I don't know if it will rain. being typical of an oral narrative style. As Jespersen (1931:17) remarked. forgets all about time and imagines. I will be very unhappy if our team does not win. the rule applies only to those cases in which when and if introduce adverbial clauses of time and condition. the swallows fly higher than the doves. (generic reading) Look. (instantaneous reading because of the suggestion of instantaneous perception indicated by "Look") He scores goals.marked The use of the Simple Present with a past value is best known as the historic present and represents a storyteller's license. or recalls. whereas the event expressed in the latter is a fact that is taken as given. as it were. (habitual interpretation because of the plural direct object) He scores a goal. 5.: The caravan sets off tomorrow morning. It may relate to timetables. FUTURE VALUE . schedules. Compare: I will talk to him when I see him. tomorrow. By the time you get there. Students are inclined to think that they must use only the simple present after clauses introduced by when and if. (time clause) I don't know when I will see him. if. arrive in London at noon and set off for Glasgow in the evening.m. unless etc.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. In simple sentences it is accompanied by a temporal adverbial indicating the future: The plane leaves for New York at 5 p. I will take my umbrella if it rains. 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. the "historic present is pretty frequent in connected narrative: the speaker. the anticipated event is attributed the same degree of certainty that we normally assign to present or past events. We leave Bucharest on Monday morning. For this reason the simple present with this value represents the only marked way to express the future time in English. (direct object clause) / I don't know this. PAST VALUE . However. The simple present with this value often alternates with a time adverbial indicating the past: .

in historical summaries and tables of dates: MPs back school reform. 1988:261) However. (in a letter) Your correspondent Mr. His lordship had no sooner disappeared behind the trees of the forest. in 1974. giving the reader the impression that he is actually witnessing the events described. Compare: Brahms is the last great representative of German classicism.). However. / I just talked to him on the phone a moment ago. telling me the boss wants to see me in a hurry. LIX.At that moment in comes a messenger from the Head Office. then he considers that the artist still survives through his work. the simple present often alternates with a past tense. Though tell and hear in the examples above refer to the initiation of a message. (I. The difference between using the present and using the past simply involves the speaker's point of view: if he employs the present. say. / Ex-president dies of heart attack. Virg. Brahms was the last great representative of German classicism. There are two basic elements of meaning involved in the common use of the simple past. the simple present may also refer to imaginary situations.Brahms finishes his first symphony. but Lady Randolph begins to explain to her confidante the circumstances of her early life. Stefanescu. Mr. the simple present appears in newspaper headlines to announce recent events. its use reminding one of the dramatic quality of the instantaneous present. 614) PAST TENSE SIMPLE The simple past is used to locate a situation at some specified time in the past. speakers do not need to locate a past event by means of a time adverb. two days ago. but to an imaginary present time. (photo caption) 1876 . it is also present in photographic captions in newspapers. He was born in London in 1952 and spent his entire life there. First. and if he uses the past. which means that the moment NOW is excluded. imaginary events. the content of the event or state described being actually recollected at speech time. last summer. Second. The simple past may appear alone if the speaker who has a specific time in mind can assume that his interlocutor can . Finally. Ch. that is. Although so far all the uses of the simple present have involved real facts. / I bought this dictionary when I was in Lisbon. The fact was she had made a private marriage… (Thackeray. so that communication is still in force for the receiver. then he sees the artist as a person who died at a certain moment in the past. etc. learn. hear: Mary tells me that you are going to buy new furniture. the person uttering the sentence must have a definite time in mind suggested by means of specific time adverbs ( yesterday. a distinction has to be made between the historic present described above and the present forms employed to narrate fictional. Bush. This fictional use makes reference to no real time. 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. At the same the historic present is employed when describing an artist and his work because this feels as if they were still alive. Gore shakes hands with Mr. the use of the present seems to transfer the verbal meaning from the initiating to the receiving end of the message. The historic present is also used after verbs of linguistic communication such as tell. In such cases. the situation described by the simple past takes place before the present moment.

However. 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). / I finished reading the book last night. He opened the garden door. It is the whole context created by the advancing of the story that supplies the order of the events. of course. i. "We are invited by this convention to look at future events as if from a vantage-point even further in the future. only that it be specifiable. 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. in this case. NARRATIVE VALUE Since it deals with past events the simple past is a natural choice for narratives. / B: Well. we use the simple past for narrative even when referring to future events as in science fiction. Then he stepped out into the garden and faced the enemies. two years ago." . . / A: What did you do there? / B: I had lunch. 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. the interplanetary transit vehicle Zeno VII made a routine journey to the moon with twenty people on board. 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. Thus. Another particular case in which a past simple is used without a definite adverb of time involves a combination with the present perfect. the simple past: A: Where have you been? / B: To the restaurant.A. such a retrospective view. VALUES OF PAST TENSE SIMPLE 1. whether the events narrated are real historical events or just fictional situations devised in novels. 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.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. but he is less of a nitwit than he was. etc.'In the Garden' . then set it down again and went out into the scullery. / My friend left for Poland in July. / He is a nitwit. '(…) She left him alone in the kitchen.(…)' (Dylan Thomas . I couldn't find her either. In the year AD 2201. last night. 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. Finally. 2. and a great moth flew into his face. He picked up a chair.Collected Stories) Moreover.e. in the imagination. Any narrative normally presupposes. speaker A specifies the past moment and speaker B does not need to mention it in his turn. Leech (1971: 10). S. In the last example. 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. DEICTIC VALUE The simple past can be used deictically with a deictic adverb of time of the type yesterday. in 1987.

On the other hand. indicating the recurrence of the event. HABITUAL VALUE When used with this value. (sequential) In the first example the order of the events can be reversed without altering the meaning of the sentence. 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. which indicates anteriority: I (had) read twenty more pages before I went to bed. 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 went out with my friends.i. Compare: Brian runs a mile every day. (non-habitual) My dog chased my neighbor's cat / a cat. allowing speaker A to either accept or decline the request. (habitual) I went to the mountains three times that year. in most cases they are used in combination with the continuous aspect. speaker A's question indicates politeness. Similarly. 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. she rose quickly and left the room. his choice of the respective verbal form renders the request indirect and thus. Other verbs often present in similar contexts are wonder and think. 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. "Do you want me?" would have been rather imperative.3. more polite. Unlike simple present sentences in which the time adverbial specifies the event time . which would have made a polite answer impossible. Brian ran a mile every day during his childhood. PRESENT TIME VALUE This represents a special development of the normal past meaning.e. the past form avoids a clash of wills. suggesting that speakers A and B have similar social positions. (non-habitual) My dog chased cats. which adds a further overtone of politeness: . I hoped you could give me a hand with the cleaning. After I (had) finished dinner. The event of unlocking the door necessarily takes place before its opening and thus the simple past "unlocked" has past perfect value. and would have implied that the former was not at all pleased with speaker B making a request. As soon as she saw / had seen me. which appears in everyday conversation making reference to the present feelings or thoughts of the speaker: A: Did you want me? B: Yes. He enjoyed and admired her paintings. 5. (simultaneous) He unlocked and opened the door. PAST PERFECT VALUE This value is derived from a contrast between simultaneous past events and past events occurring in a sequence. the simple past refers to events recurrent within a given past interval of time. Although speaker B could have used the present instead of the past. (habitual) 4. Unlike a present form.

