The Tense Aspect System of the Spanish Verb [Reprint 2012 ed.] 3110999323, 9783110999327

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The Tense Aspect System of the Spanish Verb [Reprint 2012 ed.]
 3110999323, 9783110999327

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© Copyright 1971 in The Netherlands. Mouton & Co. N.V., Publishers, The Hague. No part of this book may be translated or reproduced in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm, or any other means, without written permission from the publishers.


Printed in Hungary

To Frederick H. Jungemann of Columbia University



1. Person 2. Number 3. Voice 4. Tense 5. Aspect 6. Mood


Past Time (a) Non-sequential 1. 2 2. 7110 3. 3 4. 6211 5. 6S11 (b) Sequential 6. Ν 2 7. Ν 6211 8. Ν 7210 9. Ν 3, Ν β311 10. Ν 3, Ν 5, Ν 8212-ΝΖ21 11. Ν 3 12. Ν 6311 13. Ν 3 14. Ν 6311 15. Ν 6β11 Present Time (a) Non-sequential 16. 1



10 11 11 11 13 16 19

24 24 24 28 31 34 35 38 39 40 41 42 44 51 52 52 53 54 55 55 55



17. βΗΙ (b) Sequential 18. Ν 1 19. Ν 1-NZ l 1 20. Ν 6*11 Future Time (a) Non-sequential 21. 4, 9112, 8 1 12, 1 Β 22. 6411 (b) Sequential 23. Ν 4, Ν 8X,12, Ν" 9U2-NZ l 1 24. Ν 6 4 11 25. NZÄ 7 1 l0 26. NZB 1

57 57 57 58 58 59 59 59 62 62 62 63 63 63





I. I N T R O D U C T I O N

The verbal system we shall describe is the system employed by cultivated speakers of Bogotá, Colombia, in their oral expression, which, as will be shown below, does not coincide exactly with the written language. In this work we shall describe the semantic structure of the grammaticalized morphemes of the Spanish verb which carry no meaning other than time and its aspects. We are not interested in aspect as it is related to the lexical meaning of the verb, unless it modifies our system, i.e., a punctual or durative verb becomes repeated in extension, while aperma nent verb becomes pure extension. Furthermore, we shall not consider those morphemes which have not become completely grammaticalized, i.e., viene cantando ('he is singing', lit. 'he comes singing'), anda buscando ('he is searching for', lit. 'he walks searching for'), and other verbs of motion and state used in this kind of construction. What happens in this type of construction is that in addition to carrying the grammatical meanings of 'present, non-repeated, extended, indefinite', 1 it also carries the lexical meaning of the verb stem of the auxiliary. Another class of verbal elements will be excluded from this study. We refer to those verbal phrases which are verbally uninflected and always have a single meaning related to a single form. Such forms are antes de entrar ('before entering'), después de entrar ('after entering'), and al entrar ('upon entering'). In our analysis, we shall confine ourselves to those forms which do not always carry a single meaning but are scattered throughout the system having different meanings depending on where they appear in the system. Such a form would be the signal 1, -o, which has the form 1, -o, and has a number of meanings, B E I , N B R E I , N Z B F b , F (see K e y to Table p. 23) for meanings. According to our analysis, the term T E N S E refers to forms whose content is TIME, and ASPECT refers to forms whose content is T H E S P E A K E R ' S POINT OF VIEW. All forms of the verb are combinations of tense and aspect, with the exception of those forms of the non-sequential future which contain only the meaning 'future' (see Table pp. 22—23). 1

These meanings will be explained in detail in the body of this work.



TIME may be past (the speaker's recollection of events), future (the speaker's anticipation of events), or present (that vague period between the past and the future which includes the moment of utterance). 2 In addition to these elements of time, in the sequential system which will be described in this study, time will enter into play as the speaker relates two or more events to each other: one event is before, simultaneous with, or after another event or events. T H E SPEAKER'S POINT OF VIEW may be that he views a given event as extended over a period of time, or within defined limits of time, or within an open or closed context of time, etc. 3 Two or more aspectual meanings may appear in a single verbal form. Even though we have only slightly modified what has been done to date, we feel that this analysis is justified in that we will construct a complete paradigm including elements that have hitherto been ignored. Before actually beginning our analysis of the tense-aspect systems (or categories) of the modern Spanish as it is used orally in Bogotá, we will briefly review the several systems of the verb citing comments of the leading grammarians. There are six major categories in Spanish, which are: (1) person, (2) number, (3) voice, (4) tense, (5) aspect, and (6) mood. These six major categories are subdivided. Person has three subdivisions: first, second and third. Number has two subdivisions: singular and plural. Voice is said to have two subdivisions: acitive and passive. Tense has been subdivided three ways: present, past and future. We will attempt a further refinement: sequential and nonsequential time. Mood has been subdivided three ways: imperative, indicative and subjunctive. Of all the categories, aspect has been the most confused. Traditionally, doubtless basing their analyses on the Latin system, grammarians have divided aspect two ways: perfective and imperfective. Since the categories of tense and aspect are the subject of this paper, we will discuss them at some length below.

1. Person As we said above, person has three subdivisions: first, second and third, and the morphemes are -o, -as and -a and their variants in the plural and throughout the system. These forms, of course, in addition to expressing the person, also express tense, aspect, and mood, as we shall show later on in our analysis. They are in agreement or determined by the subject noun or pronoun, i.e., yo, tú and él, etc., and their variants according to iiumber and gender. 2 See William Bull's excellent analysis of time in his Time, Tense and the Verb ( = Unversity of California Publications in Linguistics, X I X ) , (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1960). 3 See our Table on p. 22 for all meanings in this category.



When no subject pronoun is expressed, these forms are determined by the speaker's intention of expressing a first, second or third person, singular or plural subject of the verb. 2. Number Number has two subdivisions: singular and plural. But we should note that singularity or plurality are determined by the presence of the singular or plural morpheme in the subject. Unlike English, where the content of the subject, more often than not, governs the verb rather than form, in Spanish this phenomenon is quite rare. Although it does occur not only in the spoken language but also in careful, written style. 3. Voice As we have said above, voice has been subdivided in two ways: active and passive. Basically active voice consists of the formula: subject-actor plus verbaction, and passive voice consists of the two formulae: subject-patient plus a form of the verb ser ('to be') plus a past participle plus por or de ('by') plus agent-actor, or the form se plus verb-action plus subject-patient. There are, of course, variations on these formulae. All standard grammars contain analyses of the category of voice along the lines mentioned in the previous paragraph. However, there has been increasing dissatisfaction with these analyses on the ground that they do not adequately describe the facts of the Spanish language. 4. Tense Time can be divided into three categories: present, past, and future. As we have already pointed out, the past denotes the speaker's recollection of events that have occurred, the future denotes the speaker's anticipation of events that will occur, and the present denotes the period of time between the past and the future, which includes the moment of utterance. However, its representation in language is highly complex. Until our century, grammarians had been satisfied to analyze time along morphological lines; consequently, seventeen tenses have been described by the Royal Academy, which takes a more or less conservative view toward this category of the verbal system (p. 46).4 —b) The indicative mood has four simple tenses and four compound. The simple are: present, preterit imperfect, preterit indefinite, and future imperfect; and the compound, the preterit perfect, preterit pluperfect, preterit anterior, and future perfect. 4 Real Academia Española, Gramática de la lengua española, Nueva edición, reformada, de 1931 (Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, S. Α., 1969), p. 270.



—c) The potential mood has only two tenses, one simple and another compound. —d) The subjunctive mood has three simple tenses, which are: present, preterit imperfect, and future imperfect; and three other compound, which are preterit perfect, preterit pluperfect, and future perfect. —e) The imperative mood has only one tense, which is the present. Gili y Gaya using the same forms, of course, analyzes them in a different way. He divides time into present, past and future; then he makes a major division into perfective and imperfective, and finally he divides time into absolute and relative time. He presents time abstractly in the following way: 5 Imperfect absolute Present






lea (leía ( (leyera o ( (leyese (leería









(había leído (hube leído (haya leído (hubiera leído o (hubiese leído

(he leído (habré leído (habría leído (hubiere leído

Gili y Gaya underlines the complexity and relativity of the verbal concept:6 The tenses are not, therefore, fixed values, but rather relative modifications of the verbal concept. Even those which we have called ABSOLUTE can be displaced toward the past or the future, within the temporal connection of the sentence where they are found. Thus, for example, the preterit ha abandonado [he has abandoned], is converted into the future in the sentence: Guando veas que el mundo te ha abandonado, reflexionarás sobre la condición de los hombres [When you see that the world has abandoned you, you will reflect on the condition of man]. All the tenses are future here; ha abandonado [has abandoned] is a future. It is this complexity in the verbal concept that we shall investigate in this work. At this point we might also mention Emilio Alarcos Llorach's work.7 What he has done is to fit the Spanish verbal paradigm into the structure as 4

