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- Time is objective in the sense that it does not have absolute reality outside the form of our perception of the world; it is
not inherent to objects.
- Time is an epistemic notion as it mirrors our experience of the world.
- Time has a linear representation, which preserves the sequential character of our perception of the world.
- Time is durationally infinite and segmentable; we perceive it as unidirectional (forwards).
Time is segmented by two different procedures
- a personal subjective estimate of duration
- a public estimate based on the periodicity of natural phenomena
!ccordingly, there is
- a personal time man"s endeavor to measure duration by using his emotions as an instrument (time is expanded or
- a public time, characteristic of society; 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, its periodic relation to the sun,
the moon, the stars etc)
T#$%# ! &#'(T'( (!T#)*+,
Tense is generally defined as representing the chronological order of events in time as perceived by the spea-er at
the moment of spea-ing, speech time (%T). Tense is a deictic category, i.e. the moment $*. is central in the sense that time
past or time future represent &'+#(T'*$% whose *+'#$T!T'*$ depends on %T. %T/$*. is a central point on the
temporal axis of orientation according to which we interpret the ordering of events/states. !ll accounts of tense ma-e
interpretation sensitive to tense. #vents can be simultaneous with %T (at relation) or they can be sequential to it (before /
after relations).
Tense is a functional category that expresses a temporal relation to the orientation point (%T) in the sense that it
locates in time the situation tal-ed about.
T#$%# 0*+# T1!$ T#$%# '$23#(T'*$%
! common mista-e in approaching the category of tense is the belief that tense inflections alone mirror time. 'n
fact they are not enough to express the temporal specification of a message. ! proper interpretation of temporal forms
presupposes an analysis of the relation between
(i) tense specification of the 4 (i.e. tense inflection) and
(ii) temporal adverbials.
'$23 identifies the event of the 45 in the sense that it places that particular event in time. ! 45 consists of both its
lexical head 4
and the complement(s) it has selected. .e -now 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. 'f we assume
that, roughly spea-ing, the descriptive content of a verb is the idea of event, we cannot conceive of this event without ta-ing
into account the complements of the respective verb as well as those explicit lexical means of placing the event in time time
adverbials. 't means that when discussing temporal interpretation, we have to tal- about sentence temporal interpretation or,
at least, about predicate temporal interpretation.
T'0#/T#05*+!3 !&4#+7'!3%
Time adverbials include adverbs, adverb phrases and adverbial clauses and they specify +T together with tense
inflections. Tense inflections are strongly related to adverbials. The latter add meaning to a sentence and during the process
they might even disambiguate it. *n the other hand, sentences without time adverbials may be non8ambiguous due to the
context, which acts as a time adverbial giving a certain temporal reading or due to the fact that people tend to maximise
available information, i.e. we apply the relation of simultaneity wherever possible.
Albert is playing tennis. (now / tomorrow)
Albert was playing tennis. (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).
'n addition to this, there are regular co8occurrences between tense inflections and time adverbials (there are
adverbials that co8occur only with simple past or only with present perfect and there are others that co8occur with both).
Classification of time adverbials
The relation between time adverbials and %T can be explicit or non8explicit. .e distinguish between
(i) anchored time adverbials which are in an explicit relation to %T in the sense that their temporal
interpretations are determined relative to %T (now, yesterday, tomorrow)
(ii) unanchored adverbials which do not have an explicit relation to %T and which orient themselves to times
other than the utterance time or to utterance time (in 9une, on 2riday); they have various interpretations.
)iven that temporal adverbials also contribute to the aspectual interpretation of sentences we can establish a
further classification that distinguishes among duration adverbials, completive adverbials, locating / frame adverbials and
frequency adverbials. &uration and completive adverbials also have an aspectual value (they are sensitive to the aspectual
value of the situation), requiring compatibility with the situation type.
a. &uration adverbials for three months/a day/a week, for a while, since the war/Christmas, at night, all afternoon,
for hours, all the time, over the weekend, through August, during the war, always, permanently, all day long, etc.
- they indicate the duration of the described event by specifying the length of time that is asserted to ta-e
- contribute to the location of the event in time, more specifically within the stated interval
- compatible with atelic sentences, but odd with telic sentences
- compatible with states and processes (activities)
1. %usan was asleep for two hours. (atelic)
. !ndrew swam for three hours. (atelic)
!. (:) 9ohn wrote a / the report for two hours. (telic)
". ;The train arrived late for two hours.
.henever 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. %uch clashes are resolved by a shift in the value of the verb
constellation, which receives a mar-ed interpretation. This contextual interpretation is made possible by the process called
<. ' read a boo- for a few minutes. (coercion into a process)
=. 9erry wrote a report for two hours. (acc. into activity)
>. 9ohn -noc-ed on the door for two hours. (semelf. into process of the multiple8event type)
?. 9on played the sonata for two hours. (acc. into process @ iterative many times)
A. 2or years, 0ary went to school in the morning. (acc. into state @ habitual)
B. 2or months, the train arrived late. (ach. into state @ habitual)
The felicity of the aspectual reinterpretation is strongly dependent on linguistic context and -nowledge of the world.
;9ohn went into the house all afternoon.
9ohn crossed the border all afternoon.
b. (ompletive adverbials in hours, within two months, in a second.
- they locate the situation at an interval during which the event is completed/culminates. !spectually, completive
adverbials are telic
- compatible with telic situations and odd with atelics
1. 9ohn noticed the painting in a second.
. 0ary wrote a sonnet in five minutes.
!. (:) 7ill swam laps in an hour.
". (:) 0ary believed in ghosts in an hour.
'f (>) and (?) can be understood at all, they impose an ingressive interpretation to the sentences, 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. The possible telic reinterpretations are C7ill swam his planned number of laps in an hourD, C'n/after an hour 7ill
swam lapsD, C!t the end of an hour/after an hour 0ary began to believe in ghostsD. The same interpretation as the latter
occurs with achievements and semelfactives CThey reached the top in ten minutesD (after ten minutes), C%he -noc-ed at the
door in ten minutesD (after ten minutes).
c. 2requency adverbials frequently, on #undays, never, sometimes, often, whenever, monthly, daily, once a week,
every week/month etc.
- they indicate the recurrent pattern of situations within the reference interval
- they express a series of events which as a whole ma-e a state of the habitual type
.e often/always went/go to the mountains in wintertime.
d. 3ocating adverbials / 2rame 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 ta-en place
- according to the time of orientation we can distinguish three classes
1. deictic adverbials oriented to the time of utterance (%T) now, today, last #unday, last week, this year,
tomorrow, tonight, two weeks ago
. anaphoric adverbials relate to a previously established time until, till, in the evening, on #unday, at night,
early, before, in three days, on Christmas, at lunchtime, two years later, in $arch, already
!. referential adverbials refer to a time established by cloc- or calendar at si%, august 1&, in 1&'(
5resent Tense %imple is associated with the present moment 8 the speech time 8 in the sense that it may refer either
to a point in time identified with speech time (%T) or to an interval that includes the moment of spea-ing. !s far as its
factual status is concerned, the present is between the past and the future. The past is considered to be factually determined
since we -now if an action too- place or not in the past. *n the contrary, the future is the least factually determined time.
The present expresses both situations whose time of occurrence is -nown and situations whose time of occurrence is not
1. GENERIC VALUE unmarked vaue
5resent Tense %imple used in generic sentences indicates the validity of a state at speech time without ma-ing reference
to a particular situation or moment. 't ascribes a property to a subject; therefore, it appears in so8called EcharacteriFing"
sentences. )eneric sentences are true of some particular entities, namely E-inds". Gind referring expressions are bare
plurals, definite singular $5s and mass nouns. They can also appear with indefinite $5s, proper names and quantified $5s
but in this case the locus of genericity is not in the $5 but rather in the sentence itself, i.e. these $5s get a generic
interpretation only when occurring in characteriFing sentences. 5resent simple is associated with stative verbs and it is used
in scientific language, in proverbs, definitions, geographical statements, in instructions or when specifying game rules etc.
)eneric sentences are timeless statements expressing general or universal truths.
)ater boils at 1**+C.
,lood is thicker than water.
-ondon stands on the .hames.
!. "A#ITUAL VALUE unmarked vaue
1abitual sentences indicate that a situation is repeated with a certain frequency during an interval of time. %ince they do
not focus on a particular situation but rather on its recurrence, they do not point to a specific moment in time and in this
respect they resemble generic sentences. 1owever, unli-e generic sentences, habitual sentences refer to an individual or an
object about which the respective property is true at speech time. 4ery often, they include adverbs of frequency classified
into general (ever, never, whenever, usually, often, seldom) and specific (three times a week, twice a day, every two weeks).
1abitual sentences may be completely specified, indicating both the frequency and the interval during which an event
ta-es place. ,et, more often than not they have less than complete temporal specification. (ompare
.hey visit me every two days during holidays. (specified frequency and interval)
.hey visit me every day. (unspecified interval)
/e eats a lot of vegetables in winter. (unspecified frequency)
/e doesn0t eat many vegetables. (no frequency and no interval)
The instantaneous simple present refers to an event that is assumed to be simultaneous with the moment of spea-ing. 't
is used in sports commentaries, demonstrations, war reports, and exclamations, commentaries on pictures, boo-s or movies
and stage directions
/agi takes the ball and passes it to 1opescu. 1opescu sends the ball into the net. 2oal3
4irst 5 roll out the pastry, and then 5 add the mi%ture and spread it6
/ere comes the winner3
5n 72one with the wind8 #carlet writes a letter.
#eth and $innie come forward as far as the lilac clump6 /e nudges $innie with his elbow6 9:8;eill, $ourning
,ecomes <lectra=
't is true that in most cases the event does not occur exactly when it is mentioned, but this simultaneity is rather
subjective than objective.
#vents that are simultaneous with the moment of spea-ing may be expressed either by a simple present or a present
/e shuts the window. / /e is shutting the window.
1owever, whereas the continuous present represents a neutral description of an action going on at the moment of
spea-ing, 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 8 verbs that themselves
are part of the activity they report 8 such as accept, deny, name, declare, pronounce. .hen having an instantaneous value,
the performative verb appears in the first person singular or plural and may be accompanied by hereby
5 name this ship >?ueen $ary>.
)e sentence you to prison for life.
5 hereby pronounce you man and wife.
'n performative sentences the event reported and the act of speech are simultaneous simply because they are identical.
