Grammatical Tense

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A Grammatical Tense is a Grammatical Category that expresses time relative to the moment of speaking.



  • (Wikipedia, 2018) ⇒ Retrieved:2018-5-5.
    • In grammar, tense is a category that expresses time reference with reference to the moment of speaking.[1] [2] Tenses are usually manifested by the use of specific forms of verbs, particularly in their conjugation patterns.

      Basic tenses found in many languages include the past, present, and future. Some languages have only two distinct tenses, such as past and nonpast, or future and nonfuture. There are also tenseless languages, like Chinese, though it can possess a future and nonfuture system, which is typical of Sino-Tibetan languages. [3] On the other hand, some languages make finer tense distinctions, such as remote vs. recent past, or near vs. remote future.

      Tenses generally express time relative to the moment of speaking. In some contexts, however, their meaning may be relativized to a point in the past or future which is established in the discourse (the moment being spoken about). This is called relative (as opposed to absolute) tense. Some languages have different verb forms or constructions which manifest relative tense, such as pluperfect ("past-in-the-past") and “future-in-the-past”.

      Expressions of tense are often closely connected with expressions of the category of aspect; sometimes what are traditionally called tenses (in languages such as Latin) may in modern analysis be regarded as combinations of tense with aspect. Verbs are also often conjugated for mood, and since in many cases the three categories are not manifested separately, some languages may be described in terms of a combined tense–aspect–mood (TAM) system.



  1. Fabricius-Hansen, "Tense", in the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd ed., 2006
  2. Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6: "the semantic concept of time reference (absolute or relative), … may be grammaticalized in a language, i.e. a language may have a grammatical category that expresses time reference, in which case we say that the language has tenses. Some languages lack tense, i.e. do not have grammatical time reference, though probably all languages can lexicalize time reference, i.e. have temporal adverbials that locate situations in time."
  3. Nick Huang, "On syntactic tense in Mandarin Chinese" "Proceedings of the 27th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics", Los Angeles, 2015.