The Future Tense

by Östen Dahl and Viveka Velupillai

5 Responses to “The Future Tense”

  1. Sebastian Says:

    what is the exact reason to deny Portuguese an inflectional future? cantarei, cantarás, cantará, cantaremos, cantareis, cantarão seem very inflectional to me.

  2. Thorstensen Says:

    I would like to know why is Portuguese assigned no-inflectional future and Spanish is assigned inflectional future exists. Is this an error?

  3. Östen Dahl Says:

    If it is an error or not depends on your point of view. The source given is Dahl(1985, 171-72), which is available at!/menu/standard/file/Tense%26aspectsystems.pdf.
    In this work, the inflectional form called Future tense in Portuguese was deemed not to be used generally enough to be treated as a grammaticalized future tense (it is in competition both with the present and with the periphrastic ‘go’ construction).
    This judgment was based on questionnaire data from two native speakers. It was really a borderline case – the Portuguese form fell just below the postulated limit. The criteria applied may of course be seen as too rigid, and it would have been desirable for this procedure to have been clarified in the chapter text.

  4. Ana Says:

    Just two native speakers doesn’t seem very comprehensive. As a native speaker, I feel that the \go\ construction replaces the inflected person orally, but usually not in written or formal Portuguese. Spanish is very similar in this aspect. \Voy a trabajar\ uses the \go\ construction as well. So, the criteria doesn’t seem very accurate to me.

  5. Matthew Korte Says:

    Indeed, English has no inflectional future, but the analysis here is still not forceful enough. English has two tenses, present and past. All future reference is a special case of present tense, whether through a modal (will), present continuous (including “going to”), or present simple. English absolutely uses present simple in this way, just like Finnish. Consider “My flight leaves at 10 tomorrow”, or addressing your example with “is” more directly, “My birthday is on a Friday next year.”

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