Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Tense as an element of English grammar has important role. This can be seen in Lock’ view that in order to communicate, we need to be able to:
1)    Represent what it is we want to talk about  and to locate it in time, which  means selecting appropriate process type, participant, circumstances, and tenses;
2)   Make the content interpersonally relevant and appropriate moods, modalitas, and polarities;
3)   Make the whole message relevant to the situational context, which means selecting appropriate thematic organization and appropriate reference.
Seen from this perpective, grammar is not an optional add-on to communication. It lies at the heart of communication.
Later, Bygate (1994) states that grammatical decisions involve choosing:
-       which sequence to put words in
-       which word or phrase should follow a previously selected word  or phrase
-       which groups and clauses need marking and how to mark them
-       what kind of cohesive realirions need to be marked and how to mark them
-       what tense, aspect or number information to select from amongst the options available in the language, and how to mark it
              Tense can be  defined as the linguistic expression of time realitions when this are realized by verb forms. Time is independent of language and is common to all human beings. It is conceptualized by many people, though not necessarily by all, as  being divided in to pas time, present time, and future time. Tense system are language specific and vary form one languge to another, both in the number of tenses they distinguish and in the ways in which these tenses reflect temporal reference ( Downing, 1992: 353).
              Trask (1999) states that tense is the grammar category which relates to time. Every language is capable of expressing limitless distincion of time: soon, tomorrow, next Wednesday at 2.00 137 years ago, 138 years ago. It is possible for a language to build a few of these time distinction into its grammar, and language that does so has the category of tense. Tense is thus  the grammaticalization of time.
              Hurford (1994: 239) states that traditional grammarians and modern linguists have approach this complicated area of languages with slightly different terminological conventions. What many tradisional grammarians label as various kind of tense, modern linguists split in to different ideas, namely:
-       Tense, which is trictly to do with when something happened  or was the case
-       Aspect, which is concerned with factors such as the duration or completeness  of event  and states of affairs.
                      For English, this  difference  of terminology comes out mainly in relation to the perfect and the progressive, which many  traditional grammarians  would treat as part of the system of tense, but  modern linguists treat as belonging to the  system of aspect.
                     Quirk and Greeenbaum (1976:40) views that time is a universal, non- linguistic concept with three division: past, present, and future; by tense we  understand the correspondence between the form of the verb and our concept of time. Aspect concerns the manner in which the verbal action in experienced or  regard (for example as completed or in progrees), while mood relates the verbal action to such conditions as certainly, abligation, necessity, possibility. In fact, however, to a great extent these three categories impinge on each other in particular, the expression of time present and past cannot be considered separetely from aspect, and the expression  of the future is closely bound up with mood.
                     Lock(1996:148-149) divides the English  tenses into absolute tense and relative tense. Absolute tense essentially locates a process in time relative to be here and now. Relative tense further locates the process relative to the aabsolute tense.
There is a selection of three absolute tenses:
1.      Present: location at the moment of speaking  or writing, or an  extended  period including the moment of speaking kor writing.
2.      Past: a time before the moment of speaking or writing
3.      Future: a time after the time of speaking or writing
Table 1. Absolute and relative tense selections
Relative tense
Absolute tense
Usual name
Present in
Is walking
Present progressive
Past in
Has walked
Present perfect
Present in
Was walking
Past progressive
Past in
Has walked
Past perfect
Present in
Will be walking
Future progressive
Past in
Will have walked
Future perfect

1)      They arrived
2)     They have arrived
3)     They had arrived
            In number 1,  the absolute tense is past; there is no relative tense. The procces is simply located at a time in the past. In nnumber 2, the absolute tense is present and telative  tense is past. The sentece implies not only that their arrival to place  in the past but also that they are here and now. In number 3, the absolute tense is past and the relative tense is also past. The process is located at a time before a time in the past.

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