! performative act is felicitous on condition that the persons and the circumstances involved in it are appropriate for the
invocation of the respective procedure (for instance, it is only a priest that can marry you and this can happen only in a
7oth habitual and generic sentences may receive instantaneous readings under certain circumstances
#wallows fly higher than doves. (generic reading)
-ook, the swallows fly higher than the doves. (instantaneous reading because of the suggestion of instantaneous
perception indicated by H3oo-H)
/e scores goals. (habitual interpretation because of the plural direct object)
/e scores a goal. (instantaneous interpretation)
&. FUTURE VALUE % 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, as soon as, when, before, if, unless etc.
'n simple sentences it is accompanied by a temporal adverbial indicating the future .he plane leaves for ;ew @ork at A
p.m. tomorrow. The use of the simple present signals the fact that the future event is bound to happen, in other words, the
anticipated event is attributed the same degree of certainty that we normally assign to present or past events. 2or this reason
the simple present with this value represents the only mar-ed way to express the future time in #nglish. 't refers to mostly
official or collective future plans or arrangements that cannot be altered. 't may relate to timetables, schedules, itineraries
.he caravan sets off tomorrow morning.
)e leave ,ucharest on $onday morning, arrive in -ondon at noon and set off for 2lasgow in the evening.
The use of the simple present with future value in adverbial clauses of time and condition has more than a syntactic
explanation. 'n the examples below the content of the adverbial clause is assumed to exist as a fact
50ll see what to do when 5 meet him.
,y the time you get there, the show will have already begun.
5 will be very unhappy if our team does not win.
There is a contrast of meaning between the main clause and the subordinate. The event referred to in the former is a
prediction, whereas the event expressed in the latter is a fact that is ta-en as given, which provides an axis of orientation for
the action predicted in the main clause.
N#. %tudents are inclined to thin- that they must use only the simple present after clauses introduced by when and if.
1owever, the rule applies only to those cases in which when and if introduce adverbial clauses of time and condition.
5 will talk to him when 5 see him. (time clause)
5 don0t know when 5 will see him. (direct object clause) / 5 don0t know this.
5 will take my umbrella if it rains. (conditional clause)
5 don0t know if it will rain. (direct object clause) / 5 don0t know this.
'. PAST VALUE % marked
The use of the %imple 5resent with a past value is best -nown as the historic present and represents a storytellerIs
license, being typical of an oral narrative style. !s 9espersen (<J><<K) remar-ed, the Hhistoric present is pretty frequent in
connected narrative the spea-er, as it were, forgets all about time and imagines, or recalls, what he is recounting, as vividly
as if it were now present before his eyesH. The simple present with this value often alternates with a time adverbial
indicating the past
At that moment in comes a messenger from the /ead :ffice, telling me the boss wants to see me in a hurry. ('.
%tefanescu, <JLL=B<)
1owever, a distinction has to be made between the historic present described above and the present forms employed to
narrate fictional, that is, imaginary events.
The historic present is also used after verbs of linguistic communication such as tell, say, learn, hear
$ary tells me that you are going to buy new furniture. (in a letter)
@our correspondent $r. 1itt writes in the $arch issue that6 (in the correspondence column of a journal)
'n both cases the simple present emphasiFes the persistence in the present of the effect of a past communication.
Though tell and hear in the examples above refer to the initiation of a message, the use of the present seems to transfer the
verbal meaning from the initiating to the receiving end of the message, so that communication is still in force for the
!t the same the historic present is employed when describing an artist and his wor- because this feels as if they were
still alive. The difference between using the present and using the past simply involves the spea-erIs point of view if he
employs the present, then he considers that the artist still survives through his wor-, and if he uses the past, then he sees the
artist as a person who died at a certain moment in the past. (ompare
,rahms is the last great representative of 2erman classicism.
,rahms was the last great representative of 2erman classicism.
2inally, the simple present appears in newspaper headlines to announce recent events, its use reminding one of the
dramatic quality of the instantaneous present; it is also present in photographic captions in newspapers, in historical
summaries and tables of dates
$1s back school reform. / <%Bpresident dies of heart attack.
$r. 2ore shakes hands with $r. ,ush. (photo caption)
1'(C B ,rahms finishes his first symphony.
!lthough so far all the uses of the simple present have involved real facts, the simple present may also refer to
imaginary situations. This fictional use ma-es reference to no real time, but to an imaginary present time, giving the reader
the impression that he is actually witnessing the events described. 'n such cases, the simple present often alternates with a
past tense.
/is lordship had no sooner disappeared behind the trees of the forest, but -ady Dandolph begins to e%plain to her
confidante the circumstances of her early life. .he fact was she had made a private marriage6 (Thac-eray, 4irg. (h. 3'M,
The simple past is used to locate a situation at some specified time in the past; the content of the event or state
described being actually recollected at speech time. There are two basic elements of meaning involved in the common use
of the simple past. 2irst, the situation described by the simple past ta-es place before the present moment, which means that
the moment $*. is excluded. %econd, the person uttering the sentence must have a definite time in mind suggested by
means of specific time adverbs (yesterday, two days ago, in 1&(", last summer, etc.).
/e was born in -ondon in 1&A and spent his entire life there. / 5 just talked to him on the phone a moment ago. / 5
bought this dictionary when 5 was in -isbon.
1owever, spea-ers do not need to locate a past event by means of a time adverb. The simple past may appear alone
if the spea-er who has a specific time in mind can assume that his interlocutor can understand this either by inferring the
time from the larger context in which the situation occurs or by ma-ing use of the definiteness of the participants involved
Eid you remember to give him my messageF
Eid you see -ed Geppelin perform live in ,ucharestF
AH 5 couldn0t find $ary at the party last night. / ,H )ell, 5 couldn0t find her either.
Thus, 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 (3ed Neppelin did perform in 7ucharest on a specific day which
is officially -nown). 'n the last example, spea-er ! specifies the past moment and spea-er 7 does not need to mention it in
his turn. 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, only that it be specifiable.
!nother particular case in which a past simple is used without a definite adverb of time involves a combination
with the present perfect. The latter is used to introduce an unspecified event that ta-es place anterior to the moment of
spea-ing in a period that began in the past and includes the moment $*.. *nce an anterior frame of reference is
established for the discourse it is only natural to refer to the already introduced situation by means of a definite specifier, i.e.
the simple past
AH )here have you beenF / ,H .o the restaurant. / AH )hat did you do thereF / ,H 5 had lunch, of course.
2inally, 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 ,ucharest is no longer what it was / used to be. / /e is a nitwit, but he is less of a
nitwit than he was.
The simple past can be used deictically with a deictic adverb of time of the type yesterday, two years ago, last
night, in 1&'(, etc. 'n this case the location of the event in time is established in relation to the moment of spea-ing $*.
/aydn was born in 1(!. / $y friend left for 1oland in Iuly. / 5 finished reading the book last night.
%ince it deals with past events the simple past is a natural choice for narratives, whether the events narrated are real
historical events or just fictional situations devised in novels. 1owever, in this case, 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. 't is the whole context created by the advancing of the
story that supplies the order of the events.
096= #he left him alone in the kitchen. /e picked up a chair, then set it down again and went out into the scullery.
/e opened the garden door, and a great moth flew into his face. .hen he stepped out into the garden and faced the enemies.
96=0 (&ylan Thomas 8 05n the 2arden0 8 (ollected %tories)
0oreover, we use the simple past for narrative even when referring to future events as in science fiction. H.e are
invited by this convention to loo- at future events as if from a vantage8point even further in the future. !ny narrative
normally presupposes, in the imagination, such a retrospective view.H 8 !. %. 3eech (<JK< <6).
5n the year AE *1, the interplanetary transit vehicle Geno J55 made a routine journey to the moon with twenty
people on board.
.hen used with this value, the simple past refers to events recurrent within a given past interval of time. Onli-e
simple present sentences in which the time adverbial specifies the event time 8 i.e. indicating the recurrence of the event,
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 too- place. (ompare
,rian runs a mile every day.
,rian ran a mile every day during his childhood.
The habitual interpretation can be rendered by the frequency adverbial whose determiner must be indefinite or by a
plural indefinite object
5 went to the mountains three times a year. (habitual)
5 went to the mountains three times that year. (non8habitual)
$y dog chased my neighbor0s cat / a cat. (non8habitual)
$y dog chased cats. (habitual)
This value is derived from a contrast between simultaneous past events and past events occurring in a sequence.
/e enjoyed and admired her paintings. (simultaneous)
/e unlocked and opened the door. (sequential)
'n 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 -nowledge about the
way these activities can be performed. The event of unloc-ing the door necessarily ta-es place before its opening and thus
the simple past Hunloc-edH has past perfect value.
*n the other hand, the temporal relation between two consecutive events can be overtly mar-ed by means of
conjunctions (preserving the simple past in both the main clause and the subordinate clause) or by the auxiliary 1!4#,
which indicates anteriority
5 9had= read twenty more pages before 5 went to bed.
As soon as she saw / had seen me, she rose quickly and left the room.
After 5 9had= finished dinner, 5 went out with my friends.
This represents a special development of the normal past meaning, which appears in everyday conversation ma-ing
reference to the present feelings or thoughts of the spea-er
AH Eid you want meF
,H @es, 5 hoped you could give me a hand with the cleaning.
!lthough spea-er 7 could have used the present instead of the past, his choice of the respective verbal form
renders the request indirect and thus, more polite. Onli-e a present form, which would have made a polite answer
impossible, the past form avoids a clash of wills, allowing spea-er ! to either accept or decline the request. %imilarly,
spea-er !Is question indicates politeness. >Eo you want meF> would have been rather imperative, suggesting that spea-ers !
and 7 have similar social positions, and would have implied that the former was not at all pleased with spea-er 7 ma-ing a
*ther verbs often present in similar contexts are wonder and think; in most cases they are used in combination with
the continuous aspect, which adds a further overtone of politeness
5 wondered / was wondering if you could help me with the kids while 5 am away.
5 thought 5 might drop by later tonight if you don0t mind.
5ast events can be predicated about either in the past tense or the present perfect from two different perspectives. 'n
C9ohn read the boo- last yearD, the event of 9ohn"s reading the boo- in is entirety is specified/dated as occurring during last
year, which is prior and thus distinct from the moment $*.. 'n C9ohn has already read the boo-D, we understand that
9ohn"s reading the boo- in its entirety occurred at some unspecified time in the past, but the event is related and, thus,
relevant to the present moment through its result now, 9ohn -nows what the boo- is about.
