Chapter 5 Summary: Tense and Mood Essay

Chapter 5 Summary: Aspect, Tense and Mood


 This is the time described by a doing word in contextual form. It creates a link between the past, present, and the future from a moment here to a moment in another time. Tense is divided into four operators the past, present, future, and distal. The past is a situation where the outcome of the event is known with certainty and is considered the catalyst of the situation that is happening at the moment. Past tense is mostly used by liminal predicates. The present represents the situation happening at that particular interval of time. It also describes the moments immediately preceding and immediately following the action in time (Timberlake, 2007). It is usually used by processes or activities. The future suggests an action that will take place at a time later than the present, that is here and now. The events can only be suggested and anticipated as there is no surety of the action taking place. It is used by liminal predicates. The distal depicts a situation that happens in another alternate world but is measured by an interval of time. 

The future tense also shows modality in its contextual form; hence it shows the possibility of the events happening at some other later time. The possibilities, however, are not static and hence are bound to change from the original future predicted. This shows that the future can only be projected; therefore, there are alternatives to the said future (Timberlake, 2007). The past is, however, intact as it cannot be changed. The difference in intervals of time between past and future depicts a parallel relationship between the two. When a speaker and an addressee start from the point of here and now accessing the past and future, there comes about an interval between the time of speech and the contextual event. However, the tenses can have a symbiotic relationship as they show the path the occasion takes from the past to the future, not only bounded by time. 

The future tense is expressed in the modal form in describing the contextual event. There is a possibility that the event will occur beyond the interval of now and then time. The tense is also used to show an event that is not factual, that is hypothetical. This is made possible by perfects. Perfects in both past and future can locate an event internally that is the location of an event in the past, present, or future in the contextual text of the occasion happening in the past or future.

 For example, past perfect depict history in the past, for example, shortly after. This shows a time where a person is referring to a future event or fate. Future perfect shows are passed in the future. It shows the past in future events that happen. These tenses are referred to as relative tense as they allow for the specific statements of the time that an event occurs. There are also the relations between the past and present, such as the historical present where a past occasion is relived in a livid time without any time distance contextually.

 The recent past occurs when an event is not completed or occasions that happen within a day. The past used here shows events that have been disconnected from the interval of time. Tense is also different in direct and indirect speech. Indirect speech is characterized by verbs of speech. The speaker decides to use verbs relating to a third party while in a direct speech, the speaker exercises control over the occasion and use pronouns and verbs of the internal speaker.


Modality refers to the degree to which an event is probable or likely to happen. This is manifested by modal auxiliaries such as can, should, might, et al. There are three different kinds of modality; epistemic, obligation, and contingency (Timberlake, 2007). The characteristics of the three modal are different from each other. Epistemology relates to the knowledge of the speaker and its possibilities and the degree of certainty. The role of the speaker is to convey the message from another speaker in contextual form and also act as the speaker. The speaker here claims authority over the knowledge. Questions are a common feature in this realm. Epistemology allows interrogative discussion through questions asked by the audience as the speaker surrenders the authority over all and allows for the audience to correct a deficit. Epistemology operates between the realms of the uncertainty of questions and certainty of answers to bring forth evidentially of a subject.

The second type of modal is an obligation. Obligation modal can be viewed as permissions and obligations invoked by the speaker in order to share the burden of changing the world. This invokes both authority and alternate choices. The directive modals report the facts of imperatives. They can issue a command or permit while others volitive, which implies the speaker takes responsibility for the changes. The obligation also shows the authority of permission. Where responsibility is ranted to a proxy authority, others express regret and appreciation, according to the speaker. This type of modal shifts authority form one person to another while still maintaining the” so be it” context of the occasion. This second modality shows a situation may not hold, but the will of the proxy authority will make the event to continue.

The third type is the modality of causation and contingency; this is the circumstantial modal, where one situation is responsible for the other happening. The conditions can be potential or iterative. Potential conditions are often involved with realis mood as the events are more likely to occur based on another outcome (Timberlake, 2007). The iterative conditions are used with the irrealis mood as to where the degree of events happening is hypothetical. The events can be imagined but are not real. There are also circumstances which show is polarized to one side while giving conditions of how the world is subject to change called counterfactual. Indicative modality entirely excludes alternatives while committing itself that one event is the only that will take place. There are also more restricted models such as modals that express apprehension of events while others express imminent actions such as “A dog nearly bite me.” Apprehension mood shows the extent of under stability of a particular event that is in the past and present.



Timberlake, A. (2007). Aspect, tense, mood. Language typology and syntactic description3, 280-333.

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