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Verbs II

In the last section I explained the purely formal details - how the verb is conjugated - and left you insane with wonderment over how to use them: "I know what they are, but what do they mean? Why? Why?" Well, I need a whole new page to cover the functional aspects as well. Here is what the tenses, voices, and moods mean.

The Tenses

As mentioned previously, the tenses may be classified as durative (present, imperfect, and future) and perfective (perfect, pluperfect, future perfect). The present tense indicates progressive aspect (action as a process ongoing at the minute) at the present moment, and also current habitual or recurring action. But, it is not always in present time. Further complicating things, it may be used to represent past time in narratives in order to add greater intensity or immediacy to its sense. The imperfect is essentially the equivalent of the present in past time. It indicates ongoing or recurrent, habitual activity that has ceased, is over with, is in the past. The future is used for indicating future time. Like the present and imperfect, it is durative, indicating ongoing/progressive or habitual/repetitive action. Nevertheless, it also suggests simple action in the future ?Ea mirror image of the simple past (see immediately below). Furthermore the future imperative is used in general prohibitions. The perfect is, in a way, a present and past tense. It represents action as a completed state in present time, as in the English present perfect tense. It is also used as a simple past tense. In this sense, it merely indicates something happened, and it already happened - no matter whether it was processual, habitual, a completed state, beginning or ending ?Eit just happened, and that's it. So simple. Refreshing, isn't it? The pluperfect is a "past perfect," and like the perfect it indicates a state of completed action - completed sometime in the past. Again, this is just like the English pluperfect. Occasionally the tense occurs with much the same sense as the simple past. So what's the difference between that at the perfect as simple past? That, relatively, the pluperfect indicates something even more remote than the perfect... Now for the final tense: future perfect.Essentially it expresses an action or state that will be finished by some time in the future. Anticlimactic, I know.

To give a practical idea of the tenses, here they are with their closest English equivalents:

Voice and Transitivity

Before the formal characteristic of voice can be discussed, you should know what transitive and intransitive verbs are. A transitive verbs is one that takes both a subject and direct object ?Ethe subject indicates who or what performs the action (the actor or agent), and the direct object indicates who or what is affected by the action (the patient), as in "He hits me." Thus, there are two participants: "he" (subject) and "me" (direct object). Intransitive verbs do not take a direct object, and the subject is the only participant involved in the action, as in "The flower blooms," or "I sit down." The subject in such instances is often not an actor at all, but merely experiences the action of the verb.

Among transitive verbs, the active voice is the normal state of affairs, and shows that the action is originated by the subject and proceeds thence to a distinct direct object; "He hits me," (Ci mé cáydem). In the passive voice, all of this is reversed, as in "I am hit by him," (Ío cáydomor çé). The person affected by the action, the patient, is made the subject, and the actor is put in the instrumental case ?Eor simply omitted altogether. Intransitive verbs mostly have only the active; a few are deponent verbs and have only passive forms, but in general whether an intransitive verb is active or passive in form makes no difference in its meaning.

Syntax of the Moods

The three modes are indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. The indicative is used in factual statements, questions of fact, and negations of fact; "I ate", "I am eating". The imperative is used in commands and prohibitions; "Eat!" or "Don't eat!" The subjunctive has a range of uses, referring to more subjective actions that are possible, dependent on other factors, or viewed relative to the mental state of the subject; "He may eat", "If he eats...", "I wish that he would eat". Its primary haunts are conditional expressions and dependent clauses. In short it inlcudes everything not already covered under the indicative and imperative.




Now we only have a few loose ends to tie up concerning verbs...

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© 2005 by Damátir Ando