Lecture 3 Verbs: Tense Zhong Caishun firstname.lastname@example.org 13699529035
1. What is the grammatical feature of verbs? • 2. How can we categorize them? • 3. How are the different tenses linguistically realized and pragmatically used?
Richard eats/eat/ a lot of pasta. • He could/may/must/will have helped us if he’d really wanted to. • DNA tests / /have/have been/will have accepted in court cases.
Grammatical properties • Formal: • Varies according to number, tense, modality, voice • Semantic: • action or state (OPG p 3), polarity • Position: • Mainly after subject but can also appear in initial position • Syntactic: • Mainly predicate, but also subject, object, modifier, adverbial
Morphology of verbs • Regular vs. irregular
The rules on the spelling -es (go/goes), the changing of -y to -i- (try/tries), etc are the same as for the regular plural of nouns
Doubling of consonant before -ing and -ed • A single consonant letter at the end of the base is doubled before -ing and –ed when the preceding vowel is stressed and spelt with a single letter: • bar - 'barring - barred • beg - 'begging – begged • oc'cur - oc'curring - oc'curred • per'mit - per'mitting - per'mirted • pa'trol - pa'trolling - pa'trolled • There is normally no doubling when the preceding vowel is unstressed ('enter - 'entering - 'entered, 'visit - 'visiting - 'visited) or is written with two letters (dread - dreading - dreaded). • With some final consonants, however, doubling occurs even when the preceding vowel is unstressed. In the following cases (a -c), doubling is normal in BrE, whereas it is an alternative and less favoured practice in AmE:
Note • [a] With verbs like PLAY (- playing - played) and ROW (- rowing - rowed) there is no doubling, because the -y and ~ow do not count as consonants in these words, but as part of the spelling of the diphthong. • [b] There is, on the other hand, doubling in words such as EQUIP (- equipping - equipped) and ACQUIT (- acquitting - acquitted), because the u here counts as part of the consonantal spelling -qu-, rather than as a vowel. • [c] The letter -X is never doubled, since it represents the two consonant sounds /ks/: fix -fixing -&red, etc. • [d] Final silent consonants are not doubled: crochet /-eil - crocheting - crocheted; hurrah /a:/ - hurrahed • [e] The rules given here for doubling are in general followed also in the addition of derivational suffixes beginning with a vowel. • [fl The spellings catalogged - 'catalogging do not occur, since the BrE spellings for AmE CATALOO are catalogue - cataloguing - catalogued. • [g] A rare exception to (e) above is arc - arc(k)ing - arc(k)ed, for which the spelling without k is also possible. • [h] The verb BBNEFIT sometimes (esp in AmE) has forms with irregular consonant doubling ('benefitting - 'benefitted) alongside the regular benefiting - benefited.
Treatment of -y • In bases ending in a consonant followed by -y, the following changes take place : • (a) -y changes to -ie- before -s: carry - carries, try - tries • (b) -y changes to -i before -ed: carry - carried, try - tried • Similarly dry, deny, fancy, etc. • The -y- remains, however, where it follows a vowel letter: stay - stayed, alloy - alloys, etc; or where it precedes -ing: carry - carrying, stay - staying, etc. • A different spelling change occurs in verbs whose bases end in -ie: DIE, LIE, TIE, VIE. In these cases, the -ie changes to -y- before -ing is added: die - dying, lie - lying, tie - tying, vie - vying.
Finite: the -S form and the past form • Nonfinite: the -ing participle and the -ed participle • BASE form (the form which has no inflection) is sometimes finite, and sometimes nonfinite (see below).
In simple regular sentences, only the first verb word of the predicate is finite and there must be a finite verb. • She calls him every day. • She calling him every day*. • She is calling him now. • She has called twice today.
the syntactic deployment ofthe verb forms • (l) The BASE FORM (call, speak, cut, etc) occurs as (a) a FINITE form in: • (i) the present tense in all persons and numbers except 3rd person singular (which has the -S form): Z/you/we/they call regularly. • (ii) the imperative: Call at once! • (iii) the present subjunctive: They demanded that she call and see them. • It also occurs as (b) a NONFINITE form in: • (i) the bare infinitive: He may call tonight. • (ii) the to-infinitive: We want her to call. • (2) The -S FORM (calls, speaks, cuts, etc) occurs as a FINITE form in: 3rd person singular present tense: He/She calls every day. • (3) The -ING PARTICIPLE (calling, speaking, cutting, etc) occurs as a NONFINITE form in: • (i) the progressive aspect following BE: He's calling her now. • (ii) -ing participle clauses: Calling early, I found her at home. • (4) The PAST FORM (called, spoke, cut, etc) occurs as a FINITE form in the past tense : Someone called yesterday. • (5) The -ED PARTICIPLE(c alled, spoken, cut, etc) occurs as a NONFINITE form in: • (i) the perfective aspect following HAVEH: e has called twice today. • (ii) the passive voice following BE: Her brother is called John. • (iii) -ed participle clauses: Called early, he ate a quick breakfast.
