Time and tenseTime – a line on which the present moment is located as a continuously moving point. PAST THE PRESENT MOMENT FUTURE _______________________________________________________ [now]In relating the referential view of time to the meaning of verbs, it is useful to reformulate it in the following way: on the SEMANTIC level of interpretation, something is defined as ‘present’ if it exists at the present moment and may also exist in the past and in the future.
Time and tense(1) Paris stands on the River Seine.(1) describes a ‘present’ situation, even though this situation has existed for many centuries in the past and may well exist for an indefinitely long period in the future.The same is true for sentences of more limited time span:(2) John boasts a lot.(2) applies to past and present, and carries the implication that it will apply to an indefinite period in the future.
Time and tenseTENSE is a grammatical category that is realized by verb inflection. Since English has no future inflected form of the verb, the threefold semantic opposition (past – present – future) is reduced to two tenses: the PRESENT TENSE and the PAST TENSE, which typically refer to present and past time respectively.Future meaning is conveyed by various means, among others by the present tense:(3) Tomorrow is Friday.
Stative and dynamic senses ofverbsThere is a broad distinction between the STATIVE and DYNAMIC senses in which verbs are used to refer to situations.Verbs like be, have and know have stative senses when they refer to a single unbroken state of affairs:(4) I have known the Penfolds all my life.Verbs like drive, speak and attack have dynamic senses, as can be seen when they are used with the present perfect to refer to a sequence of separate events:(5) I have driven sports cars for years.
Stative and dynamic senses ofverbsA verb may shift in sense from one category to another.For example, have is usually stative (She has two sisters). But it has a dynamic sense in We have dinner at Maxim’s quite frequently.Dynamic verb senses can regularly occur with the imperative and progressive, but stative verbs cannot:(6) Learn how to swim. *Know how to swim.(7) I am learning to swim. *I am knowing how to swim.In general, only dynamic senses follow do in a pseudo-cleft sentence:(8) What she did was (to) learn Spanish.(9) *What she did was (to) know Spanish.
Aspect (vid)ASPECT is a grammatical category that reflects the way in which the meaning of a verb is viewed with respect to time (although aspect itself does not indicate time). There are two aspects in English, the perfect and the progressive, which may combine in a complex verb phrase, and are marked for present and past tense:Present perfect has examinedPast perfect had examinedPresent progressive is examiningPast progressive was examiningPresent perfect progressive has been examiningPast perfect progressive had been examining
AspectIn B/C/S prefixes are typically used to mark aspect (e.g. dokuhati, doliti, dotrčati, doletjeti, etc.).ASPECT is a category of a verb which expresses action or state as being in progress, as being completed, or as being repeated.For example, an event represented by a verb form may be regarded:as a single point on a time continuum, which implies completeness (e.g. in B/C/S oprati, otpjevati);as a repetition of points, which implies iteration (e.g. in B/C/S bacati vs. baciti);as a single duration with a beginning, a middle and an end, which implies duration (e.g. in B/C/S prati vs. oprati, pisati vs. napisati).
Simple tenses – simple presenttense(I) The STATE PRESENT is used with stative verb senses to refer to a single unbroken state of affairs that existed in the past, exists now, and is likely to continue to exist in the future. It includes the ‘timeless present’, which refers to ‘eternal truths’ such as Two and two make four, or to less extreme instances of timelessness, such as The British Isles have a temperate climate.It also includes more restricted time spans:(10) Margaret is tall.(11) He does not believe in hard work.(12) This soup tastes delicious.
Simple tenses – simple presenttense (II) The HABITUAL PRESENT is used with dynamic verb senses to refer to events that repeatedly occur without limitation on their extension into the past or future. Like the state present, it includes the ‘timeless present’, such as Water boils at 100°C and The earth moves round the sun, and more restricted time spans: (13) We go to Brussels every year. (14) She makes her own dresses. (15) She doesn’t smoke. (16) Bill drinks heavily. Whereas the STATE PRESENT refers to something that applies at the time of speaking or writing, this is very often not so for the HABITUAL PRESENT (cf. 16) It is a sign of the HABITUAL PRESENT that one can easily add a frequency adverbial (often, once a day, every day, etc.) to specify the frequency of the event.