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. just like the other meanings of the present perfect. Before embarking upon an analysis of the two tenses mentioned above. without identifying any particular point or interval of time. PRESENT PERFECT Past events can be predicated about either in the past tense or the present perfect from two different perspectives. (c) The Extended Now Theory – speakers can psychologically ‘extend’ the present backwards by means of present perfect in English. John knows what the book is about. ET is indefinite and “specified” only by indefinite adverbials: since 3 o’clock. we understand that John’s reading the book in its entirety occurred at some unspecified time in the past. 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. for two hours. etc. they express states extending over a period of time that lasts up to the present moment: I have lived in Paris since 1987. the past tense specifies that an event occurred at a past time that is separated and distinct from the present. yesterday. thus. etc. 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). I thought I might drop by later tonight if you don't mind. Without renouncing the idea that the perfect marks anteriority.e. we should clarify the relationship between the English perfect and the perfective aspect. in contrast. Thus. In “John has already read the book”.I wondered / was wondering if you could help me with the kids while I am away. Compare “You woke him up when you went to the bathroom ten minutes ago. Have you known my uncle for a long time? . a feature the past simple lacks. (b) The Current Relevance Theory – it is only present perfect that claims relevance at the moment NOW.” to “You’ve waken him up” – the present perfect itself in the second sentence locates the effects of the event at NOW. In “John read the book last year”. ET of past simple events is definite: at two o’clock. which is prior and thus distinct from the moment NOW. rather. it stems from the interaction of the perfect form with the aspectual meaning of the verb phrase. relevant to the present moment through its result: now. perfective) may also be anterior to a certain moment in time. plus the temporal adverbials it co-occurs with. The castle has been empty for ages. In contrast. since the English perfect is quite often related to the meaning of completion or result. since / for phrases). but the event is related and. 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. so far. yet. the event of John’s reading the book in is entirety is specified/dated as occurring during last year. What we need to understand is that the 'result / completion' meaning is not intrinsic to the perfect.

that the number of occurrences is unspecified and on the other hand. already. without carrying any other information. Therefore. The news has been broadcast at ten o'clock for as long as I can remember./ It has been snowing since noon. / A: Have you ever in your life seen anyone so entirely delightful? B: Only when I’ve looked in the mirror. A: And did you visit many places while you were there? B: Yes. last April. I have. such use is often accompanied by adverbials of time of the type never. b) limited experiential: Have you had a letter to type today?/ She has already had three proposals this morning. Used with process verb phrases and a frequency or a durative adverbial. A: Have you been to Edinburgh? B: Yes.e. Modes of occurrence: a) continuous continuative: I have been sitting in all day. before (now): I have never seen such a majestic cathedral before. the adverbial of duration cannot be absent from the sentence or otherwise the construction acquires an indefinite past reading. there are exceptions to this rule if the semantic content of the respective sentence suggests a period leading up to the present./ Ever since the house has been occupied the poltergeist have been acting up. the speaker shifts from Present Perfect to Past Tense: e. the perfect expresses a habit and thus has a recurrent continuative reading: Mrs. 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'). always. ever.g.g. the perfect may refer to some indefinite situation in the past. in fact. we may subsume it in the previous class as a type of 'recurrent continuative' perfect. I have lived in Paris simply places the situation at some unspecified point in the past. I have followed her behavior every day since she got here. By 'indefinite' we mean on the one hand. 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. b) discontinuous continuative: He has been building the house for the last five years. they have constantly turned me down. that’s when I did. Since a habit is described as a state consisting of repeated events. this iterative use closely resembles the continuative use of the perfect and. Modes of occurrence: a) general experiential: He has never liked heavy metal. that the time when it takes place is not mentioned. RESULTATIVE PRESENT PERFECT . He’s been sleeping for two hours. in which case we refer to recent indefinite past situations. When I have tried to join their club. I went to Hollyrood Palace. A: When did you go? B: Oh. yet or recently: Has the postman called yet? / They have already had breakfast. Such examples often contain adverbs like just. on and off) EXPERIENTIAL PRESENT PERFECT With process and event verbs phrases (accomplishments and achievements). Jones has played the organ in this church for fifteen years. At the same time. (i.Generally. If the definite time when the experience occurred is mentioned. Continuative: also with event verbs if in the progressive: e.

(Nepal still exists. once. to introduce 'the latest' events. thus. In such cases the present perfect is said to have a future value. On the other hand. The period referred to is rather assumed than named. In contrast. / He has recovered from his illness.) For generations. but our knowledge of the world allows us to employ the appropriate tense. The presence of the perfect simply places emphasis on the order of the events: I shall leave when I finish / I have finished. until. the simple present is favored. 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. PRESENT PERFECT AND SIMPLE PAST As already stated. For generations. This last observation relates to another notion . when the events in the main clause and the subordinate temporally coincide. let us compare the various uses of the present perfect with the simple past. especially in news reports. 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. experiential and habitual perfect: She has been poor all her life. Consider the following examples of continuative. whereas Nepal obviously has relevance for the present.) The use of either the perfect or the past in the above sentences is to be interpreted pragmatically. Last week. Bearing this in mind. we use the present perfect: Come over and see us when our guests leave / have left. Compare: . 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. namely.) Hannibal brought / *has brought elephants across the Alps.effect relationship. present perfect and simple past resemble in that both express anteriority to a given moment in time. there are contexts in which the perfect is obligatory. (She is dead. The resultative meaning does not need the support of time adverbials: He has delivered the parcel. which afterwards are described using the past tense. In most cases the alternation of present simple and present perfect bears no significance. etc. it implies that a transition comes to a final state valid at the present moment. that presuppose a climax or end point.) She was poor all her life. (She is still alive. but even if it is not. Nepal has produced the world's greatest soldiers. / The plane has landed. (Newsweek. in those sentences that are semantically based on the cause . March 1988) NB. Sparta produced Greece's greatest warriors. when. with the perfect generates a resultative reading . we talk about Hannibal or Sparta in the past because we know they no longer exist. Similarly.that of Discourse Topic (defined as 'the subject matter under discussion in a certain context'). We say You will feel better after you have taken this pill if the pill conditions the well-being of the patient. The simple past marks events assigned to a past that is concluded and completely separate from the present.The association of event verb phrases (accomplishments and achievements). What differentiates them is their relation to the present. 'HOT NEWS' PRESENT PERFECT The perfect is often used in newspapers and broadcasts. the club announced that it would trade midfielder Ion Radu to second-division club Valcea for two tons of beef and pork. The common factor is the inclusion of the present in its analysis. (Sparta no longer exists. when the event in the subordinate occurs before the one in the main clause.that is. the present perfect either involves a period of time lasting up to the present or has results persisting at the present moment. The temporal location of such situations is generally mentioned in the second sentence.

