What verb tense is this?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TeacherShelly, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    "People were always mixing up my twins, so I put them in separate classes." What tense is "were (always) mixing?" :thanks:
     
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  3. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    Were would be a past tense be verb.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  5. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    TeacherGroupie, I knew you'd know. Thanks!

    I still remember my 10th grade French teacher holding his head in his hands trying to teach us the "past perfect" tense, in vain at the time. I wonder if he'd believe I'm still thinking about it and trying to figure it out. What a thought - that was 1985 :)

    I remember he'd say that past perfect was something that happened for a period of time, but not a specific period of time, which really boggled my mind.

    Ah, memories!
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Well, part of the problem is that the past continuous isn't just a tense. Tense is, strictly speaking, just time reference, and English has just two tenses: past (I went) and present (I go). Everything else is aspect and/or mood.
     
  7. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Mmmm, that explains a lot. I also feel a bit awkward saying "used to," in writing because it looks like slang or, at least, informal language. Where did that come from, anyway? (off to look it up)....
     
  8. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    English has three simple tenses: present, past, and future. English also has the perfect tenses, wherein we blend times together to cover actions begun in the past and continuing in the present, or two actions, both in the past but one further back than the other, etc.

    Mastering the perfect tenses allows the writer to show a time blend; in this, writers have bypassed scientists! The writer's pen is a magic wand that allows us to be Einsteinian in our understanding of time.

    "Were mixing" is, indeed, a past progressive tense. (Progressives end in '-ing' because they are an action in progress.) "Always" is, of course, an adverb, because it answers an adverb question.

    "Used to" isn't slang at all; it's a perfectly acceptable linguistic equation and means, simply, "I once was/did/etc but don't now."

    The 's' is softened when used with that meaning in mind, whereas the 's' sounds like a 'z' when used the other way.

    "Supposed" follows that same rule.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In Latin we call that the imperfect tense. It represents an action which happened repeatedly or for an extended period of time in the past.


    [Latin is so much easier than English!]
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Morphologically, the English future is a compound tense because it uses an auxiliary (will go).

    The <s> in used to (and supposed to) is devoiced because the d is devoiced (pronounced as /t/, not /d/: "useta", if you will), and the /d/ is devoiced because the /t/ in to is voiceless: this is a fairly standard phonetic assimilation. It's entirely possible that "useta" and "s'posta" will evolve into separate morphemes, but that hasn't fully happened yet.

    Shelly, the link I posted earlier does mention used to. Bear in mind that one of the older meanings of use as a noun is 'custom or practice', as in the phrase Sarum use to refer to religious practice around Salisbury in England as opposed to Roman use. So one meaning of use as a verb was 'be accustomed to'. This is sometimes called a habitual aspect.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm learning so much tonight. I love atoz. :)
     
  12. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Holy crap Mama and TG. Are you trying to make me feel ignorant? It worked!
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I generally don't intend people to feel ignorant; language is just incredibly cool.
     
  14. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I'm just in awe...and I thought I knew a little something-something about grammar...
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Just showing my roots. So to speak.
     
  16. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I agree with TG; linguistics and all things "language" are AWESOME.
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    When I took a linguistics class, I was just astonished. I never loved langauge until I took that class.
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Glad you had a good teacher, Peachy. Linguistics is surprisingly easy to teach badly.
     
  19. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Oh, I'm sure. Thankfully, she was wonderful. You seem to be a great linguistics teacher too! :D
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I've done that too...
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    ACK!!!! English people....I should go run and hide.
    :rofl:

    On a more serious note, I actually love the English language, but I go more for word evolution and usage as opposed to the finer points of grammar (and spelling, if you notice in my posts).
     
  22. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    mmswm, I couldn't agree with you more. I'm really good at knowing when something isn't right-I don't necessarily know WHY, but I know it's not...

    This is why I love math. 2+2 is always 4.
     
  23. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Unless you're talking statistics, when 2+2 CAN, in fact, equal 3.98-4.02 with 90 % confidence.:D
     
  24. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    <throwing a tomato at mmswm, but missing 'cause I am less than 90% confident in my aim!> (just kidding!)

    Blech!!
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Would the gap between mmswm and the thrown tomato by any chance be a confidence interval?
     
  26. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    TG, if I had any idea what that was, I'd say...um...yes!

