Ashok R. Kelkar





ABSTRACT: A survey and analysis of forms I1) is followed by a presentation of the national distinctions of tense phase aspect.  Cohesion aspect and the closely connected contingency–Mood ($2).  The basic and displaced correlations between forms and notions are then established. ($3) Some points of comparison with English are highlighted ($4) before the pedagogical implications are drawn ($5).


1. Forms:

            There is no uniformity of nomenclature in the traditional presentations of the French verbal paradigms.  Moreover these nomenclatures do not always bring out clearly the alignments between form and form and between form and its use.  Here we propose a somewhat novel but more consistent and revealing nomenclature of forms.  Some of the categorical combinations have an additional manifestation that is confined to colloquial or familiar style (These marked with † when they are the preferred ones colloquially and with †† when they are used rather rarely.) The illustrative verb is parler ‘to speak’ with finite members of the paradigm, 3rd person singular forms with il he are given except for the Imperative where 2nd person singular forms are given.  Additional examples with finir ‘to finish’ are given where useful in establishing formal differences.  Subjunctive members are preceded by qu’il’ that he’ rather than just il ‘he’, what follows is the main paradigm.



Present: il parlel finit

Present Perfect: il a parlć

Present Contingent: il parlera

†† il aura parlć

Present Contingent Perfect: il aura parlć

† il aura eu parlć

Past Descriptive: il parlait †† il avait parlć

Past Descriptive Perfect: it avail parlć †il avail eu partlć

Past Narrative: il parlć † il a parlć

Past Narrative Perfect: il eul parlć † il a eu partc

Past Contingent: il parlerait †† il aurait parlć

Past contingent perfect: il aurail parlc

†† il aurait eu parlć

Imperative Present: Parle

† Present Perfect: aic partć



Present: qu’il parte finisse

†† quil parlć finit

† Present Perfect: qu’il ant parte fint

†† quil parlć fint

Past: qu’il parla ftnil

† qu’il parlć  finisse

††qui’il a parlć / finit

Present Perfect: quil parlć finit

†† qu’il parlć  fint

Past Perfect: quil cut parlć

††qui’il an parlć / finit

Non finite


Infinitive: Parler


Present: pariant

Infinitive Perfect: aver parlć

Present Perfect: avant parlć

Past: Parlć fini



a) Note that in colloquial or familiar style indicative past Narrative falls together with Indicative Present Perfect; subjunctive Present with Indicative Present; Subjunctive Past   with Indicative Past Narrative.


            b) The auxiliary with parler and finit is avoir  ‘to have’ as with most verbs.  However, with intransitive verbs of change of position or of state (as aller ‘to go’. ‘venir ‘to come’. Inourir ‘to die’) or with reflexive verbs the auxiliary used is ćtre to be.


            c) In addition to the main paradigm the following supplementary paradigm is also in use with special constructions in which the auxiliary is found in the following finite forms: Indicative Present and Past Descriptive and Subjunctive Present and Past.


            Perefect with venir  ‘to come’ + de + Infinitive:

                        il vienl / venial de parles ‘he has / had just spoken’

            Progressive with être ‘to be’ + en train de + Infinitive:

                        il estl etait en train de parler ‘he is / was speaking at the moment’.

            Prospective with aller ‘to go; + infinitive:

                        il va / allait parler ‘he is’ / was going to seak

            Prospective with the modal devoir ‘ought, should’ + Infinitive:

                        il doit / devail parler ‘ he is /was to speak


d) In order to generate the finite forms the following categories and stipulations would be needed.  The categories are:

            Tense: Non-Past: Past

            Contingency – Mood: Non-Contingent; Contingent

            Cohesion – Aspect: Non-Narrative; Narrative

            Conjugational – Mood: Indicative, Imperative, and Subjunctive 

            Phase – Aspect: Non- perfect, Perfect.


            The last is consistently marked with avoir + Participle Past or cire + participle past as the case may be.  The remaining categories are manifested conjugationally with special stems of the main verb with special sets of number person endings (except with the special colloquial forms: Note however, the following constraints, namely, that contingency – Mood contrasts are present only in the Indicant: c mood and that Cohesion – Aspect contrasts are present only in the Indicative Mood and the Past Tense.  Under each category the following are the unmarked members: Non-Past (or Present).  Non-Contingent, Non-Narrative (or Descriptive), Indicative, and Non- perfect.  The last is formally unmarked; all the five are distributionally and interpretationally unmarked (as will become clear in what follows).


2) Notions:

            Since the formal categories are sometimes labeled after the notional categories they most often correspond to there will be a certain overlap in the category labels.  However, it is to be clearly understood, for example, that the notional past does not always manifest itself as the formal past and that the formal past is not always to be interpreted in terms of the notional past.  In this notional survey we shall concern ourselves with the category of tense, the two categories of aspect (phase; cohesion), and one category of mood (contingency) which is closely interwoven with tense and aspect both formally and notionally.

A) Tense: To begin with we need to distinguish between the Time of communication (TC) and the Time Referred to (TR) in the communication. (The distinction is analogous to the one between temps de narrator and temps de narration. Respectively that has recently been proposed in the literary analysis of narrative.) Tense is the relation of TR to TC: TR may be anterior, simultaneous, or posterior to TC. Diagrammatically

            TC ____________

            TR ____________

   TR / TC  ____________

            In French, there are two Tenses: Past in which TR is wholly anterior to TC and Non-Past in which TR is not wholly anterior to TC (i.e. simultaneous or posterior to it).

(1)   Le train etait en gare (mais it n’y est plus maintenant). The train was in the

station (but it isn’t there now any more).

(2) Le train est en gare (tout a l’heure).  The train is in the station (right now).

(3)   Le train sera en gare (tout a l’here). ‘The train will be in the station (right now / in a moment).


(a) TC that is the now is not to be interpreted too literally, There is the story of the man who was planting a tree.  Someone came along and the following exchange took place.

(4) Que faites vous? – Jc reponds a votre question. ‘What are you doing? – I am replying to your question.

A less pedantic reply would have been:

(5) Je plante un arbrc. I’m planting a tree. Though the tree-planting had been momentarily interrupted.

(b) In certain constructions TC and TR are carried by separate finite verbs.

(6) Ce n’est pas Madeleine quil a épouséc.  It isn’t Madeleine that he has married.

(7) Ce              n’est pas           madeleinc quil epousa.  It

Ne fut pas

                        isn’t                  Madeleine that he married


8) Ce               n’est pas           Madeleine quietait sa femme

                        n’etait pass

            it          isn’t                  Madeleine that was his wife


9)   II a epouse Madeleine                   n’est – ce pas?

      II epousa Madeleine                      

      Madeleine etait sa femme               

            He has married Madeleine, hasn’t he?  

            He married Madeleine, didn’t he?

            Madeleine was his wife, wasn’t she?

