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  1. #1
    Treetrunks is offline Newbie
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    Default Form/tense question

    Hi,

    I'm a little stuck on my first CELTA assignment:

    'Could you open the window, please?'

    name the tense (if appropriate)



    I know it's a request and that 'could' is a modal auxiliary verb. Is there a tense though? Past simple?

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Form/tense question

    Most people would agree with you. There are some who argue that modals have no tense, but the normal view is that they do and that this is the simple past.

  3. #3
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Form/tense question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Most people would agree with you. There are some who argue that modals have no tense, but the normal view is that they do and that this is the simple past.
    I wouldn't say that that was the 'normal view'. Many do indeed feel that could is the past-tense form of can. Others consider it to be a remote/distancing form, distancing in time (I could play the recorder before I was five), reality/possibility (I could see you tomorrow at ten) or directness (Could you open the window, please?). Others find it more useful to consider can and could as separate (though connected) modals.

    ps (later): I am now not happy with this response. Please read the next two responses.
    Last edited by 5jj; 21-Jan-2013 at 15:59. Reason: ps added

  4. #4
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Form/tense question

    I see remote/distance/second forms as different ways of labelling and understanding tense, rather than as something different. The views that they are separate tenseless verbs, or even not verbs at all are the ones I would distinguish. I see remote/distance as ways of extending our understanding of tense rather than replacing it, and outside the world or linguistics and teaching these are still, sadly, minority views.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Form/tense question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I see remote/distance/second forms as different ways of labelling and understanding tense, rather than as something different.
    I agree. I will not delete my post #3, but I now think it's not very helpful. Sorry if my response was confusing, treetrunks.
    The views that they are separate tenseless verbs, or even not verbs at all are the ones I would distinguish.
    I agree.

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