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By comparing different authors and frameworks, this paper will present different approaches to the English tense system. The aim is not to provide a perfect.
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In particular, nouns can also function as Modifier to a Head noun: a school play , the unemployment situation , etc. Post-Head Modifiers are typically preposition phrases and subordinate clauses that occur more freely than Complements in that they do not have to be licensed by the Head noun: a man of honour , the house opposite the post office , the play that she wrote , the guy who spoke first.

It is also possible to have Modifiers that precede the Determiner: all the books , both these plays , too small a car for our needs. Instead of the latter we need an adjective, an absolute success. Although most nouns have an inflectional contrast between singular and plural, there are a good few that do not - that have only singular or only plural forms:.

Note that the last three items in [i] end in s but are nevertheless singular, as evident, for example, from the agreement in This news is good. Conversely, the last two items in [ii] don't end in s , but are nevertheless plural: cf. These cattle are in good health. Related to the distinction between nouns with variable number and nouns with fixed number is that between count and non-count nouns.

Count nouns can take cardinal numerals one , two , three , etc. However, most nouns can occur with either a count or a non-count interpretation :. He pulled out a white hair. He has white hair.

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Have another cake. Have some more cake. Can I borrow your football. Let's play football. The interpretations in [a] allow for a contrast between one and more than one cf. When we speak of count and non-count nouns, therefore, we are referring to nouns as used with a count and non-count interpretation. Thus hair is a count noun in [ia], a non-count noun in [ib], and so on. We noted in Section5.

2. Passive voice

There are, however, certain semantically-motivated types of departure from this pattern, as illustrated in [36]:. There are three main subclasses of noun: common noun , proper noun and pronoun. Common noun is the default subclass and needs no further comment here. They characteristically function as Head of noun phrases serving as proper names , names individually assigned to particular people, places, festivals, days of the week, and so on. Note, however, that they also occur, derivatively, in other kinds of noun phrase: That's not the Smith I was referring to , Let's listen to some Beethoven.

Conversely, not all proper names contain proper nouns: cf. Central Avenue , New Year's Day , and so on. There are several subtypes of pronoun, including:. We will comment here on only the first of these categories. Personal pronouns are those where we find contrasts of person. I and we are first person, used to refer to the speaker or a group containing the speaker.

You is second person, used to refer to the addressee or a group containing one or more addressees. The others are third person: this doesn't encode reference to speaker or addressee and therefore usually refers to entities other than the speaker or addressee. But I can refer to myself or to you in the third person: The writer has noticed The personal pronouns have five inflectional forms:.

I did it. It was I who did it. It bit me. It was me who did it. My son is here. I saw your car. Mine was broken. That's mine.

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I hurt myself. We talk to ourselves. Nominatives occur mostly as Head of a Subject noun phrase. Dependent genitives occur when there is a following Head in the noun phrase, independent ones when there isn't. Reflexives usually relate back to the Subject noun phrase, as in the above examples. Most adjectives can be either attributive or predicative :. These look new. I found it excellent. They seem lonely. Attributive adjectives are pre-head Modifiers in noun phrase structure; predicative adjectives are Predicative Complements in clause structure see Section5.

There are, however, some adjectives that are restricted to one or other of these functions:. She's asleep. He looks content. It's liable to flood. The most central adjectives are gradable : they denote properties that can apply in varying degrees. As such, they can be modified by adverbs of degree and under conditions relating to length and form be inflected for comparative e.

Gradable adjectives that don't inflect mark comparative and superlative degree by means of the adverbs more and most respectively: more intelligent , most intelligent. There are also a good number of adjectives that denote non-scalar properties and hence are non-gradable : alphabetical order , the chief difficulty , the federal government , her right eye , third place. Some adjectives, moreover, can be used in two different senses, one gradable, the other non-gradable and usually the more basic. In The door is open , for example, open is non-gradable, but in You should be more open with us it is gradable.

Adjective phrases consist of an adjective as Head, alone or accompanied by one or more Dependents, which may be Complements or Modifiers:. The Complements are preposition phrases or subordinate clauses; in the former case the adjective selects a particular preposition to head the Complement: fond takes of , keen takes on , and so on. The Modifiers are adverbs e.

The majority of adverbs are derived from adjectives by adding the suffix ly : common - commonly , rare - rarely , etc. There are a good number of adverbs not formed in this way, some of them very common e. The major difference between adverbs and adjectives has to do with their functions. Adverbs function as Modifier to a wide range of word or phrase classes, as illustrated in [43], where underlining marks the modifying adverb and capitals what it modifies:. Too FEW copies were printed. A few adverbs inflect for grade soon , sooner , soonest , but for the most part comparatives and superlatives are marked by more and most : more carefully , most carefully.