      (French n’est – ce pas? Is, literally, isn’t it?

10) Est-ce        quil a epouse Madeleine

                        quil epousa Madeleine

                        que Madeleine etait sa femme

            Is         it the case         that he has married Madeleine  

            Was                             that he married Madeleine        

                                                That Madeleine was his wife

            In these examples Ce n’est pas’n’est – ce pas? And Est-ce..? carry TC and remain typically in the Present; the TR of the main proposition maybe Present, Past Narrative, or Past Descriptive.  However, with Cest….que / qui and its negative counterpart, a tense  appropriate to the main proposition may also be used (examples 7 and 8).

B) Phase – Aspect.  In order to establish phase contrast, TR has to be distinguished from the Time Referred to along with it (TRR).  Phase is the relation of TRR to TR: TRR may be anterior, simultaneous, or posterior to TR.


                        TR ____________

                      TRR ____________

                TRR/TR ____________

            In French there is a two way distinction of Phase: Perfect in which TR is wholly anterior to TR  and Non-perfect in which TRR is not wholly anterior to TR.

11) If y a un train qui                 Passe               Parici

                                                est passé

         There is a train which                   Passes              through here

                                                            Has passed

            Here the tense (Non-Past) seen in II y a There is and qui passe / quiest establishes the TR while the absence or presence of perfect in passé and est passé establishes the time of the passing of the train (TRR) as not wholly anterior to TR or wholly anterior to TR.  Perfect is typically associated with déjá already.  Of course, TR and TRR may be wholly expressed in the same finite verb.

12) Le train      passe                par ici.              The train           passes              through

                        est passé                                                          has passed

            The TR may be Past rather than Non-Past.

13)       II a avait un train qui                 passait              par                   ici

                        le train                          etait passé


                        There was a train which            passed              through here

                                    The train                       had passed

            Other examples of the Phase contrast would be

14)       Pleurant / “tour en pleurant        else continual le recit

            Ayant pleure


            Weeping / in the course of weeping                   She continued the

            Having wept                                                                 stody

            (TRR : of weeping : TR : of continuing the story)

            TRR may or may not be wholly anterior to TR


15)                   Pendant qu’il dinait                   elle partit

                        Apres quil eut dine

                        When he dined             she left

                        After he had dined

                        (TRR: of his dining; TR: of her leaving)


16)                   Je         Veux dire                     la vérité

                                    declare avoir dit


            1)                     wish  to speak                          the truth

                                    claim to have spoken

                        (TR: of my claiming or wishing, TRR : of my speaking the truth.)


17) Donnez – moi de leau                     bouillante          Give me some


            boiling              water


            The participles in the last example correspond to the clauses qui bout que I’on a fait bauilir ‘which is boiling. Which one has mad eto boil respectively.  Further discussion will be taken up towards the end of ($ 3.A)


a) In the Non-Perfect there are various possibilities:  TRR may be simultaneous to TR posteior to it, extending over a time up to the esecedly  over a period simulatenous to it, or the time being of it.  Diagrammatically.

                                    Simulataneous ____________

                                    Posterior     ____________

                                    Time upto  ____________

                                    Repeatedly ____________

                                    Time being  ____________

            All of these contrast with the Perfect.  Thus in examples (13), the first alternative passait may correspond to:



The train                       passed  at the time                                through here

                                    was going to pass

                                    had been passing till then

                                    passed from time to time

                                    was passing for the time being

            When the Posteriority relation applies, the supplementary forms with aller, devair are far more common.  More examples follow:

18) Au moment on il rentra, elle partit.  Just when he returned, she left (‘Simultaneous’)

19) Avant qu’il rentrat elle partit, ‘Before he returned, she left’ (Posterior)

20) Je chante                toute in matinee                         I have

                                    depuis six heures et demie

                                    il y a /depuis six minutes

   been singing               all morning                                (Time up to)

                                    since half past six

                                    for six minutes

            (Also : Il y a six minutes que je chante).

21) II               se lé ve             souvent             de bon matin

                        se levait            toujors


            He        gets up                         often                 early in the morning

                        used to get up               always

                        (Repeatedly so)

22) L’homme propose et Dieu dispose: Man proposes and God disposes. (Repeatedly so).

23) It sait professeur et habitait  cette rue, ‘He was a teacher and was having in this street (For the time being)


24)       II          Pleut                 it          is          raining (For the time being)

                        pleuvait                         was


25)     II           Pleuavait           quated je sortis

                                                pendant que nous parlions

            It was raining.               when I left

                                                while  we spoke

            (For the time being: TRR : of raining : TR : of my leaving or oar speaking).

(b) The forms in the supplementary paradigm   ($ 1 Observation, e) serve to convey finer notional distinctions of Phase.

26) If y await un train qui          venait de                       passer par ici

                                                etait en train de




            There was a train which            had just passed             through here

                                                            was passing just then

                                                            was going to pass

                                                            was to pass

            (Respectively: ‘Recently anterior’, “for the time being’,

              ‘Immediately posterior’, Posterior’)

            Thus, venir de conveys Perfect of recent anteriority; etre en train de conveys Non-Perfect of simultaneity for the time being; aller rom devoir convey Non-Perfect of posteriority.  Compare the following with example (15).

27) Apres qu’il dina, elle           allait                 partir


            After he dined she         was going to                 leave

                                                Was to

(TR : of his dining : TRR : of her leaving; TRR posterior to TR).

15) Apres qu’il eut dine elle partit. ‘After he had dined, she left’.

            (TR: of her leaving: TRR: of his dining: TRR anterior to TR)

            The two sentences are reporting the same episode from different points of view.

            c) The phase relation (TRR/TR) is independent of the Tense relation (TR./TC) So the relation of TRR to TC can only be inferred thus, if TRR is anterior to TR and TR is anterior to TC., i.e. past, then  naturally TRR is also Past.


            TRR TC                      

            But this does not work in two cases.  First, when TRR is posteior to TR and TR is anterior to TC, Diagrammtically.


            TRR. TC

28)  À son arrivée, l’élection devait encore avoir lieu. ‘At his arrival, the election was still to take place,’ (This leaves us in the dark as to whether the election is still to take place at the moment of speaking)


            The other case is when TRR is anterior to TR and TR is posterior to Tc, Diagrammatically:

            TRR/ TC


29) Demain il aura déjà fini son exercise.  ‘Tomorrow he will have finished his exercise already.’ (It is just possible he has already finished it at the moment of making this prediction; we don’t know from this sentence).

d) A past even (i.e. an event anterior to TC) is open to three ways of reporting: As past perfect (i.e. as TRR anterior to TR which is past); as Past Non-Perfect (i.e. as TR which is anterior to TC); as Non-Past Perfect (i.e. as TRR anterior to TR which is simultaneous to TC).  The perfect is preferred to the Non-Perfect way of reporting in one of the following circumstances:

(i) the event is recently anterior;

(ii) the event is currently relevant;

(iii) the reference is not to a definite event but to unidentified occurrences.  Examples that follow illustrate these three possibilities in order.