Samuel Gili y Gaya, Ourso superior de sintaxis española, Octava Edioión (Barcelona, Publicaciones y Ediciones Spes, S. Α., 1961), Sec. 120. 8 Gili y Gaya, Curso Superior, pp. 152-153. 7 Emilio Alarcos Llorach, Gramática estructural (Según la escuela de Copenhague y con especial atención a la lengua española) (Madrid, Editorial Gredos, 1951).



described by Hjelmslev and his followers. The purpose is to remove semantic considerations from the description of verbal structure and to describe it purely in formal terms. This interesting investigation is most suggestive. However, we shall orient this dissertation to the explanation of the semantic relationships existing within the formal structure of the verbal system. 5. Aapect The category of aspect has been commented upon since the times of the earliest Latin grammarians. Jens Holt, in his study entitled "Études d'aspect", gives an excellent historical survey of this category.8 According to Holt, Varrò is the first writer to concern himself with this problem. He divides this category into two parts: tempora infecta and tempora perfecta, which in modern terminology would be imperfective and perfective. Centuries later, another grammarian, Julius Caesar Scaliger, suggested another refinement with respect to this category. He distinguished between absolute and relative time. That is to say, time regarded from the point of reference of the present giving us the absolute categories of present, past, and future and time regarded from both another time and the present. An example of this would be in Spanish, había hablado ( Ί had spoken') which would be past with respect to the past, hablé ( Ί spoke'), and a past further in time to hablé viewed from the present. It is Holt's feeling that this latter refinement obscures the essential opposition between the theme of the present and the theme of the past, which is perfective-imperfective. We agree with Holt that it is somewhat confusing to set up an opposition of past against more past. But, then, we think that it is valid to recognize the difference between absolute and relative time, although, of course, it may very well not be proper to consider it aspectual, but rather temporal. Although grammarians have always been aware that the element of aspect is operative in the verbal system, it was not until this century that they have given it close attention. Boca y Pons, in his Estudios sobre perífrasis verbales, summarizes the modern theories on aspect.9 Most of the twentieth century studies of this problem take as a point of departure Herman's work on the subject.10 His analysis turns on the term 8

Jens Holt, "Études d'aspect", Acta Jutlandica, XV (1943), 2—16. * J. Roca Fons, "Estudios sobro perífrasis verbales del español", Revieta de Filología Española, Anejo LXVII (1968), 61-65. 10 Herman, E., "Aspekt und Aktionsart", Nachrichten der Gesellschaft für Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, phü.-hist. Klasse (1933), 470-480, cited in Boca Pons, p. 61. -



Aspekt and Aktionsart. Aspekt refers more or less to the perfective-imperfective opposition which most often is expressed in morphological terms; while Aktionsart has to do with the nature of the action, i.e., inchoative, inceptive, intensive, etc., and more often than not it is expressed through the lexical meanings of the verbal root and its derivations. The category of aspect has not been ignored by Spanish linguists. Bello first noted what he called verbos desinentes and verbos permanentes,11 The desinent verb is the one whose attribute having arrived at completion is finished, e.g., canté ( Ί sang'). The permanent verb is the event on having arrived at completion can endure fora more or less long period of time, e.g., lo vi ( Ί saw him'). We shall not go into an exhaustive commentary on what the Spanish linguists have said about aspect in Spanish, but we will mention some of the more important investigations. Most of the writers on the subject have analyzed the Spanish verb from two points of view: aspect as it is expressed by the meaning of the root, e.g.; saltar ('to jump') is punctual, golpear ('to strike') is iterative, amanecer ('to dawn') is inchoative, empezar ('to begin') is inceptive, dormir ('to sleep') is durative, etc.; and aspect as it is expressed by the verbal morphemes, e.g., cantaba ('he used to sing') is imperfective and he cantado ( Ί have sung') is perfective. The best exposition of the aspect of the Spanish verb is that of Roca Pons. 12 He maintains a clear distinction between aspect, which he calls the end of the process of the verb, and Aktionsart, the nature or kind of action of the verb, which is normally expressed by the lexical meaning of the verb root. He describes three subcategories of aspect: the two traditional ones, i.e., perfective and imperfective, and another which he calls punctual-complexive. The forms -o and -ία are imperfective since they express the event in its progress without an idea of beginning or end, e.g.: Vivo en Nueva York ( Ί live in New York'); Vivía en Nueva York ( Ί used to live in New York'). Perfective he defines as follows: "The perfective aspect expresses the action with its consequences starting from the moment of perfection." (pp. 38 -39) The forms of the perfective aspect are the periphrastic forms with the auxiliaries tener ('to have') and estar ('to be') plus the participle, which indicate a resultant state, and the forms with haber ('to have') plus participle, which indicate a past action with respect to the present in the case of he -ado, and to the past and future with the corresponding Pluperfect, Past Anterior, and Future Perfect forms. The third subcategory of aspect covers the simple form canté ( Ί sang'), which is clearly not imperfective and cannot be, by his definition, perfective 11

A. Bello and R. J. Cuervo, Gramática de la lengua castellana (Buenos Aires, Editorial Sopeña Argentina, 1952), p. 250. 18 Roca Pons, pp. 24-56.



since it is not a compound or periphrastic form. This, he calls 'punctualcomplexive', which he defines thusly: "The punctual and complexive aspect coincide in expressing the action as an occurrence, at one point, if it is momentaneous, ingressive, or terminative, and from its beginning to its end — as a whole — if it is durative (complexive)." (pp. 38-39). Our disagreement with the Roca Pons analysis is precisely in this third subcategory. First, it seems obvious that the form canté ( Ί sang') is perfective or completed, and secondly, the distinction between punctual and complexive seems to be related to the lexical meaning of the verb root, i.e., dormí ( Ί slept') is complexive and lo pegué ( Ί struck him') is punctual, not because of the aspectual morphemes -I -e, but because of the meanings of dorm('sleep') and peg- ('strike'). In other words, the 'kind of action' is being confused with aspect, 'end of the process'. Another interesting study of aspect is that of Alarcos Llorach. The significant point in his view is that unlike tense where the verbal form in the subordinate clause is affected by the verbal form in the principal clause, aspect is completely free of this government. He states his view in this way: 13 Aspect has only homonexual government,14 while tense enters both into homonexual and heteronexual government. The tense in one nexus may be governed by that of another (the verb of the subordinate clause governed by the verb of the principal clause), but not aspect, i.e., the "consecutio temporum" refers to the morphemes of tense but not to those of aspect. In Latin, to express whether the process of the subordinate clause is simultaneous, anterior, or posterior with respect to the principal clause, any aspect can be used, the "infectum" (theme of the present) or the "prefectum" (theme of the past). There is not, then, aspectual government between one nexus and the other; but the choice between present and imperfect or between perfect and pluperfect depends on the principal nexus. One can say Nemo est qui risum posait continere, or Nemo est qui risum potuerit continere, and Nemo erat qui risum posset continere, or, Nemo erat qui risum potuisset continere. Tense is, then, governed heteronexually, at the same time that it is homonexually governed by certain adverbs. In Spanish, likewise, in the statement era posible que llegase [it was possible that he might arrive], the temporal morpheme or era (remotospective, "completed time") governs the temporal morpheme of the following nexus llegare (also remotospective), but the aspect of era (non-terminative) does not govern the aspect of the following nexus, since one can use the "non-terminative" aspect llegase as well as the "terminative" aspect hubiese llegado [might have arrived]. In abrió la puerta, cuando llegó Juan [He opened the door when John arrived], or abrió la puerta, cuando llegaba Juan [he opened the door as John was arriving], the aspect of the second nexus (llegó-llegaba) is independent of the aspect of the preceding nexus, since 13

