Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments


yaaqov wrote (edited )

Well, most languages on earth probably lack a morphological future tense (that is, a suffix, prefix, or other change to the verb itself). As pointed out by other users, English can express future tense via other means, like a modal/auxiliary (eg "will", "gonna"). Further, sentences like "On August 6th, we're snorkeling." manage to express futurity without even these words, instead using a phrase—"on August 6th"—that is in some sense external to the main proposition—"we're snorkeling".

A good number of languages use only this strategy, or just plain old context (Thelma: "What are you doing tonight?" Joaquin: "I'm watching a movie") Here, the future interpretation of Joaquin's response comes entirely from the conversational expectation that answers are relevant.

And this isn't limited to the future tense; languages range from expressing a large handful of tense-like distinctions with morphology (eg, Latin), to making use entirely of lexical and contextual strategies to situate actions in time (eg, Indonesian).