Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why English doesn't have Future Tense

It is indeed an intriguing fact that English does not have future tense . The Anglo-Saxons of yore did not bequeath future tense to the English language . While other languages have separate verb-forms to indicate future tense English is left with none !

We must bear in mind the fact that the early shapers of the English language the Anglo-Saxons ,  lived in an atmosphere with no constraints like prescriptive grammar . The only thing they cared for as far as their language was concerned was communicative effiency and ease of pronunciation -the two forces that shaped  all primitive languages in their infancy . 

If the Anglo-Saxons did not find it necessary to evolve separate  verb- forms to indicate future , they must have had reasons to do so  . I personally  think that the versatility   of their present tense verb- form was the reason . This verb-form was capable of being put  to diverse applications . It could be used to express actions that occurred in the past , which practice  survives today in historical present . It could express action in progress .It could express universal truths and habitual actions . Ii could express
future tense with suitable future time references,  a practice that survives , though in  a limited  way .No woderthe Anglo-Saxons did not see the need for a separate verb-form to express future! 

I wish to conclude this post by expressing the view of the great savant Otto Jespersen that the Anglo-Saxon language (Old English)) had enough internal resources to become a great language in future even if there was no Norman Conquest in 1066!

Thanking you for visiting 

Prof. V.P.Rafappan