Is there any relation between time and tense in English???
Well, the simple answer is "yes", but there isn't a 100% correlation.
Originally Posted by aseel
A tense is a structure/construction and it is different from a time. The number of tenses in English is debated. Some accept only two tenses (present and past); others accept three (past, present, and future), six (add the three perfect tenses), or nine (add the three progressive tenses) tenses; and others see even more (add conditional tenses, emphatic tenses, etc.). The terminology is so variable that it confuses everyone.
Even "time" gets debated and one often finds that this debate ends up being more about physics and philosophy than it does about language. For purposes of language, it seems to me that keeping things simple is better.
Past time: applies to events/actions that have already happened
Present time: applies to events/actions that are happening
Future time: applies to events/actions that have not yet happened
People will come by with some examples of things that are a bit fuzzy with respect to time, but those should be seen as gray areas rather than a reason to make the entire scheme endlessly complicated.
Each of the tenses (constructions) can be used to make reference to times other than the time in the name of the tense. Therefore, producing an example of the present tense used for future time reference does not invalidate the present tense. It simply provides an example of a use of the present tense. Similarly, producing examples of the future tense used for present time reference does not invalidate the future tense. It simply provides an example of a use of the future tense.
There differing views of the tense system in English and Mike and I disagree about this issue. However, there is some relation. I favour the view that there are only two tenses, the present and the past and that they can be, under different circumstances, be used for past, present and future time. Given that these different views generally arrive at the same conclusion, I am not saying that one is better than the other; it's a question of choice and preference.
Originally Posted by aseel
The present tense is used for past time to make narratives more lively, for real present time and for the planned, immediate, close or likely future. (will is a present in this view)
The past tense is used for things that are seen as more distant, so it is the natural choice for past time, used for imaginary presents and unlikely or imaginary futures. It also shows social distance (politeness).
Mike and I, and many others, have debated this point for years and not arrived at any conclusion, other than that we see things differently; I believe that there is no future tense, which he disagrees with. However, you will notice that both recognise that there is a relation with time, but it is not absolute. The main point of disagreemnt is about the future.
That was very agreeably written. :wink:
Originally Posted by tdol
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