(30) J’ai vu la Tour Eiffel ce matin. ‘I have seen/ I saw the Eiffel Tower this morning. (Recent authority)

(31) J’ai vu la Tour Eiffel il y a deux ans : vous gagnez le pari, ‘I saw the Eiffel Tower two years ago; you win the bet’.,  (The event  is linked up with the bet in hand).

(32) J’ai vue la Tour Eiffel deuz fois jusqua aujourd;hui

            ‘I have seen the Eiffel Tower twice as of today.

            In all three cases the Perfect introduces TRR as contributing to the state of affairs described at TR.  All of these could be shifted to a Past setting.  They would then contrast with the Non-perfect in the next example.

(33) Je vis la Tour Eiffel deuxz fois lorsquil je fus a Paris, I visited the Eiffel Tower twice when I visited Paris.

Note that ‘J ai vu .. j’ai’ etc as colloquial past Narrative forms cokuld replace Je vis … ji fus in the colloquial version of example (33).

            Compare the following with (15) and (27)

II dina; et puis elle partit.  ‘He dined; and then she left’.

(TR of his dining, another TR: of her leaving).

            The two events are presented in their own right, as it were, so far as tense is concerned.

            C. Cohesion – Aspect.    The foregoing discussion about the choice between Present Perfect and Past Non-perfect introduces us to the possibility of presenting two events in the TRR/TR relation or as two TRs on their own, i.e. as TR1 and TR2/ Cohesion is the relation ofTR2 to TR1: TR 2 may be anterior, simultaneous, or posterior to TR 1.  Diagrammatically:

            TR1  _______

            TR 2 _______

            TR2/TR1     _­­­­­­__­_______


In French there is a two-way distinction of Cohesion: Narrative Cohesion in which TR 2 is posterior to or simultaneous with TR 1 and Non-Narrative cohesion in which TR 2 is simultaneous with TR 1. A given discourse or text may be divided into cohesion spans.  Each span is either.  Narrative or Non-Narrative. (Non narrative spans may also be called Descriptive spans.)  AT a span boundary there is absence of Cohesion.  (Thus if TR 2 is anterior to TR 1, this means that TR 2 being a new span, there being no cohesion between TR1 and TR2).  Spans normally succeed each other in the discourse; occasionally one span may interrupt the cohesion of another span.  All the TRs in the same span have the same Tense relation to TC (i.e. they are all past, present or Future).

            To begin with, here are some examples of Narrative spans in the Past, the Present, or the Future as the case may be.

35) Je vins, jevis, je vainquis.  I came, I saw, I conquered. (Julius Caesar, Letter after vicotyr at Ze a, Asia Minor)

36) Le chasseur vit le renard, il le visa, et il le tua (colloquially:…a vu … I’a vise… I’a tue…) The hunter saw the fox, shot it, and killed it.

37) Il arriva en retard; et ainsi eut il ______ son train detrois minutes.  He arrived later and consequently he had missed the train by three minutes.

38) Je prends ce flacon, J’y verse de lesa et jy ajoute quelques gouttes d’acide sulfurique.  I take this flask, pour water in it, and add some drops of sulphuric acid.

39) Demain  il viendra me voir.  Nous dinerons ensemble et nous irons voir un bon film.

            Tomorrow he will come to see me, we shall have dinner together and go to see a good film.

            Narrations in the Present (as in example 38) are in the nature of running commentaries since every TR is simultaneous to the corresponding TC.

            Next we illustrate Descriptive spans, again, in the Past, the Present, or the future.

40) Mon père etait professeur et habitait ctterue.  Notre maison etait petite, mais confortable.  Nous cultivons un petit jardio, My father was a teacher and lived in this street.  Our house was small but comfortable.  We grew a little garden.

41) La chamber etait en obscurite event faisait agiter les rideaux.  II dormait paisiblement.  The room was in darkness.  The wind was agitating the curtains. He was sleeping peacefully.

42) La-bas, sous les arbres saorite

            Une chaumière au dos bossu

            Le toit penche, le mur sèffrite

            Le seuil de la porte  est mousès

            La fentre, un volet la boucha

            Mais du taudis, comme au temps froid

            La tiede haleine d’une bouche

            La respiration se voit.

(Describing the scene in a picture) ‘Down there, under the trees is sheltered / a humpbacked hat;/ the roof sags; the wall crumbles;/ the threshold at the door is covered with moss. / The window is shuttered up; / but from the tumble – down hut as in cold weather/ with the tepid breath from amouth / the respiration can be see. (From Theophile Gacher, Fumée’, Émaux et Canmees, 1835.

43)  Je connais been cet homme.  Je ĺestime.  Et je sympathise avee lui I know this man well.  I hold him in esteem.  And I sympathize with him.

44)  La chamber est en  obscurité., Le vent fait agiter les rideaux.  II dort paisiblement.  The room is in darkness.  The wind is agitating the curtains. He is sleeping peacefully.

45) J’aurai un enfant de toi.  I sera beau. I te ressemblera.  I shall have a child from you.  He will be good looking.  He will resemble you (Henry de Montherlant, La Reine morte).

Finally, some examples of span boundaries showing non-cohesive transition follow.  Such a transition may be from foreground to background narration or description.

46) II travaille à la banque ces jours – ci II y entra en 1960.  He works in the bank these days.  He joined it in 1960.

47) It travaille à la banque: ces jours – ci; Pendant quelques  ans il etait mon collegue.  He works in the bank these days, for some years he was my colleague/

The non cohesion may, again, be between main story and commentary.

48)  Un soir, t’en souviens – tu? Nous voguons en silence.  ‘One evening, don’t you remember? We were rowing in silence (Alphonse de Lamartine, ‘Le Lac.)

49) Pierre a commencè à travailler à la banque il y a deux ans.  Tu le connais, n’est ce-pas, ce lourdaud de Pierre?  II a travaillé dur et il a gagnè pas mal d’argent Peter began working in the bank two years ago.  You know Peter, don’t you this clown of a fellow?  He worked hard and didn’t do too badly.

50) It arrival en retard.  II avait manquè son train.  ‘He arrived late, which meant he had missed the train.

Contrast example (50) where the second sentence in the Past Descriptive Perfect makes a comment on the first in the Past Narrative with example (7) earlier, where the second sentence in the Past Narrative Perfect continues the story from the first in the Past Narrative.

37) II arriva en retard; et ainsi eut – il manqué son train de trios minutes.  He arrived late; and consequently he had missed the train by three minutes.

            Finally, the non-cohesion may involve reproduced speech or inner speech whether in direct quotation or not.

