Verbal Group 5 – finite tenses

The distinction between the finite tenses in the verbal group is, I think, one of recursive delicacy. But this is not to say that it may continue indefinitely. There are stop rules (where α = primary tense):

  1. Apart from α, future on occurs once.
  2. Apart from α, present only occurs once, and always at the deepest level.
  3. Apart from α, the same tense does not occur twice consecutively.

Taking these stop rules into account gives us a total of 36 tenses in English:

  1. past (took/did take)
  2. present (takes/does take)
  3. future (will take)
  4. past-in past (had taken)
  5. past-in present (has taken)
  6. past-in future (will have taken)
  7. present-in past (was taking)
  8. present-in present (is taking)
  9. present-in future (will be taking)
  10. future-in past (was going to take)
  11. future-in present (is going to take)
  12. future-in future (will be going to take)
  13. past-in future-in past (was going to have taken)
  14. past-in future-in present (is going to have taken)
  15. past-in future-in future (will be going to have taken)
  16. present-in past-in past (had been taking)
  17. present-in past-in present (has been taking)
  18. present-in past-in future (will have been taking)
  19. present-in future-in past (was going to be taking)
  20. present-in future-in present (is going to be taking)
  21. present-in future-in future (will be going to be taking)
  22. future-in past-in past (had been going to take)
  23. future-in past-in present (has been going to take)
  24. future-in past-in future (will have been going to take)
  25. past-in future-in past-in past (had been going to have taken)
  26. past-in future-in past-in present (has been going to have taken)
  27. past-in future-in past-in future (will have been going to have taken)
  28. present-in past-in future-in past (had been going to have been taking)
  29. present-in past-in future-in present (has been going to have been taking)
  30. present-in past-in future-in future (will be going to have been taking)
  31. present-in future-in past-in past (had been going to be taking)
  32. present-in future-in past-in present (has been going to be taking)
  33. present-in future-in past-in future (will have been going to be taking)
  34. present-in past-in future-in past-in past (had been going to have been taking)
  35. present-in past-in future-in past-in present (has been going to have been taking)
  36. present-in past-in future-in past-in future (will have been going to have been taking)

(H & M, p/339-342)

🙂

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