Tense • Referential sense of time
Semantic • In English, 'present' is defined in an inclusive rather than in an exclusive way. something is defined as 'present' if it has existence at the present moment, allowing for the possibility that its existence may also stretch into the past and into the future. Hence Paris stands on the River Seine may be correctly said to describe a 'present' state of affairs, even though this state of affairs has also obtained for numerous centuries in the past, and may well exist for an indefinite period in the future:
Grammatic • In English there is the grammatical contrast between present and past forms of the finite verb: • E.g. look/looks ~ looked, take/takes ~ took. • Thus in English there are just two tenses: past tense and present tense. Notice that the future is not generally considered a tense in English.
Aspect • A grammatical category of the verb, indicating the temporal point of view from which an event, or state of affairs, is perceived as taking place. In English, two contrasts of aspect are usually recognized. (a) The progressive aspect, for example isworking, indicates that the event/state is in progress – that is, is seen from a continuing, ongoing point of view. (b) The perfect (sometimes called perfective) aspect, for example has worked, indicates that the event/state is seen from a completed, retrospective point of view. Both aspect constructions may be combined, as in has been working (called perfect progressive). There are therefore these four aspectual possibilities in English
Situation types: Stative and Dynamic verb senses • Vesuvius erupted in 77AD. (instantaneity) • The country was invaded many times. (frequency) • I have known the Penfolds all my life. (duration)
In English grammar, the word tense is applied to combinations of tense and aspect. For example, present simple, present progressive (generally called ‘continuous’ in this tradition), present perfect, past simple, past progressive and past perfect are considered tenses.
Tenses in English grammar grammatic semantic pragmatic
Simple present • (a) State present • With stative verb senses, the present is used without reference to specific time: i.e., there is no inherent limitation on the extension of the state into the past and future (unless such a limitation is indicated by adverbials or other elements of the clause). The STATE PRESENT as we may call this category, includes general timeless statements, or so-called 'eternal truths': • Honesty is the best policy. • Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen. • Two and three make five. • The earth moves round the sun. • Whereas proverbial, scientific, or mathematical statements like these represent the extreme of temporal universality, geographical statements are equally likely to be examples of the 'timeless present': • The Nile is the longest river in Africa. • Peru shares a border with Chile. • We can also include with the state present examples such as the following, where our knowledge of the world tells us that the time span of the state is to a greater or lesser degree restricted: • Margaret is tall. Everyone likes Maurice. • He does not believe in hard work. This soup tastes delicious. • She knows several languages. We live near Toronto. • Authors often use a kind of 'timeless present' in addressing their readers about the contents of their book. In the present book, for example, we use such expressions as: • The last example shows that. .
(b) Habitual present • When they are used with the simple present, dynamic verb meanings, like stative verb meanings, usually imply an inherently unrestricted time span. But in this case the verb refers to a whole sequence of events, repeated over the period in question: • We go to Brussels every year. Bill drinks heavily. • She makes her own dresses. Water boils at 100°C.
(c) Instantaneous present • The INSTANTANEOUS PRESENT, occurs where the verb refers to a single action begun and completed approximately at the moment of speech. • The instantaneous present, however, because it implies that the event has little or no duration, does not occur outside some rather restricted situations. • Such situations include the following:
COMMENTARIES : • Black passes the ball to Fernandez . . . Fernandez shoots! • DEMONSTRATIONS AND OTHER SELF-COMMENTARIES : • I pick up the fruit with a skewer, dip it into the batter, and lower it into the hot fat. • I enclose (herewith) a form of application. • I see what you mean. • SPECIAL EXCLAMATORY SENTENCES (with initial adverbials): • Here comes the winner! Up you go. • PERFORMATIVES: • I advise you to withdraw. I apologize. We thank you for your recent inquiry. • The verb in performatives is often a verb of speaking (such as request, advise, predict) describing the speech act of which it is a part. Other performatives such as I resign describe ritual acts and are accepted as the outward sign that such acts are taking place. In these cases, then, there is bound to be simultaneity between the event described and the speech event itself. In other cases, although such simultaneity does not obtain in any exact sense, there is an implication of simultaneity which gives the utterance with the instantaneous present a somewhat theatrical quality. Against the routine ordinariness of the present progressive in Carlos is winning, we may place the dramatic air of Carlos wins! which pinpoints the final and climactic moment of victory.