Alarcos Llorach, pp. 171-172. B y homonexual government he means that its grammatical effects are confined within the clause where it appears, i.e., a verb whose aspect is extension in one clause does not demand any specific aspect in a clause subordinate to it. Heteronexual government, on the other hand, is the contrary. A past tense in a principal clause may require a past tense in a clause subordinate to it. 14



the terminative aspect of abrió does not require the same aspect in the second nexus, and there is a free choice between the non-terminative llegaba and the terminative llegó; but the remotospective tense of the second nexus llegó-llegaba is governed by heteronexual government by the tense of the first nexus abrió (remotospective). In ayer llegaba [he was arriving yesterday], or ayer Uegó [he arrived yesterday], the tense is governed homonexually by the adverb ayer, which requires a remotospective tense. Other than these remarks, Alarcos Llorach breaks completely with the other linguists in his treatment of aspect. He describes the two systems independently, one simple and one compound in Hjelmslevian terms with no reference to the traditional perfëctive-imperfective opposition. In conclusion, we would remark that while all that has been said above directly bears upon aspect, we feel that none of our commentators adequately covers the subject. Most of them, like Roca Pons, with some slight modifications, base their analyses on the perfective-imperfective opposition. Now this opposition may adequately cover aspect in other languages, but in Spanish it only partially covers the facts of the language. Other authors, like Alarcas Llorach, following Hjelmslev and his students, deal with aspect and other linguistic categories primarily in formal terms. We believe, however, that content is just as important as form, and to emphasize one at the expense of the other makes for an inadequate analysis.15 Consequently, our procedure has been to isolate and describe the meanings of all the grammatical forms of the verb which have to do with the speaker's expression of an event other than its purely time, or temporal, features. These meanings have to do with the speaker's point of view, which is what we understand to be the aspect of the verb and which we have defined above. And, of course, we are not concerning ourselves here with the other verbal categories: person, number, voice, and mood. 6. Mood Mood in Spanish is subdivided into indicative, subjunctive and imperative. The first and third categories are quite straightforward and require little comment. The indicative is used to affirm or to deny a reality. The imperative is used to express an affirmative command. A curious feature of Spanish is the fact that there is no negative imperative and that the subjunctive form is used to express this. Another feature which might be mentioned is that there is no imperative form in so-called polite address, i.e., with Usted ('you'). There is one exception to what we have said above regarding the indicative. We refer to a sentence such as the following: Salí antes de que viniera ( Ί left before he came'). Here, certainly, we have an affirmation of a reality, but in 15 We have not discussed Keniston's article on aspeot, because he confines himself to aspeot as it is found in the lexical meaning of the verb, according to whether the action ie perfeotive, imperfective, iterative, inchoative, etc. See H. Keniston, "Verbal Aspeot in Spanish". Hiapania, X I X (May, 1936), 163-176.



the indicative form is not used in the dependent clause. The only possible explanation, which hardly seems adequate, is that the speaker is using salí as his point of reference and, consequently, viniera is future in time and, therefore, unreal. We also might suggest that viniera is being used as a variant form of the pluperfect había venido. It is interesting to note that one informant, on a number of occasions, used vino instead of viniera in this context, although he quickly corrected himself saying that he had made a mistake. Since vino, in the spoken language, is a variant of había venido, we may logically assume that viniera is another variant of the pluperfect indicative. However, our informants insist that this is not so. All Spanish-grammarians have discussed at some length the subjunctive and its uses. Two of the more recent and better analyses are those of Gili y Gaya in Curso superior de sintaxis española16 and Knut Togeby in his Mode, aspect, et temps en espagnol.11 Gili y Gaya accepts Lenz's18 statement that the differences between subjunctive and indicative can be explained through the logical distinction between juicios asertorios ('assertive judgments'), juicios problemáticos ('problematic judgments'), and juicios apodlcticos fapodictive judgments'). The first, which affirm or deny a reality, employ the indicative. The second, which express possibility, employ the subjunctive. And finally, the third type which express logically necessary judgments, employ the subjunctive. In the last case, Gili y Gaya modifies the statement to say that it is not logical necessity which determines the mode, but rather, the psychological quality of the judgment that does. His example is: Es preciso que nos veamos otra vez ('It is necessary that we see each other again'). As he points out, it is not a logical necessity which is operative, but rather a psychological necessity. Gili y Gaya then goes on to enumerate the types of verbs which govern the subjunctive in subordinate clauses. In the potential subjunctive, he gives such verbs as those of doubt, fear, emotion, etc., and with the optative subjunctive he lists verbs of subjunctive necessity and objective necessity. The potential subjunctive in independent clauses is governed by such adverbs as quizás, acaso, and tal vez (all mean 'perhaps' in English). And he points out that when this doubt is not deeply felt, the indicative is used with these adverbs. He also cites the optative subjunctive in independent clauses such as: Ojalá vuelva pronto ( Ί hope he returns soon'). Viva el presidente (Long live the President'), ¡Que pase! ('Come in'), and the like. The most exhaustive analysis we have seen is that of Knut Togeby. He has gathered a mass of data and has then proceeded to analyze mood in terms of " See Gili y Gaya. Knut Togeby, "Mode, aspect, et temps en espagnol", Historíele-Filologiske Medelelser, XXXIV (1953). 18 Gili y Gaya, pp. 131-133. For Lenz, see note on p. 27. 17



formal relationships. He has investigated how nouns, verbs, conjunctions, adverbs, and particles select the indicative or the subjunctive mood. Here is a resumé of his findings:19 En résumé nous pouvons donc caractériser le mode par le fait d'être soumis à trois espèces de directions. Premièrement, à l'intérieur d'une proposition: no incompatible avec l'impératif; a menos que, siempre que, como si, cual sz+le subjonctif; luego que, como que, apenas si +l'indicatif. Deuxièmement, une direction passant d'une proposition à une autre: sin, para, con, antes, a-\-le subjonctif; descüe+l'indicatif; saber, pensar, etc.+l'indicatif; querer, poder, doler, etc.+le subjonctif; verdad, etc.+l'indicatif; causa, caso, lástima+le subjonctif; cierto, etc.+l'indicatif; necesario, frecuente, bueno, etc.+le subjonctif; el + l e subjonctif; nada, cualquier+le subjonctif dans ime proposition relative; ojalà-\le subjonctif. Troisièmement, la direction est une réunion de deux influences, l'une exerçant à l'intérieur d'une proposition, l'autre venant de l'extérieur: le futur de la principale et cuando, mientras-^-le subjonctif; l'imparfait du subjonctif de la principale et si'+le subjonctif. In the passage we have cited, Togeby has stated those cases where the selection is clear. However, in numerous other cases the selection cannot be made on the basis of formal relationships, e.g.: por rico que sea ('however rich he may be') as opposed to por rico que es ('however rich he is'). In these cases the selection is made by purely subjective considerations. The difficulty of the analysis of mood lies precisely in this subjective element. In those cases where another element in the sentence or utterance, such as a verb like dudar ('to doubt') or an adverbial such as para que ('in order to'), is not present, the speaker or writer selects the indicative or subjunctive form depending on his subjective attitude toward his utterance, i.e., does he regard it as objectively real, or is it an expression of his emotion, or a conjecture on his part. We shall discuss the subjunctive form below in our analysis. But we might anticipate this discussion here by suggesting that some of our pedagogical difficulties arise from our failure to bear clearly in mind the distinction between form and content. The content of the subjunctive is subjectivity, i.e., the introduction of the speaker's attitude toward the event (uncertainty, fear, desire, etc.). The form of the subjunctive is usually what we have traditionally called the subjunctive form, but, in some cases the subjective content may be expressed by a form we have traditionally regarded as indicative. For the moment two examples may suffice: Temo que vuelva ( Ί fear he will return'); Tendrá cincuenta años ('He is probably fifty years old'), (the speaker is introducing his uncertainty). In the two sentences just cited, vuelva is the present subjunctive form and tendrá is the future indicative form. " T o g e b y , p. 64.


In method and exposition we shall follow, in so far as is possible or applicable, William Diver's work on the English verb.1 We departed from Diver's work in some particulars. First, we focused our entire analysis on the spoken language. Consequently, we did not analyze any narrative passages from literary works. When we analyzed the sequential system, instead of presenting literary passages to our informants for their comments, we simply presented sentences with two or more events in relationship to each other such as commonly occur in conversation. We have noted that there are differences, even syntactical ones, between the spoken and the written language, such as the literary hube cantado ( Ί had sung') and the spoken canté ( Ί sang') to indicate that one event has occurred immediately previous to another event. Naturally, we had to invent, in some cases, new terms to correspond to meanings in the Spanish verb form which do not exactly coincide with meanings in the English verb form. An example of this is our closed-open context opposition which appears in our analysis and which does not appear in English. We also attempted to maintain a clear distinction between tense and aspect which are forms. Tense denotes time and aspect denotes the speaker's point of view. Time refers to present, past and future as well as to before, simultaneous with and after; aspect refers to the speaker's point of view. Is the event viewed as in progress, taking place within a closed or open context, etc. There is also a meaning 'repetition' in the form -aba, which is neither temporal nor aspectual. These distinctions must be clearly kept in mind, because, with the exception of the non-sequential future, Spanish tense forms always carry other meanings in addition to the temporal ones. As we did in our Introduction, in our discussion of each form, we shall incorporate into the body of our work the remarks of Spanish grammarians to support our statements wherever possible, and shall give our own evidence to justify any departure from what has previously been said. 1