Simple tenses – simple presenttense(III) The INSTANTANEOUS PRESENT (trenutačna sadašnjost) is used with dynamic verb senses to refer to a single event with little or no duration that occurs at the time of speaking or writing. It is used only in certain restricted situations, for example, in commentaries or self-commentaries:(17) Black passes the ball to Fernandez.(18) I enclose a form of application.It is also used with performative verbs that refer to the speech acts performed by uttering the sentences:(19) I apologize for my behaviour.(20) We thank you for your recent inquiry.
Simple present tense for past andfuture Three additional kinds of uses of the simple present that are best seen as extended interpretations of the basic meaning: (I) The HISTORIC PRESENT refers to past time, and is characteristic of popular narrative style. It conveys the dramatic immediacy of an event happening at the time of narration: (21) Just as we arrived, up comes Ben and slaps me on the back as if we’re life-long friends. The HISTORIC PRESENT is also used in informal conversation: (22) Charlie’d said he wanted to phone Lilian and when I come back over the road he was in a phone box. The HISTORIC PRESENT is also used as a stylistically marked device in fictional narrative for imaginary events in the past: (23) The crowd swarms around the gateway, and seethes with delighted anticipation; excitement grows, as suddenly their hero makes his entrance…
Simple present tense for past andfuture(II) PRESENT SIMPLE FOR PAST with VERBS OF COMMUNICATION or RECEPTION of COMMUNICATION to suggest that the information communicated is still valid:(24) I hear you’re going to take that house in Italy.(25) Jack tells me that the position is still vacant.(26) I understand I’m being slated for promotion.Somewhat akin to the other optional uses of the simple present for past time is its use in reference to writers, composers, etc., and their work:(27) Dickens draws his characters from the London underworld of his time.
Simple present tense for past andfuture(III) SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE for FUTURE – in main clauses, the simple present typically occurs with time-position adverbials to suggest that a future event is certain to take place:(28) The plane leaves for Tokyo at eight o’clock tonight.The use of simple present tense for future time is much more common in subordinate clauses, particularly in conditional and temporal clauses:(29) He’ll do it if you pay him.(30) I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from him.
Simple tenses – simple past tenseSimple past tense for past time – this tense is used to refer to a situation set at a definite time in the past:(I) The EVENT PAST is used with dynamic verb senses to refer to a single definite event in the past. The event may take place over an extended period (The Normans invaded England in 1066) or at a point of time (The plane left at 9 a.m.)(II) The HABITUAL PAST is used with dynamic verb senses to refer to past events that repeatedly occur. (31) We spent our holidays in Spain when we were children.(III) The STATE PAST is used with stative verb senses to refer to a single unbroken state of affairs in the past:(32) I once liked reading novels.The HABITUAL and STATE meanings of the past can be paraphrased by used to.
Special uses of the simple pasttense Three special uses of the simple past tense: (I) In INDIRECT SPEECH or INDIRECT THOUGHT, the simple past in the reporting verb may cause the verb in the subordinate reported clause to be backshifted into the simple past: (33) She said that she knew you. (34) I thought you were in Paris. (II) The ATTITUDINAL PAST is optionally used to refer more tentatively (and therefore more politely) to a present state of mind: (35) Did you want to see me now? (36) I wondered whether you are/were free tomorrow. (III) The HYPOTHETICAL PAST is used in certain subordinate clauses, especially if-clauses, to convey what is contrary to belief or expectation of the speaker: (37) If you knew him, you wouldn’t say that. (38) I wish I had a memory like yours.
Simple past tense forprogressivenessIn some cases past forms express progressive meaning without using the progressive form:(39) He did not encounter her again in the corridor, but he thought about her over the next ten days.(40) For several minutes he stared at his reflection in the oval mirror.
Means of expressing future time inEnglishIn the absence of an inflectional tense, there are several possibilities for expressing future time in English.Future time is expressed by means of: modal auxiliaries; modal idioms; semi-auxiliaries; simple present tense; present progressive.
Will, shall + infinitiveFuture prediction:(41) He will be here in half an hour.(42) No doubt I’ll see you next week.For a detailed account of the use of will and shall with a range of modal meanings see Lecture 07, SLIDES 5- 20.