There have been several theories that tried to capture this distinction between the past simple and the present perfect
(a) The 'ndefinite 5ast Theory @ present perfect locates events somewhere before the moment of spea-ing, without
identifying any particular point or interval of time. #T is indefinite and CspecifiedD only by indefinite adverbials
since > o"cloc-, for two hours, so far, yet, etc. in contrast, #T of past simple events is definite at two o"cloc-,
yesterday, etc.
(b) The (urrent +elevance Theory @ it is only present perfect that claims relevance at the moment $*., a feature the
past simple lac-s. (ompare C,ou wo-e him up when you went to the bathroom ten minutes ago.D to C,ou"ve
wa-en him upD @ the present perfect itself in the second sentence locates the effects of the event at $*..
(c) The #xtended $ow Theory @ spea-ers can psychologically Eextend" the present bac-wards by means of present
perfect in #nglish. 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). 'n contrast, the past tense specifies that an event occurred at a
past time that is separated and distinct from the present.
7efore embar-ing upon an analysis of the two tenses mentioned above, we should clarify the relationship between
the #nglish perfect and the perfective aspect, since the #nglish perfect is quite often related to the meaning of completion or
result. .ithout renouncing the idea that the perfect mar-s anteriority, we can maintain the connection between the perfect
and the perfective in view of the fact that what is Isummed up as a wholeI (i.e. perfective) may also be anterior to a certain
moment in time. .hat we need to understand is that the Iresult / completionI meaning is not intrinsic to the perfect; rather,
just li-e the other meanings of the present perfect, it stems from the interaction of the perfect form with the aspectual
meaning of the verb phrase, plus the temporal adverbials it co8occurs with.
Thus, the perfect may acquire different senses according to the type of aspectual class IhaveI combines with
<) continuative perfect
=) experiential perfect
>) resultative perfect
?) Ihot newsI perfect
.hen the present perfect combines with state verb phrases in sentences that contain a durative adverbial (for
instance, since / for phrases), they express states extending over a period of time that lasts up to the present moment
5 have lived in 1aris since 1&'(.
.he castle has been empty for ages.
/ave you known my uncle for a long timeF
)enerally, the adverbial of duration cannot be absent from the sentence or otherwise the construction acquires an
indefinite past reading. 5 have lived in 1aris simply places the situation at some unspecified point in the past, without
carrying any other information.
!t the same time, there are exceptions to this rule if the semantic content of the respective sentence suggests a
period leading up to the present. 'n 50ve had a good life or @ou0ve outstayed your welcome the adverbials of time are felt as
implicit (Iduring my lifeI / Iso farI or Ifor too longI in the case of IoutstayI).
Osed with process verb phrases and a frequency or a durative adverbial, the perfect expresses a habit and thus has a
recurrent continuative reading
$rs. Iones has played the organ in this church for fifteen years.
5 have followed her behavior every day since she got here.
.he news has been broadcast at ten o0clock for as long as 5 can remember.
%ince a habit is described as a state consisting of repeated events, this iterative use closely resembles the
continuative use of the perfect and, in fact, we may subsume it in the previous class as a type of Irecurrent continuativeI
(ontinuative also with event verbs if in the progressive
e.g. /e8s been sleeping for two hours./ 5t has been snowing since noon./ <ver since the house has been occupied the
poltergeist have been acting up.
0odes of occurrence a) continuous continuative 5 have been sitting in all day.
b) discontinuous continuative /e has been building the house for the last five years. 9i.e. on and off=
.ith process and event verbs phrases (accomplishments and achievements), the perfect may refer to some
indefinite situation in the past. 7y IindefiniteI we mean on the one hand, that the number of occurrences is unspecified and
on the other hand, that the time when it ta-es place is not mentioned. Therefore, such use is often accompanied by
adverbials of time of the type never, ever, always, before 9now=H
5 have never seen such a majestic cathedral before.
/ave you ever been to the #tatesF
/ave you visited the Eali e%hibitionF
The temporal location of some events may be very close to the moment $*., in which case we refer to recent
indefinite past situations. %uch examples often contain adverbs li-e just, already, yet or recently /as the postman called
yetF / .hey have already had breakfast.
'f the definite time when the experience occurred is mentioned, the spea-er shifts from 5resent 5erfect to 5ast
e.g. AH /ave you been to <dinburghF
,H @es, 5 have.
AH )hen did you goF
,H :h, last April, that8s when 5 did.
AH And did you visit many places while you were thereF
,H @es, 5 went to /ollyrood 1alace.
0odes of occurrence a) general experiential 1e has never li-ed heavy metal. / ! 1ave you ever in your life seen anyone
so entirely delightful: 7 *nly when '"ve loo-ed in the mirror.
b) limited experiential /ave you had a letter to type todayF/ #he has already had three proposals this morning.
The association of event verb phrases (accomplishments and achievements), that presuppose a climax or end point,
with the perfect generates a resultative reading 8 that is, it implies that a transition comes to a final state valid at the present
moment. The resultative meaning does not need the support of time adverbials
/e has delivered the parcel. / .he plane has landed. / /e has recovered from his illness.
The perfect is often used in newspapers and broadcasts, especially in news reports, to introduce Ithe latestI events,
which afterwards are described using the past tense. The temporal location of such situations is generally mentioned in the
second sentence, but even if it is not, the simple past is still employed at this point in the discourse
.he struggling Domanian soccer club Iiul 1etrosani has e%perienced what may be one of the more humiliating
moments in recent sports history. -ast week, the club announced that it would trade midfielder 5on Dadu to secondB
division club Jalcea for two tons of beef and pork.
(;ewsweek, 0arch <JLL)
N#. There is a special use of the present perfect instead of the simple present in adverbial clauses of time referring
to the future introduced by after, when, until, once, etc. 'n such cases the present perfect is said to have a future value. 'n
most cases the alternation of present simple and present perfect bears no significance. The presence of the perfect simply
places emphasis on the order of the events 5 shall leave when 5 finish / 5 have finished.
*n the other hand, there are contexts in which the perfect is obligatory, namely, in those sentences that are
semantically based on the cause 8 effect relationship. .e say @ou will feel better after you have taken this pill if the pill
conditions the well8being of the patient. %imilarly, when the events in the main clause and the subordinate temporally
coincide, the simple present is favored; when the event in the subordinate occurs before the one in the main clause, we use
the present perfect Come over and see us when our guests leave / have left.
!s already stated, present perfect and simple past resemble in that both express anteriority to a given moment in
time. .hat differentiates them is their relation to the present. The simple past mar-s events assigned to a past that is
concluded and completely separate from the present. 'n contrast, the present perfect either involves a period of time lasting
up to the present or has results persisting at the present moment. The common factor is the inclusion of the present in its
7earing this in mind, let us compare the various uses of the present perfect with the simple past. (onsider the
following examples of continuative, experiential and habitual perfect
#he has been poor all her life. (%he is still alive.)
#he was poor all her life. (%he is dead.)
/annibal brought / Khas brought elephants across the Alps.
4or generations, ;epal has produced the world0s greatest soldiers. ($epal still exists.)
4or generations, #parta produced 2reece0s greatest warriors. (%parta no longer exists.)
The use of either the perfect or the past in the above sentences is to be interpreted pragmatically. The period
referred to is rather assumed than named, but our -nowledge of the world allows us to employ the appropriate tense; thus,
we tal- about 1annibal or %parta in the past because we -now they no longer exist, whereas $epal obviously has relevance
for the present.
This last observation relates to another notion 8 that of Eiscourse .opic (defined as Ithe subject matter under
discussion in a certain contextI). &iscourse topics condition the use of the present perfect in the sense that only those
covering a period of time that includes the moment of spea-ing can be expressed in sentences that employ present perfect.
#hakespeare has written impressive dramas.
K#hakespeare has quarreled with every playwright in -ondon.
The first sentence is appropriate if the discourse topic is Igreat dramatists of the worldI or Iimpressive dramas in
world literatureI, because such a topic would have relevance for the present moment. 7ut if the discussion (i.e. discourse
topic) is about %ha-espeare as a person and his activities, neither of the two sentences is correct since %ha-espeare is dead.
'n conclusion, Hat the pragmatic level, the present perfect is appropriate in all those uses in which the event described has
relevance for the discourse topic, a fact which can be evaluated entirely only on the basis of contextual factorsH ('oana
%tefanescu, <nglish $orphology, vol. '', <JLL).
The basic difference between present perfect and simple past stems from the contrast definite / indefinite. !s
already seen in the analysis of the simple past, this tense requires the use of a definite time adverbial which locates the
respective event at a certain point in the past. 'f there is no time adverbial, then IdefinitenessI is retrieved by assumption of a
particular time from the context or is justified by the preceding use of a past or perfect tense
)e met yesterday. (definite time adverbial)
5 have already talked to himL he came to ask me for money. (the past event is introduced by the perfect)
Eid you walk the dogF (said between husband and wife who refer to a particular time when the dog is usually
(ontexts as that supplied by the second example also emphasiFe a characteristic of the present perfect; this is used
to initiate conversations, since it is only natural to start conversations indefinitely and then to carry on using definite
linguistic expressions (be they the simple past, definite articles or personal pronouns)
5 have bought this bag in Cypress #treet.
/ow much did you pay for itF
5 paid 1A M.
%ince it specifies a definite moment in the past, the past tense is expected in (subordinate) clauses of time
introduced by when, while, since, etc. because the time indicated by them is considered to be already given. $aturally, a
clause introduced by when will trigger the use of a past tense in the main clause as well because the subordinate functions as
a definite time adverbial
)hen did you last see himF
5 haven0t seen him since we met at Iane0s party.
5 didn0t recogniNe him / Khaven0t recogniNed him when 5 saw him.
The present perfect is less used in !merican #nglish, especially when it appears with recent indefinite past value;
!mericans tend to say Eid you meet him yetF, while the 7ritish say /ave you met him yetF or 5 did it just now vs. 50ve just
received word that he isn0t coming.
'n spite of the differences mentioned so far, there are contexts in which the two tenses are interchangeable 8 that is,
when they describe recent events. Their alternation depends on the spea-erIs viewpoint. (ompare )here did 5 put my
glovesF to )here have 5 put my glovesF 'n the first example, the spea-er focuses on the moment when he misplaced his
gloves, perhaps trying to remember what he was doing at the time, while in the second he concentrates on the present
moment and is only interested in where they are at present.
Time adverbials (i.e. adverbs, adverbial phrases, adverbial clauses) classify into definite (bearing the feature
PQT1#$R, indefinite (which are P8T1#$R) and those that have both features (that is, they are PQ/8 T1#$R). The first class
combines only with the past, the second only with the perfect and the last with both, resulting in different meanings.