I've just received word that he isn't coming. because the time indicated by them is considered to be already given. indefinite (which are [-THEN]) and those that have both features (that is. the past tense is expected in (subordinate) clauses of time introduced by when. adverbs. while. the speaker focuses on the moment when he misplaced his gloves. etc. Their alternation depends on the speaker's viewpoint. In conclusion.e. *Shakespeare has quarreled with every playwright in London. he came to ask me for money. neither of the two sentences is correct since Shakespeare is dead. Compare: Where did I put my gloves? to Where have I put my gloves? In the first example. definite articles or personal pronouns): I have bought this bag in Cypress Street. 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. I didn't recognize him / *haven't recognized him when I saw him. Americans tend to say Did you meet him yet?. while the British say Have you met him yet? or I did it just now vs. As already seen in the analysis of the simple past. English Morphology. How much did you pay for it? I paid 15 $.e. But if the discussion (i. when they describe recent events. vol. the second only with the perfect and the last with both. II. while in the second he concentrates on the present moment and is only interested in where they are at present. Naturally. . In spite of the differences mentioned so far. since. The basic difference between present perfect and simple past stems from the contrast definite / indefinite. (definite time adverbial) I have already talked to him. Since it specifies a definite moment in the past. adverbial clauses) classify into definite (bearing the feature [+THEN]. "at the pragmatic level.THEN]). The present perfect is less used in American English. perhaps trying to remember what he was doing at the time. there are contexts in which the two tenses are interchangeable . 1988). discourse topic) is about Shakespeare as a person and his activities.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.Shakespeare has written impressive dramas. (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. The first class combines only with the past. resulting in different meanings. adverbial phrases. the present perfect is appropriate in all those uses in which the event described has relevance for the discourse topic. If there is no time adverbial. this is used to initiate conversations. The first sentence is appropriate if the discourse topic is 'great dramatists of the world' or 'impressive dramas in world literature'. a fact which can be evaluated entirely only on the basis of contextual factors" (Ioana Stefanescu. TIME ADVERBIALS IN RELATION TO PRESENT PERFECT AND SIMPLE PAST Time adverbials (i. because such a topic would have relevance for the present moment. 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. especially when it appears with recent indefinite past value. this tense requires the use of a definite time adverbial which locates the respective event at a certain point in the past. they are [+/.

but I've seen her this July suggests that it is still July when I utter the sentence. soon. though since . But it may also be a substitute for then and thus occur with past tense: Now my ambition was fulfilled. for the time being. It is interesting to notice that. but if it is a numerical adverb that may contrast with twice or three times. while just now is interpreted as a moment/second/minute ago and occurs only with the past tense: I saw your sister just now. I've seen the movie only once. which most likely occur with the simple past. etc. given the appropriate contexts: They haven't spoken to each other for three weeks. ('as early as then') . / I just saw your sister. 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). I left home at 8.phrases cannot be used with the simple past.). for the present. a week / month / year ago. Once appears with the simple past when it means 'on a certain occasion' or 'at one time'.) Today. as yet.m. before now: I haven't been able to talk to him since I last saw him at the mall. although they do not make specific reference to it: He went out ten minutes ago.) behave in a similar way. The third group of adverbials allows the use of both the perfect and the past. at 5 o'clock. We have been very busy so far. the following adverbials are associated only with the present perfect: since. etc. They didn't speak to each other for three weeks. next. Never. there is the class of unanchored adverbs of the type in the evening. always combine with both tenses. they cannot occur with the present perfect (yesterday. (uttered at 10. during these five years. on Monday. up to now. for instance. On the other hand. He hasn't done much work lately. for phrases occur with both the perfect and the past. then. again depending on the context. having no relation to the present and hence. for now. after lunch. lately. but then they made up. 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. still. Apart from them. Compare: I haven't read the paper this morning. resulting in different interpretations. so far. when used with the past tense. I saw her this July implies that July is over.00 a. Already.00 and got here at 12. etc.00 p.The definite adverbials of time point to a specific moment in the past. last night / Tuesday / week / month / year. I met him only once when I was in Spain. the 'never' period. (uttered at 6. ever.) I didn't read the paper this morning.m. tonight and all phrases with this (this afternoon / month / year / Christmas / March. hitherto. ('as early as now') I was already fed up with that piece.00. it may be used with both tenses: I was happy once in this house. 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. I saw him on Sunday morning. Now is mainly associated with present tense: Now my ambition is/has been fulfilled. 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.

past perfect may appear in narrative contexts. past perfect has two dimensions: (a) it parallels the semantics of present perfect. (continuative) I had watched United lose twice that season.PAST PERFECT Past perfect may appear with both [+then] and [-then] adverbials. which acquires a past perfect meaning: When he came back from the States. (c) the fact that it can be used in narratives to tell ‘a story within a story’. he landed a very important job . after. unlike present perfect which combines only with [+/-then] and [-then] adverbials: They had been there since 5. before. past perfect is optional: Yesterday I went to the market. until. (experiential) In Indirect Speech. By Friday they had already found a way to get rid of her. Mai mult ca perfect: always past perfect Past perfect: mai mult ca perfect. perfect compus. she had already hidden it in a new place. in which case past simple sets the scene and past perfect expresses what had happened before: That morning I was quite content. in some cases the substitution is semantically impossible: When he had read the letter / *when he read the letter. past perfect has three values: continuative. imperfect. On the other hand. the past perfect occurs in both main and subordinate clauses introduced by when. if the verb expresses an event. By the time they went to dig it up. The past perfect can be substituted with the simple past. etc. like present 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. NB. by the time. in which case it is said to have a pre-preterite value. resultative and experiential: Jim had dislocated his shoulder. then past perfect is obligatory: Lily was here. I had written the essay the previous evening. 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. The show finished two minutes ago. / She said Lily had been there. She said the show had finished two minutes before. / She said she went/had gone to the market the day before. In conclusion. In this sense. In Indirect Speech. If the verb expresses a state. (b) it is seen as a past tense that expresses past anteriority . However. I had finished washing the clothes and I’d gone to bed early. She said she had laid the table. [-then] Susan knew John had left at 5. NB. THE PERFECT PROGRESSIVE FORMS . he burned it. As already exemplified in the sentences above. Now I was anxious to go to school. (resultative) He had been at work for more than two hours. / *She said Lily was there. past perfect is the tense we obtain if in Direct Speech we have present perfect or past simple: I have laid the table. again unlike present perfect. [+then] Moreover.

