Meaning of “There is not a direct relationship between verb forms and time.”

k7power

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In Practical English Usage, the author Michael Swan says:

There is not a direct relationship between verb forms and time. For example, a past verb like went is not only used to talk about past events (e.g. We went to Morocco last January), but also about unreal or uncertain present or future events (e.g. It would be better if we went home now). And present verbs can be used to talk about the future (e.g. I’m seeing Daniel tomorrow). Also, progressive and perfect forms express ideas that are not simply concerned with time – for example continuation, completion, present importance.

What does he actually mean by "There is not a direct relationship between verb forms and time."?

We use verb forms to talk about time (e.g. We went to Morocco last January) and one and the same verb form can be used to talk about different times (e.g. past time "We went to Morocco last January" vs. present or future time "It would be better if we went home now").

So does he mean by "There is not a direct relationship between verb forms and time.":

1.) that verb forms have nothing to do with time, or in other words, there is not a connection/correlation between verb forms and time?
2.) one and the same verb form can be used to refer to different times?
 

jutfrank

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1.) The verb form may or may not have anything to do with time. A reference to time is just one use among a variety of uses of a verb form. Another way to say this is that a past tense verb does not necessarily relate to past time.

2.) Yes.
 

k7power

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1.) The verb form may or may not have anything to do with time. A reference to time is just one use among a variety of uses of a verb form.

Could you give an example where the verb form does not have anything to do with time?

Another way to say this is that a past tense verb does not necessarily relate to past time.

Did you actually mean "a past tense verb does not necessarily relate to time"?
 

Tarheel

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I think he said what he meant.
 

jutfrank

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Could you give an example where the verb form does not have anything to do with time?

In Michael Swan's example in your original post (It would be better if we went home now.), the verb is in the past tense form but does not refer to past time. The verb is referring to present (or near future) time. Therefore, in Swan's words, "There is not a direct relationship between verb forms and time."

Did you actually mean "a past tense verb does not necessarily relate to time"?

No. I said this as clearly as I was able to. Equally, a present tense verb form does not necessarily relate to present time. More generally, verb forms do not necessarily relate to time.
 

teechar

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k7power: I note that you've asked the same question elsewhere.

https://www.englishforums.com/English/MeaningDirectRelationshipBetweenVerb-Forms/bmwmcq/post.htm

Please do not post the same question simultaneously to more than one forum. Doing so wastes our valuable time. Instead, post your question to one forum and wait for replies. If you're not satisfied with those replies, you can try another forum, but please indicate in your thread that you've already asked the same question elsewhere (provide a link), and outline why you were not satisfied with the answers you received already.
 
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