The definite adverbials of time point to a specific moment in the past, having no relation to the present and hence,
they cannot occur with the present perfect (yesterday, a week / month / year ago, last night / .uesday / week / month / year,
etc.). !part from them, there is the class of unanchored adverbs of the type in the evening, at A o0clock, on $onday, then,
soon, ne%t, after lunch, etc. which most li-ely occur with the simple past, although they do not ma-e specific reference to it
/e went out ten minutes ago.
5 left home at '.** and got here at 1.**.
5 saw him on #unday morning.
*n the other hand, the following adverbials are associated only with the present perfect since, so far, up to now,
hitherto, lately, for the present, for the time being, for now, as yet, during these five years, before now
5 haven0t been able to talk to him since 5 last saw him at the mall.
/e hasn0t done much work lately.
)e have been very busy so far.
't is interesting to notice that, though since 8 phrases cannot be used with the simple past, for 8 phrases occur with
both the perfect and the past, given the appropriate contexts
.hey haven0t spoken to each other for three weeks.
.hey didn0t speak to each other for three weeks, but then they made up.
The third group of adverbials allows the use of both the perfect and the past, resulting in different interpretations.
5 haven0t read the paper this morning. (uttered at <6.66 a.m.)
5 didn0t read the paper this morning. (uttered at B.66 p.m.)
.oday, tonight and all phrases with this (this afternoon / month / year / Christmas / $arch, etc.) behave in a similar
way. 5 saw her this Iuly implies that 9uly is over, but 50ve seen her this Iuly suggests that it is still 9uly when ' utter the
sentence. 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).
The difference in use between just and just now is the following just can ta-e either past simple or present perfect
5 have just seen your sister. / 5 just saw your sister. while just now is interpreted as a moment/second/minute ago and occurs
only with the past tense 5 saw your sister just now.
;ever, ever, always combine with both tenses, again depending on the context; when used with the past tense, the
0never0 period, for instance, must be restricted to a past temporal frame as in 5 never liked bananas when 5 was a child
where the time clause supplies the bac-ground.
;ow is mainly associated with present tense ;ow my ambition is/has been fulfilled. 7ut it may also be a substitute
for then and thus occur with past tense ;ow my ambition was fulfilled.
:nce appears with the simple past when it means Ion a certain occasionI or Iat one timeI, but if it is a numerical
adverb that may contrast with twice or three times, it may be used with both tenses
5 was happy once in this house.
50ve seen the movie only once.
5 met him only once when 5 was in #pain.
Already, still, yet and before occur with the perfect if they mean Ias early / late as nowI and with the past if
interpreted as Ias early / late as thenI
50ve already heard that piece. (Ias early as nowI)
5 was already fed up with that piece. (Ias early as thenI)
5ast perfect may appear with both PQthenR and P8thenR adverbials, unli-e present perfect which combines only with
PQ/8thenR and P8thenR adverbials
.hey had been there since A. OBthenP
#usan knew Iohn had left at A. OQthenP
0oreover, past perfect may appear in narrative contexts, again unli-e present perfect.
*n the other hand, li-e present perfect, past perfect has three values continuative, resultative and experiential
Iim had dislocated his shoulder. 9resultative=
/e had been at work for more than two hours. 9continuative=
5 had watched Rnited lose twice that season. 9e%periential=
'n 'ndirect %peech, past perfect is the tense we obtain if in &irect %peech we have present perfect or past simple
5 have laid the table.
#he said she had laid the table.
.he show finished two minutes ago.
#he said the show had finished two minutes before.
'n conclusion, past perfect has two dimensions (a) it parallels the semantics of present perfect; (b) it is seen as a
past tense that expresses past anteriority , in which case it is said to have a pre8preterite value. 'n this sense, past perfect
describes a past event that ta-es place before another past event or past moment
.hey found out where she had buried the treasure.
,y the time they went to dig it up, she had already hidden it in a new place.
,y 4riday they had already found a way to get rid of her.
!s already exemplified in the sentences above, the past perfect occurs in both main and subordinate clauses
introduced by when, after, before, until, by the time, etc.
The past perfect can be substituted with the simple past, which acquires a past perfect meaning )hen he came
back from the #tates, he landed a very important job. 1owever, in some cases the substitution is semantically impossible
)hen he had read the letter / Kwhen he read the letter, he burned it.
There are three reasons for which we attribute this value to past perfect
9a= its co8occurrence with PQthenR adverbials
9b= the fact that it is the equivalent of past simple in &irect %peech. $7. 'n 'ndirect %peech, if the verb expresses
an event, past perfect is optional @esterday 5 went to the market. / #he said she went/had gone to the market
the day before. 'f the verb expresses a state, then past perfect is obligatory -ily was here. / #he said -ily had
been there. / K#he said -ily was there.
9c= the fact that it can be used in narratives to tell Ea story within a story", in which case past simple sets the scene
and past perfect expresses what had happened before .hat morning 5 was quite content. 5 had written the
essay the previous evening, 5 had finished washing the clothes and 58d gone to bed early. ;ow 5 was an%ious to
go to school.
$7. 0ai mult ca perfect always past perfect
5ast perfect mai mult ca perfect, perfect compus, imperfect.
't 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. !gain, it is a matter that depends rather on the aspectual class of the verb
.hen combined with the progressive, event verb phrases (accomplishments and achievements) turn into processes
and the completion / result meaning is suspended. (ompare
5 have pumped up three tires. (The job is completed)
5 have been pumping up tires in the garage for the last quarter of an hour. (' havenIt finished the job yet)
!lthough the perfect progressive never refers to a Ipresent resultI, it may imply that the effects of a certain action
are still apparent at present. The activity described by the verbal form does not necessarily carry on at present; on the
contrary, quite often it is implied that the respective activity has just stopped @ou0ve been walking too fast. .hat0s why
you0re tired.
5rocess verb phrases in the present perfect have the tendency to appear in the progressive as well. .hen they do,
the continuous aspect simply reinforces the idea of continuity of an activity /e0s been sleeping since ten o0clock. 5t0s time
he woke up.
$on8durative process verbs phrases (i.e. the semelfactives) acquire an iterative meaning #he0s been knocking at
my window for two minutes.
2inally, state verb phrases of the locative type in the progressive develop a Itemporary or limited durationI meaning
5 have been living in this castle for weeks now.
'f present and past situations are conceived of as facts, it is certainly not the case of future events, which have not
happened yet and therefore merely translate into potential, possible courses of action. Thus, we can predict what will
happen, we can express intentions, plans, promises or threats that we mean to carry out in the future, and these situations
describe our attitude towards possible, non8factual states of affairs. Therefore, it is no surprise that almost all the linguistic
forms that express future time belong, in fact, to the sphere of modality or to the aspectual paradigm. #pistemic will and
shall, for instance, are modal verbs denoting predictions; it is in the very nature of predictions to describe what might
happen in the future, hence, they are used to express future events. !ctually, all epistemic uses of the modal verbs refer to
peopleIs present attitudes with respect to the future time sphere .he meeting can / may / must / shall / will, etc. take place
't is only natural for future events / states to have modal or aspectual implications since Hwe cannot be as certain of
future happenings as we are of events past and present, and for this reason, even the most confident prognostication must
indicate something of one spea-erIs attitude and so be tinged with modalityH ('oana %tefanescu, #nglish 0orphology '',
<JLL, pp. >6=).
'n fact, the only linguistic form that denotes a future event and has temporal sense alone 8 that is, it does not reflect
any attitude on the part of the spea-er 8 is the simple present tense combined with a future time adverbial.
!part from the simple present, there are five other linguistic forms that, beside their basic modal or aspectual
quality, contain a future time implication
<) 5resent Tense %imple
=) 5resent Tense (ontinuous
>) 7e )oing To
?) 2uture Tense %imple
A) 2uture Tense (ontinuous
B) 2uture 5erfect (%imple and (ontinuous)
!s already discussed in the chapter on the values of the simple present, this tense denotes the future either in
subordinate clauses of time and condition or in main clauses, being generally accompanied by a future time adverbial. 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 ta-en as a given fact, not as a prediction. The reasoning behind such structures would be
H'f M is a fact, then ' predict ,.I
%imilarly, the simple present in main clauses denotes future facts, not possible future events. .e attribute to such
sentences the same degree of certainty we would attribute to present or past events. Therefore, constructions with the simple
present describing a future event are restricted to certain areas, li-e statements about the calendar, programs or itineraries
regarded as immutable
.omorrow is 4riday. / #chool starts on $onday / ne%t week. / )e leave for ,rasov tomorrow morning.
%ince such arrangements are supposed to be unalterable, it is easy to understand why they are normally collective
or impersonal 8 made by official authorities, committees, a court of law, etc.
There is an entire range of verbs commonly used in such contexts, verbs associated with announcements about
timetables, schedules or organiFed events start, begin, end, leave, set off, come, go, depart, arrive, etc.
'f 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, we have an explanation for the obligatory presence of the future time
adverbial in such sentences, unless reference time is provided by the context (li-e, for instance, in a narrative sequence).
2uture events expressed by means of the simple present are assumed to ta-e place without fail; therefore, 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.
.hen used with future value, the continuous present signals a future event anticipated by virtue of a present plan,
program or arrangement, generally aiming at the near rather than the distant future; hence, the suggestion of imminence of
these constructions. !t the same time, this does not mean that there are no present progressive sentences referring to the
remote future; they exist in as far as we ma-e reference to remote future events determined in advance
50m taking $ary shopping tomorrow.
/e0s getting married in #eptember.
)hen 5 grow up, 50m joining the fire brigade.
The verbs that enter such constructions are generally verbs of IdoingI, involving conscious human agency. *n the
other hand, it is obvious that the continuous present with future value will not combine with state verbs normally
incompatible with the progressive aspect. (ompare
/illary is rising at C.** tomorrow to prepare breakfast for the kids.
K.he sun is rising at C.** tomorrow.
'n the first example we interpret /illary as the agent who has deliberately made this plan, which is, in fact,
reinforced by the presence of the purpose clause Ito prepare brea-fast for the -idsI. 'n contrast, the second example sounds
absurd because the sunrise canIt be planned, it is determined by natural law.
The continuous present with future value is close in meaning to the going to form, since they express an
arrangement or an intention. 1owever, while the going to form is used in a wider variety of contexts and not necessarily
with a time adverbial, the present continuous refers only to very definite arrangements, mostly in the near future, and thus is
always accompanied by a future time expression
Are you going to the auction tomorrowF
@es, 50m going, but 50m not going to buy anything.