W. Diver, "The Chronological System of the English Verb", Word, XIX, 2, 141-181.



Our basic procedure has been to set up a series of questionnaires consisting of utterances with the particular verb form being examined together with extra-verbal temporal and aspectual indicators. The logic of the procedure is that compatibility or incompatibility with any particular extra-verbal indicator of tense or aspect identifies the tense or aspect of any given verbal form. Thus canté ayer ( Ί sang yesterday"), *canté ahora2 ( Ί sang now'), and * canté mañana ( Ί sang tomorrow'), indicate that the form canté is past and neither present nor future. As informants, we employed four individuals born and bred in Bogota or in its immediate vicinity. With one exception these people were non-linguistically oriented although all had a liberal education. The selection of this type of informant restricts our work in two ways. First, we are dealing with the standard language, if the definition of standard language is that language spoken by the prominent and educated portion of a speech community. Second, given the great extension of the Spanish-speaking world, we have at least a score of communities which qualify as cultivated speakers. Thus, by selecting one of these communities to the exclusion of all others, we eliminate those instances where two speakers of different communities may use different expression for the same content. Consequently, this study is confined to the spoken language of cultivated speakers of the capital city area of Colombia. We could have included in our corpus written material such as samples from newspapers, plays, and novels by Bogotan writers. While this might have expanded and modified our analysis, it would have naturally made it an analysis of both the spoken and the written language treated as if they were the same thing. We feel that the written and the spoken language do not necessarily coincide, and thus we have confined ourselves to an analysis of the spoken language of our informants, not, however, without testing upon them material from the written language.3 It is also necessary to remark on some of the practical difficulties in dealing with native informants. Very often, when given a sample utterance, the informant will accept it, giving the investigator the impression that a particular 1

The asterisk indicates a form which does not exist. I n this particular case, however, the form does appear, but the standard meaning of ahora has changed, e.g.: Ahora entró y vio lo que pasaba ('Then he entered and saw what was happening'). s This dissertation was used as one of the texts for a section of a graduate course in Spanish Syntax given at Columbia University during the Summer of 1967 b y Prof. F . H . Jungemann. The class contained a number of students of Latin American and Spanish origin. As a result of their comments regarding the meanings of certain forms and their suggestion of additional examples, I have made a number of revisions in the original work. Although it appears that differences in syntax among cultivated speakers of different parts of the Spanish-speaking world are negligible, I have nonetheless placed material elicited from non-Colombian speakers-in footnotes so as not t o mislead the reader.



form with a certain meaning and within a certain context ìb correct. What has actually happened, though, is that the informant has mentally added a special circumstance which has substantially modified the meaning that the investigator intended. Another difficulty, which on the face of it seems absurd, but is quite real, is the courteous informant. In order not to appear rude by rejecting too many sample utterances, he will accept a form that he would not use himself but imagines that under some very special circumstances someone else might use. Some informants when faced with a questionnaire become ultracorrect and reject forms which are part of their normal speech but which they believe do not meet the highest standards of Bello or the Academy. And finally there is the problem of fatigue. Obviously the average man is not analytic about his language, and so when faced with a seemingly endless series of decisions as to what form is proper and what form is not proper under specific circumstances, he becomes confused and tired in a relatively short time, and thus, loses his value as an authoritative source of information. These are the problems and we have tried to overcome them in a number of ways. We checked the responses of one informant against another. When the informant hesitated before answering, we attempted by questioning to find out what exactly the reservations were. We explained to the informant the nature of our study and that we were not interested in what he remembered from his grammar classes but rather in his normal every day speech which he uses in communicating with his family and friends. When we found inexplicable contradictions between two informants we checked the form with a. linguistically trained native who managed to solve the problem for us. And finally to prevent tiring the informant we kept our sessions short and as informal as possible. With these techniques we hope that our data are accurate and that our analysis is valid. Our major sources of reference will be the work of Andrés Bello, the Royal Academy, and Gili y Gaya. We realize, of course, that Bello's work is now over a century old and that the Academy has an excessive inclination toward conservatism, using as it does the language of Cervantes as a major source of its illustrative examples. But, even with these reservations, these two works are important since they have great prestige in the Spanish-speaking world and being authorities in grammar do exercise some influence in the education of Spanish speakers. We also will draw on many other grammarians some of whom are working today and are using the most rigorous techniques of linguistic analysis. The tense-aspect system of the Spanish verb is presented abstractly on page 22. In the Table the numerals represent the forms and the sequence is significant; the final number is thè suffix and the preceding numbers represent the auxiliaries in order of appearance. The letters represent meanings and the order of their appearance is not significant.









o o o o



o o o o





Ά Λ fe O

ira '»tl'-'-^rt.-iooOOO© Öl 1 Ss


3 3

I« Ν


«s fe


g 00



», Ό

fr fc





si^ ¡Zi

o o o


o o -3


I« M Β s 3

o o o

o «

2 to ¡Z!


CS M » m



o o


fr S* fc o


43 fi

φ -û


- s φ_

. 2 «8

sfiS ,

"S S -w S βs ?t i P i FM

Φ Si 3 "SS fe

«υ η

fe * &

φ Μ


~H *


H φ "» -FH *





14 33

.3 Λ


UH O 43 Χ 4Φ3



Ο 43 Χ Φ 43 fi Ο ο h φ W)


O Φ h φ to



.3 Τ3 Φ φ

•S o ft.

Λ Η Χ Φ 43 fi Oφ

Τ3 Φ Τ3 TφJ fi Φ ¿ a χ Ο Ο Η ϋ




ta Ο

χ φ 43 fi Ο ο Λ! Ο Όφ Ο 43 43 fi Φ O φ


φ α ο

eφ a O O

2* 43 g




_ _

co co






i l >-> fi o g S n S ®

"2 . α ο -Ρ fi fi cS





φ Άβ


φ Λ 5=



Φ tH φ

O Ό s h s . βρ S § § 3 öS Ο cS (3 ? Ο» . "S • S φ -C O




φ Λ

Λ4 3 -S fi


O o Ό . fi O ? 'S OD




«3 f K • • w e fe •5 52 Q a á . o




° O 'S co φ cS



vi ' ' 3

! W

í B m

S O h φ> «S - Ρ >> (3 403 4S3 S to 00 Φ Φ






&φ PS





O Ό T03 fi CS § +3 1 fiCS o § φ φ Όo ai a x¡ tH CS 4 3 4d3 00 CQ Φ Φ

fi efi α 43 - ρ fi ficS OSo


τι 4φ3 CS φ W «


Ν fc

η ^


-Ρ § ο

_ β« ο


fe fi

e φ> φ φ

β φ > φ φ




o 8,

O •β

0 Ό

«o í

O Ό §




fe w¡ Ν a . Q fe Ω 5 ¡ z,¡ O &3 fe fc

o •Β Î Φ Ä Ο I—4 — i"

l S



οβ' o Λ > ο » rM Γ-< W — > co


fe& fe"

S * 5 Γ2 η ,-Η #< οο

? S ® Λ Ν « Ο)



Our Table is set up in three major columns according to the major divisions of time: past, present, and future. The differences on the horizontal axes are differences in tense; the differences on the vertical axes are differences in aspect. There is a major horizontal division of the Table: above the dividing line appear the forms used non-sequentially, i.e., in those utterances where only one event is mentioned; and below the dividing line appear the forms used sequentially, i.e., in those utterances where the speaker relates two or more events to each other — before, after and simultaneous with; and this part of the Table is further subdivided to allow these relationships to be indicated abstractly. As we shall show, these two are separate systems, and a form above the line and an identical form below the line do not necessarily have the same meaning. Our analysis will proceed as follows. First we will describe the non-sequential forms on the Past (A) axis, and then the sequential forms of this axis. In a similar way we will next discuss the Present (B) axis and finally the Future (F) axis. In the Table, one should read from the top down, beginning with the A axis and ending with the F axis. Now, in the sequential section, one should read across for each item under the headings: before, simultaneous with, and after, within a given tense column before proceeding to the next form below. It will be noted that in some of the forms of the sequential system the letter a, meaning 'before', does not appear and that under the 'simultaneous with' and 'after' columns the word 'ditto' appears. What has happened is that the particular form may appear in any one of the three sequential relationships and may be regarded as an unmarked member of the sequential system. PAST TIME

a. Non-sequential 1. The signal 24 consists of the form 2, -e5 and represents the meaning A 'past' C 'closed context' and D 'definite limits'. The meaning is: on some occasion in the past this event® occurred between definable or definite limits within a larger context of time which the speaker regards as closed, and consequently 4

Signal refers to the grammatical morpheme whioh is the form combined with the particular meaning which it carries in the context where it appears. 5 Since person, number, and conjugation are irrelevant to this system, the first person singular of the first conjugation will represent the six forms of the paradigm. Whenever an example we cite has a form other than the first person singular of the -ar conjugation, we shall, for the convenience of the reader, in parentheses (or brackets within a citation from the Spanish grammarians) give the form we have designated as standard. 8 E v e n t as we use it simply stands for the lexical meaning of the verb.