Be going to + infinitive The general meaning of the construction of be going to with the infinitive is ‘future fulfillment of the present’. Two specific meanings: (I) ‘FUTURE FULFILMEMT OF A PRESENT INTENTION’ is chiefly associated with personal subjects and agentive verbs: (43) When are you going to get married? (44) Martha is going to lend us her camera. (45) I’m going to complain if things don’t approve. (II) ‘FUTURE RESULT OF A PRESENT CAUSE’ is found with both personal and nonpersonal subjects: (46) It’s going to rain. (47) There’s going to be trouble. (48) She’s going to have a baby. (49) You’re going to get soaked.
Present progressiveThe general meaning of the present progressive is ‘future arising from present arrangement, plan, or programme’:(50) The orchestra is playing a Mozart symphony after this.(51) The match is starting at 2.30 (tomorrow).(52) I’m taking the children to the zoo (next week).
Simple presentThe future use of the simple present is frequent in subordinate clauses:(53) What will you say if I marry the boss?(54) At this rate, the guests will be drunk before they leave.In main clauses, the future use of the simple present represents a marked future of unusual certainty, attributing to the future the degree of certainty one normally associates with the present and the past. For example, it is used for statements about the calendar:(55) Tomorrow is Friday.(56) School finishes on 21st March.Also to describe immutable events:(57) When is high tide?(58) What time does the match begin?
Simple presentLike the present progressive, it is used with certain dynamic, transitional verbs (arrive, come, leave) to convey the meaning of plan or programme:(59) I go/am going on vacation next week.(60) The plane takes off/is taking off at 20:30 tonight.It is also used with stative verbs to convey the same meaning, but the progressive is then not possible:(61) I’m on vacation next week.
Will/shall + progressive This construction may indicate a future period of time within which another situation occurs: (62) When you reach the end of the bridge, I’ll be waiting there to show you the way. (63) Don’t phone me between 7 and 8. We’ll be having dinner then. Another use denotes ‘future as a matter of course’ (it avoids the interpretation of volition, intention, promise, etc. to which will, shall, be going to are liable): (64) We’ll be flying at 30,000 feet. Spoken by the pilot of an airplane to the passengers, the statement implies that 30,000 feet is the normal and expected altitude for the flight. This implication accounts for the use of construction to convey greater tact than the nonprogressive with will/shall: (65) When will you be paying back the money? (66) A: Will you be passing the post office when you’re out? –B: Probably. Why? A: I need some stamps. Could you get me some?
Be (about) toBe to + infinitive – refers to a future arrangement or plan, future requirement, and intention:(67) Their daughter is to be married soon.(68) You are to be back by 10 o’clock.(69) If he’s to succeed in his new profession, he must try harder. (‘If he intends to succeed…’)Be about to + infinitive simply expresses near future:(70) The train is about to leave.(71) I’m about to read your essay.The negative be not about to (esp. informal) may be paraphrased as ‘have no intention of’:(72) She is not about to complain.
Futurity is often indicated by modals other than will/shall:(73) The weather may improve (tomorrow).(74) You must have dinner with us (soon).It is also indicated by semi-auxiliaries such as be sure to, be bound to, be likely to, and by full verbs such as hope, intend, plan.
Future time in the pastMost of the future constructions described can be used in the past tense to describe something which is in the future when seen from a viewpoint in the past.(I) MODAL VERB CONSTRUCTIION with would (rare, literary narrative style):(75) The time was not far off when he would regret this decision.(II) BE GOING TO + INFINITIVE (often with the sense of ‘unfulfilled intention’):(76) You were going to give me your address. (…’but you didn’t’…)(III) PAST PROGRESSIVE (arrangement predetermined in the past):(77) I was meeting him in Bordeaux the next day.
Future time in the past(IV) BE TO + INFINITIVE (formal) = ‘was destined to’; ‘arrangement’:(78) He was eventually to end up in the bankruptcy court.(79) The meeting was to be held the following week.(V) BE ABOUT TO + INFINITIVE (‘on the point of’; often with the sense of ‘unfulfilled intention’)(80) He was about to hit me.