.e might consider that there is a slight difference of emphasis between the two structures in a pair li-e
50m going to have lunch with Iim tomorrow.
50m having lunch with Iim tomorrow.
The first sentence reflects the spea-erIs present state of mind and it may well be the case that 9im has no idea about
the spea-erIs plan. The second sentence refers to an arrangement already made in the past, hence the implication that both
the spea-er and 9im -now about it. 't is only the second sentence that the spea-er could offer as an excuse for not joining a
friend for a game of snoo-er.
The general meaning attached to this linguistic form is that of Ifuture fulfillment of the presentI; this extends to two
more specific meanings Ifuture fulfillment of present intentionI and Hfuture fulfillment of present causeI.
2oing to with the first meaning is restricted to human, or at least animate subjects endowed with will that can, thus,
express their intentions. The -ind of verbs admitted in such structures are, again, verbs of IdoingI (IagentiveI verbs) that
imply conscious exercise of the will, and not state verbs
.he detective is going to ask you a few questions.
)hat are you going to do with the moneyF
50ve reminded you onceL 50m not going to do it again.
Though its nature brings it closer to the idea of imminence, going to can be used to refer to periods remote from the
moment of spea-ing 5 am going to be a teacher when 5 grow up.
2oing to can be paraphrased by intend, but with a slight difference in meaning. 50m going to participate in the
board meeting tomorrow is distinct from 5 intend to participate in the board meeting tomorrow in the sense that the former
has a higher degree of certainty, the expectation that this will happen is stronger than in the latter.
.e should distinguish between the going to expressing intention and the will Q infinitive construction having the
same meaning. 4ery often either of the two can be used; yet, when the intention is clearly premeditated, we employ the
going to form, and when it is clearly unpremeditated we use will Q infinitive
50ve hired a typewriter and 5 am going to learn to type.
A lot of paint was delivered here today. Are you going to redecorate your kitchenF
@ou look froNen. #it down by the fire and 50ll make you some tea.
Eid you remember to book seatsF / :h no, 5 forgot. 50ll telephone for them now.
The second meaning of going to 8 that of Ifuture fulfillment of present causeI 8 is less restrictive both in point of
subject choice and choice of verb class. Thus, the subject can be either animate or inanimate and the expression can occur
with both IagentiveI and Inon8agentiveI / IstateI verbs
#he is going to have a baby ne%t month.
.here0s going to be a riot in this village.
5 think 50m going to cry.
5t0s going to rain.
'n all the above examples the underlying assumption is that factors already at wor- at present are inevitably leading
to a certain future state of affairs. 2or instance, a sentence li-e 5t0s going to rain would be uttered if the spea-er saw blac-
clouds already gathering in the gloomy s-y.
7earing this in mind, it is easy to understand why going to refers to the immediate future and is also named
0current orientation0 be going to -ook out3 .he glass is going to fall3 (I' can see it already totteringI).
0Current orientation0 going to contrasts with prediction will to the extent that the going to form carries this sense of
inevitability. (ompare
.he soup will cool soon.
.he soup is going to cool soon.
'f the first sentence ma-es a prediction, counseling patience, the second should be interpreted as a warning for the
addressee to, perhaps, hurry and eat it before it cools.
There is no future tense in modern #nglish, but for convenience shall and will combined with the bare infinitive are
designated as future tense simple. #hall and will are, in fact, modal verbs that express prediction, therefore something that
involves the spea-erIs judgment and is directly related to the future time sphere. %tudents must ta-e into account the fact
that shall and will also have other modal meanings (see chapter on $odal Jerbs); they can express promises, threats,
refusals, etc. and still refer to a future event.
#hall has a neutral predictive meaning only when used with the first person singular or plural 5 shall never have
the opportunity to thank him. 'n !merican #nglish it is used in formal contexts )e shall never surrender to the terrorists.
#hall / will with predictive meaning appear in various contexts. They may express the spea-erIs opinions,
speculations and assumptions about the future (used after verbs such as doubt, e%pect, hope, believe, think, etc.)
1erhaps 50ll find another teacher after this.
5 will know him when 5 see him.
50m sure / 5 suppose they won0t agree to our project.
5 e%pect the train will be late.
They are also specific of sentences with subordinates of condition and time, 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)
5f 5 throw this plate against the wall, it will smash into pieces.
.he birds in that nest will start to sing when spring comes.
Those verbs not normally used in the progressive will combine with the simple future verbs of perception,
cognitive verbs, verbs of possession, etc.
@ou0ll have plenty of time to finish your book.
/e0ll be there by tomorrow.
.hey0ll find out about your plans tonight.
The future simple is mainly present in newspapers and on T4 in news broadcasts when formal announcements or
announcements about the weather are made. 'n fact, in everyday conversation the listener will use other means of
expressing such future events, such as the going to form or the present continuous for plans
$ewspaper .he ?ueen will visit the southern part of the country tomorrow.
+eader .he ?ueen is visiting / is going to visit the southern part of the country tomorrow.
)enerally, shall / will Q infinitive does not appear without a time adverbial for obvious reasons. !s already
mentioned, the modals in themselves do not express future time, they simply suggest a prediction. 't is the adverbial that
places this prediction in time; otherwise the sentence is factually empty. Thus, there is no point in saying Kit will rain
without mentioning when it will happen.
!s it combines with the progressive aspect, this structure will naturally refer either to an activity in progress at a
specific point in time (i.e. in the future) or to a temporary arrangement, again in the future. 'n this respect, future tense
continuous matches the patterns of the present or past continuous
.his time ne%t week 50ll be teaching them grammar.
50d better move the computer in my room. 50ll be working in there ne%t week.
!part from these normal uses, 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. This use eliminates any idea of
intention, volition or plan. 't 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. That is why this tense has been
labeled Ifuture8as8a8matter8of8courseI
#tand here, they0ll be changing the guard in a minute and you0ll get a good view.
5n fifty years0 time we0ll be living entirely on pills.
)hen 5 get home my dog will be sitting at the door waiting for me.
There is a contrast between future tense continuous and present tense continuous with future value
/e is seeing the doctor tomorrow.
/e0ll be seeing the doctor tomorrow.
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 wor- or do business together).
.e can ma-e even a further distinction between the two if we compare
50m giving a lesson at !.** p.m. tomorrow.
50ll be giving a lesson at !.** p.m. tomorrow.
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.
*n the other hand, we can contrast future tense continuous with the will Q infinitive construction as well as their
negative counterparts; in both cases, the opposition is between a future with intention and a future without intention.
50ll phone mum and tell her about your plans.
50ll be phoning mum and 50ll tell her about your plans.
.he gardener won0t cut down the tree. /e says that it is perfectly all right as it is.
.he gardener won0t be cutting the grass for some time, as 50ve got a lot of other jobs for him to do first.
'n the first sentence the spea-er announces a deliberate future action that will occur as a result of his wishes; in the
second example the spea-er implies that the tal- on the phone will ta-e place either as a matter of routine or for reasons that
have nothing to do with the interlocutorIs plans. %imilarly, won0t cut denotes a refusal, while won0t be cutting suggests that
the gardenerIs program requires otherwise.
'n interrogative constructions, will Q infinitive can express an invitation, a request or a command; the use of future
tense continuous renders the question neutral, bearing no imposition on the part of the spea-er
)ill you please take the dog out for a walkF (request)
)ill you be taking the dog out for a walkF (question only)
%ince they are more polite and more tactful and do not put pressure on the addressee, such structures have become
more frequent in every day conversation.
*n the other hand, there are restrictions in the use of this linguistic form. 't cannot describe sudden, violent or
abnormal events, as they cannot be interpreted as part of a routine ;.he terrorists will be killing the 1resident tomorrow.
%till, this use has been speculated in colloquial #nglish with humorous or ironic effects. 'dioms such as I,ouIll be losing
your head one of these daysI or I.hatever will he be doing next:I suggesting comic exasperation, are quite common in
everyday speech.
These structures are used to denote future events that ta-e place before other future events or before a certain future
moment. )enerally, they occur with a time expression beginning with by
,y the end of the term 5 will have read all the twelve volumes.
.he police will have heard of the theft by this time tomorrow.
:n :ctober 1
they will have been married for twentyBfive years.
.hen the focus does not concentrate on the result, but rather on the continuity of the action, we use the progressive
,y the end of the day 5 will have been working for ten hours. (continuous action)
,y the end of the month he will have been teaching students for a year. (repeated action)
'n case sentences have a past time axis, all the future time expressions are modified according to the change of
context and indicate future in the past situations. This happens either in narratives or when applying indirect / reported
speech rules
/e was going to tell her what we had done.
.hey were leaving town the ne%t day.
#he said she would call me later that week.
'f be going to is considered the most common form used to express future in the past, would is preferred in literary
There are other ways of referring to the future, which are both formal (to be to, to be about to and to be due to) and
colloquial (to be on the point of, to be near to, to be ready to, to be on the verge of / on the brink of).
.o be to is similar in meaning to have to / ought to and describes formal arrangements made as a result of an
order / command. 'n /e is to return to <ngland tomorrow the most li-ely meaning is that he has received explicit order to
go bac- there. .hen it denotes an official arrangement or plan, it is similar to the simple present with future value, except
that, unli-e the latter, it can retain its future meaning even when it is not accompanied by a future time adverbial
.he chairman of the board is to meet union officials 9tonight=.
.he chairman of the board meets union officials tonight.
.o 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 5 think the play is about to start now. / 5 am just on the point of proposing to her.
.o be due to refers to scheduled times .he ceremony is due to begin in ten minutes. / /is flight is due at (.!A a.m.
0odality refers to notions li-e possibility, impossibility, necessity, we experience certain states of affairs in the real
world, but then we imagine that things are different and in this way we tal- about possible worlds.
There are > general systems of principles that can be invo-ed when we tal- about modality
- the rational laws of deduction @ probability, possibility, impossibility
- the social or institutional laws 8 legal authority/institution or oneIs social status according to which you have or you
don"t have authority over somebody else; these modalities refer to duty, compulsion, order, command, appropriateness
- the natural laws of physics, chemistry, biology, anatomy etc. referring to modalities that define the notion of physical
and intellectual ability/capacity.
0odal verbs are a syntactically defined subset of auxiliary verbs with specific properties
- inversion with the subject ($ay 5 borrow your carF)
- negative with not (@ou can8t throw plates at him3)
- >
person defective (compare 5 can play the piano. vs. /e can play the violin.)