the event is relegated to history. The meaning ACD is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all other meanings of the Β and F axes. By an opposition of exclusion we mean that the form carrying the meaning 'past' cannot combine with another indicator of present or future time, e.g., * canté ahora ( Ί sang now'); *canté mañana ( Ί sang tomorrow'). An opposition may be direct or indirect. It is a direct opposition of exclusion when it appears on the same horizontal axis, e.g., if we were to have a meaning BCD 'present closed context', which we do not in this particular case, then this opposition would be regarded as a direct opposition of exclusion, otherwise, the opposition is an indirect one. We say that there is a hole in the structure at the corresponding positions in the Β and F axes, which simply means that there are no corresponding forms and meanings in the present and in the future carrying the meaning 'closed context'. On the vertical axis, the relationship is one of mark. By mark we refer to a meaning which combines with the time meaning of present, past, and future to give us usually an aspectual distinction, e.g., a particular form in addition to meaning paet may also mean that the speaker views the event as it progresses over an extended period of time (see Table for other meanings). There is also, on the vertical axis, a mutual exclusion of mark to the meaning AOD 'paet, open context', i.e., the meanings C and 0 cannot be combined, and similarly to ΑΕΙ where the meanings D and I cannot combine. These exclusions, then could be written C - 0 and D - I forming other marks in which only one of its elements could combine with another mark. We can, therefore, write A C ~ ° D _ I (E) as our complete notation. The mark within parentheses indicates that the mark, Extended, is irrelevant to the meaning of this signal. We have tested the meaning ACD by setting up examples with extraverbal elements indicating past, present, future, closed context, open context, and definite and indefinite limits. One cannot say *canté ahora7 or *canté mañana ( Ί sang now' or Ί sang tomorrow'). In other words, this form is incompatible with the meanings 'present' and 'future'. We put a number of other examples to our informant with form 2. He accepted the following: Victoria de las Angeles cantó(é) en Carnegie Hall ayer ('Victoria de los Angeles sang at Carnegie Hall yesterday'): Victoria de los Angeles cantó(é) en Carnegie Hall a los dos y media ('Victoria de los Angeles sang at Carnegie Hall at two-thirty'). From this it would appear that the form means that the event occurred at some specific time in the paet. We got an interesting reaction with the following: Victoria de los Angeles cantó(é) en Carnegie Hall de vez en citando ('ditto from time to time') and Victoria de los Angeles cantó(é) en Carnegie Hall dos veces Cditto twice'). Here, the informant insisted on the form ha(he) cantado ('she has sung'). But with further questioning, it developed that the informant insisted that cantó(é) is also quite proper within these contexts if the singer's 7

See footnote 2, page 20.



career is over or if she is dead. Thus the use of cant6(é) has closed the past and relegated it to history. 8 By 'definite limits' it is meant t h a t the moment of occurrence can, if one chooses, be specified, e.g.: Vino ayer ('He came yesterday'); Vino a las diez ('He came at ten o'clock'); Durmió tres horas ('He slept three hours'); Durmió desde las dos hasta las tres ('He slept from two until three o'clock'). One should note t h a t when the verb expresses a momentary event: vino ('he came'), the form specifies the precise moment, i.e, the limits are placed around the instant which is required for the event to occur. If, on the other hand, a significant length of time is required for the event to occur: durmió ('he slept'), then the form expresses an event which occurs between those limits, e.g., durmió tres horas ('he slept three hours'); durmió desde las dos hasta las tres ('he slept from two until three o'clock'). Conversely this form cannot be used if one wishes to communicate the notion that 'when I entered he was sleeping': * durmió cuando entré. (The limits of his sleep are unknown or irrelevant.) If the event is a momentary one: salió ('he left'), there is no extension; while if the event is durative: durmió ('he slept'), there is extension within definite limits implied in it. B u t the extension is part of the lexical meaning of the verb root; it has nothing to do with the inflectional suffix -e. Furthermore, whether or not the meaning of the verb is initiative: Lo conocí ( Ί met him') or terminative: murió (he died) is also irrelevant in so far as the meaning of the aspectual morpheme is concerned. In the case of conocí ( Ί met'), it is the moment of meeting t h a t is expressed. The fact t h a t one continues "to know" a person from the moment of meeting is also irrelevant to the meaning of the morpheme -é. The Royal Academy has this to say about the form we are discussing: 294. Indefinite Preterit, —a) As an absolute tense it expresses the coincidence of the predicate with the subject indefinitely anterior to the moment of its utterance, without indicating whether or not the action is ended; e.g.: Caín mató [éJ a su her8 With verbs where no physical act occurs a change in meaning takes place. Let ue examine the following: creer ('to believe'); no poder ('not to be able'); querer ('to want'); saber ('to know'); ser ('to be'); tener ('to have' or 'to hold'). Me lo dijo y lo crei ('He told me and I believed it'). Here the speaker expresses the beginning of his belief and not merely the fact that he held a certain belief. No pude hacerlo ( Ί tried but failed to do it'). We do not merely refer to the lack of power to do something, but additionally the attempt to do it. Quise hacerlo ( Ί tried but failed to do it'). The form does not mean the presence of will, but rather the physical expression of that will and its frustration. Mi padre fue médico ('My father was a doctor'). Here the tense-aspect meaning is synonymous with Mi padre era médico ('My father was a doctor'). But even here a very subtle change in meaning occurs. To some informants Mi padre fue médico relegated the event to a very remote time in the past, and to others it carried the connotation of a complete lack of filial sentiment at that moment. Supe que se marchó ( Ί found out that he left'). It is not the possession of knowledge that is expressed, but rather the acquisition of knowledge. Tuve una carta ( Ί got a letter'). It is not the possession of the letter that is expressed, but rather the act of having received it.



mano Abel [Cain killed his brother Abel]; Jesucristo nació[é] en tiempo de Augusto [Jesus Christ was born during the times of Augustus]; el mes pasado estuve en el Escorial [last month I was at the Escorial]. In the three examples given above, it seems to us that the action (or, in our terms, event) is clearly ended. Regarding the closed-open opposition, we would say that in every case cited the event is enclosed within a past context stated or implied. Andres Bello9 regards this form as the unmarked member of the system, i.e., it carries no meaning other than past: 624. Ganté, preterit. It means that the attribute [when the Spanish grammarians refer to attribute they mean the event] is anterior to the act of speech. 626. The preterit of desinent verbs always means the anteriority of all the duration of the attribute to the act of speech, as one can see in these examples: Se edificó [-é] una casa [A house was built]: La nave fondeó[-é] a las tres de la tardo [The ship cast anchor at three o'clock in the afternoon]. The only problem we encounter here is to regard the form as carrying only one meaning, past. If we were to recast the example, se edificó(é) una casa, into the phrase, Webb and Knapp edificaron(é) muchas casas ('Webb and Knapp built many houses'), the form would be unacceptable since the meaning 'closed context' has entered into play. The fact that the housebuilding activities of this firm cannot be regarded as having ended makes the use of the form edificaron(é) awkward. However, one could very properly say: Webb and Knapp edificaron(é) muchas casas durante el año 1961 ('Webb and Knapp built many houses in 1961'). It seems to us that the meaning 'closed context' is clearly a mark of the form 2. As far as we have been able to determine, Rodolfo Lenz, the Chilean, is the first grammarian to point out 'closed context' in the past as a significant feature of the preterit, form 2. Here is what he has to say: 10 Canté expresses the action of the verb as a phenomenon occurring in a past period, which is related only to other phenomena that precede it or follow it, as a moment of the past which is not placed in relation to the moment in which one speaks, nor with the person who is speaking. It represents a link, ENCLOSED WITHIN ITSELF, which forms a part of the progressive chain of events which constitute time. It is the form of objective narration which understands an action, whose effective duration may be short or long, as something passing and transitory which begins and ends. It should be noted that Lenz is setting up a subjective-objective opposition which will be useful later on in the analysis of the 7*10 form. 9

Bello, pp. 210-211. Rodolfo Lenz. "La oración y sus partes; estudios de gramática general y castellana" Publicaciones de la Revista de Filologia Española, VI, 453. 10



At this point we shall suspend our discussion of the closed/open context opposition in order to continue it below in connection with the form 7110, he -ado. For what has intrigued grammarians is precisely the contrast and the comparison of these two forms. 2. The signal 7110 consists of the form 71 he 10 -ado and represents the meaning A 'past' O 'open context' D 'definite limits'. The meaning is: On some occasion in the past, this event occurred between definite limits within a context of time which is still open. AOD is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all other meanings of the Β and F axes. On the vertical axis there is an opposition of mark to the meaning A, and, as we have indicated above, we have a direct opposition of mark, C - 0 and I-D. And again E is irrelevant. Thus the complete notation now is: A


- o


- i


( E )


