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THE CATEGORY OF TENSE.

 

The category of tense is a verbal category which expresses the relation of the action expressed by the form of the verb to the moment of speech. This category reflects the philosophic (objective) category of time. Tense is a grammatical category and time is a philosophic one. They usually distinguish three tenses in English:

- The Past

- The Present

- The Future

The present tense is the unmarked member of the opposition. The past tense in marked by the inflection –ED. The future tense is expressed analytically with the help of auxiliary verbs SHALL, WILL in combination with the vary infinitive. But in modern English especially in American English there is a tendency to use WILL in all the persons. But the existence of the future tense presents a disputable in linguistics. The well-known Danish linguist Otto Jespersen treats the verbs SHALL and WILL in the forms of the future tense as modal verbs and consequently they build up compound verbal\nominal modal predicates, but not the analytical form of the future tense. Some Russian linguists also support this view point, for ex: Prof. Slusareva treats the forms of the future tense as the forms of the futurative mood. Professor Barchudarov gives the following arguments against treating the combination SHALL,WILL +infinitive as the form of the future tense:

1. SHALL and WILL are included into the class of modal verbs together with the verbs CAN, MUST, OUGHT.

2. The verbs SHALL and WILL don’t always convey the meaning of future actions. And on the other hand future actions can be expressed by some other constructions. For ex: this will be my friend –это и есть мой друг. Мама уже наверно пришла домой –mother will have come home already. Мой брат все время дерзит мне – My brother will always talk against me. У меня ручка никак не пишет – pen won’t write.

3. The combination SHALL WILL +infinitive is not an analytical form because it is not built up by the discontinuous morpheme. For ex: BE writING, WILL write0

4. Since SHALL and WILL are used in the form of the past tense SHOULD and WOULD to express future in the past, they can’t possibly express future actions because one and the same form can’t express two tenses at once: the past and the future.

But in spite of these arguments we can’t altogether deny the existence of the future tense.

1. In modern English WILL is used in all the persons and in oral speech it is contracted to the form –‘LL, which completely lacks any modal meaning.

2. If the verb WILL wear a modal verb with the meaning WANT, then the following sentences would sound absurd. For ex :Peter. You will be punished for your behavior –Петя, ты хочешь быть наказанным. I’ve lost my key. I will have to go to my father’s working place and have his key – я хочу быть вынужденным пойти к отцу…..мне придется…

3. The verb WILL as many other auxiliary verbs used to be a modal verb with its lexical meaning WANT. It can be even more lexicalized when it is used with marked infinitives. For ex: I myself will to do it –я хочу сделать это. You must have will to loose her – ты наверняка пожелал потерять ее. It is also used in the meaning –передать в наследство – for ex: He willed most of his property to his son-он завещал…. Thus all the auxiliary words used to be notional words. For ex: the definite article THE used to be THIS, article A – ONE.

The presence of the future in the past made some grammarians namely professor Irten’eva divide the system of tenses into two subsystems:

- tenses centering in the past (past perfect, past perfect continuous, simple past, future in the past)

- tenses centering in the present ( present perfect, present perfect continuous, simple present and the future);

As we see the forms of perfect and perfect continuous aspects are treated as tense forms. Old British grammarians also treated the perfect, continuous, perfect continuous as tense forms. For ex: the British grammarian Henry Sweet divided the system of tenses into two subsystems:

1. the indefinite tense, expressed by the indefinite forms.

2. the definite tense, which include continuous, perfect and perfect continuous forms.

Haymovich and Ragovskaya treat the forms of future as the forms of the category of posteriority. And some linguists treat the forms of the future in the past as the form of the category of taxis, which establishes the order of events within a certain period of time presented in a sentence\utterance. Bloch distinguishes absolutive time characteristics and non-absolutive (relative) time characteristics of actions. Absolutive time includes the past and the present time which are given in language as the past tense and the present tense. The non-absolute time includes the future of the past and the future of the present, which are expressed accordingly by the forms of the future tense. So, he distinguishes two categories, opposed to each other – the category of the primary time, which is the absolutive expression of time; and the category of prospective time, which is purely relative and that is why it expresses the non-absolutive time.

The category of the primary time which is the absolutive expression of time, is expressed by the two tense forms those of the past and present tenses. But the future actions can be expressed not only grammatically but also by the forms of absolutive tenses. All of them build up a certain system which can be presented in the form of a functional semantic feature.

THE FUNCTIONAL SEMANTIC FIELD OF FUTURITY.

 

 

 

Otto Jespersen.

1. Before past time – past perfect, past perfect continuous.

2. past time -

3. after past time – future in the past, continuous

 

1. Before present time

2. Present time

3. After present time.

 

1. Before the future time

2. Future time

3. After future time – he will going to do smth




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