51) It                dit                    qu’il avait été malade

                        nous a ecrit


            He        said                  that he had been ill

                        Write to us


52) It    dit                    “j: étais malade.”

            Nous a écrit

            He        said                              It was ill

                        Wrote  to us                

53) It                a parlé              It était malade

                        nous a écrit

     He               spoke               He had been ill

                        Wrote to us

54) Elle lui demanda de l’argent.  II tergiversa.  II ne 1 aimait passages II ne pouvait pas lui donner cette somme.  Elle fut furieuse She asked him for money.  He let her down.  He didn’t love her enough.  He could not give her this sum.  She was furious (Gustave Flaurbert, Madame Bovary).


The subtle modulation from the indirect reporting of (51) through the free indirect reporting of (53) to the direct reporting of (52) does; not affect the point we are making.  Namely, that the reported speech forms a span by itself.  In (51) the span of the indirectly reported speech (or inner speech) is encapsulated in the larger span hence the Past Perfect of il avait été malade.  The Past Descriptive of the third and the fourth sentences in (54) set them off as Madame Bovary’s speech in free indirect reporting over against the first, the second, and the fifth sentences which constitute the main narrative span in the Past Narrative.


a) In examples of Cohesion spans we have come across spans of single TR. (any TRR conveyed by Finite verbs subordinated to some TR and by Non-Finite verb forms does not count separately for the purposes of Cohesion) Strictly speaking, the contrast Narrative/ Non – Narrative calls for at least two TRs.  However, the contrast often shows itself even with TR taken by itself.

            We have already seen (§ 2. B. Observations. d) that the Perfect lends itself to description.  As the names suggest and as the examples will have confirmed, the Past Narrative lends itself to narration and the Past Descriptive to description.

            Most verbs take avoir as the auxiliary; however, some take étre and avoir or être (1. Observations. B) Broadly avoir goes with narration and être with description with verbs that admit of such a choice.

55)  Elle a grandi bien vite.  ‘She grew up very fast.’ (Past Narrative of grandir with avoir).

56) Elle est grandie.  She is grown up (Present Perfect of grandir with etre).

57)  It a monté/descendu : tes escaliers.  He climbed up/down the stairs.

58) It est déjá monté / descendu.  He has already climbed up / down He is already up / down there.

            Constructions with être en train do lend themselves to narration.  In the Non-Perfect Phase.  The notions of Repeated occurrence and of ‘Time up to’ lend themselves to description.  Past Narrative Non-Perfect cannot be used in these two senses.  (See examples at 2. B. Observations. a, b,)

            Cependant ‘in the meanwhile will introduce a description, et puis, and then a narration.

b) Some predicates are naturally suited to narration, some to description, the rest are open to either sort of handling.  Thus voir is typically narrative in the sense to come to see. Typically descriptive in the sense to be able to see, to be in sight of or to be on visiting terms with but neither of the two in the sense to meet, to visit, regarded is typically narrative in the sense of to look at but typically descriptive in the sense of to concern; to consider.  A study of French verbs and adjectives from this point of view is called for.

            Passive predicates lend themselves to a similar classification: être respects to be respected, être gouerné to be governed are descriptive like their active counterparts respecter to respect gouverner to govern; être ferme to be shut, and être onvert to be open are descriptive unlike their active counterparts fermer to shut ouvrir to open.

59)       Pierre est respect                      profondément

            On respecte Pierre

            Peter is respected                     deeply; (both are descriptive)

            They respect Peter

60)       On a fermé la porte                   tout      deuite

            La porte a ete fermee

            Someone shut the door immediately

            The door was shut

            (Both are narrative)

61)       On ferme la porte.        Someone          Shuts                the door

                                                                        is shutting

            (Descriptive or narrative)

62)       On fermait la porte.       Someone          shut                  the door

                                                                        was shutting

            (Descriptive : Repeatedly;                     For the time being.

63)       La porte est/était fermée.                      The door is/was shu.     (Both are


            Some passive predicates are open to either sort of handling like their active counterparts: être lavê can mean either to be in a washed condition or to undergo washing.

64)       Les vêtements sont       déjá laves

                                                lavés tous les jours

            The clothes are washed already

                                                Washed every day

            (the first describes the state of the clothes at TR, the second describes the standing arrangement (‘Repeatedly’) about clothes at TR).

            Whatever be the status of the predicate, the context willbend it one way or the other.

65) Tu le vois?  - Oui, je           le vois

                                                            suis en train de le voir

            You see that? – Yes I               do

                                                            Am beginning to

In (64), the narrative predicate undergo washing is used descriptively in sont lave’s tous les jours.  In (65) the descriptive predicate voir be able to see, be in sight of is used narratively in suis en train de le voir.  In the remaining two cases, sont dèjà lavès and le vois, a descriptive predicate is being used descriptively.

66) Le soldat               mourut              the solider         died

                                    se mouraĺt                                 was dying

            Here mourir to die, cease to live is typically narrative (but of être mourant / morl to be dying / dead ) but being   used descriptively in the second alternative (se mourir to be in a state when death is expected).

67) Il    lut         le roman hier soir                      He        read

            lisait                                                                  was reading

            the novel last evening

            Here lire, to read is open.  The first alternative with the Past Narrative suggests that the novel was completed; the second alternative with the Past Descriptive has no such implication.  A similar distinction underlies the following.

68) Louis XIV                          regnait              soixante – douze ans


            Louis XIV                    was reigning      for seventy two years


69) Dicu                       eréa le monde  (et se trouva fatigue

                                    créait le monde (et se trouvait content

            God     (Created the world (and found Himself tired).

                        (was creating the world (and found Himself glad).

            In the normal course the Past Narrative will be used in a non-specific context in examples (68), (69)

            Finally, consider the following:

70)       J’ai eu                          fini avant midi

            j’avais tourjours

            I           had                   finished before noon

                        Had always

            Here the Past Narrative Perfect in the first alternative reports a single event and describes a single situation arising out of it; the Past Descriptive Perfect in the second alternative describes a situation in which situations of the sort described in the first alternative arise repeatedly.  Diagrammatically:

                                    TR anterior to TC; TRR anterior to TR

                                    TR anterior to TC; TRR repeatedly over a period simultaneous

                                    to TR, TRRR anterior to each instance of TRR.


D. Contingency Mood: While Tense relates TR to TC and Aspect relates TRs and TRRs, Mood relates the validity of the proposition to its use in the communication betweent he sender and the receiver of the sentence.  We are not concerned here with the total gamut of modal contrasts in French conveyed by such formal contrasts as Conjugational – Mood, the absence or presence of modal auxiliaries like devoir ‘ought/should’, vouloir will, wish, falloir, be necessary, must;’ pouvoir, can be able to, savoir can, know how to, oser dare.  Rather, we shall confine our attention to Contingency – Mood.


