Does future tense exist in English? (By: Gulaid Mohammed Yassin “Dalha”)

The issue of future tense existence has become the core of argument in some parts of the country. Previously, the controversy was in existence, but Somali people, could not, however, discussed and analyzed about that task. To make it clear, grammar is categorized into two: traditional and modern. Through my experience, I have not come across a single English linguist who rebuts the division of grammar into these two, and I challenge to any apologist to put forward if a grammarian or a linguist sets what differs from our point. Here, I shall jot down all the renowned English grammar scholars ever seen in history. World’s former number-one English grammarian Randolph Quirk and his colleagues will be displayed. Furthermore, the reference will be highly considered to make sure that the study is trustworthy and reliable. Lastly, I shall reiterate the authenticated evidence brought by the 15 World’s Leading Scholars of Grammar.

1. Tense is the grammatical expression of the location of events in time. It anchors
an event to the speaker’s experience of the world by relating the event time to
a point of reference. The universal, unmarked reference point is the moment of
speaking – speech time. In narrative, a point in past time is usually taken as the
reference point.
2. English has two tenses, the present and the past, the past being the marked
form, both morphologically and semantically.
3 . The basic meaning of the present tense is to locate a situation holding at the
present moment. This may be an instantaneous event (I promise to wait), a state
which holds over time (Jupiter is the largest planet), or a habitual occurrence
(He works in an office). Secondary meanings of the Present include reference
to past and future events, ‘historic present’ (This man comes up to me . . .) and
the quotative (and she goes/she’s like ‘I don’t believe it’).
4 . The past tense primarily refers to a definite event or state that is prior to utterance
time. Its secondary uses refer to a present event or state as hypothetical (If
I were you).
5. English has no verbal inflection to mark a future tense. Instead, English makes
use of a number of forms to refer to future events.
Finite clauses in English can be marked for either tense or modality but not
both. Verbs marked for tense are said to be ‘tensed’. Non-finite clauses are
not tensed.

We cannot refer to future events as facts, as we can to past and present situations, since
future events are not open to observation or memory. We can predict with more or less
confidence what will happen, we can plan for events to take place, express our intentions
and promises with regard to future events. These are modalised rather than factual
statements.. Here we simply outline the main syntactic means
of referring to future events as seen from the standpoint of present time.
‘Safe’ predictions
These are predictions which do not involve the subject’s volition, and include cyclical
events and general truths. Will + infinitive is used, shall by some speakers for ‘I’ and ‘we’:
Susie will be nineteen tomorrow.
You’ll find petrol more expensive in France.
Will/shall + progressive combine the meaning of futurity with that of focusing on the
internal process, in this way avoiding the implication of promise associated with will
when the subject is ‘I’ or ‘we’. Compare:
I will (I’ll) speak to him about your application tomorrow.
We shall (we’ll) be studying your application shortly.
Programmed events
Future events seen as certain because they are unalterable 1 or programmed 2, 3 and
can be expressed by the Present tense + time adjunct, by will or by the lexical
auxiliaries be due to + infinitive and be to (simple forms only):
1 The sun sets at 20.15 hours tomorrow.
2 Next year’s conference will be held in Milan.
3 He is due to retire in two months’ time.
4 She is to marry the future heir to the throne.
Intended events
Intended events can be expressed by be + going to + infinitive 1 and by the Progressive
(be + -ing) 2. These forms can be marked for tense. The past forms refer to an event
intended at some time in the past to occur in some future time 3. As with all intended
events, they may or may not actually take place. (See also modal will, 44.6.)
1 I am going to try to get more information about this.
2 Pete is thinking of changing his job.
3 I was going to leave a note but there was no-one at Reception. [BNC BMR 625]
Imminent events
An event seen as occurring in the immediate future is expressed by be + going to or by
combinations such as: be about to + infinitive, be on the point of/ be on the verge of + -ing.
There is usually some external or internal sign of the imminence of the happening.
It looks as if there’s going to be a storm.
This company is about to be/on the verge of being taken over by a multinational.
An expectation orientated to past time is expressed by the corresponding forms in the
It’s not what I thought it was going to be.
. . . the territory which was later to be part of Lithuania.