The structure of adverb phrases is broadly similar to that of adjective phrases, but simpler: in particular, very few adverbs license complements. We handled it similarly to the others. It won't end that soon. We left a bit late. The most central members of the preposition class have meanings concerned with relations in time or space: after lunch , at school , before the end , in the garden , off the bridge , on the desk , etc.

In this section we look at the function of prepositions and then at their Complements, and finally consider the phenomenon of preposition stranding. Prepositions function as Head in preposition phrases, and these in turn function as Dependent Complement or Modifier to any of the four major parts of speech:. They ARE in the garden.

It's on the WAY to Paris.

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Usually as in all the examples in [45] prepositions take a noun phrase as Complement. There are, however, other possibilities:. I'll stay [ until after lunch ].

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I took him [ for dead ]. I can't stay [ for long ]. I told her [ before she left ]. What are you looking at? It's something [ which I can do without ]. This is the book [ I was referring to ]. He went to the same school as [ I went to ]. The construction is characteristic of relatively informal style, but it is a serious mistake to say that it is grammatically incorrect. Negation is marked by individual words such as not , no , never , or by affixes such as we have in un common , non -compliant , in frequent , care less , is n't , wo n't , etc.

We need to distinguish, however, between cases where the negative affects the whole clause clausal negation and those where it affects just a part of it subclausal negation :. He is not well. Surprisingly, he wasn't ill. He is unwell. Not surprisingly, he was ill. The clauses in [i] are negative, but those in [ii] are positive even though they contain a negative element within them. We say this because they behave like obviously positive clauses with respect to the constructions shown in [49]:.

He is well, isn't he? Surprisingly, he was ill and so was she. He is not well, is he? Surprisingly, he wasn't ill and nor was she. He is unwell, isn't he? Not surprisingly, he was ill and so was she. And we see from [iiia], therefore, that He is unwell counts as positive since the tag is negative: the clause is no more negative than He is sick. We get and so after a positive clause and and nor after a negative one.

And Not surprisingly, he was ill is shown to be a positive clause because it takes and so. There are a number of words or expressions that occur readily in negative or interrogative clauses but generally not in positive declaratives. He didn't find any cracks. Didn't he find any cracks? Did he find any cracks? Instead of [iia] we say He found some cracks. They include compounds with any , such as anybody , anyone , anything , etc.

More precisely, these are non-affirmative in at least one of their senses: some of them also have senses in which they can occur in affirmative constructions. The grammatical counterpart is clause type , where we distinguish declarative, interrogative, and so on. The main categories we recognise here are illustrated in [51]:. We use different terms for the clause types than for the speech acts because the relation between the two sets of categories is by no means one-to-one.

Consider such examples as [52]:. Grammatically, [i] is declarative, but it would be used as a question: a question can be marked by rising intonation or by punctuation rather than by the grammatical structure. Example [ii] is likewise declarative but again it would be used as a question perhaps in a court cross-examination : the question force this time comes from the verb ask , in the present tense with a 1st person Subject.

Promise in [iii] works in the same way: this example would generally be used to make a promise. This illustrates the point that although we have just a handful of different clause types there are a great many different kinds of speech act: one can apologise, offer, congratulate, beseech, declare a meeting open, and so on. Finally, [iv] is a closed interrogative but would characteristically be used to make a request.

In this use it is what is called an indirect speech act : although it is literally a question it actually conveys something else, a polite request. All canonical clauses are declarative and we need say no more about this type, but a few comments are in order for the remaining four types. These are so called because they are typically used to ask questions with a closed set of answers. Usually these are Yes and No or their equivalents , but in examples like Is it a boy or a girl? Grammatically they are marked by Subject-auxiliary inversion though such inversion is not restricted to interrogatives: in the declarative Never had I felt so embarrassed it is triggered by the initial placement of the negative never.

These are typically used to ask questions with an open set of answers e. This phrase may be Subject Who said that? If it is Complement or Adjunct it normally occurs at the beginning of the clause, which has Subject-auxiliary inversion, as in the last two examples. It is possible, however, for it to remain in post-verbal position, as in And after that you went where? These have, at the front of the clause, an exclamative phrase containing either how , as in [51iv], or what , as in What a fool I've been!

The most common type of imperative has you understood, as in [51v], or expressed as Subject as in You be careful ; Don't you speak to me like that. The verb is in the plain form, but do is used in the negative: Don't move. We also have 3rd person imperatives like Somebody open the window , distinguished from the declarative precisely by the plain form verb. Subordinate clauses normally function in the structure of a phrase or a larger clause. Whereas main clauses are almost invariably finite, subordinate clauses may be finite or non-finite.

The most central type of finite clause is tensed , i. There is, however, one construction containing a plain form of the verb that belongs in the finite class, the subjunctive :. Subjunctive is thus the name of a syntactic construction, not an inflectional category, as in traditional grammar. It has a plain form verb and when the Subject is a personal pronoun it appears in nominative case.

