Time, Tense , And The Verb II.
Meanings of the past tense with reference to past time: Past tense combines two features of meaning: The event/state must have taken place in the past with a gap between its completion and the present moment. I stayed in Africa for several months Which means that I am no longer there. The speaker must have in mind a definite time at which the event/state took place. (last week, in 1932, yesterday)
Situational use of the past tense: for immediate situation Did you lock the front door or in domestic situation, in general knowledge Byron died in Greece .
Anaphoric and cataphoric use of the past tense: We call its use anaphoric when the time in the past to which the reference is made is already indicated by a previous use of the past tense. Then we entered the city….the square was deserted. Or in case of preceding use of the present perfective in the indefinite past sense. They have decided to close down the factory. It took us completely by surprise. Or when an adverbial of time occurs in the same clause. Last Saturday we went to…
When the adverbial follows the past tense this may be called the cataphoric use of definite past. The relevant time need not be specified.
Event, state, and habit in the past: Event past: single definite event in the past. State past: refers to a state. Habitual past: sequence of events. The event past is more common than the corresponding instantaneous present. Habitual and statemeanings can be paraphrased by means of used to. In those days we used to live in the …. Another distinguishing feature is the tendency for dynamic verbs to have a sequential interpretation when they occur in textual sequence. She addressed and posted the letter.
Meanings of the past tense with reference to present and future: There are three special meanings: In indirect speech the past tense of the reporting verb tends to make the verb of the subordinate clause past tense as well. This is known as backshifting. Did you say you had no money.
Yes I am completely broke. A different kind of backshift is observed when a sentence describing a speech or thought in the future contains a reported speech clause referring retrospectively to the present. My wife will be sorry that she missed seeing you this evening. The attitudinal past is used with verbs expressing mental state, reflects the tantative attitude of the speaker, rather than the past time. Did you want to see me now? The hypothetical past is used in certain subordinate clauses, especially in if clauses. If you really worked hard, you would soon get promoted. Expresses what is contrary to the belief or expectation of the speaker.