            Contingency – Mood has to do with the relating of the validity of the proposition to the grounds available to the sender or the conditions or circumstances known to the sender.  In French, there is a two-way contrast between the contingent and the Non-contingent.  The contingent communicates the proposition as one of four things:

(i) inference from available evidence;

(ii) concomitant of attendant circumstances (conditions known for a fact)

(iii) consequence of conditions that are genuinely open (it is not known whether they are fulfilled or not).

(iv) consequence of counteriactual conditions (conditions known or suspected to depart from facts).

            The Non-Contingency communicates the proposition without any such qualification.

            In the examples that follow the portion conveying the grounds or conditions is enclosed in parentheses, since it may be left understood, if the speaker so decides for some reason.

71)  (On sonne.) Ce sera Je medecin, (someone rings) That will be the doctor.

72)  (D, apriès les journaux du soir), it y aura deux cents morts  (According to the evening papers,) will be two hundred dead.


The last two examples illustrate inference from available evidence.  In this sense the use of pouvoir or devoir is perhaps more common thus:

73)  (D’après les journaux du soir)

            it doit y avoir                            deux cents morts

            il se peut quil y ait

            (According to the evening papers.)

            There  should be           two hundred dead

                        Could be

            The next two illustrate concomitants of factual conditions.

74) (Quand il me verra,) il me dira bonjour.

      ‘(Whenever he sees me, ) he will wish me good morning.’

75) (Quand il me verrait)  il me dirait bonjour.

      ‘(Whenever he saw me,) he would wish me good morning.’

The next two illustrate the contrast between open and counterfactual conditions.

76)  (Si je rèussisais) je vous ecrirais, (If I succeed) I should / would write to you.

77) (Si je réussisais,) je vous ècrirais. (If I succeed) I should/would write to you.

            (Implication: … but I know I’m not going to succeed).

78) Le tunnel qu’on a propose              reiiera


            directement les deux vailees.     The tunne

            that has been proposed             will link directly the two valleys

                                                            would link

            In the last example the supporting condition has been left out: reliera will link will go with the factual condition quand il sera prêt when it is ready’ or with the open conditions on lc bârit if they build it, but relicait would link will go with the counterfactual condition si on le bâtissail du toul if they built it at all.

            The Non-contingent removes the qualifications altogether.

79) Cest le medecin.  It is the doctor

80) If y a deux cents morts.  There are two hundred dead”.

            If one says, D’après les journaus du soir, il y a deux cents morts one is simply reproducing the newspaper report in free indirect reporting (as in example 53) without revealing one’s own position on the matter.

81) Je vous ècris unc fois par semaine. (C’est entendu).

I write to you once a week. (Agreed.)  (Non-contingent)

Contrast example 81 with examples 76 and 77.

            The contrast between the Contingent and the Non-Contingent comes out clearly in the following.

82) La nef de cette èglise appartient au XII siècle, mais le cheque sera du XV.  The nave of this church belongs to the 12 th  century, but the choir will be from the 15th.


a) In some cases the qualifications may be built in as it were./

83)  Hèsiter sera une faiblesse.  To hesistate will be weekness.

84) Je prendrais ce qui resterait.  I would take what would be left behind.

            More explciityly, one could paraphrase –

85) Si on hèsite, ce sera une faiblesse,  If one hesitates, that will be weakness.

86) Si quelque chose restait, je le prendrais.  If anything were to be left behind, I would take it.

Consider also the following where as explicit paraphrase will be otiose.

87) Quo!  Ces cohorts etrangers feraient la loi dans nos foyers!

            What ! these alien hordes would lay down the law in our hearths!

            (Rouget de Lisle, “La Marseillaise”)

            When the qualification is implicit or built in, the distinction between non-factual and counter-factual contingency (formally Present and Past Contingent) in the NON-PAST is not always  observed carefully.  Thus, seriait will be used in (83) and prendrai… restera will be used in (84) in much the same sense.


b) The qualified proposition itself can sometimes be given a more explicit paraphrase by verbalizing the sender’s attitude towards the proposition.

88)  Je crois que c’estle mèdecin, ‘ I  believe it will be the  doctor’  (This can serve as a paraphrase of example 71: contrast example 79).

89)       Sera – t – il       Vrai      qu’il l’ait dit?

            Serait – t – il                 qu’il le croie

            Can it be          true      that he should have said it

            Could it be                   that he should believe it

            Note the use of the Subjunctive for the proposition under consideration in a more succinct for muation the Contingent will replace the Subjunctive and the comment embedding the proposition under consideration will drop out compare the following with (89).

90)       L’aura – t – il                dit?       Can he have                             said it?’

            L’aurait – t – il              Could he have

91)       Le  (crora – t il)?                      (Can he be believing )   it?’

                  (croirait – t – il)                   (Could he be believing)

3. Correlations between Forms and Notions:

            Now that the Forms on the hand and Notions on the other hand have been presented, we can establish correlations between the two.  These can be viewed either as ways in which a given form is to be interpreted or as ways in which a given notion is to be manifested.  We shall resent the correlations in two groups: basic or primary correlations and displaced or secondary correlations.  The former constitute the central system and the latter its idiomatic or stylistic extensions.

            In order to avoid confusion, notional labels will be wholly capitalized to distinguish them from labels of formal categories.

A) Basic Correlations: To begin with, we shall present correlations under the NON-CONTINGENT mood in both the  tenses.  All forms are in the Indicative.  Many examples have appeared   in the previous section.








Past Narrative Perfect

Past Descriptive Perfect


Present Perfect





Past Narrative

Past Descriptive





Past Perfect


Present Perfect


            While we shall not concern ourselves with the notional contrasts that correlate with Conjugational – Mood contrasts, we must not lose sight of the Tense and Aspect contrasts in the subjunctive.

92)       Il est possible                                        qu’il vienne

            Je veux                                     qu’il soit venu

            Il faux

            It is possible                                         that he come(s)

            I wish                                                   that he has come

            It is necessary


93)       I’l était possible                                    qu’il vint

            je voulais                                              qu’il fut venu

            Il fallut


            It was possible                                      that he came

            I wished                                               that he had come

            It was necessary

Next we shall present the CONTINGENT system.  Along with the correlations in the main proposition, it will be useful also to present correlations in the supporting or qualifying clause or sentence.  The four sub-moods in the CONTINGENT, it will be recalled (from $ 2.D), are as follows:

(i) inference from evidence

(ii) concomitants of factual conditions

(iii) consequences of open conditions

(iv) consequences of counterfactual conditions

When correlated with the formal manifestations, it will be seen that (iii) falls together with (i), while (ii) and (iv) remain distinct, so notionally, CONTINGENT admits of a further three way distinction between NON-FACTUAL (i, iii), FACTUAL (ii) and COUNTERFACTUAL (iv):






Support or


Main propo-sition

Support or qualification

Main proposition



(i), (iii)

Past Des-criptive (perfect)

Past con-tingent (perfect)



Present contingent



Past contin-gent (perfect)



Contingent (perfect)



Past Des-criptive (Perfect)

Past Des-criptive (perfect)






Past Narra-tive (perfect)

Past Narrative





Past Descriptive Perfect

Past contingent Perfect

Past Descriptive (Perfect)

Past contingent (Perfect)


Notes: (a) Perfect in parentineses indicates the absence or presence of perfect correlating with NON – PERFECT and PERFECT as required by the sense.

b) Note how with NON-PAST, the contrast Prsent/Past correlates with (NON-) FACTUAL / COUNTERFACTUAL.  Note also how with COUNTERFACTUAL, the obligatory presence of Perfect correlates with PAST.

c) All forms are in the Indicative, However, in qualifying clauses introduced by et que ‘and if’, avant que ;before; jusquύá ce que until (with condition that is itself ocntingent) etc., the corresponding subjunctive is used.