Future anterior events
A future event anterior to another event is expressed by the Future Perfect:
The programme will have ended long before we get back.
By the time he is twenty-two, he’ll have taken his degree.
Otherwise, the Future Perfect expresses the duration or repetition of an event in the
future. The addition of the Progressive emphasises the incompletion of the sequence
(see 43.4):
We’ll have lived here for ten years by next July.
We’ll have been living here for ten years by next July.

Modality in relation to time and tense
There are just two tenses in English, past and present: unlike such languages French and Latin, English has no future tense. That is to say there is no verbal category in English whose primary use is to locate in tense time the situation described in the clause. Futurity is of course often indicated by means of ‘will’ compare:
1. He saw her every Friday.
2. He sees her every Friday.
3. He will see her every Friday.
The will construction, however, does not satisfy the conditions for analysis as a future tense. Grammatically will is a catenative, not auxiliary – hence not marker of a verbal category. And even if we reanalyzed the catenative operators as auxiliaries, will would belong grammatically with can, may and must, which would be mood markers: like them it has non-tensed forms and shows no person-number agreement with the subject. It enters into relations of contrast with can, may and must, so that we have, for example, He may go vs He will go vs He must go, etc., but not *He may will go, *He must will go, or the like. Conversely, it does not enter into such contrastive relations with the tense markers; on the contrary, the lexeme will always carries either the past tense inflection (would) or the present (will): the relation of would to will matches of could to can.

REFERENCE: THE CAMBRIDGE GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE – Page 80-81(Best English Grammar ever seen in History)

1. Rodney Huddleston 2. Goeffrey K. Pullum 3. Laurie Baurie 4. Betty Birner 5. Ted Briscoe 6. Petter Collins 7. David Denison 8. David Lee 9. Anita Mittwoch 10. Goeffrey Nunberg 11. Frank Palmer 12. John Pane 13. Peter Peterson 14. Lesley Stirling 15. Gregory Ward

Quirk states that there is no obvious future tense in English corresponding to time/tense relation for present and past, instead there are several possibilities for denoting future (Quirk1973: 47). He continues on the same topic in 1987: futurity, modality and aspect are closely interrelated and at this is reflected in the fact that future time is rendered by means of modal auxiliaries or by semi-auxiliaries or by the simple present or present progressive forms(Quirk 1987: 213)

REFERENCE: A grammar of Contemporary English Language 1973
A comprehensive grammar of the English Language 1987
We have reached the conclusion of the report and we think that everything has come to vivid. Quirk, the World’s Leading English Grammar over 27 years, Huddleston, the World’s Current Leading English Grammar Scholar and all their colleagues have been showed, with their reference stated. We have also mentioned the best two books of English Grammar ever seen on earth. To sum up, we should take into account the evidence of the scholars and forget about the fruitless controversy written on the books of the Traditional Grammar still studied in our country.
• Both students and teachers must avoid learning and teaching Traditional Grammar as it is a wide spread phenomena known to all English Grammarians. They all agree the grammar terminology although they disagree the Traditional Grammar.
• We must make sure that the textbooks used must be based on Modern Grammar. Most of the often-used textbooks in Somaliland are based Traditional Grammar except very few books. (Refer: The Grammar We Teach)
• Future tense DOES NOT exist as the evidence reiterated, but the word future exists. This is an important sentence that all the 15 World’s Leading English Grammar Scholars stated many times. In addition, Prof Sinclair, the world’s leading scholar in Lexical Accuracy and the author of the best English Dictionary – English Cobuild Dictionary has given the same interpretation.


Gulaid Mohammed Yassin(Dalha)
The Independent Post Newspaper