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  1. #1
    donnach is offline Member
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    Default modals and verb tenses

    Wikepedia has the following chart on their English Verb Tense page:


    basic progressive perfect perfect progressive
    Future I will write I will be writing I will have written I will have been writing
    Present I write I am writing I have written I have been writing
    Past I wrote I was writing I had written I had been writing
    Conditional I would write I would be writing I would have written I would have been writing

    Here's my question: Are conditionals "outside" of tense? According to this chart, they are, correct?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    The chart you mention is rather over-simplified. Most grammarians today consider that English has only two tenses - the so-called 'present' and 'past' tenses. While there are several ways of expressing futurity in English, there is no future tense as such. There is also no conditional tense. Conditions are expressed by using a range of tenses, and usually involve modals.

  3. #3
    donnach is offline Member
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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    Hi,

    I asked if conditionals were OUTSIDE of tense, not if they were a tense in and of themselves.

    There is also no conditional tense. Conditions are expressed by using a range of tenses, and usually involve modals.
    Where can I find out more about how "conditions are expressed by using a range of tenses"? Or, would someone here kindly explain this to me?

    Thanks!

    p.s. These questions stemmed from my trying to figure out what tense the statement "I might study later" was in. Everything's gotta have a tense, doesn't it?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by donnach View Post
    Where can I find out more about how "conditions are expressed by using a range of tenses"? Or, would someone here kindly explain this to me?/
    Try here:http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Conditionals.pdf. If you have any specific questions, ask them in this forum.

    p.s. These questions stemmed from my trying to figure out what tense the statement "I might study later" was in. Everything's gotta got to have a tense, doesn't it?
    "I might study" is a modal, rather than a tensed, construction.

    All finite lexical verbs show tense. With modals, there is some discussion as to whether could, might, should and would are better considered as past-tense forms of can, may, shall and will respectively, or as separate modal verbs.

  5. #5
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    Hedwig is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    p.s. These questions stemmed from my trying to figure out what tense the statement "I might study later" was in. Everything's gotta have a tense, doesn't it?
    In Spanish we've got a tense for this construction, called simple potential tense (there is also compound potential, which would be might have studied).

    So, you've got fewer tenses in English. Count your blessings! Why should you complicate life for yourself?

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedwig View Post
    So, you've got fewer tenses in English. Count your blessings! Why should you complicate life for yourself?
    Ah, but no one believes you when you say there are only two. This view is widely accepted among linguists, but traditional grammars and many coursebooks still describe will as the future tense.

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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Ah, but no one believes you when you say there are only two. This view is widely accepted among linguists, but traditional grammars and many coursebooks still describe will as the future tense.
    They're talking to you here, Fivejedjon.

  8. #8
    donnach is offline Member
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    Default Re: modals and verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Try here:http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Conditionals.pdf. If you have any specific questions, ask them in this forum."I might study" is a modal, rather than a tensed, construction.

    All finite lexical verbs show tense. With modals, there is some discussion as to whether could, might, should and would are better considered as past-tense forms of can, may, shall and will respectively, or as separate modal verbs.

    Perfect. Thank you (After reading a 30 page .pdf on Conditionals, I should have a much better understanding. One would hope so, anyway..... :)

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