etc.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. in fact.e. event verb phrases (accomplishments and achievements) turn into processes and the completion / result meaning is suspended. promises or threats that we mean to carry out in the future. the perfect progressive also carries an emotive reading. pp. Actually. quite often it is implied that the respective activity has just stopped: You've been walking too fast. it may imply that the effects of a certain action are still apparent at present. we can predict what will happen. Thus. are modal verbs denoting predictions. plans. When they do. That's why you're tired. beside their basic modal or aspectual quality. 302). we can express intentions. to the sphere of modality or to the aspectual paradigm. possible courses of action. Therefore. on the contrary. for instance. the semelfactives) acquire an iterative meaning: She's been knocking at my window for two minutes. Epistemic will and shall. it is a matter that depends rather on the aspectual class of the verb phrase. English Morphology II. even the most confident prognostication must indicate something of one speaker's attitude and so be tinged with modality" (Ioana Stefanescu. the continuous aspect simply reinforces the idea of continuity of an activity: He's been sleeping since ten o'clock. Non-durative process verbs phrases (i. 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. conveying 'irritation': You've been asking for money over and over again. they are used to express future events. Apart from the simple present. 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 . it is no surprise that almost all the linguistic forms that express future time belong. Finally. the only linguistic form that denotes a future event and has temporal sense alone . 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. and for this reason. 1988. MEANS OF EXPRESSING FUTURITY If present and past situations are conceived of as facts.that is. non-factual states of affairs. it does not reflect any attitude on the part of the speaker . (I haven't finished the job yet) Although the perfect progressive never refers to a 'present result'. there are five other linguistic forms that. it is in the very nature of predictions to describe what might happen in the future. In fact. which have not happened yet and therefore merely translate into potential. and these situations describe our attitude towards the simple present tense combined with a future time adverbial. it is certainly not the case of future events. Apart from these meanings. Process verb phrases in the present perfect have the tendency to appear in the progressive as well. The activity described by the verbal form does not necessarily carry on at present. hence. Again. (The job is completed) I have been pumping up tires in the garage for the last quarter of an hour. It's time he woke up. 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. take place tomorrow. When combined with the progressive. Compare: I have pumped up three tires.

for instance. in a narrative sequence). arrive. we have an explanation for the obligatory presence of the future time adverbial in such sentences.' Similarly. come. Compare: Hillary is rising at 6. but I'm not going to buy anything. set off. reinforced by the presence of the purpose clause 'to prepare breakfast for the kids'. / We leave for Brasov tomorrow morning. constructions with the simple present describing a future event are restricted to certain areas. committees. I'm going. I'm joining the fire brigade. it is determined by natural law. being generally accompanied by a future time adverbial. verbs associated with announcements about timetables. mostly in the near future. There is an entire range of verbs commonly used in such contexts.As already discussed in the chapter on the values of the simple present. hence. go. it is obvious that the continuous present with future value will not combine with state verbs normally incompatible with the progressive aspect. On the other hand. therefore. Future events expressed by means of the simple present are assumed to take place without fail. begin. The continuous present with future value is close in meaning to the going to form. The reasoning behind such structures would be: "If X is a fact. 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. generally aiming at the near rather than the distant future. etc. which is. the suggestion of imminence of these constructions. this does not mean that there are no present progressive sentences referring to the remote future. then I predict Y. programs or itineraries regarded as immutable: Tomorrow is Friday. However. unless reference time is provided by the context (like. The verbs that enter such constructions are generally verbs of 'doing'. Since such arrangements are supposed to be unalterable. . program or arrangement. a court of law. / School starts on Monday / next week. 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. in fact. since they express an arrangement or an intention. not possible future events.00 tomorrow to prepare breakfast for the kids.made by official authorities. 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. the simple present in main clauses denotes future facts. they exist in as far as we make reference to remote future events determined in advance: I'm taking Mary shopping tomorrow. the continuous present signals a future event anticipated by virtue of a present plan. leave. PRESENT TENSE CONTINUOUS When used with future value. He's getting married in September. Therefore. involving conscious human agency. depart.00 tomorrow. this tense denotes the future either in subordinate clauses of time and condition or in main clauses. while the going to form is used in a wider variety of contexts and not necessarily with a time adverbial. like statements about the calendar. When I grow up. end. etc. and thus is always accompanied by a future time expression: Are you going to the auction tomorrow? Yes. it is easy to understand why they are normally collective or impersonal . We attribute to such sentences the same degree of certainty we would attribute to present or past events. *The sun is rising at 6. At the same time. In the first example we interpret Hillary as the agent who has deliberately made this plan. In contrast. not as a prediction. the present continuous refers only to very definite arrangements. schedules or organized events: start. the second example sounds absurd because the sunrise can't be planned.

A lot of paint was delivered here today. Going to can be paraphrased by intend. Thus.that of 'future fulfillment of present cause' . 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 less restrictive both in point of subject choice and choice of verb class. a sentence like It's going to rain would be uttered if the speaker saw black clouds already gathering in the gloomy sky. when the intention is clearly premeditated. and when it is clearly unpremeditated we use will + infinitive: I've hired a typewriter and I am going to learn to type. yet. For instance. I'm not going to do it again. verbs of 'doing' ('agentive' verbs) that imply conscious exercise of the will. I'll telephone for them now. Though its nature brings it closer to the idea of imminence. thus. but with a slight difference in meaning. . The second sentence refers to an arrangement already made in the past. There's going to be a riot in this village. Are you going to redecorate your kitchen? You look frozen. Going to with the first meaning is restricted to human. 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. and not state verbs: The detective is going to ask you a few questions. The second meaning of going to . I forgot. BE GOING TO The general meaning attached to this linguistic form is that of 'future fulfillment of the present'. The kind of verbs admitted in such structures are. I'm having lunch with Jim tomorrow. this extends to two more specific meanings: 'future fulfillment of present intention' and "future fulfillment of present cause'.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. hence the implication that both the speaker and Jim know about it. again. 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. we employ the going to form. 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. It is only the second sentence that the speaker could offer as an excuse for not joining a friend for a game of snooker. Sit down by the fire and I'll make you some tea. or at least animate subjects endowed with will that can. We should distinguish between the going to expressing intention and the will + infinitive construction having the same meaning. express their intentions. 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. I think I'm going to cry. It's going to rain. Very often either of the two can be used. the expectation that this will happen is stronger than in the latter. What are you going to do with the money? I've reminded you once.

He'll be there by tomorrow. hurry and eat it before it cools. In fact. 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'). etc. Those verbs not normally used in the progressive will combine with the simple future: verbs of perception. Students must take into account the fact that shall and will also have other modal meanings (see chapter on Modal Verbs). . such as the going to form or the present continuous for plans: Newspaper: The Queen will visit the southern part of the country tomorrow. in everyday conversation the listener will use other means of expressing such future events. they can express promises. 'Current orientation' going to contrasts with prediction will to the extent that the going to form carries this sense of inevitability. modal verbs that express prediction. hope. and still refer to a future event. think. You'll have plenty of time to finish your book. expect. perhaps.Bearing this in mind. They are also specific of sentences with subordinates of condition and time. speculations and assumptions about the future (used after verbs such as doubt. etc. I'm sure / I suppose they won't agree to our project. it will smash into pieces. in fact. but for convenience shall and will combined with the bare infinitive are designated as future tense simple. I expect the train will be late. refusals.): Perhaps I'll find another teacher after this. Birds will start to sing when spring comes. Compare: The soup will cool soon. verbs of possession. counseling patience. believe. I will know him when I see him. They'll find out about your plans tonight. In American English it is used in formal contexts: We shall never surrender to the terrorists. therefore something that involves the speaker's judgment and is directly related to the future time sphere. threats. Reader: The Queen is visiting / is going to visit the southern part of the country tomorrow. 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. Shall and will are. FUTURE TENSE SIMPLE There is no future tense in modern English. the second should be interpreted as a warning for the addressee to. They may express the speaker's opinions. If the first sentence makes a prediction. The future simple is mainly present in newspapers and on TV in news broadcasts when formal announcements or announcements about the weather are made. The soup is going to cool soon. 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. Shall / will with predictive meaning appear in various contexts. cognitive verbs. etc.