    My confidence interval for grammar is quite large...intervals I mean...big gaps...
     
  27. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    This discussion is hilarious! :D
     
  28. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    There are much more than 3 tenses in the English language. Don't forget conditionals (there are 4 - zero, one, two and three).

    I remember on my ESL course having to teach 'future present perfect'!!! First of all I had to go to the grammar book and find out what 'future present perfect' was, understand it's construction and use. I may speak the language but I knew nothing about it until I taught ESL.

    Just in case you're wondering - it is will + present tense + past participle. In plain English, "come October, I will have had my car for 10 years"
     
  29. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Is there a good reason to know this... beyond it might be a Jeopardy question?:confused:
     
  30. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    No, that would be the standard error.
     
  31. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    I would say: margin of error
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    eh, you're right...margin of error is the whole thing..standard error is just half of that. Sorry, I'm sick (again).

    From "Mathematical Statistics and Data Analysis" by John A. Rice: The standard deviation of the mean, also called its standard error is defined by the standard deviation of the distribution divided by the square root of the number.

    The margin of error is the standard error times 2, in other words the "give or take" from the mean.

    (gonna go hide from all you english people now cause I hijacked the thread).
     
  33. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Last hijacking I do...

    It isn't always 2...it depends on your confidence level :)
     
  34. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It's USUALLY 2...lets not get too technical, I was just refering to means...no other distributions. We might confuse people. Hehehehehe.
     
  35. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    wait, and under the normal curve.
     
  36. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    That's will + infinitive + past participle: we say He will have had, not He will has had. Modal verbs (will, would, should, could, might, ought to) don't inflect for tense, but if they did, that's where the tense would be.

    Conditional isn't a tense, it's a mood.
     
  37. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    As always, TG is correct. Tense and mood are NOT the same thing.

    In spite of their meaning when referring to people. :)

    Other languages have more "parts." English is actually pretty simple.
     
  38. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I wouldn't go so far as "as always", Mamacita, but thank you.

    Referring to all the permutations as tenses in English actually muddies the waters. Unfortunately, it's an error that keeps spreading, like a sort of linguistic kudzu vine.
     
  39. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    TeacherGroupie,

    What do you mean by 'mood'?

    Conditionals can state fact, probability or that one thing happens/doesn't happen before another, ie, there is a pre-condition and a result.
     
  40. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Yes, and conditional is a mood, not a tense, along with indicative, imperative, and subjunctive.

    Tenses indicate time reference: present, past, and future, though in English the future is periphrastic: that is, it's not expressed by inflection but by insertion of the auxiliary verb will. The difference between I missed you and I will miss you is a matter of tense.

    Aspects have to do with the time flow of an action or state: whether it is seen as completed or ongoing with respect to a reference point in time, which can be the time of speaking or a point before or after the time of speaking, and also whether it is seen as completed but still relevant at a point in time. The difference between I missed you and I have missed you is a matter of aspect, as is the difference between both of those and I have been missing you (which indicates, in contrast to the other two, that the emotion is ongoing at the time of speaking). So is the difference between He will go to Paris and He will have gone to Paris. Interestingly, expressions like I have been missing you and The decision will have been being made seem to have arisen no earlier than the late 19th or early 20th century, and they don't seem to be well accommodated in grammatical terminology; fortunately, they're relatively rare.

    Moods have to do with factuality. English has a relatively small inventory of moods: indicative, imperative, conditional, and subjunctive, and the second two have largely ceased to be indicated by inflection.

    The indicative mood is used for factual statements and definite beliefs, including categorical statements. It is the default category for mood in English, and it shows the full range of tenses, aspects, and voices: He runs. He ran. He is running. The race is being run.

    The imperative mood is used for commands: Run! Let's run!

    The subjunctive mood is used for actions or events that haven't taken place; in English, aside from constructions with be (If I/he were going...), it is expressed with a bare infinitive (I suggested that he run) or a form that currently looks like past tense (If I wrote you a letter...), or more commonly with a modal verb (I suggested that he should go).

    The conditional mood does indeed express contingency, and is most often expressed in English periphrastically with the modal verb would: If I were he, I would run.

    Will have been running would thus be a future (will) perfect (have) progressive (been running).
     
  41. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    And this all would have been complete sludge in my mind, were it not for the illumination by TG.
     

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