04 July 2011

A Guide to Constructed Languages: Rules & Grammar: Tense

You're probably familiar with the terms past, present, and future. But how do you want to make words in your own language represent the past, the present, or the future?


In English, the past is represented in a number of ways, but it is most commonly said that -ed and -t are added to the end of verbs:
Some examples:

-ED: Spilled, passed, marched, narrowed; harrowed

-T: Dreamt, slept, spilt, past, swept, wept; kept

There are a number of irregular verbs, too, such as drew, drank/drunk, gone/went, ate, bought, and fought.

You can also take into consideration such variations as, 'I bought a flower' and 'I had bought a flower,' or 'I used to go' and 'I regularly went,' etc. You can read more about past tense here.


Most commonly recognised as having an -ing ending in English, such as kayaking, hiking, spelling, nursing, joking, laughing, and dancing. You can read more about present tense here.


In English, future tense usually uses will. You can read more about future tense here.
Some examples:
  • I will go to the ball.
  • I will call my brother.
  • He will sweep later.
  • I will be home tomorrow.
  • She will be performing next week.
  • They will be invited too.
  • I will have finished the course by then.
  • She will have finished eating.
  • Tomorrow, I will have been going to class every Tuesday for a year.
Other examples:
  • I will/shall go
  • I'm going to go / I am going to go
  • I'm to go / I am to go
  • I'm about to go / I am about to go
  • I must go
  • I should go
  • I can go
  • I may go
  • I might go
(From Wikipedia.)

Though above I have described briefly methods of creating past, present, and future used in the English language, there are other possibilities as well. Some languages combine past and present into one (ex. Japanese).

If we were to change English into a language that used particles to indicate tense, what do you think it would look like?

To indicate the past, would could use the particle pa, for the present, we could use pre, and for the future we could have fu:

'I went' or 'I did go' might be I go pa. 'I am going' might be I go pre. And 'I will go' might be I go fu.

Perhaps, instead of changing verbs to show tense, we could use different words to indicate, something like particles, except a little more explanatory:


I go already.
I go did.
I go past.
I go before.

I go already.
I go now.
I go currently.
I go presently.

I go tomorrow.
I go future.
I go soon.
I go will.


Is tense important? Why or why not?

How else could you create tense?

Does English have a good system for creating past, present, and future tense? Why or why not? Any suggestions?

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