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. again in the future. volition or plan. in both cases. The gardener won't cut down the tree. We can make even a further distinction between the two if we compare: I'm giving a lesson at 3.m.m. . there is no point in saying *it will rain without mentioning when it will happen. It is the adverbial that places this prediction in time. otherwise the sentence is factually empty. Thus. the modals in themselves do not express future time. Similarly. shall / will + infinitive does not appear without a time adverbial for obvious reasons. Apart from these normal uses. The first sentence states that the lesson will begin at the time mentioned. whereas the second suggests that the lesson may have already begun and is in progress at the respective time. When I get home my dog will be sitting at the door waiting for me. while won't be cutting suggests that the gardener's program requires otherwise. In the first sentence the speaker announces a deliberate future action that will occur as a result of his wishes.e. the opposition is between a future with intention and a future without intention. There is a contrast between future tense continuous and present tense continuous with future value: He is seeing the doctor tomorrow. On the other hand. tomorrow. this structure will naturally refer either to an activity in progress at a specific point in time (i. 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. they simply suggest a prediction. as I've got a lot of other jobs for him to do first.Generally.00 p. FUTURE TENSE CONTINUOUS As it combines with the progressive aspect. He says that it is perfectly all right as it is. 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. while the second example implies that their meeting is part of the ordinary course of events (perhaps they work or do business together). I'd better move the computer in my room. future tense continuous matches the patterns of the present or past continuous: This time next week I'll be teaching them grammar. He'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow. I'll be giving a lesson at 3. I'll be working in there next week. The gardener won't be cutting the grass for some time. That is why this tense has been labeled 'future-as-a-matter-of-course': Stand here. in the future) or to a temporary arrangement. Compare: I'll phone mum and tell her about your plans. they'll be changing the guard in a minute and you'll get a good view. As already mentioned. In this respect. 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. This use eliminates any idea of intention. tomorrow. won't cut denotes a refusal. In fifty years' time we'll be living entirely on pills.00 p. I'll be phoning mum and I'll tell her about your plans.

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. to be ready to. which are both formal (to be to. (continuous action) By the end of the month he will have been teaching students for a year. In He is to return to England tomorrow the most likely meaning is that he . (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. the use of future tense continuous renders the question neutral. to be near to. Still. we use the progressive form: By the end of the day I will have been working for ten hours. they occur with a time expression beginning with by: By the end of the term I will have read all the twelve volumes. She said she would call me later that week. If be going to is considered the most common form used to express future in the past. Generally. FUTURE -IN-THE-PAST FORMS In case sentences have a past time axis. there are restrictions in the use of this linguistic form. such structures have become more frequent in every day conversation. a request or a command. 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. this use has been speculated in colloquial English with humorous or ironic effects. This happens either in narratives or when applying indirect / reported speech rules: He was going to tell her what we had done. The police will have heard of the theft by this time. They were leaving town the next day. to be about to and to be due to) and colloquial (to be on the point of. are quite common in everyday speech. all the future time expressions are modified according to the change of context and indicate future in the past situations. will + infinitive can express an invitation. of course. It cannot describe sudden. but rather on the continuity of the action. To be to is similar in meaning to have to / ought to and describes formal arrangements made as a result of an order / command. On October 21st they will have been married for twenty-five years. Idioms such as 'You'll be losing your head one of these days' or 'Whatever will he be doing next?' suggesting comic exasperation. OTHER FUTURE TIME EXPRESSIONS There are other ways of referring to the future. On the other hand. as they cannot be interpreted as part of a routine: * The terrorists will be killing the President tomorrow. violent or abnormal events. When the focus does not concentrate on the result. to be on the verge of / on the brink of). would is preferred in literary style.In interrogative constructions.

possibility.deontic (root) sense: ability. except that.) Modals are polysemous words.) . whereas in He may be there already. it will be noticed later that the rule holds true only for the most important modal verbs (may. When it denotes an official arrangement or plan. / His flight is due at 7. impossibility. unlike the latter. May in a sentence like You may go now.the rational laws of deduction – probability.negative with not (You can’t throw plates at him!) .epistemic sense: possibility.the social or institutional laws .legal authority/institution or one's social status according to which you have or you don’t have authority over somebody else. biology. To be due to refers to scheduled times: The ceremony is due to begin in ten minutes. order. command. He can play the violin. *musted) . Modal verbs evince two basic meanings: .m. indicates permission. Deontic forms do not take the progressive. duty .35 a. do not occur with the perfect infinitive and their subject is always [+ human].no co-occurrence (*I must can do it. chemistry. we experience certain states of affairs in the real world.inversion with the subject (May I borrow your car?) . referring to modalities that define the notion of physical and intellectual ability/capacity. Modal verbs are a syntactically defined subset of auxiliary verbs with specific properties: . 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. / I am just on the point of proposing to her. compulsion. (deontic ought to combines with the perfect infinitive to suggest past time reference) CAN / COULD . . vs. impossibility . necessity. Though it proves to be a very felicitous distinction. The difference in meaning is reflected in their different syntactic behaviors. 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. permission. 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). There are 3 general systems of principles that can be invoked when we talk about modality: . past or present participles (*to may. anatomy etc. (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. impossibility. it is similar to the simple present with future value. but then we imagine that things are different and in this way we talk about possible worlds. 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.has received explicit order to go back there. these modalities refer to duty. it suggests possibility.the natural laws of physics. The chairman of the board meets union officials tonight. certainty. MODAL VERBS Modality refers to notions like non-finite forms such as infinitives. appropriateness etc. *canning. The less developed modals do not observe it: You should be listening to what your sister is saying. can and must).3rd person: defective (compare: I can play the piano.

