Tenses in English and Vietnamese
Th.tư, 28/04/2010, 10:55 Lượt xem: 4325

1. Definition of tense

“Tense can be defined as the linguistic expression of time relations. Time is independent of language and is common to all human beings. It is conceptualized by many peoples, though not necessarily by all, as being divided into past time, present time and future time. Tense systems are language specific and vary from one language to another, both in the number of tenses they distinguish and in the ways in which these tenses reflects temporal reference. The Past tense refers exclusively to events in past time, The Present tense refers exclusively to events in present time, and The Future tense refers exclusively to events in future time.”

(A. Downing, A University course in English Grammar, p.353)

Time relations are realized by the verbs forms. Besides, other linguistic forms, particular adverbs of time can also make reference to time.

Tense is a way of expressing events as occurring at points situated along the linear flow of time. Within the linear flow, a point of reference must be established, with respect to which past events precede and future events follow.

2. Tenses in English

The grammatical present tense has no grammatical meaning beyond that of “verb”, it can cover a wide range of temporal references and is realized as a tense that only rarely has a direct relation to speech time.

The past tense is the morphologically and semantically marked form.

Consequently, we call Present tense the unmarked tense, and marked tense which is the Past tense.

Strictly speaking, English has no future tense: “will” and “shall” belong to a set of auxiliaries and can express meanings other than reference to future time.

3. Tenses in Vietnamese

In Vietnamese, the system of tense has no morphological meaning. Both the Present and the Past tense are unmarked.

The future, present and past tense in Vietnamese has no clearly distinguish, sometimes there’s an opaque distinction among the future, and present and the past in Grammar. To express time relation, we often use adverbs/ extra words (phó từ).


Written by: Tran Thi Tho