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Contemporay linguist claims that there is no future tense in English?Please explain...

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azbinte | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:29 AM via web

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Contemporay linguist claims that there is no future tense in English?Please explain with examples.

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:15 AM (Answer #1)

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If you look at other languages like Spanish and Slovene, they take an infinitive and break it down by tenses (conjugation) with just one word: the infinitive word is inflected. English uses two words to create the infinitive.

English= "to dance" = two words

Spanish = to dance = "bailar".

Slovene "to run" = "teci".

For example, to conjugate "to go" in Spanish, all one has to do is say/write "voy."  In Slovene, the infinitive "teci" turns to "tecem".  They are both easily changed within the one word infinitive itself because of inflection (World English Dictionary). For Spanish and Slovene, in order to change the infinitive to the future tense, all one would have to do is change the one-word infinitive to the future inflection.

However, in English, because the two-word infinitive does not take a future tense inflection, auxiliaries are needed to create the future tense.  Example: "to go" = "I will go" with the auxiliary "will." For English, we can't just change "go" by adding an inflected ending for future tense; we have to add an auxiliary; hence, one might conclude that there is no true inflected future tense in English.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:29 AM (Answer #2)

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This is true.  There is no true future tense in Modern Englsh; that is, there is no separate formation/conjugation of the future tense as there is for other languages. 

In the Romance languages, for instance, the future tense is made by attaching personal endings to the infinitive or a specially changed base form.  For instance, I will look is formed in French [one of the parent languages of English] by adding the ending -ai to the infinitive regarder (to look).  Thus, I will look = Je regarderai

However, in Modern English the present tense is used also for the future tense, and no separate formation is created.  By placing the auxiliary verb shall or will before the present form, the "future tense" is formed in Modern English.

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