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On the so-called relative past tense.

Abstract : Declerck (1991) argues that the past tense 'was' in the subclause in ‘He said he was perfectly happy’ is a relative past tense: it expresses a temporal relation of simultaneity between the main clause situation of saying and that of being happy. 'Said' is an absolute tense: it expresses a temporal relation between the moment of speech and a past time situation. In other words, the status of the past tense in the main clause is not the same as that in the subclause. The paper offers a critical evaluation of the evidence provided by Declerck for the analysis of the past tense as a relative tense form in the context just described; it is argued that the five tests do not offer conclusive evidence for the difference in status between the absolute past tense and the relative past tense.
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Contributor : Ilse Depraetere <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 10:51:59 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - 1:44:01 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00849488, version 1



Ilse Depraetere. On the so-called relative past tense.. De Clercq, Martine, Daniel de Vin, Jozef Janssens and Constant Matheeussen (eds). Verzoenende veelzijdigheid. Huldealbum opgedragen aan Prof. Dr. H. Van Gorp., K.U.Brussel., pp.39-50., 2000. ⟨halshs-00849488⟩



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