You can go home when you have finished writing your essay. (strong recommendation) or You can jump in the lake if you feel like it. (generic) When he moved closer to the painting. In other be able to. there is no rule or law that prevents you from performing a certain action. He can speak English. Apart from replacing can in contexts for which the modal has no forms. Compare: He could play the piano very well when he was a child. Was/were able to refers to the actual performance of a single successful achievement. we use can: I hope they will be able to book seats for the concert tomorrow. can is like an aspectual marker (often not translated): I see the swallows flying up the sky.general permanent ability) Look. Similarly. be it written or spoken. couldn’t will always imply that the event didn’t take place. smell. when making a decision at the moment of speaking about some event in the future. / Frenchmen can be arrogant. Ability in the future is expressed by means of either can or the periphrastic shall/will be able to with a difference in meaning. being perceived as the more respectable form. May replaces can in all contexts. However. I can / *am able to swim. could is used to express a habitual or recurrent event in the past. and Auzi cum sufla vantul?). Can is also often used to express sporadic ability or an irregular pattern of behavior: She can be quite catty. Maybe we can go fishing next week. 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. describing generic ability. In formal and polite English. the use of can suggests that 'you have permission' rather than 'I give you permission'. and in certain contexts we do distinguish between the uses of the two. (sarcastic suggestion). . hear. However. Compare: Old man: You can park here as far as I know. Deontic can has two past forms: could and was / were able to. feel) and cognitive verbs of the type believe. When used with verbs of physical perception can actualizes the reference of the verb. To be able to refers to some event that will be possible in the future. There is no difference between could and to be able to in negative sentences. Can is more widely employed than 'permission' may in colloquial English. we encounter the opposite phenomenon. 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: . To be able to is never used when referring to something going on at the moment of speaking (see example above). Can is used in parallel with a synonymous expression having a fuller range of forms . Policeman: You may park here. To be able to is preferred when referring to a specific achievement. / I can see the swallows flying up in the sky.DEONTIC CAN Deontic can expresses physical or mental ability. In interrogations the use of can to request permission is simply a matter of courtesy. to be able to has a specific meaning. / He can be nasty. remember. understand. (Pot sa inot. In this respect. unlike may which is employed when an authority gives you permission. (particular) On the other hand. he was able to / *he could see that it was a fake. (El stie sa vorbeasca engleza. can is commonly used with verbs of perception (see. . 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. Permission can has an additional pragmatic interpretation in sentences like: You can forget about your holiday. In contrast. The second meaning of deontic can is that of permission. referring to potential acts. not real ones.

(if any) as the authority consider reasonable. the speaker uses either may not or must not if the authority prohibits some action (You may not visit that family. When permission is denied. (I oblige you no to talk loudly in this auditorium) Though both sentences represent prohibitions. such as a time of financial crisis. 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. whereas in affirmative sentences may is preferred: He may be reading in the library. the second seems to be more forceful because it is interpreted as positively forbidding an action instead of negatively refusing permission. . Since the example above refers specifically to the powers a certain official is endowed with. / You must not speak to her again!). theoretical possibility. 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). For past time reference may is replaced by to be allowed to. Compare: The dollar can be devalued. (I do not permit you to leave…) You mustn't talk loudly in this auditorium. (It is possible that the dollar is devalued.theoretical possibility) The dollar may be devalued. not the speaker's. While cannot expresses the impossibility of some action to occur (appearing in cases of external negation). (external negation) (it is not possible that he saw the light of the car) He may not arrive in time. The nurse said we might speak to the patient. but to a real contingency. but the verb inside has past time reference. It is more frequent in negations and interrogations. 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. Permission may is also present in rules and regulations in formal English: A local health authority may. . receive from persons to which advice is given under this section… such charges. Unfortunately. if he wanted. its semantic content accounts for the presence of permission may. Roughly speaking.factual possibility) When uttered. so the distinction persists only in colloquial English. (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. In questions. being similar to must. he could join us. in formal English may seems to be used to express both factual and theoretical possibility. / She said that.You may not leave yet. . 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. with the approval of the Minister. the second sentence should be taken more seriously because it does not refer to a mere possibility that has occurred to the speaker. 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. may signals the hearer's authority. whereas in reported speech might is used: I was eventually allowed to go abroad to visit my relatives. (It is possible to devalue the dollar. the modal has present time reference.

for instance. In this case the truth of the sentence or its falsity can be verified. epistemic may does not occur in interrogative sentences. it is simply directed towards the speaker himself. may / might refer to events in the past: He may have already discovered the secret of that tomb. On the other hand. Must has either neutral reference when. I might well decide to come. (neutral) You must return all the books to the library by Friday. 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. using may for present reference and might for past reference: Try as I might. When employed with its deontic meaning. so that we talk about selfcompulsion. focusing primarily on specific situations. can basically focuses on general situations. (the speaker is in authority) When we consider the first person singular or plural (I must / we must). where can is preferred. this doesn't give you the right to be rude. it resembles 'permission' may. the speaker imposes something on himself through a sense of duty or self-discipline.factual possibility opposition disappears. He can't have already discovered the secret of that tomb. 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. Try as he may. Although you are in charge. there is an idiomatic expression with try. MUST. You have to make up a plan before you start.EPISTEMIC MAY As already mentioned above. The university says: These people must be expelled if they disrupt lectures. 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. When combined with the perfect infinitive. (internal obligation . As already suggested.) 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. and hence. (NB. he can never remember people's names. I couldn't push the door open. For instance. May / might combines with several adverbs that emphasize the modal expression with both present and past time reference.I have my own program and I want to stick to it) I have to finish writing the essay by tonight. we notice that the idea of compulsion is not lost. epistemic may is used to express possibility. Also. (external obligation .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 might just start to trust you. but this doesn't give you the right to be rude. . a sentence like A friend may betray you is interpreted more like a warning about a particular friend. the theoretical . 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. In a sentence like A friend can betray you it is suggested that friends sometimes do that. In this respect. must expresses obligation.

) Thus. In American English have got to has acquired an epistemic interpretation: AE You’ve got to be joking. Otherwise. Subject-oriented must needs no past tense (must is different from have to only in the present). 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. whereas the have to example expresses a downright accusation. she can’t. *having got to). Oh. You have to have made some mistake here. (You are not obliged to answer that question. 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. While have to is used in formal language and has non-finite forms (will have to. 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.) EPISTEMIC MUST / HAVE (GOT) TO Epistemic must expresses logical necessity. Again the difference between epistemic must and epistemic have to is that between factual necessity and theoretical necessity. (the event took place) As already seen. 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). When must is used in interrogative as well as in conditional clauses. Have to also expresses logical necessity: There has to be someone who knows the truth about his disappearance. I don't see any explanation for the crash.Students have to be careful with their grades. have to is used for past time reference replacing must. paralleling the may . unlike have to: We’d got to make a trip to York anyway so it didn’t matter too much. (It is impossible that everyone is telling the truth. have to is stronger than must in the sense that it does not refer to a mere assumption or deduction./ BE You must be joking. you get to knowledge by inference or reasoning. it is the hearer’s authority that is involved. (I oblige you not to reveal what I've said) You needn’t answer that question. (it was necessary…) We had to make a trip to York to collect the bloody thing. Otherwise. The must example above is interpreted as a simple suspicion. which is again extremely ironical. 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. Have got to is rarer in the past and does not imply that the event referred to took place. while the latter refers to a specific occasion.) Someone has to be hiding the truth. The negative counterpart of epistemic must is can’t .can situation: Someone must be hiding the truth. / We’ll have to go out if you’re going to do it. Like the other modals must is used for future events: We must do something about it tomorrow. having to). whereas needn't or don't have to negate the necessity (external negation): You mustn’t reveal what I’ve said.the “natural expression of impossibility”: She must be over 40. the evidence is such as to imply the truth of the sentence. WILL / WOULD DEONTIC WILL / WOULD VOLITION WILL . Must appears as such with past time reference only in reported speech: She said she must/had to go. 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 impossible for everyone to be telling the truth. it suggests that the possibility of the opposite state of affairs cannot be conceived of. For past time reference must combines with the perfect infinitive like all the other epistemic modals: He must have been flying too low. go to the window.

