Temporality (past, present, future)

To distinguish the different types of "tenses" we can refer to in grammar and conjugation*, here we use the term temporality to encapsulate the more general concepts of time - present, past, future - that are expressed in a language.
Verbs play an important part in expressing temporality, along with other factors like adverbs and expressions of time.



The past refers to a time taking place before the speaker's time, and to actions that have already happened/stopped happening by the time the speaker speaks, or happened before present or other past actions

La semaine dernière, j'ai mangé avec Jeanne.Last week, I ate with Jeanne.

Past indicators can be :

- adverbs (hier, autrefois…)
- expressions (jeudi dernier, il y a trois ans...)
- past tenses



The present refers to the time the speaker finds themselves as they speak, and to actions that are happening at that same time / simultaneously to other present actions.

Aujourd'hui, je vais à la plage.Today, I'm going to the beach.


Present indicators can be :

- adverbs (aujourd'hui, maintenant…)
- expressions (en ce moment,...)
- present tenses



The future refers to a time taking place after the speaker's time, and to actions that have not happened yet at the time the speaker speaks / will happen after present or other future actions

Dans cinq mois, nous déménagerons en Suisse.In five months, we'll move to Switzerland.

Future indicators can be :
- adverbs (demain, après…)
- expressions (la semaine prochaine, dans dix ans...)
- future tenses

* See also Conjugation Tense.




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