            The various possibilities are illustrated in the examples that follow.  First NON FACTUAL, type (i):

94)        Je ie connais bien                     II          dira                              tout cela

 il’ètait mon collegue                             aura dit


                                                                        aurait dit

            I know him well                        He        will say             all that

            He way my colleague                            will have said

                                                                        Would say

                                                                        Would have said

Next NON – FACTUAL, type (iii):

95) S’il             ne rèpondait  p & s                  nous

                        n’avait pas encore rèpondu


n’attendrions plus

            aurions gagnè nos buts

If he       didn’t reply     we                    were not going to wait anymore

              hadn’t yet replied                    would have gained our ends

Next, FACTUAL, type (ii) with the sub-possibiliteis:

96)       Tantque je vivraj                       je men souviendraj

            Quand je l’aurai vu

            As long as I live                        I shall recall it

            When I have seen him

Both of these could be cast in the PAST also

97) Quand il                 voyait le professeur, il cessait                de bevarder

                                    vit le professeur, il cessa

                                    voit le professeur, il cesse

‘When he                     saw the teacher, he stopped                  chattering

                                    saw the teacher, he stopped

                                    sees the teacher, he stops

            Here the second alternative with the Past Narrative will not admit of the notion of Repeated occurrence, the first and the third will : Quand ‘when can be  replaced by Chaque  fois que ‘Every time when, Whenver; when repeated  occurrence is to be indicated explicity.

            Finally, the COUNTERFACTUAL, type (iv) :

98) S’il             venait               ici, il                 verrait               un beau spectacle

                        etait venu                                  aurait vu

     If he            came/were to come)     here      he  would see               a fine sight

                        Had come                                      would have seen)

            The contrast between the FACTUAL (Indicative) and NON-FACTUAL (Subjunctive) is illustrated in the following examples:

99) Il dormit jusquúá ce que le reveil sonna. ‘He slept till the alarm clock sounded.’  (Similarly with: dormail … sonnait… (Past Descriptive.); dort…sonne (Present).  (All three are FACTUAL in character.)


100) II                         dormirait                                               jusquúà ce que le reveil sonnait

                        avait I intention de dormir

            He        would sleep                  till the alarm clock sounded, (NON

                        Intended to sleep

FACTUAL: so it is not know whether the alarm clock actually sounded or not similarly with dorniara somer : a intention de dormir soane.

101)  II travailla            de sorte qu’il rêsait                   He worked

                                    pour qu’il rêsait

            So that he succeeded                            (FACTUAL with actual

            in order that he might succeed)

            result : NON- FACTUAL with intended result respectively.

            That completes the survey of the correlations involving finite verb forms.  In respect of the Non-Finite verb forms there are only contrasts of Phase Aspect.


NON PERFECT                      Infinitive                                    Participle Present

PERFECT                        Infinitive Perfect               Participle               Participle

                                                                                Perfect                 past


Examples have already turned up (at 2, B examples 14, 14, 17).  It will be seen that the well – entrenched traditional labels participle present and participle past inappropriately suggest.  These contrasts which are not there, Non-finite verb forms (other than participate past) can support clause – like phrases and then typically correlate with TRR (thus pleurantlayant pleure in example 14; dire/avoir dit in example 16) However   an Infinitive displacing the Finite verb in a sentence (see examples 112, 117, later) correlated with TR.  Further, Participle present and participle 112, 117, later) correlates with TR. Further, Participle Present and Participle Past (better called Participle Non perfect and Participle Completive) are also used exactly like adjectives describing stable prosperities of example 17).


102) On les trouva        vivant encore                one found

                                    encoure vivants


Then     still living                       (Participle Non perfect),

            Still alive


103) On les trouuva assez         éblouissants                  One found





            them rather                   dazzling





            Non-perfect participles as adjectives are typically intransitive and NON-PERFECT (bouillon example 17, vivants example 102) Completive participles as adjectives are typically transitive passive, and PERFECT (enchants in example 103,)or reflexive passive, and PERFECT fatiguès in example103)

            Less typically certain verbs exhibit special use, so non perfect participles as adjectives can be transitive, active and NON-PERFECT (èblotissants in example 103).  Completive participles as adjectives can be (a) intransitive and PERFECT (bouillie in example 17), (b) intransitive and NON-PERFECT (osés in example 103).  Or (c) reflexive, active, and NON-PERFECT (dissembles in example 103).


a) What are the interpretations appropriate to the Present (perfect) and the Present Contingent (Perfect)? First, there is the obvious distinction between NON- CONTINGENT and CONTINGENT.  There is, however, a derivative interpretation relating to the TR/TC relation.  The Non-Contingent form is typically interpreted as TR simultaneous, to TC, but when matters are pre-set, leaving no room for a qualification, the sense TR posterior to TC is also possible.  Cf. example (81) consider also the following:

104) II rentre                tout á I’heure                ‘He      returns

                                    après un an                               is returning

                                    right now

                                    in a year

            The   Contingent form on the other hand is typically interpreted as TR post erior to TC (whence the traditional label ‘Future’); but the sense TR simultaneous to TC is also possible, when the speaker does not wish to make an unqualified statement but rather would look for grounds or conditions.

            3) Le train sera en gare tout a I’heure  ‘The train will be in the station

                                    right now

                                    in a moment

When the Contingent is used in the sense TR posterior tok Tc, the sense of CONTINGENCY is weakened.

105) Quel jour-es-ce  demain ? Demain            c’est     Lundi

                                                                        ce sera

            What days is it tomorrow? Tomorrow it            is                      Monday

                                                                                    Well be

            Here the second alternative is not noticeably more qualified or contingent than the first!

            b) The imperative (Perfect) behaves like the Contingent (Perfect) in the NON-PAST CONTINGENT main clauses.  The imperative may be accompanied by a NON FACTUAL condition.

