Morphology Essay

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I.2.1 Tenses The term “tense” finds its roots back in the Latin “tempus” which is a notion used to express not only duration but also a certain place on an axis that has as center the present and goes backwards or forward to a specific moment. Firstly, the notion of “tense” was introduced by Aristotle, who was the first to recognize this type of grammatical category. Even though, along the years grammarians have tried to maintain a tight equivalence between English and the traditional languages such as Latin and Greek, discrepancies have appeared along the years. As a starting point, it is admitted that the tense it is the grammatical element that helps classifying actions or situations in specific categories of time. Of course, expressing time and time-placing it is not accomplished exclusively by means of tense but also by using linguistic alternatives such as adverbs ( e.g. tomorrow, soon) or prepositional phrases (e.g. before). But this category of time classifiers does not have the same grammatical independence, as they need an appropriate tense in order to fulfill their meaning. In essence, English uses this category of words for stating more clearly the temporal reference, not necessarily for defining it. In English, the notion of “tense” does not involve a great variety of time references. In fact, the term “tense” can only define, in English, three main temporal categories: past, present and future. The additional encoding of time it is accomplished by making reference to the mood and aspect. Usually, tenses are represented by a linear flow of time. The referential point used it is the moment of speaking (now), also referred to as the “point zero”. The present it is the core of the temporal diagram, used as a guidance point for past and future references. As a consequence, we can say that all the tenses refer to the moment of speaking.

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