We put a series of examples to our informant, and he readily accepted all examples where limitations of time were left open: Ha (he) cantado en Carnegie Hall ('She has sung in Carnegie Hall'); Ha (he) cantado en Carnegie Hall de vez en cuando ('ditto from time to time'); Ha (he) cantado en Carnegie Hall dos vecea ('ditto twice'). At this point one might be tempted to say that a lack of extra verbal indicators of definite past time call for the form 7110, but ae we have shown above, the knowledge that our performer's career was ended, would even under these circumstances require the form 2. Thps the controlling factor is the nature of the larger context of time, i.e., is the time period open or closed. We can support this statement by the introduction of extra-verbal indicators of definite past time. Unlike our English, which will not tolerate the use of the present perfect with definite past time, the Spanish perfect (7110) is quite compatible under such circumstances. We presented the following sample utterances: Ha (he) cantado en Carnegie Hall ayer ('ditto yesterday'): Ha (hecantado en Carnegie Hall a las dos y media ('ditto at two thirty'). The informant's first reaction was negative, but then he said that these statements were not impossible. The first statement, he said, was more emphatic and the second implies proximity, i.e., today at two thirty rather than yesterday. We cannot accept 'emphasis' and 'proximity to the present' as the primary distinctive feature of the signal 7110 as we shall now show. We put the following examples: Hace cinco minutos que comi(-é) ( Ί ate five minutes ago'), and Hace cinco minutos que he comido, and the informant regarded both examples as perfectly acceptable and was unable when directly asked to give a distinction in meaning between the two. However, when asked



to which of the two statements he would be inclined to extend an invitation to dine, he stated emphatically, to the first: hace cinco minutos que coml(-é). Now, as far as proximity as a distinctive feature is concerned, the five-minute element in both statements eliminates it. And regarding the emphatic element, we would explain it in this way: Since comi(-è) relegates the event to a point in the past closed off from the present, to eat again is in order; but with he comido the open context introduced makes the repetition of the event unlikely. We do not say that emphasis is not operative here. Re-arrangement of the structure of a language is a common stylistic device used for emphasis and can in the long run permanently modify the structure.11 All the grammarians we have examined, some of whom we shall cite below, have explained this form in terms of 'present relevance'. While this element very often is present, we do not feel convinced that it is justifiable to regard it as the fundamental distinction. We think that what happens subjectively is that when stating an event in the recent past or in the past where the larger context of time is not enclosed within a clear historical period, e.g., Este año ha sido escaso en cereales ('This year has been poor in cereals'), the speaker does not wish to enclose the event within the past even though he may state the definite occasion of the event. He thus neutralizes the closed nature of the event by using the 'open context' morpheme of the verb. We might add here a note of some interest. Apparently, natives of Bogotá are somewhat conservative in their use of the 7110 (he -ado) form when they mention the time of the past event. Invariably, our informants hesitate when presented with something like he venido ayer (*'I have come yesterday'). After some hesitation they usually reject the form saying that while they personally would never use it they do hear it used and to them it carries, as we have said, the connotation of emphasis or proximity. To restate our position, we feel that the open-context opposition which we showed at the beginning of this discussion is fundamental and that current relevance and emphasis, while present, are secondary distinctions and are, in fact, irrelevant to the chronological system. The Royal Academy says (pp. 268-269): 291. Preterit perfect of the indicative. — It is the present of completed action, and we use it to express that which has just been completed at the moment when we speak; He dicho [I have spoken]; and also an event whose results or consequences continue at the moment when we enunciate it; e.g., (Pedro ha [he] estado en Roma [Peter has been to Rome];) España ha[he] producido grandes hombres en armas y en letras [Spain has produced great men in arms and letters]; Este año ha [he] sido es11

We are told that in most of the Peninsula the form 7*10 (he-ado) is very widely used for the recent past. But this is not true of Bogotá, certainly, and it is not yet standard in the Spanish-speaking world as a whole.



caso en cereales [see translation above]. (In the first of these examples one uses the preterit perfect because one considers that the fact of having been in Rome has an influence in Peter's present-day culture, relations and business affairs; if the latter had died or if his stay in Rome were treated as a simple chronological fact, one would have to say: Pedro estuvo[é] en Roma [Peter was in Rome], or hace tres años Pedro estuvo[é] en Roma [Peter was in Rome three years ago].) When we say España ha[he] •producido grandes hombres [Spain has produced great men], we consider that Sp continues and can produce other celebrated men, and likewise in the last example we said este año ha [he ] sido [this year has been], because the year has not ended yet. Obviously our analysis has not departed in any substantial way from that of the Academy. We disagree only in the minor detail of not saying that the •form 7110 (he -ado) indicates that the event has present consequences, because the form 2 is not incompatible with this meaning when we say, for example, Padro pasó(é) un mes en Roma y hasta ahora habla de Roma y emplea italianismos en su conversación ('Peter spent a month in Rome, and up until today he speaks of Rome and uses Italianisms in his conversation'). As far as we have been able to determine the only real distinction is whether or not the context of time surrounding the event is closed or open. Bello's analysis is substantially the same as that of the Academy, or more properly, the Academy has not departed from Bello. We shall conclude the discussion and comparison of these two forms by citing the remarks of a modern grammarian, Alarcos Llorach:12 The difference [between the preterit and perfect] lies in what we have noted before; with the compound form the limit of the action is the present, with the simple a point in the past; . . . . . . the use of the preterit or of the compound does not indicate that the action is far or near in the absolute sense of these words, but rather whether or not the period of time indicated by both forms includes the grammatical present. . . Very well, when time does not have an exterior mark (by adverbs, complements or context), the concept of amplified present depends on subjective factors. Faced with the same action, whose time is not marked, the subject may choose between the simple or compound form according to his personal feeling on considering the action as produced in the past as opposed to the present, or as occurring in the amplified present. We would comment on these remarks by suggesting: (1) the limit of the present is not necessarily only the present but includes the future as well and is thus 'open', and (2) even when time is marked extra verbally by adverbs, complements, or context, the perfect can still be used. Our informant accepted the following: Vine ayer ( Ί came yesterday'), and He venido ayer (*'I have come yesterday'). The latter, he said, was more emphatic. All remarks made 12

Alarcos Lloraoh, pp. 121-122.



above in connection with the -e form regarding 'definite limits' apply here as well. 3. The signal 3 consists of the form 3, -aba, and represents the meaning A 'past' E 'extended' I 'indefinite'. The meaning is: This event occurred throughout an indefinitely extended period in the past. This form is related by a direct opposition of exclusion to the meaning B E I on the Β axis, there is a vacancy on the F axis, and by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all other meanings on the Β and F axes. On the vertical axis there is an opposition of mark to the meaning A. There is a direct opposition of exclusion between the marks I and D (I-D), and the mark 0 - C is irrelevant. Our full notation now would be: A



- o


- c



- i

( E )


- i

( E )



In testing our statement we found t h a t with punctual and durative verbs the meaning was repetition extended over an indefinite period of time. 13 A punctual verb is one where the time which the event requires in order to take place is extremely short or instantaneous, e.g., dar un golpe ('to strike'), e.g., El momento que entró(-é), le dio un golpe ('The moment he entered, he struck him a blow'); dejar caer (to drop), e.g., Al ver al professor, dejó(-é) caer los libros que tenía en las manos ('When he saw the teacher, he dropped the books he had in his hands'). A durative verb is one where the time which the event requires for its completion requires a singificant length of time, e.g., comer ('to eat'); dormir ('to sleep'). In all these cases of repeated action the extra verbal element indicates that action was repeated. María salia(-aba) de la casa de vez en cuando ('Mary would go out of the house from time to time'); Maria dormía algunas veces ('Mary slept some times'); María dormía(-aba) los lunes por la mañana ('Mary would sleep in the morning on Mondays'); María salla (-aba) de la casa los lunes ('Mary would leave the house on Mondays'). Where extra-verbal indicators restrict the past to a definite occasion, this form is either rejected or still another extra-verbal element must be introduced to extend the context of time around the event, thus allowing repetition. * Maria salía(-aba) de la casa el lunes por la mañana (*'Mary would leave the house on Monday morning' [a specific Monday]); * María salia(-aba) de la casa a las cinco (*'Mary would leave the house at five o'clock' [meaning on one day]). All of these examples were acceptable if we added an element like todo el verano ('all summer'). I t might appear here that todo el verano has destroyed 13

It should be kept in miad that this form more frequently appears in the sequential system where it has a somewhat different meaning. This will be discussed at length below in the sequential system.



