tense & aspect

English grammar and usage issues

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tense & aspect

Unread postby Sera » 24 Mar 2005, 04:11

Hi there,
Does anyone know what this statement means:

"The future is not so much a tense as an aspect: our view of what is happening is more important."


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Tense and aspect

Unread postby sharon » 01 May 2005, 20:05

Hi sera,

This refers to the fact that there isn't one future tense in English.

You can use present continuous: I'm eating out tonight (you've planned it)
will: do you think it'll rain tomorrow? (not planned, natural event

The choice depends on how you see the future, whether it's arranged, planned, something that will happen naturally. This is where aspect comes in, your choice of verb for the future depends on how you see the event.

I hope this helps


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Unread postby schetin » 14 Sep 2005, 14:37

Hi Sera and Sharon,

Many a linguist have written that there's no Future Tense form in English; few understand what it's all about.

First, Tenses and Time should never be mixed. Tense is a grammatical, formal, category; Time is a semantic category. These should be kept apart.

Although there's no regular form that would express futurity in English, there are a lot of forms that can express it. These forms are - all the Modal verbs, Continuous Aspect (as in Sharon's example), "be about to" construction, Indefinite Aspect, as in "The train leaves at 5 p.m." etc.
Besides, it should be remembered that the verbs "will" and "shall" are Modal verbs that can denote not only futurity, but the actions and states that are going on at present, and even refer the action to the Past, say: "Do what I will, the kitchen fire won't light; and if it won't light I won't cook".

Future isn't an Aspect, because Aspect is a formal category, not semantic (the way you would interpret the word "view").
There are two definite Aspects in English: Perfect and Continuous/Progressive - as opposed to Indefinite/Simple Aspect.

Whoever had worded the surmise you quoted, Sera, didn't know what he was talking about... which is quite usual, by the way.



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