106)  Defendez vous, siĺon vous attaque

            Defend yourself it anyone attacks you

            Alternatively, the condition may be FACTUAL

107)     Ayez                fini                    avani que je retourne

            Vous aurez                               quand on fera l’inspection

            Have                            done with it                   before I return

            You will have                                                    when they inspect

            This parallels examples (100, 96).

108)     Faites               comme vous                 voudrez

            Vous ferez                                            voulez


Do                   as you wish

            You ‘ll do

Here the alternatives with comme was voudrez / vondez can be expanded either as FACTUAL CONTINGENCY:

Comme vous voudrez quand vous voudrez quelque chose

As you will wish when you wish anything:

Comme vous voudrez si vois voulez quelque chose

As you will wish if you wish anything.

The last of the three alternatives is likely to be more polite in intention

109)     Ne le croyez pas                                   quand même il vous le jourait

            vous ne le croiriez pas              

            Don’t you believe him               even if he swore it to you.’

            You wouldn’t believe him

Here the condition is COUTERFACTUAL

B. Displaced Correlations:  The best format for presenting these will be: the Notion x which basically manifests itself as the Form Y is manifested also as Form Z when the displacement is justifiable for reasons W.

Displacement 1:            X: PAST NARRATIVE

                                    X: Indicative past Narrative (Perfect)

                                    Z: Indicative Present (Perfect): or

                                         Infinitive (Perfect)

                                    W: Dramatic climax cinematic effect.

110) II ouvirt, il posa la lampe, pusil  entra I pieds nus


            He opened, put down then lamps, and the he

                        entered             barefoot                       (Dramatic climax)


111)  La petite poussa              un cri, le gros livre                     imba

                                    pousse                                                              tombe                                      


la pendule                     Sonna               The little one                 Screamed

                                    Sonne                                                   Screams

the fat book      fell        the clock                      struck

                        falls                                          strikes

            (The choice   is between the Past Narrative throughout or, for cinematic effect, the Present throughout)

            In this displacement it is as if the “now” is displaced from TC to some point anterior to TC.  An example with the Infinitive follows.

112) Anisi dit le renard et flatteurs d’applaudir

                    ‘So said the fox and the flatterers applaud

            Such an Infinitive never begins a narrative span.  This use of the infinitive is obsolescent.

            Displacement II:            X: PAST NARRATIVE

                                                X: Indicative Past Narrative over a cohesion – span

                                                Z: Indicative Past Descriptive over a cohesion – span                                        W: Slow – motion cinematic effect.

113) Co jour-lá, elle partait de bonne heure avec sa bonne qui lui donnait le bras et portait un plaint.  Pres due cimetiere, elle entrait chez une marchande… La, elle se reposait quelques instants, puis… elle passit la porte du cimétiere, Prenait l’allée á gauche du cédre. On that day, there she was leaving early, with her maid giving her the arm and carrying a folding chair.  Near the cemetery, she was visiting a woman shopkeeper… There, she was resting for a few seconds, then… she was passing the gate of the cemetery and taking the alley on the left of the cedar – tree.. (Gustave Flaubert, Un coeus simple. Note the Progressive in the English version.  In English one could also say on that day, you could have seen her leaving early.).

Displacement III:          X:         PERFECT (TRR anterior to TR)

                                    X:         Perfect; or venir de

                                    Z:         Indicative Non-Perfect

                                    W:        Exaggerating recency

114) II             est  arrivé         de  Paris., ‘He              is come from Paris

                        arrive                                                    comes



115) Elle          était sortie                     due couvent lorsqu’il la vit/

                        venait de sortir


                        fut sortie


            She had just come out of the convent when he caught sight of her.

            In this displacement, it is as if TRR anterior to TR is displaced to TRR simultaneous to TR.  In the next. TRR posterior to TR is displaced  to TRR  simultaneous to TR.

Displacement IV:          X:         NON PAST CONTINGENT in a main clause

                                                 Non COUNTERFACTUAL

                                    Y:         Indicative Present Contingent; or aller; or devoir in


                                    Z:         Indicative Present, or Infinitive

                                    W:        Exaggerating Imminence

116) Ne vous en allez pass       j’arriverai          dans us instant


                                                j’aurai fini

                                                j’ai fini

Don’t go away I’ll come                       in a moment

                                    I come

                                    I’ll have finished

                                    I have finished

117) Que                     répondra – t – on          á cela?

                                    Répond – ton  


            How                 will one reply                            to that?

                                    Does one/ is one to reply

                                    To reply

Displacement V:  X:      PAST CONTINGENT in a main sentences;

                                    NON-PAST CONTINGENT COUNTERFACTUAL

                                    In a main sentence.

                        Y:         Past Contingent (Perfect): aller or devoir in Past Descriptive

                        Z:         Respectively Past Descriptive (Perfect), past Descriptive

                        W:        Minimizing Contingency

118) Un pas de plus et je         tomberais            dans              Fabime


                                                I           je serais tombe

                                                J           étais

            One more step and:      I would fail                      in the abyss

                                                I would have fallen



                           Y: Past Descriptive

                           Z: Past Contingent

                           W: Concessional clause introduced by quand (meme) que to even

                                    If – for Emphasizing Coutnerfactuality

119) Vous ne le croiriez pas, quand meme

            il vous le           jurait                 you wouldn’t


            believe  him, even if he  swore               over it to you

                                                            would swear

Displacement VII:         X:         PAST CONTINGENT COUNTERFACTUAL

                                    Y:         Past Contingent Perfect in the main sentence; Past

                                                Descriptive perfect in the condition.

                                    Z:         Past Subjunctive Perfect in either ease

                                    W:        More elegant

120)  Si on       I avait attauqé, il se serait                      défendu

                        I’ eût attaqué. Il se fût

            If anyone had attacked him, he would have defended himself.

Displacement VIII:        X:         CONTINGENT, command

                                    Y:         Imperative (Perfect)

                                    Z:         Indicative Present Contingent (Prefect)

                                    W:        Minimizing contingency as in divine or royal

                                                Commands or official edicts.

121)     Ne tue point                             Don’t kill

            Tu ne tueras point                     Thou shall not kill         


4) Points of Comparison with English:

            For a full-scale comparison, a description of the English system of forms, notions, and their correlations will have to be attempted first before one can formulate correlative formulas of the following sort:

French Form French Notion English

Notion English form.

ii) English form   English Notion   French

     Notion   French From.

            In each case the first arrow stands for transportation the second for correlation, and the third for manifestation.

            What we shall do here in stead is to bring together some observations on points of comparison that will have emerged in comparing the French examples with their English glosses.

(a) French contrasts Past Descriptive and Past Narrative.  English has no such contrasts (examples 37/50, 46/47), though some compensatory mechanisms are available (progressive in 41, 44 but not in 36, 38, cf also 61).  Thus, Displacement II has an English parallel (example 113).  See also (c) below.

(b) French Past narrative and Present Perfect fall together formally in colloquial style.  English maintains a clear contrast between Pasti Non-perfect and present perfect.

