Re: "Present-future" Tense (was "Ungrammatical ...")

From: Michael Haggett (
Date: Fri Sep 03 1999 - 10:15:42 EDT

Yes, there is always the danger of oversimplifying in order to make a point,
and no language is without a whole load of irregularities (except perhaps
Esperanto) :-)

But there is one thing in Carl's reply that seems to indicate that I didn't
communicate as well as I could:

He wrote:
> I may not be able to demonstrate any more decisively
> an alternative way of understanding these relationships, but I think it's
> worth considering that in conditional clauses (other than generalizing
> types), the subjunctive of any tense (present, perfect--not just the
> aorist) is oriented to future time;

Carl's point about the subjunctive is exactly the point I am trying to make.
My "present-future continuum" (awkward, isn't it!) applies to what I would
call all the three tenses: continuous, simple and complete. As the
subjunctive is the mood of potential action it must be oriented to the
future - for if the action had happened or was happening (relative to the
point of time of the formulation, that is) it would be actual rather than
potential. What we call aorist, present and perfect subjunctives are better
thought of in terms of the nature of the potential action as simple,
continuous and complete subjunctives - the time element is hardly relevant.
This would explain why there are no imperfect or pluperfect subjunctives.

The same is equally true about imperatives, the order (relative to the point
of time it is given) must relate to future time - because you wouldn't order
someone to do what has already happened or what is already happening. So
what we call present, aorist and perfect imperatives are not to be
differentiated in a time sense but in the same terms of
continuous-simple-complete: to keep doing something, to do something and to
finish doing something. This, in the same way, would explain why there are
no imperfect or pluperfect imperatives.

||||||| Michael Haggett
||||||| 164 Holland Road
||||||| London W14 8BE

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