tense


tense
tense1
tensely, adv.tenseness, n.
/tens/, adj., tenser, tensest, v., tensed, tensing.
adj.
1. stretched tight, as a cord, fiber, etc.; drawn taut; rigid.
2. in a state of mental or nervous strain; high-strung; taut: a tense person.
3. characterized by a strain upon the nerves or feelings: a tense moment.
4. Phonet. pronounced with relatively tense tongue muscles; narrow. Cf. lax (def. 7).
v.t., v.i.
5. to make or become tense.
[1660-70; < L tensus ptp. of tendere to stretch; see TEND1]
tense2
tenseless, adj.tenselessly, adv.tenselessness, n.
/tens/, n.
1. a category of verbal inflection that serves chiefly to specify the time of the action or state expressed by the verb.
2. a set of such categories or constructions in a particular language.
3. the time, as past, present, or future, expressed by such a category.
4. such categories or constructions, or their meanings collectively.
[1275-1325; ME tens < MF < L tempus time]

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In grammar, an inflected form of a verb indicating the time of a narrated event in relation to the time at which the narrator is speaking.

Time is often perceived as a continuum with three main divisions, past, present, and future, defined in relation to the time when the event is described. Other categories, including mood and aspect, may further specify the action as definite or indefinite, completed or not completed, lasting or nonlasting, and recurring or occurring once.

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      in grammar, a verbal category relating the time of a narrated event to the time of the speech event. In many languages the concept of time is expressed not by the verb but by other parts of speech (temporal adverbials or even nouns, for example).

      Time is frequently perceived as a continuum with three main divisions: past, present, and future. The past and future times are defined in relation to the present time (now). Past tense refers to any time before the present time, and future tense refers to any time after the present. Not all languages perceive this relationship as a linear one, nor do these categories characterize all possible times. Tense, then, is a grammatical expression of time reference. The correlation between tense and time is not necessarily one-to-one; languages do not recognize as many oppositions of tense as they have conceptions of time. English has past, present, and future times, but only a past and a nonpast opposition of tense.

      past: John ate lasagna.

      present: John is eating lasagna.

      future: John will eat lasagna.

      Grammatical tense may not equal real time:

      The flight is leaving at 5:00 PM.

      That will be $5.00, please. [At a grocery check-

      out line.]

      In the first sentence, the verb form that usually indicates present time is here used to indicate future time. In the second sentence, the verb form usually indicating future time is here used to indicate present time. The past form of the verb generally refers to past time, to a narrated event prior to the speech event.

      In other languages the category of tense may express other oppositions, such as proximate versus nonproximate, now versus not now, etc. In English, however, the grammatical category of tense relates to the ontological concept of time in a binary opposition: past versus nonpast. Nonpast tense is considered “unmarked” for tense and thus can comprise present, future and even past times. With the exception of some problematic modal constructions—such as would in “John said he would go tomorrow,” in which would is grammatically a past tense of will but is used to indicate future time—the past tense indicates only past time and is thus said to be “marked” with respect to tense. Other grammatical categories, such as mood and aspect, may add another dimension to the time reference, further specifying the action as definite or indefinite, completed or not completed, lasting or nonlasting.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tense — Tense, a. [L. tensus, p. p. of tendere to stretch. See {Tend} to move, and cf. {Toise}.] Stretched tightly; strained to stiffness; rigid; not lax; as, a tense fiber. [1913 Webster] The temples were sunk, her forehead was tense, and a fatal… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tense — is the location in time of the state or action expressed by a verb. English verbs properly have only two tenses, the present (I stay) and past (I stayed). The future is formed with shall or will (I shall / will stay: see shall and will) or (to… …   Modern English usage

  • Tense — Tense, n. [OF. tens, properly, time, F. temps time, tense. See {Temporal} of time, and cf. {Thing}.] (Gram.) One of the forms which a verb takes by inflection or by adding auxiliary words, so as to indicate the time of the action or event… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tense — may refer to: *Grammatical tense, the inflection of a verb to indicate whether past, present, or future time is intended *Tenseness, a phonological quality frequently associated with vowels and occasionally with consonants *Tense, a state of… …   Wikipedia

  • tense — Ⅰ. tense [1] ► ADJECTIVE 1) stretched tight or rigid. 2) feeling, causing, or showing anxiety and nervousness. ► VERB ▪ make or become tense. DERIVATIVES tensely adverb tenseness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • tense — tense1 [tens] adj. tenser, tensest [L tensus, pp. of tendere, to stretch < IE * tend < base * ten , to stretch > THIN] 1. stretched tight; strained; taut 2. feeling, showing, or causing mental strain; anxious 3. Phonet. articulated with… …   English World dictionary

  • tense — [adj1] tight, stretched close, firm, rigid, stiff, strained, taut; concepts 485,604 Ant. limp, limpid, loose, relaxed, slack tense [adj2] under stress, pressure agitated, anxious, apprehensive, beside oneself*, bundle of nerves*, choked, clutched …   New thesaurus

  • tense — index rigid Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • tense — adj 1 *tight, taut Analogous words: strained (see corresponding noun at STRAIN): nervous, unquiet, uneasy, jittery (see IMPATIENT) Antonyms: slack 2 *stiff, rigid, inflexible, stark, wooden Analogous words: tough, tenacious, stout (see STRONG):… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • tense — I UK [tens] / US adjective Word forms tense : adjective tense comparative tenser superlative tensest * 1) a) making you feel nervous and not relaxed, usually because you are worried about what is going to happen a tense situation/atmosphere a… …   English dictionary

  • tense — [[t]te̱ns[/t]] tenses, tensing, tensed, tenser, tensest 1) ADJ GRADED A tense situation or period of time is one that makes people anxious, because they do not know what is going to happen next. This gesture of goodwill did little to improve the… …   English dictionary