Special nonpresent uses of the present tense • (a) Simple present referring to the past • The so-called historic present is characteristic of popular narrative style. • I couldn't believe it! Just as we arrived, up comes Ben and slaps me on the back as if we're life-long friends. 'Come on, old pal,' he says, 'Let me buy you a drink!' I'm telling you, I nearly fainted on the spot. • The historic present describes the past as if it is happening now: it conveys something of the dramatic immediacy of an eye-witness account.
A very different use of the present tense in reference to the past is that found with verbs of communication: • The ten o'clock news says that there's going to be a bad storm. • Martin tells me the Smiths are moving from No. 20. • Such verbs include also verbs like understand, hear, and learn, which refer to the receptive end of the communication process: • I hear that poor Mr Simpson has gone into hospital. • These sentences would also be acceptable with the simple past or present perfective; but the implication of the present tense seems to be that although the communication event took place in the past, its result - the information communicated - is still operative. Thus: • The Book of Genesis speaks of the terrible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. • suggests that although the Book of Genesis was written thousands of years ago, it still 'speaks' to us at the present time. • The notion that the past can remain alive in the present also explains the optional use of the present tense in sentences referring to writers, composers, artists, etc and their extant works: • In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky drawsldrew his characters from sources deep in the Russian soil. • Note [a] The simple present is usually used in newspaper headlines to report recent events: Trade unions back merger; 'No sell-out‘ says P.M.; Economic think-tank seeks assurances. • [b] Two further minor uses of the historic present are (i) in photographic captions, for which, however, the -ing participle is an alternative form: • The Queen arriueslarriuing for the State Opening of Parliament. • and (ii) in historical summaries or tables of dates: • 1876 - Brahms completes his first symphony.
Simple present referring to the future • In main clauses, this typically occurs with time-position adverbials to suggest that the event is unalterably fixed in advance, and is as certain as it would be, were it taking place in the present: • The plane leaves for Ankara at eight o'clock tonight. • In dependent clauses, the future use of the simple present is much more common, particularly in conditional and temporal clauses: • He'll do it if you pay him. • I'11 let you know as soon as I hear from her. note: in some special sentence structures, the if clause will still contain the modal verb will. E.g. If it will be of any help.
Past simple • The past tense combines two features of meaning: • (a) The event/state must have taken place in the past, with a gap between its completion and the present moment. • (b) The speaker or writer must have in mind a definite time at which the event/state took place. • Prices slumped last year/yesterday.
It is not necessary, however, for the past tense to be accompanied by an overt indicator of time. All that is required is that the speaker should be able to count on the hearer's assumption that he has a specific time in mind, recoverable for the audience from: • (a) the immediate or local situation; • Did you lock the door? • (b) the larger situation of 'general knowledge'; • Rome was not built in a day? • (c) what has been said earlier in the same sentence or text; • They have decided to close down the factory. It took us completely by surprise. • (d) what comes later on in the same sentence or text. • They left as soon as we arrived.
Past simple is used to talk about: • a) Event the past • The eruption of Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii. • b) State in the past • Archery was a popular sport for the Victorians. • c) Habit in the past • In ancient times, the Olympic Games were held at Olympia in Southern Greece. • One useful distinguishing mark is the fact that the habitual and state meanings can be paraphrased by means of used to.
Meanings of the past tense with reference to present and future time • a) indirect speech • A: Did you say you havelhad no money? • B: Yes, I'm completely broke. • A: How did you know that I amlwas Max Wilson? • B: Well, I remembered that you arelwere tall, and wearlwore glasses. • My wife will be sorry that she missed seeing you this evening. • attitudinal past • used with verbs expressing volition or mental state, reflects the tentative attitude of the speaker, rather than past time. In the following pairs, both the present and past tenses refer to a present state of mind, but the latter is somewhat more polite: • Do/Did you want to see me now? • I wonder/wondered if you could help us.
Some complaining attitudes can also be conveyed through past tenses: • You asked for it. • I heard you. • I told you so. • I didn’t know you were here.
C) The HYPOTHETICAL PAST • used in certain subordinate clauses, especially if-clauses, and expresses what is contrary to the belief or expectation of the speaker: • If you really worked hard, you would soon get promoted. • It's time we all took a rest. • I wish I had a memory like yours.