- no non8finite forms such as infinitives, past or present participles 9Kto may, Kcanning, Kmusted)
- no co8occurrence (;5 must can do it.)
0odals are polysemous words. $ay in a sentence li-e @ou may go now. indicates permission, whereas in /e may
be there already. it suggests possibility. 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.
0odal verbs evince two basic meanings
- deontic (root) sense ability, permission, duty
- epistemic sense possibility, impossibility, certainty.
The difference in meaning is reflected in their different syntactic behaviors. &eontic forms do not ta-e the
progressive, do not occur with the perfect infinitive and their subject is always PQ humanR. #pistemic forms co8occur 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. Though it proves to be a very felicitous distinction, it will be noticed later that the rule holds true
only for the most important modal verbs (may, can and must). The less developed modals do not observe it
@ou should be listening to what your sister is saying. (deontic should combines with the continuous infinitive to
suggest an action in progress at the moment of spea-ing)
@ou ought to have paid closer attention to your guests. (deontic ought to combines with the perfect infinitive to
suggest past time reference)
&eontic can expresses .h/012a 3r menta a411t/, referring to potential acts, not real ones.
/e can speak <nglish. (<l stie sa vorbeasca engleNa. 8 general permanent ability)
-ook, 5 can / Kam able to swim. (1ot sa inot. 8 now)
Can is used in parallel with a synonymous expression having a fuller range of forms 8 to be able to. !part from
replacing can in contexts for which the modal has no forms, to be able to has a specific meaning, and in certain contexts we
do distinguish between the uses of the two. .o be able to is preferred when referring to a specific achievement, though this
context does not rule out the use of can
$ary has now recovered from her illness and is able to / can go to school.
1owever, can is commonly used with verbs of perception (see, hear, smell, taste, feel) and cognitive verbs of the
type believe, remember, understand. .o be able to is never used when referring to something going on at the moment of
spea-ing (see example above). .hen used with verbs of physical perception can actualiFes the reference of the verb. 'n this
respect, can is li-e an aspectual mar-er (often not translated)
5 see the swallows flying up the sky. / 5 can see the swallows flying up in the sky.
Eo you hear the wind blowingF / Can you hear the wind blowingF
#ach pair of sentences has the same translation (Jad randunelele Nburand sus pe cer. and AuNi cum sufla vantulF).
&eontic can has two past forms could and was / were able to. %imilarly, could is used to express a habitual or
recurrent event in the past, describing generic ability. )as/were able to refers to the actual performance of a single
successful achievement. (ompare
/e could play the piano very well when he was a child. (generic)
)hen he moved closer to the painting, he was able to / Khe could see that it was a fake. (particular)
*n the other hand, couldn8t will always imply that the event didn"t ta-e place. There is no difference between
could and to be able to in negative sentences.
Can is also often used to express sporadic ability or an irregular pattern of behavior #he can be quite catty. / /e
can be nasty. / 4renchmen can be arrogant.
!bility in the future is expressed by means of either can or the periphrastic shall/will be able to with a difference in
meaning. .o be able to refers to some event that will be possible in the future. 'n contrast, when ma-ing a decision at the
moment of spea-ing about some event in the future, we use can
5 hope they will be able to book seats for the concert tomorrow.
@ou can go home when you have finished writing your essay.
$aybe we can go fishing ne%t week.
The second meaning of deontic can is that of .erm10013n. Can is more widely employed than IpermissionI may in
colloquial #nglish. 'n formal and polite #nglish, be it written or spo-en, we encounter the opposite phenomenon. $ay
replaces can in all contexts, being perceived as the more respectable form. 1owever, unli-e may which is employed when
an authority gives you permission, the use of can suggests that Iyou have permissionI rather than I' give you permissionI. 'n
other words, there is no rule or law that prevents you from performing a certain action. (ompare
*ld man @ou can park here as far as 5 know.
5oliceman @ou may park here.
5ermission can has an additional pragmatic interpretation in sentences li-e @ou can forget about your holiday.
(strong recommendation) or @ou can jump in the lake if you feel like it. (sarcastic suggestion).
'n interrogations the use of can to request permission is simply a matter of courtesy; the hearer is not usually in a
position to deny permission
Can 5 leave nowF / Can 5 have the saltF

$egative sentences use either cannot or may not to refuse permission
@ou may not leave yet. (' do not permit you to leaveS)
@ou mustn0t talk loudly in this auditorium. (' oblige you no to tal- loudly in this auditorium)
Though both sentences represent prohibitions, the second seems to be more forceful because it is interpreted as
positively forbidding an action instead of negatively refusing permission.
There is no past time for permission can with the exception of could used as a past tense form in reported speech
/e said 5 could leave the ne%t day. / #he said that, if he wanted, he could join us.
#pistemic can expresses the .3001411t/-1m.3001411t/ of an action to ta-e place. 't is more frequent in negations
and interrogations, whereas in affirmative sentences may is preferred
/e may be reading in the library.
Could he be reading in the libraryF
/e can0t/couldn0t be reading in the library.
+oughly spea-ing, we can establish a distinction between can and may in affirmative sentences if we conceive of
them in terms of the opposition factual vs. theoretical possibility. (ompare
.he dollar can be devalued. ('t is possible to devalue the dollar. 8 theoretical possibility)
.he dollar may be devalued. ('t is possible that the dollar is devalued. 8 factual possibility)
.hen uttered, the second sentence should be ta-en more seriously because it does not refer to a mere possibility
that has occurred to the spea-er, but to a real contingency, such as a time of financial crisis. Onfortunately, in formal #nglish
may seems to be used to express both factual and theoretical possibility, so the distinction persists only in colloquial
.hile cannot expresses the impossibility of some action to occur (appearing in cases of external negation), may
not suggests the possibility of something not happening (illustrating cases of internal negation)
5f he saw a light it can8t have been the light of the car. (external negation)
(it is not possible that he saw the light of the car)
/e may not arrive in time. (internal negation)
(it is possible that he does not arrive in time)
2or past time reference epistemic can combines with the perfect infinitive li-e any other epistemic modal
/e can0t have had time to hide the evidence.
Could he have spread that vicious rumor about the twinsF
'n this case, the modal has present time reference, but the verb inside has past time reference.
&eontic may is used to grant or give .erm10013n when the spea-er has the authority to do so (see comparison to
permission can above). 5ermission may is also present in rules and regulations in formal #nglish A local health authority
may, with the approval of the $inister, receive from persons to which advice is given under this section6 such charges, 9if
any= as the authority consider reasonable. %ince the example above refers specifically to the powers a certain official is
endowed with, its semantic content accounts for the presence of permission may.
'n questions, may signals the hearerIs authority, not the spea-erIs, being similar to must.
.hen permission is denied, the spea-er uses either may not or must not if the authority prohibits some action (@ou
may not visit that family. / @ou must not speak to her again3).
2or past time reference may is replaced by to be allowed to, whereas in reported speech might is used
5 was eventually allowed to go abroad to visit my relatives.
.he nurse said we might speak to the patient.
!s already mentioned above, epistemic may is used to express .3001411t/, focusing primarily on specific
situations. 2or instance, a sentence li-e A friend may betray you is interpreted more li-e a warning about a particular friend.
'n this case the truth of the sentence or its falsity can be verified.
*n the other hand, can basically focuses on general situations. 'n a sentence li-e A friend can betray you it is
suggested that friends sometimes do that.
.hen combined with the perfect infinitive, may / might refer to events in the past
/e may have already discovered the secret of that tomb.
(N#. /e can0t have already discovered the secret of that tomb.)
$ay with the sense of IpossibilityI also appears in concessive clauses in colloquial #nglish as an alternative to an
although clause
@ou may be in charge, but this doesn0t give you the right to be rude.
Although you are in charge, this doesn0t give you the right to be rude.
!lso, there is an idiomatic expression with try, using may for present reference and might for past reference
.ry as 5 might, 5 couldn0t push the door open.
.ry as he may, he can never remember people0s names.
$ay / might combines with several adverbs that emphasiFe the modal expression with both present and past time
5 might well decide to come.
5 might just start to trust you.
$ay / might as well expresses the idea that there is no alternative left to a bad situation )e might as well give up
now because we don0t stand a chance if we fight against them.
!s already suggested, epistemic may does not occur in interrogative sentences, where can is preferred, and hence,
the theoretical 8 factual possibility opposition disappears.
The relationship between must and have to parallels that between may and can in both their deontic and epistemic
.hen employed with its deontic meaning, must expresses 3418at13n. $ust has either neutral reference when, for
instance, the spea-er says what somebody else requires or it can point to the spea-er who is in some position of authority
and imposes a duty. 'n this respect, it resembles IpermissionI may.
.he university saysH .hese people must be e%pelled if they disrupt lectures. (neutral)
@ou must return all the books to the library by 4riday. (the spea-er is in authority)
.hen we consider the first person singular or plural (5 must / we must), we notice that the idea of compulsion is not
lost, it is simply directed towards the spea-er himself, so that we tal- about self8compulsion; the spea-er imposes something
on himself through a sense of duty or self8discipline. This contrasts with the use of have to 95 have to / we have to= which
suggests that some external authority imposes the duty
5 must finish writing the essay by tonight. (internal obligation 8 ' have my own program and ' want to stic- to it)
5 have to finish writing the essay by tonight. (external obligation 8 the teacher wants the essays tomorrow morning)
/ave to / have got to have either neutral or external orientation as to the source of obligation
58ve got to be at -ondon airport at ".
@ou have to make up a plan before you start.
#tudents have to be careful with their grades.
.hile have to is used in formal language and has non8finite forms (will have to, having to), have got to is
characteristic of colloquial 7ritish #nglish and is more restricted in use because of its lac- of non8finite forms (Kwill have
got to, Khaving got to). /ave got to is rarer in the past and does not imply that the event referred to too- place, unli-e have
)e8d got to make a trip to @ork anyway so it didn8t matter too much. (it was necessaryS)
)e had to make a trip to @ork to collect the bloody thing. (the event too- place)
!s already seen, have to is used for past time reference replacing must. %ubject8oriented must needs no past tense
(must is different from have to only in the present). $ust appears as such with past time reference only in reported speech
#he said she must/had to go.
3i-e the other modals must is used for future events )e must do something about it tomorrow. #hall/will have to is
used if there is a suggestion that the necessity is future or conditioned 5 shall have to keep silent for an hour. / )e8ll have to
go out if you8re going to do it.