For past time reference we use power would. But she loves him and she won’t leave him. Since it has such an emphatic meaning. how they characteristically behave. strong volitional will is never contracted to 'll and always stressed in speech. but wouldn’t is normal. The idea of willingness is commonly related to second . I shan’t be happy unless she will come. I shall have a cake. Volitional would is used in adverbial clauses of condition and after wish. you will. You know that certain drugs will improve your condition. which parallels volition would but retains an inanimate subject (She asked if the table would bear. The last two examples that employ second and third persons clearly imply that the speaker is exasperated at the interlocutors' stubbornness. *I asked him and he would come. don't complain that she's avoiding you. being more conditional than will. it expresses a strong refusal: They won’t give me a key. 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. The door won’t open. Unlike volition will whose subject is always a person or at least an animal endowed with willpower. Instead. When volitional will is negated. so I can’t work.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. I won’t have my name on the title page.Volition will relates to either willingness (weak volition) or insistence (strong volition) or intention (intermediate volition).' Sandy. I asked him but he wouldn’t come. For past time reference with subject-oriented will the form would is NOT used if there is an accomplished interpretation for the event. 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. volitional be willing to is more likely: I asked him and he was willing to come. 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.) 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: . why will you keep asking stupid questions? If you will ask her out every time you see her. 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. POWER WILL Power will expresses properties of certain objects.

the sense of obligation being rendered in the form of a suggestion or piece of advice. If there is reference to a past situation. SHALL / SHOULD DEONTIC SHALL / SHOULD The deontic meaning of shall is that of obligation. The first condition of legal justice is that it shall hold the balance impartially. In modern English we use must. . 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. A cat will often play with a mouse before killing it. then we use will in combination with the perfect infinitive: This will be the National Gallery. John will be in his office. not the will of the subject of the sentence ( shall is speaker-oriented). unlike would whose usage is restricted to activity verbs only: He used to live in that house in those days. You shall never hear from me again. that is why used to can combine with both state and activity verbs. the inference concerning the present time as it involves a present situation. therefore. we infer that John is in his office). She’ll be sleeping now.A falling drop will hollow a stone. EPISTEMIC WILL / WOULD Epistemic will is related to the idea of probability. (from previous knowledge why the lights were on. used with second and third person subjects. however. Shall you see John today? When shall you do it? Deontic should is a weaker equivalent of deontic shall. Should has present and future reference. 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. 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. Epistemic will is like epistemic must in the sense that the conclusion is reached on the basis of the evidence available. it is the will of the speaker who imposes an obligation. 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. John will have received the book by this time. This imperious kind of shall. (I can see the lights on). In interrogations that employ the first person the speaker inquires about the wish or will of the addressee. Boys will be boys. shall is an archaic form of order still present in fairy tales. That will be John at the door. You shall receive a reward if you follow my advice. in the Bible and in legal statements or rules: He shall be punished if he does not obey. it is distinct from will you? which inquires about the other person’s will or willingness. He would (often) buy strawberries in those days / whenever she came. can suggest either a promise or a threat on the part of the speaker.

the use of ought to implies that the speaker is not very certain the addressee will perform his duty. Assumptions with epistemic should are less confident than assumptions with epistemic will. Moreover. EPISTEMIC OUGHT TO Epistemic ought to expresses potential probability. he implies that he isn't going to go slowly. again its meaning is related to that of epistemic must: Susan ought to be at her office now. (Perkins.If I could have my way. of which perhaps not one shall fall upon fertile ground and grow into a fair plant. You should have told me that you were hungry. you should be sent to Siberia for what you've done. NEED / NEED TO . (I am sure you will. The parcel should have arrived by now. Susan must be at her office now. when used with a first person subject. The must variant reflects the speaker's certainty that his deduction is correct. DEONTIC OUGHT TO Deontic ought to is similar in meaning to must.) You ought to give some money to your sister. ought to gives the possibility of non-action. but if he says I must go slowly here. The general meaning of epistemic shall is that ‘someone /something is disposed towards something’. 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. We may say He ought to go but he won’t but an utterance like He must go but *he won’t is impossible. If a driver says I ought to go slowly here. 1983) Epistemic should is considered the conditional equivalent of epistemic shall. unlike must. the implication is that the obligation will not be fulfilled. (But I don't know whether you will or not) Hence. OUGHT TO Very close in interpretation to should. ought to represents a tentative counterpart of must and shall. For past time reference ought to selects the perfect infinitive: You ought to have been more careful with the children. with a single difference: while must suggests that the speaker is confident the interlocutor will do as told. denoting obligation or duty. 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. he really intends to go slowly. Compare: You must give some money to your sister. (But. since there is evidence that leads him to the respective conclusion. Who touches pitch shall be defiled. whereas He will have finished by now suggests that 'I am sure he has finished'. It is used for assumptions about present or past situations (if combined with the perfect infinitive): The plane should be landing now. in fact. He should have finished by now means that 'I expect he has finished by now'.

They differ in that the former implies that the action does take place. Need not expresses lack of necessity similarly to the negative forms of have to or need to.Although they are close in meaning. (lack of necessity) What needn't have done and didn't have / need to do have in common is the lack of necessity. the subjunctive is prescriptive. the action is no longer performed. thought. wish. 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. / Does John dare to come? In the affirmative dare is used in the expression I daresay / I dare say. the speaker expresses indignation at the actions of the interlocutor: How dare you shout at me? At the same time. In reported speech need is retained just like must: She believed she need not fear any persecution. Modal need is mainly used in negative and interrogative sentences as a correlative of must. 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. except in fairly formal English with hardly. You need only touch one of the doors for the alarm to start ringing. the choice is between didn't have to and didn't need to (the lexical verb). 1935:391) While the indicative is informative. I didn't have / need to pick up Mary from school because she phoned me saying she would walk home. in this case it expresses an unnecessary action which was nevertheless performed. but as formed in the mind of the speaker as a desire. while the latter implies that as a consequence of this lack of necessity. it indicates a theoretically possible or potential course of events that the world may take. 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. which means 'I suppose': I daresay the plane will be delayed. sometimes with little or no hope or faith. 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. At the same time. or. The gas tank needs to be refilled / refilling. conception. in the case of a statement. Modal need doesn’t occur in ‘affirmative’ sentences. relating facts to moments in real time. volition. commentaries about theoretical or desirable situations or commands aimed at making somebody bring about a certain state of affairs. When we refer to a past situation. sometimes with more or less hope of realization. I needn't have driven to school to pick up Mary but I had forgotten she'd told me she had other plans. I just need some money. Students must pay attention to the distinct grammatical properties of dare as modal and lexical verb: John daren’t come. and only rarely in statements. forms questions and negative forms with do). In How dare(d) you? / How dare(d) he / they?. with more or less belief. the subjunctive "represents something not as actual reality. consequently. Yet. / Dare John come? John doesn’t dare to come. scarcely or only: I need hardly mention how grateful I am for this opportunity. 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. ." (George Curme. THE SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD Whereas the indicative expresses facts and is closely related to reality. The subjunctive expresses value judgments. needn't also occurs with the perfect infinitive to refer to a past situation.