Present perfect • Compare the following two sentences: • simple past: John lived in Paris for ten years. • present perfective: John has lived in Paris for ten years. • Here both sentences indicate a state of affairs before the present moment, but the simple past indicates that the period of residence has come to a close, whereas the present perfective indicates that the residence has continued up to the present time or signifies past time 'with current relevance'.
(a) STATE LEADING UP TO THE PRESENT • That house has been empty for ages. • Have you known my sister for long? • (b) INDEFINITE EVENT(S) IN A PERIOD LEADING UP TO THE PRESENT • Have you (ever) been to Florence? • All our children have had measles. • (C) HABIT (i.e. recurrent event) IN A PERIOD LEADING UP TO THE PRESENT • Mr. Terry has sung in this choir ever since he was a boy. • The province has suffered from disastrous floods throughout its history. • Of these meanings, (a) corresponds to the 'state past' use of the simple past, but differs from it in specifying that the state continues at least up to the present moment (cf: That house was empty for ages - but now it's been sold); (b) corresponds to the 'event past', but differs from it in that the past time in question is indefinite rather than definite (cf: Did you go to Florence (last summer) ?); (c) corresponds to the 'habitual past', but, as with (a), the period identified must continue up to the present. Compare: • The journal has been published every month since 1850. • The journal was published every month from 1850 to 1888.
In reference to a single event in the past (meaning (b) above), the present perfective, particularly in BrE, is associated with three implications or connotations, each of which may or may not be applicable in a given instance. These implications are • that the relevant time zone leads up to the present; • Have you seen the Javanese Art Exhibition? [yet] • Did you see the Javanese Art Exhibition? [when it was here] • that the event is recent; • that the result of the action still obtains at the present time. • The apples have all been eaten. • My mother has recovered from her illness.
The use of adverbials with the simple past and the present perfect • I saw her two days ago.
The past perfective • The past perfective usually has the meaning of 'past-in-the-past'. • When we bought it, the house had been empty for several years. • In the after clause, the following two are interchangeable: • I ate my lunch after Sandra had come back from her shopping. • I ate my lunch after Sandra came back from her shopping.
When he arrived in the morning, we had started work. (=We started work before he arrived) • When he arrived in the morning, we started work. (=We started work after he arrived)
In conditionals, we use the past perfect for something that did not happen and the past simple for something that might happen. • If you had come, you could have stayed with us. • If you came, you could stay with us.
Progressive • John sings well. (competence)  • John is singing well. (performance)  • John sang well. (an event as a whole)  • John was singing well. (an activity in progress)  • The meaning of the progressive can be separated into three components, not all of which need be present in a given instance: • (a) the happening has DURATION • (b) the happening has LIMITED duration • (C) the happening is NOT NECESSARILY COMPLETE • The first two components add up to the concept of TEMPORARINESS. Thus in , the progressive signals that Joan's singing is a temporary rather than a permanent phenomenon; in , on the other hand, the progressive makes us see the event as enduring over a period, rather than as happening all at once. In , the progressive 'shrinks' the time span of sings; in  it 'stretches out' the time span of sang. This difference arises because component (a) is distinctive for single events; whereas component (b) is distinctive for states and habits. The component of incompletion (c) is distinctive chiefly in the case of certain types of dynamic verb meaning called CONCLUSIVE : • I read a novel yesterday evening. [ie the whole novel] • I was reading a novel yesterday evening. [ie there is no implication that I finished the novel in the course of the evening]
State, event, and habit with the progressive • (a) STATE PROGRESSIVE • In many cases, the progressive is unacceptable with stative verbs: • We own a house in the country. • *We are owning a house in the country. • *Sam's wife was being well-dressed. • Where the progressive does occur, it is felt to imply temporariness rather than permanence • We are living in the country. [temporary residence] • We live in the country. [permanent residence]
In combination with always, continuously, or forever, the progressive loses its semantic component of 'temporariness': • Formal vs. informal
Verbs of qualities (be and have) and states do not occur with the progressive. • If sentences such as [la-4a] do occur with the progressive, it is a sign that they have been in some sense reinterpreted as containing a dynamic predication. For example, Peter is being awkward signifies that 'awkwardness‘ is a form of behaviour or activity, not a permanent trait.
From the above examples, we can see some change of interpretation other than the addition of the 'temporary' meaning of the progressive aspect is required. This change of interpretation can usually be explained as a transfer, or reclassification of the verb as dynamic, eg as having a meaning of process or agentivity. The representative stative verbs be, hope, and resemble.