.hen must is used in interrogative as well as in conditional clauses, it is the hearer"s authority that is involved,
not the spea-er"s $ust 5 sweep the floor and wash the dishes myselfF (T Are these your ordersF= There is an even more
restricted use of must in interrogatives with 0you0 as subject that conveys a note of sarcasm $ust you really smoke those
horrible cigarsF 'n a sentence li-e 5f you must smoke, go to the window, which is again extremely ironical, the spea-er
pretends to interpret the hearerIs need to smo-e as something he cannot control rather than as a nasty habit he enjoys
*therwise, necessity is questioned in /ave you got to do itF / Eo you have to do itF / ;eed 5 say moreF 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, while the latter refers to a specific occasion. (onsider
Eo you have to be at school at ' o0clockF ('s this what you have to do every day:)
/ave you got to be at school at ' o0clockF ('s this what you have to do tomorrow morning:)
'n negative sentences must not negates the event indicating the obligation not to perform some action (internal
negation), whereas needn0t or don0t have to negate the necessity (external negation)
@ou mustn8t reveal what 58ve said. (' oblige you not to reveal what 'Ive said)
@ou needn8t answer that question. (,ou are not obliged to answer that question.)
#pistemic must expresses 3812a ne2e001t/-.r34a411t/5 you get to -nowledge by inference or reasoning; the
evidence is such as to imply the truth of the sentence.
/ave to also expresses 3812a ne2e001t/9
.here has to be someone who knows the truth about his disappearance.
@ou have to have made some mistake here.
!gain the difference between epistemic must and epistemic have to is that between factual necessity and theoretical
necessity, paralleling the may B can situation
#omeone must be hiding the truth. ('t is impossible that everyone is telling the truth.)
#omeone has to be hiding the truth. ('t is impossible for everyone to be telling the truth.)
Thus, have to is stronger than must in the sense that it does not refer to a mere assumption or deduction, it suggests
that the possibility of the opposite state of affairs cannot be conceived of. The must example above is interpreted as a simple
suspicion, whereas the have to example expresses a downright accusation.
'n !merican #nglish have got to has acquired an epistemic interpretation !# @ou8ve got to be joking./ 7# @ou
must be joking.
2or past time reference must combines with the perfect infinitive li-e all the other epistemic modals /e must have
been flying too low. :therwise, 5 don0t see any e%planation for the crash.
The negative counterpart of epistemic must is can8t % the Cnatural expression of impossibilityD #he must be over
"*. :h, she can8t.
+ILL - +OUL(
Jolition will relates to either :11n8ne00 (wea- volition) or 1n010ten2e (strong volition) or 1ntent13n (intermediate
The idea of willingness is commonly related to second 8 person requests of the type
)ill you bring me a glass of waterF
)ho will tell me what 50ve done wrongF
'n such questions will is a polite variant of the imperative for the =
and the >
persons. )ould in such questions is
even more polite )ould you kindly tell me 6 / )ould you be good enough6 / )ould you like to 6F This type of volition
will is also present in conditional clauses in the second and third persons
5f you will say so, 5 shall have a cake.
5 shan8t be happy unless she will come.
#trong volitional will shows oneIs determination or intention to do something
5 will see him today if that0s what 5 want3
05 won0t do it30 / 0@es, you will.0
#andy, honey, why will you keep asking stupid questionsF
5f you will ask her out every time you see her, don0t complain that she0s avoiding you.
The last two examples that employ second and third persons clearly imply that the spea-er is exasperated at the
interlocutorsI stubbornness. %ince it has such an emphatic meaning, strong volitional will is never contracted to 0ll and
always stressed in speech.
The third type of intermediate will occurs mainly with the first person expressing a promise or a threat and is
usually contracted
5 will pay him back for what he0s done to me3
)e0ll cut your allowance if you refuse to listen to us3
)e0ll see about that when he returns.
.hen volitional will is negated, it expresses a strong refusal
.hey won8t give me a key, so 5 can8t work.
,ut she loves him and she won8t leave him.
5 won8t have my name on the title page.
2or past time reference with subject8oriented will the form would is $*T used if there is an accomplished
interpretation for the event, but wouldn8t is normal. 'nstead, volitional be willing to is more li-ely
5 asked him and he was willing to come.
K5 asked him and he would come.
5 asked him but he wouldn8t come.
Jolitional would is used in adverbial clauses of condition and after wish, being more conditional than will.
<pistemic will is related to the idea of .r34a411t/, the inference concerning the present time as it involves a
present situation. 'f there is reference to a past situation, then we use will in combination with the perfect infinitive
.his will be the ;ational 2allery.
.hat will be Iohn at the door.
#he8ll be sleeping now.
Iohn will have received the book by this time.
#pistemic will is li-e epistemic must in the sense that the conclusion is reached on the basis of the evidence
available. )enerally spea-ing 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
Iohn must be in his office. (' can see the lights on).
Iohn will be in his office. (from previous -nowledge why the lights were on, we infer that 9ohn is in his office).
1ower will expresses properties of certain objects, how they characteristically behave. Onli-e volition will whose
subject is always a person or at least an animal endowed with willpower, power will employs inanimate subjects and is
subject8oriented (the source of power is intrinsic to the subject of will)
.he hall will seat five hundred.
@ou know that certain drugs will improve your condition.
.he door won8t open.
2or past time reference we use power would, which parallels volition would but retains an inanimate subject (#he
asked if the table would bear.)
/abitual will refers to a situation that ta-es place regularly or frequently as a consequence of a natural tendency of
a person or an object
A falling drop will hollow a stone.
,oys will be boys.
A cat will often play with a mouse before killing it.
2or 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; that is why used to can combine with both state and activity verbs, unli-e would whose usage is
restricted to activity verbs only
/e used to live in that house in those days.
/e would 9often= buy strawberries in those days / whenever she came.
The deontic meaning of shall is that of 3418at13n; however5 it is the will of the spea-er who imposes an
obligation, not the will of the subject of the sentence (shall is spea-er8oriented). 'n modern #nglish we use mustL shall is an
archaic form of order still present in fairy tales, in the 7ible and in legal statements or rules
/e shall be punished if he does not obey.
@ou shall never hear from me again.
@ou shall receive a reward if you follow my advice.
.he first condition of legal justice is that it shall hold the balance impartially.
This imperious -ind of shall, used with second and third person subjects, can suggest either a promise or a threat
on the part of the spea-er.
'n interrogations that employ the first person the spea-er inquires about the wish or will of the addressee. #hall 5
goF represents an offer to go (Eo you want me to goF), while #hall we go to the movies tonightF expresses an invitation.
&eontic should is a wea-er equivalent of deontic shall, the sense of obligation being rendered in the form of a
0u88e0t13n or piece of adv12e. #hould has present and future reference, for past reference combining with the perfect
infinitive and acquiring a contrary8to8fact interpretation
@ou should pay more attention to what 50m telling you right now.
5f 5 could have my way, you should be sent to #iberia for what you0ve done.
@ou should have told me that you were hungry. (7ut, in fact, you didnIt)
#pistemic should is used for a00um.t13n0 about present or past situations (if combined with the perfect infinitive)
.he plane should be landing now.
.he parcel should have arrived by now.
!ssumptions with epistemic should are less confident than assumptions with epistemic will. /e should have
finished by now means that I' expect he has finished by nowI, whereas /e will have finished by now suggests that I' am sure
he has finishedI.
4ery close in interpretation to should, ought to represents a tentative counterpart of must and shall.
&eontic ought to is similar in meaning to must, denoting 3418at13n or dut/, with a single difference while must
suggests that the spea-er is confident the interlocutor will do as told, the use of ought to implies that the spea-er is not very
certain the addressee will perform his duty. (ompare
@ou must give some money to your sister. (' am sure you will.)
@ou ought to give some money to your sister. (7ut ' donIt -now whether you will or not)
1ence, ought to gives the possibility of non8action, unli-e must. .e may say /e ought to go but he won8t but an
utterance li-e /e must go but Khe won8t is impossible. 0oreover, when used with a first person subject, the implication is
that the obligation will not be fulfilled. 'f a driver says 5 ought to go slowly here, he implies that he isnIt going to go slowly,
but if he says 5 must go slowly here, he really intends to go slowly.
2or past time reference ought to selects the perfect infinitive @ou ought to have been more careful with the
#pistemic ought to expresses .3tent1a .r34a411t/; again its meaning is related to that of epistemic must
#usan ought to be at her office now.
#usan must be at her office now.
The must variant reflects the spea-erIs certainty that his deduction is correct, since there is evidence that leads him
to the respective conclusion. The ought to variant reflects the spea-erIs cautiousness in asserting that as he also ta-es into
account that there is a slight possibility that something unexpected might have happened to require her presence somewhere
!lthough they are close in meaning, need 9a fi necesar= and need to 9a avea nevoie= differ in point of grammatical
behavior since the former is a modal verb and the latter a full lexical verb (which, consequently, forms questions and
negative forms with do).
0odal need is mainly used in negative and interrogative sentences as a correlative of must. 0odal need doesn"t
occur in affirmative sentences (contexts with hardly, scarcely or only, where need is not negated, are still negative due to the
negative adverbials)
5 need hardly mention how grateful 5 am for this opportunity.
@ou need only touch one of the doors for the alarm to start ringing.
;eed not expresses a2k 3< ne2e001t/ similarly to the negative forms of have to or need to. .hen we refer to a past
situation, the choice is between didn0t have to and didn0t need to (the lexical verb).
'n reported speech need is retained just li-e must #he believed she need not fear any persecution.
!t the same time, needn0t also occurs with the perfect infinitive to refer to a past situation. ,et, in this case it
expresses an unnecessary action which was nevertheless performed, thus resembling shouldn0t have and oughtn0t have in as
far as in all three cases the event does ta-e place
@ou needn0t have carried all this luggage by yourself. (lac- of necessity)
.hat needn0t have done and didn0t have / need to do have in common is the lac- of necessity. They differ in that
the former implies that the action does ta-e place, while the latter implies that as a consequence of this lac- of necessity, the
action is no longer performed.
5 didn0t have / need to pick up $ary from school because she phoned me saying she would walk home.
5 needn0t have driven to school to pick up $ary but 5 had forgotten she0d told me she had other plans.
3exical need occurs with a (passive) infinitive or a noun / pronoun object or a gerund
5 need to know what time you0ll get home.
5 just need some money.
.he gas tank needs to be refilled / refilling.