makes the possibility of an event seem unlikely: . (hypothetical situation) They wouldn't have come to the meeting if they hadn't been invited. on condition that or as long as.The subjunctive can be either synthetic (using old inflectional forms) or analytic / periphrastic (employing modal verbs. At the same time." where British English uses the analytic subjunctive . Should after if. as well as the parallel structure happen to. but this requires the use of the gerund: I prefer reading to writing. we can replace if with provided." SYNTHETIC SUBJUNCTIVE . will. In its turn. But for her ambition. I'll give you a call. TO BE has WERE for all persons) and had + third form of the verb for the past subjunctive . if it hadn't been for (for past reference) or but for. not all negative if sentences can be turned into unless sentences: They wouldn't have come to the meeting unless they had been invited. all followed by noun phrases: If it weren't for your interest in his studies. would and could. the synthetic subjunctive classifies into an old subjunctive and a new one. I would have drowned in the sea. American English tends to use this type of subjunctive in contexts such as "It's important that you go there. the most widely used being should). Would rather can be replaced by prefer. If one situation depends on another. I would rather have lived in the country. If it hadn't been for Jim. if can be followed by modal verbs that preserve their original meaning in these contexts: should.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. (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."It's important that you should go there. Apart from the subjunctive forms mentioned so far. All of them have present and past forms. *I'll give you a call unless I come back in time. It's rather late. The same context mentioned above allows the use of if it were not for (for present reference). he would fail all his exams. I won't scold you again as long as you behave nicely. However.NEW FORMS The new forms of the synthetic subjunctive . I had better leave now. she wouldn't have managed to overcome that situation.are used in the following contexts: 1) after if: He wouldn't accept your apologies if he knew about your lies. If I don't come back in time.second form of the verb for the present subjunctive (NB. which are followed by the indicative: I'll lend you the money provided you don't tell my mother. SYNTHETIC SUBJUNCTIVE .

If you would fill in these forms now. 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. When we aim at emphasizing completion after if. They were acting as if they hadn't recognized him. we use a perfect form. will in if sentences can also express obstinate insistence. The negative counterpart of will indicates one's refusal to do something: If he won't listen to me. (factual) I wouldn't like him even if he tried to be nice to me. I would be very grateful. . there is a third possibility that uses the indicative (usually. I could grant you the loan sooner. I can't help him. I will clear the plates. no wonder nobody wants to talk to you. the simple present) in the subordinate and a future form in the main clause (see present tense simple with future value). Apart from these two types of conditional tenses that employ subjunctive forms. would in similar contexts is more tentative. however with a difference in meaning. On the other hand.If you should hear from him/if you happen to hear from 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 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. more polite: If you will join me to that meeting. You wouldn't have found her even if you had hired a private detective. etc. suggesting that the event in the conditional sentence necessarily precedes the event in the main clause: If you have finished your meal. 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. will you inform me? Will after if introduces the idea of your willingness to do what is suggested. Were I to return sooner instead of If I were to return sooner. It's (high) time you informed her of your failure. It is also possible to employ the indicative after even if/though. NB. 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.) Had and were are in fact the auxiliaries most commonly involved in such emphatic structures. 2) after if only to add emphasis to a hypothetical situation or to suggest a sense of regret when combined with the past subjunctive. (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. NB. NB. 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.

prohibit. to invite someone's cooperation or to indicate that either people or events frustrate his desires: I wish you would stop interrupting me. THE ANALYTIC SUBJUNCTIVE This type of subjunctive appears in complement THAT-clauses of various kinds. I wish they hadn't left for Rome. I desire that he should be granted the scholarship. I demand that they should be treated with more respect. advise. would you still have attempted to save the kid? Imagine we'd never spent this time together! 9) after in case. I wish it would stop raining. instruct. 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. in object clauses: He suggested that we should take the path to the left. I wish you would hurry up. suggesting theoretical or potential states or events. recommend. order. beg. 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. hope. a resolution. an order. command. He would rather his daughter hadn't behaved like a fool. wish. Notice that a construction with would after wish is possible when the speaker intends to express an annoying habit. suggest etc. SUBJECT AND OBJECT CLAUSES 1) after exercitive verbs: ask. 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. how would you spend it? Supposing they hadn't arrived in time. 8) after supposing / suppose or imagine: Suppose you inherited a huge fortune. urge. a suggestion. I'll save a seat for you in case you should decide to come. choose in object clauses: . which introduces a contingency or possibility against which a precaution is needed in advance. etc. a piece of advice. It is my desire that she should be invited to our reception. or a wish. It is desirable that he could obtain the loan to pay for his studies. desire.6) after wish I wish he came back sooner. 2) after boulomaic verbs: want. such sentences often express either a command. 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. propose. etc. an intention.

convince. I called in the hope that I might find you. - factive transitive verbs (in subject and object clauses): amaze. surprise. alarm. bother. We evacuated the building lest the walls should collapse. remark. insist. matter.non-factive intransitive adjectives (in subject clauses): be good / right / best / important / essential / natural / (un)likely / necessary etc. 5) after emotive verbs and adjectives: . point out. 2) CONCESSIVE: Foolish though she may be. think. fancy. - non-factive transitive verbs and adjectives (in object clauses): intend. It is odd that you should have agreed to such a proposal. I doubt that I should succeed. prefer. 3) after verbs of linguistic communication: tell. . 4) in assertive sentences after doubt. I am most anxious that she should get the present I bought for her.I wish you should be here. but I know that she is shamming. I don't exactly understand it.: It is important that you should understand the underlying meaning of his words. astonish. It doesn't matter that Max should have bought a Cadillac. It amazes me that you could give up on us so easily. in object clauses: He told them that I should be more careful with the kids. well. It is very unlikely that he should have already received news from her. ADVERBIAL CLAUSES 1) OF PURPOSE: Let the dog loose so that he can have a run. she is kind of heart. say. However little you may love her. I didn't choose that they should shun her. complain in object clauses: And that you should deceive us.: It bothers me that he should be so obtuse. inform. imagine. be anxious / eager: I prefer that they should call before paying me a visit. He regretted that the little girl should be ill. - factive intransitive adjectives: be odd / tragic / amazing / surprising: It is amazing that they should survive after all this time. hate. regret etc. He had sat between the twins so that he could court them. but I can imagine it. I don't think you will abandon her. persuade etc. She convinced me that I should apply for a grant. arrange. We dared not speak for fear the enemy might hear us. I insist that the meeting should be over by ten. I desire that you should comply with my request.

She is so ill that she should be given an extra dose immediately. 4) OF RESULT: We should proceed in such a manner that the public may indorse our cause. 3) OF CONDITION: Should the dam explode. I could help you if you would agree to follow my advice. we would immediately evacuate the village.Whatever sins he may have. . he can still be saved.

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