our meaning of 'indefinite'. But we found that the following type of utterance was rejected: *María leía la novela durante dos horas ('Mary was reading the novel for two hours'). What is operative here is modification of calendar or clock time by the speaker's personal conception of time. When he says "two hours", he is really being definite in accordance with his clock; but when he says "last year" or "all summer", he is not actually pinning himself down to the specific points on the calendar, but is rather referring to a past period whose specific limits are to him vague and indefinite. Thus he may select the -aba form in connection with el año pasado ('last year') and todo el verano ('all summer'), but rejects it in connection with durante dos horas ('for two hours'). With verbs whose lexical meaning is permanence this form means pure existence in the past. A permanent verb is one where the duration for its completion is extremely long, e.g., ser ('to be'); vivir ('to live'). An illustration of this is the following example: Mi padre era(-ába) abogado y fue(é) general de la guerra civil ('My father was a lawyer and he was a civil war general'). In the first clause the verb expresses pure existence, or co-existence of the attribute with its subject; in the second clause we have simply an event in the past. This form, then, is ideal for past description. As will be seen below, it is used primarily in the sequential system, where it describes events in relation to each other. As a matter of fact, Bello has called this form co-preterit, thus highlighting its relative nature. Nevertheless, the form is used in the nonsequential system with the meaning we have stated. The Royal Academy treats this form only in its relative sense. It has nothing to say regarding its meaning when it is used absolutely. Bello devotes the major part of his discussion to the relative aspect of the form, but he does have this to say regarding its absolute use: 14 633. Analogous to this use of the co-preterit is the one which is used to mean repeated or habitual actions in a past period presumed to be known. Pelé ricas alfombras; ajé sábanas de Holanda; alumbréme con candeleros de plata; almorzaba en la cama; levantábame a las once; comía [-aba] a las doce; a las dos sesteaba en el estrado, eto. (Cervantes) [I plucked rich rugs, I crimpled Holland sheets, I lit my way with silver candle sticks, I would take breakfest in bed, I would get up at eleven, I would dine at twelve, at two I would nap in the drawing-room]. Our evidence clearly supports Bello's analysis and proves out our rule that the imperfect when used non-sequentially has as one of its meanings 'repeated'. The most extensive treatment of this form can be found in an article in the Boletín de la Real Academia Española by Badia Margarit. He recognizes the 14

Bello, p. 212.



absolute and relative aspects of this form. We shall quote the pertinent material from his article and comment on it: 15 The preterit imperfect is then the tense which expresses a previous action or state, but incomplete. It represents, in the speaker, and for the past, precisely the same attitude that the present represents in present time . . . In accordance with the fundamental value of the imperfect, the manner of understanding action as in progress is the first one that must be studied. The imperfect of duration (or of repeated action) fully corresponds to description ; indeed it is the tense which is directed toward the imagination which delights in contemplating action in fiere; for example: y el chiquillo abría[-aba] tantos ojos, arrugaba las cejas, cerraba los puños, y se ponía[-aba] como una grana. Después Anís le tomaba las manos y las volvía[-aba] y revolvía[-aba] cantando : . . . (F. Caballero, La Gaviota) [and the little child was opening his eyes wide, wrinkling his eye brows, closing his fists, and was turning red as a beet. Afterwards, Anís took his hands and she turned them back and forth while she sang: . . . ] 21. From everything we are saying, we see that besides the descriptive use, which has been pointed out before, the imperfect also has a narrative use, substituting for the indefinite preterit. Narration, then, acquires a descriptive character and appears to gain in aesthetic tone and in affective intensity, that is to say, the imperfect narrative perfectly fits in with interpretation of LIVE BEPRESENTATION of the action . . . but Lenz has already informed us that even in popular speech we hear narration with imperfects inserted (instead of the preterit), as: Decía[-aba] yo, decía[-aba] él [I was saying, he was saying]. We checked Badla's reference to La gaviota16 and we found that just previous to the quotation cited we have the sentence: Cuando Stein llegó(-è) al convento . . . ('When Stein arrived at the convent. . .'). In other words we have the sequential system operative here. The imperfects state the events in progress when another event occurred, i.e., Stein's arrival. And even in narration as Badia discusses it above where there is no other related event stated, there is always implicit another event, the psychological presence of the narrator. Badia goes on:17 . . . The use of the imperfect in this case (he refers to the passive imperfect of the Latin used to refer to past state) corresponds perfectly to its durative character attributed to the permanence of the state. The same thing can be said of the imperfect which establishes past events, for example: Erase un rey [There was a king]. We discussed this above in connection with those verbs whose lexical meaning implies permanence. Badia further states: "The imperfect of courtesy is a weakening of the force which the present undoubtedly gives to the sentence. 15

A. Badia Margarit. "Ensayo de una sintaxis histórica de tiempos", Boletín de la Beat Academia Española, X X X V I I I (1948), 285. 291-292. 18 Fernán Caballero, La gaviota (Leipzig, 1860), p. 45. 17 Badia Margarit, pp. 293, 295.



Thus it is very proper in the mouths of humble people in their relationships with people of a more elevated social category." An example of the imperfect of courtesy would be: Quería tomar este plato, por favor ( Ί would like to take this plate, please'). The time here is the present, the moment of utterance, but a past form is used. The speaker apparently feels that quiero ( Ί want') is too abrupt and, consequently uses the -aba form in its place, just as in English we often say "Did you want me to wash the window now?" instead of "Do you want...?" This, of course, is a modal usage and has no place in the tense-aspect system of the verb. Even if humble people do employ this usage, it is still present. We will close this discussion with Lenz's treatment: 18 As absolute time, undoubtedly cantaba [I was singing/used to sing] means the same as canté [I sang], a past action, but this action is not considered as momentary which begins and is ended, but rather as an action which has not arrived at a determined end, to be perfect. Neither does it express the possibility that action may have begun at a moment in the past. Consequently, its meaning is that at a moment in the past an action was in process which had already begun before and did not reach perfection. While canté relates something passing, the imperfect describes some state in its duration, whose temporal extension, therefore, is indifferent. Since Lenz offers us no examples to illustrate what he says, it is difficult to comment on his statements. We will point out, however, that, when used non-sequentially: Mi padre era abagado ('My father was a lawyer'), the event has reached perfection; when used sequentially, the form functions exactly as Lenz has described it. 4. The signal 6211 consists of the form 62 estuve and 11 -ando and represents the meaning A 'past' E 'extension' D 'definite'. The meaning is: In the past during a definite period of time, stated or implied, this event occurred. AED is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all meanings on Β and F axes. It is related by an opposition of mark to all other meanings on the A axis and there is a direct opposition of mark between the meanings D and I. The meanings O-C are irrelevant. Our complete notation now is: A C - 0 D - 1 (E) AO-°D-I(E) A E I - D (0-C) A E D - 1 (0-C) In testing this statement, we found that the form was compatible with extraverbal indicators of definiteness: Estuve durmiendo toda la tarde de hoy ( Ί was 18

Lenz, p. 459.



sleeping all afternoon today'); Pedro estuvo(e) comiendo pescado ayer ('Peter was eating fish yesterday'); Estuve durmiendo el lunes por la mañana ( Ί was sleeping on Monday morning'). Conversely, the form is incompatible with indicators of indefiniteness: * Estuve durmiendo de vez en cuando ( Ί was sleeping from time to time') ; * Estuve durmiendo los lunes por la mañana ( Ί was sleeping on Monday mornings'). The form is also incompatible with indicators of a specific moment: * Pedro estuvo (e) comiendo pescado a las cinco ('Peter was eating fish at five o'clock'), but with the indicator desde las cinco hasta las seis ('from five to six') the form is acceptable. 5. The signal 6511 consists of the form 6 s he estado and 11 -ando and represents the meaning A 'past' E 'extension* O 'open context' D 'definite limits'. The meaning is: This event began at some point in the past and is extended to the moment of utterance. This does not mean that the event may not still be in process or continue, as it very well may. This gives it its 'open context' meaning. Its limits are the past beginning and the moment of utterance. The meaning AEOD is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all meanings on the Β and F axes. It is related by an opposition of mark to all other meanings on the A axis. The notation is: A C - 0 D" 1 (E) AO-CD-i (E) Α Ε Ι - 0 (D-C) A E D - ! (O-C) AEO - C D - 1 In testing this statement we used two verbs: dormir ('to sleep'), salir con ('to go out with'), a durative and a punctual verb. We found the example *He estado durmiendo a las cinco ( Ί have been sleeping at five o'clock') rejected as impossible; while He estado saliendo con Ana a las cinco was accepted if we added something like todos los días ('every day'). When we added the signal ayer ('yesterday') to these two examples: *He estado durmiendo toda la tarde ayer ( Ί have been sleeping all afternoon yesterday') and *He estado saliendo con Ana ayer ( Ί have been going out with Ann yesterday'), our informant rejected them. This proves out the mark O. The signal ayer has relegated the event to a point clearly historical. The example: Hoy he estado durmiendo toda la tarde ('Today I have been sleeping all afternoon') was regarded as quite proper. The event occurred over an extended period of time which terminated immediately before the moment of utterance; and in the example further above, where we added todos los días to *He estado saliendo con Ana a las cinco, this sentence became acceptable because the additional signal not only extended the time but also brought it down to the time of utterance.