(c) French uses etre in train de for ‘For the time being’ springly.  English uses the Progressive freely for definitely identified occurrences in the senses ‘For the time being’, ‘Repeatedly’ ‘Over a length of time’.  And, colloquially, ‘Imminent Posteriority’.  In the first three sense.  French has Past Descriptive in the PAST examples 21 to 25, 40, 41).  English prefers the Progressive for short-term descriptions (examples 24, 25, 41, 44) and the Non-Progressive for long – term descriptions (examples 21, 22, 40, 4).  French has no such distinction.  For the fourth sense of imminent posteriori (he is/was coming in a minute, cf. also example 104) French has no real parallel but falls back on Prospective constructions.

(d) French treats ‘Time Up to’ as NON-PERFECT; English uses Perfect or Perfect Progressive (example 20).

(e)French venir de has no direct counterpart in English.  French aller and English be going to are parallel, as are to some extent French devoir and English be to, should, ought in the sense likely to follow Ci also the use of the Progressive (see (c) above).

(f) French Present and Past Contingent (perfect (parallel English will/would (+ Perfect) in the sense of contingent infer ability.  But note the lack of parallelism in the following:

122) ii              ne restera pas                           He won’t stay

                        ne veut pass rester       

Here the English distinguishes between the unaccented will of prediction and the accented will of prediction from the agent’s known will and dispostion.

123)                 Je vais              Souvent le vour



                        I will                 go see him often

                        I would

            Here the unaccented will is used for Repeatedly occurrence (Compare examples 74, 75).

            In examples 74, 75, 96 the clause of prospective factual condition has Present or Past contingent in French but Present or Past without will in English.

(g) French Displacement I for the dramatic presentation of the PAST is much more freely used than the parallel English displacement.  The same is the case with Displacement III. The French dramatic Infinitive (example 112) has no parallel in English.

(h) Displacement IV and the use of Present for pre-set future ($ . A. Observations, a) have close parallels in English/

(i) Displacements V, VI and VII have no exact English parallels.

(j) Displacement VIII is paralleled by the use of will and shall in English.  French uses it more sparingly.

(k) While French uses Indicative Present for TC in certain co instructions, kept separate from TR ($ 2.A. Observations, b) English usually assimilates the tense to the main tense (was comes more naturally than is in examples 7, 8, 10 cf also 9).


5) Pedagogical Implications:

            Some observations may be brought together that will be useful in teaching French Tense, Aspect, and Contingency – Mood.

            a) Translation rules of the kind visualized at the beginning of the last section have their place not in the beginner’s class0room but either as contrastive observations that help one to design the course sequence so as to minimize the need for later remedial work (prevention is so much better than cure) or as teaching points in an advanced translation course where the learner can be assumed    to have achieved the basic fluency or automaticity of basic responses.


            b) In more positive terms, teach the central French system (§ 3.A) as such in the beginner’s classroom. Don’t worry the learner at that stage with the correlations with the filter language, say, English or Hindi.  Don’t worry about the interpretation of specific forms – the usual text-book treatment in terms of the uses of the Present, on the   Past Narrative, and so forth gives a fragmentary view thoroughly obscuring the overall view.  Don’t confuse the earner with displaced correlations, which had better wait for a later stage.


            c) Within the central system, introduce the central paradigm of forms (to be internalized as fluent response) will the minimum of notional apparatus.  That is, basic correlations are introduced as interpretations of forms.  Then the fuller picture be introduced in terms of correlations presented as manifestations of the notional apparatus.


            d) Isolate one variable at a time as the notional correlations are introduced.


            e) Presenting examples in sets of parallel and contrasting sets is more useful at the beginning (cf. examples 1,2,3,11,12, 13 which constitute a set).  Presenting telling examples selected from live speech context or literature (of. Examples 4,5,7,42, 45, 54) is more useful later in contextual zing the apparatus of forms and notions (Note the use of braces and diagonal dashes in the examples.)  Displacement examples should be introduced in conjunction with examples with out displacement.


            f) Degree or grammaticality must not be confused with degree of frequency of usage. Thus, the so called ‘Temps surcomposés; (colloquial versions of Present Contingent Perfect, Past Descriptive Perfect, Past Narrative Perfect) are semi-grammatical while the subjunctive Perfects have lower frequency. (By semi – grammatical expressions we mean those that are permitted or tolerated but eh grammar rather than enjoyed by it.

            g) The notional collocations serve to render more palpable the abstract notional contrasts – the selection of a verb form goes with certain adverbials  (e.g. Perfect with déjá) with expressed and implied grounds and qualifying conditions (e.g. the use of Contingent and the parenthesized portions in examples 71 to 77 the paraphrase relationships between 83 and 85.84 and 86), Bringing out paraphrase relationships is in general   useful pedagogically for the same purpose (e.g. examples 71 and 88, 89 and 91-91).


h) This analysis can also serve the purpose of a stylistic analysis of discourse.  The notions of cohesion spans and their catenation (one after the other, one within he other) and the classification of cohesions (description vs. narration; past, present, and future) and non-cohesion (background, commentary, and reported speech) are obviously relevant to discourse structure.


i) The notion of style involves the motion of selection between alternatives.  Examples of such situations offering the possibility of a choice are:

Placement of span boundary.

Presenting content as description or narration (cf. Examples 55-58, 65-69).

Cohesion or non cohesion (cf. Examples 37, 50)

            TRR / TR relation versus TR2/TR1 relation (cf. examples 15, 27 versus 34).

Placement of TRR  and TR (cf. examples 15, 27)

            TRR / TR relation versus TR/TC relation (cf. examples 30, 31, 322 versus 33).

            CONTINGENT Vs. NON CONTINGENT, Past Contingent vs. Present Contingent (the former is often selected as less assertive and therefore more polite, cf. 2. D Observations, a).

            Use of forms in the main paradigm versus forms in the supplementary paradigm introducing finer notional distinctions (§ 1 Observations c). Use of basic manifestations versus displaced manifestations (3.B.)



            Dhongde. R. V. 1974 Mood tense, and aspect in English and Marathi. U. of Poona, Ph. D. diss. (Coimpleted under the present author’s supervision).

Mansion, J.E. 1919.  A Grammar of present – day French. London : Harrap.

Schaefer. Carl. F. 1968 : Temporal  order and time-relations. MS.



            I am indebted to Mansion 1919 for authentic examples and preliminary sorting out that is much better than in most traditional grammars; to Schaefer 1968 for the notion of predication types, the distinction between narration versus description, and the notion of interrupting narration; to Raymond Doctor (Ferguson College, Pune; personal communication) for useful discussion and checking and suggesting examples.

            A preliminary version was presented   orally at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad on 4th March, 1976.

            This was published in Indian Linguistics 9. 104-35, 1978.