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The English verb. The category of tense.




Tenseis the grammatical category of verbs that expresses the relation between the time of the event and the time of the statement (the moment of speech).

The category of tense is established by means of three-member oppositions of the type: writes ― wrote ― will write;

There are lexical means expressing the time of an action.(e. g. yesterday, tomorrow, a week ago, at 5 p.m., in 1999, etc.)

Lexical means are more exact in comparison with the category of tense as far as generally verbs name an action itself, and not direct time. Besides, the meanings expressed by the category of tense are relative(относительны,связаны). Tense is the grammatical category that reflects the objective time, but tense cannot be fully identified with time [3].

The Present is expressed in speech as a moment of speech or a longer period including this moment.(e. g. Listen! Peteris playing the guitar., Peter is playinga lot these days.).In the second example the situation is obviously extended(продолжается) beyond the moment of speech.

The eternal truth and regular actions are rendered(представлены) by the Present Simple that is often called generic in this case.

e. g. She buys dresses at Mango. (= She is is a regular client of Mango).

In the examples above we have habitual, repeated actions that have no link with the moment of speech. Universal truths can also be considered properties or characteristics of a subject.

The Past is the time that precedes(предшествует) the present moment, and does not include it.

The Future is the time that follows the present moment and does not include it.

Occasionally the Past Simple and the Future Simple can also be used generically.

e. g. Men were deceivers ever.

Girlswill be girls.

Some linguists (O. Jespersen, L.S. Barkhudarov) express serious doubts and even deny the existence of the grammatical future tense. They claim that shall / will + Inf is a free combination which consists of the modal verb shall / will and the Infinitive. The modals preserve their original meaning: shall – that of 'obligation', will – that of 'volition'(выбор). Thus, modern English has no pure grammatical means of expressing futurity.

There are historical grounds that prove this point of view. The Present and the Past express real actions while future forms express actions which may or may not be fulfilled. That is why the idea of the grammatical future is so easily connected with modality.

B.I. Ilyish and some other scholars put forward some formal arguments to prove the reverse(обратное):

1) there are many cases in which shall / will cannot be treated as modals as they express mere futurity(e. g. He will turn eight tomorrow;)



2) a planned action in the future can be expressed by a present tense form. If the grammatical Future conveyed modality, this shade of meaning would be naturally lost while being rendered(представлена);

3) there is a tendency in modern English to employ will irrespective(независимый) of a person;

4) the contracted(сокращенная) form 'll is widely used.

There are different approaches to future-in-the-past tenses. It is clear that the starting point with them is not the present, but the past. That is why I.P. Ivanova puts forward the idea of temporal centres, and N.F. Irtenyeva – that of tenses centring in the present and tenses centring in the past.


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