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Thread: who is online

  1. #1
    dalaqo@hotmail.com Guest

    Exclamation who is online

    I ussually confuse the meaning of "would" grammatically.particullarly,when its past tense,present tense and futue tense (does it mean be,been,being).

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: who is online

    Grammatically, 'would' is a past tense. the problem is that we don't use it only to refer to past time, and, indeed, we mostly use it to present or future time.

    I would love a coffee. - Present time. 'Would' here is used to be polite or to express a wish.
    I would come tomorrow if I had the time. - Future time. 'Would' here refers to the future, but it is an imaginary future because I won't come as I don't have the time. It is being used to make an excuse. It can also be used to talk about events in the future that are very unlikely to happen.

    Whenever I went there, I would buy some CDs. - 'Would' here refers to the past, and is used for a past habit or repeated action.

    I would have helped if I'd known about the problem. - 'Would' here again refers to the past, but it refers to an imaginary past- the opposite of what actually happened, so we use have + past participle after it to show that instead of an infinitve without 'to'.


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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Grammatically, 'would' is a past tense. the problem is that we don't use it only to refer to past time, and, indeed, we mostly use it to present or future time.

    I would love a coffee. - Present time. 'Would' here is used to be polite or to express a wish.
    I would come tomorrow if I had the time. - Future time. 'Would' here refers to the future, but it is an imaginary future because I won't come as I don't have the time. It is being used to make an excuse. It can also be used to talk about events in the future that are very unlikely to happen.

    Whenever I went there, I would buy some CDs. - 'Would' here refers to the past, and is used for a past habit or repeated action.

    I would have helped if I'd known about the problem. - 'Would' here again refers to the past, but it refers to an imaginary past- the opposite of what actually happened, so we use have + past participle after it to show that instead of an infinitve without 'to'.

    I disagree with your first statement Tdol and I believe, firmly, that this has caused no end of problems for ESLs [not that I'm suggesting you're at fault for this] . In modern English, the modal verbs are tenseless. This allows them to operate in all tenses, past, present and future.

    In none of your examples did you give an example of 'would' operating as a past tense, and more importantly, as a past tense of 'will'.

    "In English, modals are derived from verbs that did carry tense and take agreement markers during a much earlier stage of the language. ..., there are few valid syntactic reasons for maintaining the historical description and ascribing past or present tense to modals" [The Grammar Book: An ESL / EFL Teacher's Course Book]

    In grammar, past tenses tend to act like past tenses. The modals don't operate like that at all. In fact they steadfastly resist operating solely as present or past tenses but they positively excel in operating in past, present and future situations.

    Regards,

    DBP

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    Default Re: who is online

    From an ESL speaker standpoint, there are two kinds of 'would': the modal, essentially tenseless as DBP said, and the past form of 'will', which is often used in tricky multiple choice exams to trap students.

    FRC

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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois
    From an ESL speaker standpoint, there are two kinds of 'would': the modal, essentially tenseless as DBP said, and the past form of 'will', which is often used in tricky multiple choice exams to trap students.

    FRC
    Could you give an example, Francois?

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    The car would not start.

    FRC

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by DBP
    In grammar, past tenses tend to act like past tenses.
    This isn't really the case in English IMO. Our tenses, which have been labelled present and past, do not adhere to a simple view of time. The move to relabel the past tense as the second/remote/distant form has a lot to be said for it, as we can use past tense to show past time (temporal distance), politeness (social distance), low likelihood (remoteness of possibility), etc, and can use it for past, present and future events. It isn't just the modals that do this, and the present can also be used for past events in narratives, etc to show emotive or other proximity.

    However, the old labels are there and unlikely to be replaced, despite Mr Lewis's and other efforts. In the meantime, the majority of grammars pumped out state that it is a past tense, and there are sound arguments for this. If we look on the past tense as a remote form, then that is what 'would' is to me, and many others. You may see things differently, but it is far from a settled issue. Modality is unlikely to be settled in the near future, or ever, to everyone's satisfaction because there are so many ways of viewing it. I am afraid that I see it as a past tense functioning along the lines I have described.

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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois
    The car would not start.

    FRC
    Are we also then to view 'will', in,

    "That car will not have started"

    as a past tense?

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    Default Re: who is online

    tdol: This isn't really the case in English IMO. Our tenses, which have been labelled present and past, do not adhere to a simple view of time. The move to relabel the past tense as the second/remote/distant form has a lot to be said for it, as we can use past tense to show past time (temporal distance), politeness (social distance), low likelihood (remoteness of possibility), etc, and can use it for past, present and future events. It isn't just the modals that do this, and the present can also be used for past events in narratives, etc to show emotive or other proximity.

    Sure there are other jobs that normal past tense verbs do. but they clearly perform as past tense verbs. The modal verbs just do not do the same thing. They steadfastly refuse to be used as past tense forms.

    Tdol: However, the old labels are there and unlikely to be replaced, despite Mr Lewis's and other efforts. In the meantime, the majority of grammars pumped out state that it is a past tense,

    This is of course, with all due respect, a bogus argument, Tdol. One doesn't keep inaccurate phraseology just for tradition's sake.

    Tdol: ... and there are sound arguments for this. If we look on the past tense as a remote form, then that is what 'would' is to me, and many others. You may see things differently, but it is far from a settled issue. Modality is unlikely to be settled in the near future, or ever, to everyone's satisfaction because there are so many ways of viewing it. I am afraid that I see it as a past tense functioning along the lines I have described.

    Why persist in calling it something what it isn't when it's so easy to describe modals accurately as tenseless. They are tenseless because they operate in all tenses. 'will' can express remoteness; it's just not as remote as would.

    Remember that there were grammars touting the split infinitive [Oxford, I believe] right up to 1998. Pretty amazing, don't you think?

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    Default Re: who is online

    Tensed, tenseless, adverbs- modals get described as many things, so we'll probably have to agree to differ here. However, I don't think that pragmatism is a redundant argument. Let's take an imaginary class- I do one lesson, you go in and say they have no tenses, and teacher three rushes in and says they're not verbs at all but adverbs. How on earth are the students going to respond?

    I don't like the use of present and past as tense labels, and go for the two tense/form view of the English verb, yet how many textbooks have you got or seen that talk of a future tense, perfect tenses, etc? How do you handle this? Those who dispute the use of 'past' suggest various terms- which is to be used? Well, in the case of most coursebooks, grammars, etc, none.

    Questions about terminology affect many walks of life- like the debate about the term 'planet' going on at the moment. Pluto is, apparently, a planet to some, an ice dwarf to thers and a post-Neptune something to the rest. In the end, can we really say what it is? If the sands keep shifting, where does the learner stand? There is a lack of consensus on this issue but it is clear that those who wish to change things have not managed to carry the industry with them, a fact that I don't think can be ignored.

    BTW- out of interest, where do you teach, have you taught?
    Last edited by Tdol; 28-Sep-2005 at 05:30.

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