We distinguish three main types of finite subordinate clause: content clauses , relative clauses and comparative clauses. These usually function as Subject or else Complement of a verb, noun, adjective or preposition:. Like main clauses they select for clause type, except that there are no subordinate imperatives:. The most central kind of relative clauses functions as Modifier in noun phrase structure:.

I agree with [ the guy who spoke last ]. I agree with [ the guy that spoke last ]. He lost [ the key which I lent him ]. He lost [ the key I lent him ]. Such clauses contain an overt or covert element which relates back to the Head noun, so we understand in [i] that some guy spoke last and in [ii] that I lent him a key. This is obvious in the case of [iib], and in [ib] that , although traditionally classified as a relative pronoun, is better regarded as a subordinator, the same one as is found in declarative content clauses like [55i]; on this analysis there is no overt relativised element in [ib] any more than in [iib].

The relativised element can have a variety of functions in the relative clause: in [56i] it is Subject, in [56ii] Object, and so on. The relative clauses in [56] are tightly integrated into the structure of the sentence, but it is also possible for relative clauses to be set off by punctuation or intonation, so that they have the status of more loosely attached Supplements , as in:.

This is structurally more complex than the above constructions:. Whoever wrote this must be very naive. You can invite who you like. He quickly spent what she gave him. What books he has are in the attic. The underlined sequences here are not themselves clauses but noun phrases: clauses don't denote entities that can be naive or be invited or spent or located in the attic. Note, moreover, that are in [iib] agrees with a plural noun phrase Subject, whereas Subjects with the form of clauses take 3rd person singular verbs, as in [54i].

Whoever in [58ia] is equivalent to the person who and what in [iia] to that which , and so on. These constructions may look superficially like open interrogative content clauses. Compare [58iib], for example, with I asked her what she gave him. Comparative clauses generally function as Complement to the prepositions as and than :. I'm as ready as I ever will be. As was expected , Sue won easily. More people came than I'd expected.

He has more vices than he has virtues. The distinctive property of such clauses is that they are structurally incomplete relative to main clauses: there are elements understood but not overtly expressed. It is important not to confuse the name of a verb tense with the way we use it to talk about time.

For example, a present tense does not always refer to present time :. The usual structure of basic tenses with irregular verbs is essentially the same as for regular verbs:. The verb be is always different! The usual structure of basic tenses with the irregular verb be is:. Then you say "apart from the irregular verbs and modals So, I'm guessing that if you gave each tense a chapter, or several pages, and included examples or practice exercises not sure if the book includes them or not AND included irregular verbs and modals, well, it seems that the English verb book could turn out to be just as lengthy.

Then you could charge a hefty price for your book and sell a million copies and sponsor a big SpanishDict party! I agree percent with this question as a beginner student, studying spanish in college the verbs are very hard to grasp.

How many verb tenses are there in English? - Anna Ananichuk

There are so many ways of saying even the easiest of things like I have. It is also difficult when someone tells you to think in Spanish and not your first language,Remind me again how many countries in this world speak english as opposed to spanish The Modals takes some more understanding but when you understand them that explains most of the English subjunctive and conditionals.

Of course there are irregular verbs in both languages, they just have to be learnt parrot fashion. How this would help a Chinese person I don't know - I have only had one Chinese student and she spoke Spanish. To look at this from a totally different angle: It's easier to hear the difference in English. I think the Spanish have better ears, they seem able to hear the endings even at fiestas. I rest my case. I'm not saying I understand it, what I am reinforcing is what I feel the important distinction Lazarus was making.

And -- add to that -- explain it in their native language! The more I learn Spanish, the more I want to kiss my textbooks and set up a shrine to the regularity and consistent logic of the language. Just listen to a politician speak. I agree, Ian, that if you are explaining it to native speakers who already have a smidgen grasp of grammar, it is dirt simple. But in the world of comparative linguistics, it's about as simple as the American vowel sounds! Hum " American" and English vowel sounds, its like a polyglot of all the languages on the planet, why because that is the case.

English borrows from everyone. Try Magyar hungarian for vowel sounds and lack of tenses. Log in Sign up. Log in. I posted this as an answer elsewhere but decided to open a new thread. I have in front of me for the first time the famous " Spanish Verbs" book. On page xviii 18 is an introduction to the Spanish verb system. It says there are 7 simple tenses and 7 compound tenses. Imperfect Indicative.

Conditional Present Subjunctive Imperfect or Past subjunctive. Comments please. Muchas gracias su majestad - yes the subjunctive is just one of the problems for people learning Spanish verbs. The 2 "simple" past tenses is another one. The 4 forms of "you" - I could go on and on. Yes, why do they call them 'simple' past tenses?

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Well, Spaniards don't call them "simple" but the " Spanish Verbs" book does. English has a subjunctive too! But its hardly ever used It is used but these days using Modals much of the time - ian-hill, Feb 25, By the way, that book is awful, if you ask me.