Eare resembles need to a great extent in that it has both modal and lexical variants and it also occurs in
interrogative and negative sentences, and only rarely in statements. %tudents must pay attention to the distinct grammatical
properties of dare as modal and lexical verb
Iohn daren8t come. / Eare Iohn comeF
Iohn doesn8t dare to come. / Eoes Iohn dare to comeF
'n the affirmative dare is used in the expression 5 daresay / 5 dare say, which means I' supposeI 5 daresay the plane
will be delayed.
'n /ow dare9d= youF / /ow dare9d= he / theyF, the spea-er expresses indignation at the actions of the interlocutor
/ow dare you shout at meF
!t the same time, lexical dare has an additional meaning (0to challenge0) if used transitively and followed by
object Q full infinitive #omebody dared me to jump off the bridge into the river.
.hereas the indicative expresses facts and is closely related to reality, the subjunctive Hrepresents something not as
actual reality, but as formed in the mind of the spea-er as a desire, wish, volition, conception, thought; sometimes with more
or less hope of realiFation, or, in the case of a statement, with more or less belief; sometimes with little or no hope or faith.H
()eorge (urme, <J>A>J<)
.hile the indicative is informative, relating facts to moments in real time, the subjunctive is prescriptive, it
indicates a theoretically possible or potential course of events that the world may ta-e. The subjunctive expresses value
judgments, commentaries about theoretical or desirable situations or commands aimed at ma-ing somebody bring about a
certain state of affairs.
The subjunctive can be either 0/nthet12 (using old inflectional forms) or ana/t12 / periphrastic (employing modal
verbs, the most widely used being should). 'n its turn, the synthetic subjunctive classifies into an 3d subjunctive and a ne:
one. !ll of them have present and past forms.
The old subjunctive is used in <3rmua0 and after :3ud rather (expressing preference) and had 4etter
(interpreted as suggestion or advice)
-ong live the ?ueen3 #o be it3 Come what may3 2rammar be hanged3
5 would rather go to the mountains than to the seaside.
5 would rather have lived in the country.
5t0s rather late, 5 had better leave now.
)ould rather can be replaced by prefer, but this requires the use of the gerund 5 prefer reading to writing.
!t the same time, !merican #nglish tends to use this type of subjunctive in contexts such as >5t0s important that
you go there.> where 7ritish #nglish uses the analytic subjunctive 8 >5t0s important that you should go there.>
The new forms of the synthetic subjunctive 8 second form of the verb for the present subjunctive ($7. T* 7# has
.#+# for all persons) and had Q third form of the verb for the past subjunctive 8 are used in the following contexts
17 after 1<
/e wouldn0t accept your apologies if he knew about your lies. (hypothetical situation)
.hey wouldn0t have come to the meeting if they hadn0t been invited. (hypothetical past situation)
!n alternative to the last example is a structure introduced by une00 (T only if not) always followed by the verb in
the affirmative. 1owever, not all negative if sentences can be turned into unless sentences
.hey wouldn0t have come to the meeting unless they had been invited.
5f 5 don0t come back in time, 50ll give you a call.
K50ll give you a call unless 5 come back in time.
'f one situation depends on another, we can replace if with .r3v1ded, 3n 23nd1t13n that or a0 3n8 a0, which are
followed by the indicative
50ll lend you the money provided you don0t tell my mother.
5 won0t scold you again as long as you behave nicely.
The same context mentioned above allows the use of if it were not for (for present reference), 1< 1t hadn*t 4een <3r
(for past reference) or 4ut <3r, all followed by noun phrases
5f it weren0t for your interest in his studies, he would fail all his e%ams.
5f it hadn0t been for Iim, 5 would have drowned in the sea.
,ut for her ambition, she wouldn0t have managed to overcome that situation.
!part from the subjunctive forms mentioned so far, if can be followed by modal verbs that preserve their original
meaning in these contexts 0h3ud5 :15 :3ud and 23ud. #hould after if, as well as the parallel structure happen to, ma-es
the possibility of an event seem unli-ely
5f you should hear from him/if you happen to hear from him, will you inform meF
)ill after if introduces the idea of your willingness to do what is suggested; would in similar contexts is more
tentative, more polite
5f you will join me to that meeting, 5 would be very grateful.
5f you would fill in these forms now, 5 could grant you the loan sooner.
*n the other hand, will in if sentences can also express obstinate insistence, usually referring to a bad habit
5f you will laugh at people all the time, no wonder nobody wants to talk to you.
The negative counterpart of will indicates oneIs refusal to do something
5f he won0t listen to me, 5 can0t help him.
$7. !part from these two types of conditional tenses that employ subjunctive forms, there is a third possibility that
uses the indicative (usually, the simple present) in the subordinate and a future form in the main clause (see present tense
simple with future value). .hen we aim at emphasiFing completion after if, we use a perfect form, suggesting that the event
in the conditional sentence necessarily precedes the event in the main clause
5f you have finished your meal, 5 will clear the plates.
$7. 3iterary #nglish also allows inversion of the subject and the auxiliary verb instead of an if clause ( /ad 5
arrived earlier instead of 5f 5 had arrived earlier, )ere 5 to return sooner instead of 5f 5 were to return sooner, etc.) /ad and
were are in fact the auxiliaries most commonly involved in such emphatic structures.
!7 after 1< 3n/ to add emphasis to a hypothetical situation or to suggest a sense of regret when combined with the past
subjunctive; quite often the second part of the sentence is left out
5f only 5 won the competition3
5f only she had told me the truth, 5 wouldn0t have tried to talk her out of selling the car3
$7 after even 1< - even th3u8h
.hey would reject her proposal even if she followed their instructions.
@ou wouldn0t have found her even if you had hired a private detective.
$7. 't is also possible to employ the indicative after even if/though, however with a difference in meaning.
5 still don0t like him even if he tried to be nice to me last time 5 saw him. (factual)
5 wouldn0t like him even if he tried to be nice to me. (hypothetical)
&7 after a0 1< - a0 th3u8h to express an unreal comparison
/e is looking at me as if 5 were his longBlost brother.
.hey were acting as if they hadn0t recogniNed him.
'7 after 1t*0 6h18h7 t1me we employ either the long infinitive or a 2or Q !ccusative Q 'nfinitive construction to suggest that
the right moment to do something has come, or we use the present form of the subjunctive to imply that we are rather
late in doing something
5t0s time 9for us= to pack our luggage and go.
5t0s 9high= time you informed her of your failure.
>7 after :10h
5 wish he came back sooner.
5 wish they hadn0t left for Dome.
$otice that a construction with :3ud after :10h is possible when the spea-er intends to express an annoying habit,
to invite someoneIs cooperation or to indicate that either people or events frustrate his desires
5 wish you would stop interrupting me.
5 wish you would hurry up.
5 wish it would stop raining.
?7 after :3ud rather when the spea-erIs preference involves another personIs performance of an action
5 would rather they invited me to the theater.
/e would rather his daughter hadn0t behaved like a fool.
@7 after 0u..301n8 / 0u..30e or 1ma81ne
#uppose you inherited a huge fortune, how would you spend itF
#upposing they hadn0t arrived in time, would you still have attempted to save the kidF
5magine we0d never spent this time together3
A7 after 1n 2a0e5 which introduces a contingency or possibility against which a precaution is needed in advance, we use
either the indicative or the analytic subjunctive (to suggest greater improbability)
50ll make a cake in case 4ather .ed drops by in the afternoon.
50ll save a seat for you in case you shoud decide to come.
This type of subjunctive appears in complement T1!T8clauses of various -inds, suggesting theoretical or potential
states or events. 2unction 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, such sentences often express either a command, an order, a
resolution, an intention, etc. or a wish, a suggestion, a piece of advice, etc.
5 demand that they should be treated with more respect.
5 desire that he should be granted the scholarship.
5t is desirable that he could obtain the loan to pay for his studies.
5t is my desire that she should be invited to our reception.
<) after exercitive verbs ask, beg, advise, order, instruct, prohibit, command, propose, urge, recommend, suggest etc. in
object clauses
/e suggested that we should take the path to the left.
2od forbid that your husband should find out you0ve been cheating on him3
.he king ordered that his kingdom should be divided among his sons.
=) after boulomaic verbs want, wish, hope, desire, choose in object clauses
5 wish you should be here.
5 didn0t choose that they should shun her.
5 desire that you should comply with my request.
>) after verbs of linguistic communication tell, say, arrange, inform, point out, remark, insist, convince, persuade etc. in
object clauses
/e told them that 5 should be more careful with the kids.
#he convinced me that 5 should apply for a grant.
5 insist that the meeting should be over by ten.
?) in assertive sentences after doubt, think, matter, fancy, imagine, complain in object clauses
And that you should deceive us, well, 5 don0t e%actly understand it, but 5 can imagine it.
5t doesn0t matter that $a% should have bought a Cadillac.
5 doubt that 5 should succeed.
A) after emotive verbs and adjectives
- non8factive intransitive adjectives (in subject clauses) be good / right / best / important / essential / natural /
9un=likely / necessary etc.
5t is important that you should understand the underlying meaning of his words.
5t is very unlikely that he should have already received news from her.
- non8factive transitive verbs and adjectives (in object clauses) intend, prefer, hate, be an%ious / eager
5 prefer that they should call before paying me a visit.
5 am most an%ious that she should get the present 5 bought for her.
- factive intransitive adjectives be odd / tragic / amaNing / surprising
5t is amaNing that they should survive after all this time.
5t is odd that you should have agreed to such a proposal.
- factive transitive verbs (in subject and object clauses) amaNe, alarm, bother, surprise, astonish, regret etc.
5t bothers me that he should be so obtuse.
5t amaNes me that you could give up on us so easily.
/e regretted that the little girl should be ill, but 5 know that she is shamming.
<) *2 5O+5*%#
-et the dog loose so that he can have a run.
/e had sat between the twins so that he could court them.
5 called in the hope that 5 might find you.
)e evacuated the building lest the walls should collapse.
=) (*$(#%%'4#
4oolish though she may be, she is kind of heart.
/owever little you may love her, 5 don0t think you will abandon her.
)hatever sins he may have, he can still be saved.
>) *2 (*$&'T'*$
#hould the dam e%plode, we would immediately evacuate the village.
5 could help you if you would agree to follow my advice.
?) *2 +#%O3T
)e should proceed in such a manner that the public may indorse our cause.
#he is so ill that she should be given an e%tra dose immediately.
A) *2 +#!%*$
)e dared not speak for fear the enemy might/would hear us.