Before closing our discussion of the forms referring to past time used nonsequentially, we shall make some general remarks on the periphrastic form with the gerund as contrasted with its corresponding simple form. Regarding these forms Bello says: 19 The compound forms in which the gerund participates present no difficulties, because they express the same time as the simple form of the auxiliary; Y o estoy temiendo [I am fearing], means the same time as yo temo [I fear]. There is indeed a difference between estoy temiendo and temo : the first means a habitual state or a somewhat long duration (está siempre escribiendo [he is always writing]; estuvo-(é) toda la noche escribiendo [he was writing all night]), but this is not a difference of time, according to the meaning which grammarians give to this word, because the period of fear, for example, is always a pure preterit with respect to the moment in which one speaks, whether one says temí(-é) [I feared] or estuve temiendo [I was fearing]. We quite agree with Bello in that they express the same period of time, i.e., temo and estoy temiendo are present; and temi and estuve temiendo are past. But there are differences. In the first case, the extended and not repeated nature of the event is signified. In the second case, there is a real aspectual difference in that the compound form carries the meaning 'extended' while in the simple form this aspectual meaning is irrelevant. We can illustrate this with the following examples: Escribió (-é) las cartas ('He wrote the letters') and Estuvo (-é) escribiendo las cartas ('He was writing the letters'). In the first example our hearer would accept the statement without comment, but, in the second, he would want to know when the event took place, i.e., he would want to know during what period of time the event took place. We also note in Bello's remarks that when he uses the periphrastic form, he defines the time period, e.g., siempre ('always') with està in the present and toda la noche ('all night') with estuve in the past. The Academy says (p. 412): 456. The gerund in compound construction. — . . . I o Referring to the subject, -a) With the verbs estar, andar, venir, seguir, quedar [to be, to walk, to come, to continue, to remain] it refers to the subject, as does the participle, forming a sort of periphrastic conjugation in which the auxiliary verb denotes the time to which the meaning of the gerund refers; e.g.: La fortuna va [-o] guiando nuestras cosas (Quijote I, 8) [Fortune is guiding our affairs]; Con gran atención iban [-aba] escuchando los demás la plática de los dos (Ibid., I, 13) [The rest were listening to the conversation of the two with great attention]. As we see, these constructions denote durative action with greater precision than the simple forms of the verb. Thus, andaba buscando los libros [he was searching for the books], denotes the duration of the searching better than buscaba los libros [he was searching for the books]. Therefore, one cannot use these constructions to express instantaneous action, and for this reason no one would say: fulano está dando un grito [fulano is letting out a yell]; zutano se está arrojando por la ventana [zutano is throwing himself out the window]: but, indeed one can say fulano está dando gritos [fulano is shouting]. " Bello, p. 210.




Below we shall discuss the 6 11 estoy -ando and 6 11 estaba -ando forms. But we will now anticipate by saying that the opposition we have found between the simple and compound forms is that the simple form carries as one of its possible meanings 'repetitious' or 'habitual' action while the compound form carries the meaning 'non-repetitious' or 'continuous' action. Thus, there may be occasions where the opposition is neutralized, e.g., when one's attention is directed to a specific point of time where one occasion of the repetition of the event is taking place. Consequently, one can make the general observation La fortuna guía(-o) nuestra cosas, meaning that fortune habitually guides our affairs; but if the observation is made at a specific moment when something propitious is occurring, then the form va guiando may be used. While, as the Academy suggests, the latter may sound more emphatic, this is not a real aspectual difference. Robert K. Spaulding has given these forms the most extensive treatment. 20 While most of his article is devoted to an historical survey of the forms, which apparently date to the Classical Latin and a comparative treatment of them; Spaulding does make some pertinent remarks regarding meaning which interest us in this paper. First, he refers us to Meyer-Liibke: 21 12. Meyer Liibke (Grammaire, III, Paragraphs 312—17), after discussing the use of the present participle and the gerund in Latin, remarks that in Spanish ser [to be] plus a present participle is limited to the early period. Estar [to be] indicates duration, with the additional implication that something else occurs during the accomplishment of the action. . . . Our analysis indicates that "the implication that something else occurs during the accomplishment of the action" is not necessary. Certainly Pedro estuvo(-e) durmiendo toda la noche ('Peter was sleeping all night'), is a standard type of utterance by itself without any other occurrence being stated or implied. Spaulding goes on:22 The use of the gerundio presents the action, judged objectively, as incomplete, as being in the state of development . . . an action which is coincident with the act of speaking is almost always expressed by the compound form, while an action without a limitation of time is expressed by the simple tense.23 This is true of forms 6 3 11 and βΠΙ, but not of 6211. To conclude Spaulding's treatment, we will quote this paragraph:24 ,0

R. K. Spaulding, "History and Syntax of the Progressive Constructions in Spanish", Modern Philology, X I I I (1926), 229-284. « Spaulding, pp. 234-235. » Spaulding, pp. 235-236. 28 Spaulding pp. 235-236. " Spaulding p. 243.



27. The wide use of estar plus a present participle is as a periphrasis for a simple form, to express the coincident duration of the action. In this case the action coincides with the act of speaking according to Lenz (La oración y sus partes, Paragraph 256, end). The action is unfinished (Ramsey, Text-book Paragraph 523). The use corresponds quite exactly to the English, with one exception which will be noted later. For the compilers of the Diccionario de Autoridades (sub voce) : estar is one of the most frequent of the auxiliary verbs of our Castilian and together with the form of another verb does not add any meaning to it, but merely serves to conjugate it; as estar leyendo, estar escribiendo [to be writing, to be reading] have the same value as leer and escribir [to read and to write]. Here, we believe, is the reason why the estar plus gerund form has been largely ignored or only mentioned in passing in treatments of the Spanish verb paradigm. It has been felt that this form is in free variation with the simple form. We, on the other hand, hold that the form stands in opposition to the simple form and must, therefore, be incorporated into the paradigm. We will make one or two comparisons with the simple forms. The form 6211 has as its single meaning duration for a specific period of time. In this case one could say that the form has the same meaning as the form 2. But in the form 2, outside the lexical meaning of the verb, duration is irrelevant, e.g.: durmió(-é) toda la tarde ('he slept all afternoon'), it is the extra-verbal element together with the lexical meaning of the verb which give duration. Meanwhile estuvo(-e) durmiendo toda la tarde ('he was sleeping all afternoon'), the form itself means duration while the extra-verbal element simply specifies the length of duration. And furthermore, since 6211 is not really necessary (an extraverbal element is always present), then its function (as opposed to 2) is to strengthen the notion of duration. When we compare the simple 7110 (simple relative to the gerund form) with the compound 6511, we find that they are different in meaning in that extension is irrelevant in 7110. We can quite properly say: He venido a la una (*'I have come at one'), or He dormido toda la tarde ( Ί have slept all afternoon'); but in the form 6511, extension is essential. He salido a las cinco (*'I have gone out at five') but not *He estado saliendo a las cinco ( Ί have been going out at five'), unless one means that the event was repeated. In conclusion, we would say that the last two forms discussed (6211, estuve -ando and 6*11, he estado -ando) stand in clear opposition to the other forms of the paradigm and, therefore, must be treated as legitimate elements of the paradigm if it is to be complete. b. Sequential Now we go to the lower half of our chart. This is the sequential system. Here we are dealing with two or more events which are connected to each other by the speaker. Specifically, we are concerned with the sequence of events:



does one event take place before another event, is it simultaneous with it, or after it ? While in many cases the same form may appear above the line and below the line, the meaning of the form above the line is different from that of the form below the line because the meaning of sequence has entered into play, e.g., Comía(aba) pescado ( Ί used to eat fish') in a non-sequential situation (one isolated event) has the meaning of repetition, while Comía pescado cuando mi padre llegó(é) ( Ί was eating fish when my father arrived') lacks the meaning of repetition. Since in this section of the analysis the opposition repeated/non-repeated is a factor — although not aspectual — these meanings will be noted. And furthermore, since the closed/open context is only significant in absolute past time, these meanings will not be included in the remaining part of the analysis. 6. The first signal is N2, and its meaning is Ν 'sequence', plus the form 2, -è, and it represents the meaning A 'past' D 'definite limits'. The meaning is: the event indicated by the verb is one of a sequence of events which took place in the past within definite limits. The meaning NAD is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all other meanings on the Β and F axes. The meanings a 'before' b 'simultaneous with' c 'after' are irrelevant as the form can carry any one of these meanings. This, of course, is also true of E 'extended' and the non-aspectual meaning R 'repeated'. In a full notation we may write N A D - 1 (a-b-c, R, E). The form 2, -e is unmarked with respect to sequence. It carries no other meaning but this: sequence in the past. We can demonstrate this by indicating its compatibility with extra-verbal indicators of 'before', 'simultaneous with', and 'after'. First, we can have such an utterance as: Se despertó(-é), se lav6(-é) y saliò(-é) a la calle ('Re woke up, washed and went out into the street'). Here the very nature of the narrative indicates the sequence of events. We can further demonstrate the unmarked quality of this form by the use of adverbial indicators of time: Después de que cantó, entró (-é) su padre (past, after) ('After she sang, her father entered'); Antes de que cantara, entró (-é) su padre (past, before) ('Before she sang, her father entered'); Mientras que cantaba, su padre entró(-é) (past, simultaneous with) ('While she was singing, her father entered'). The meaning of sequence has been recognized by most grammarians down through the centuries, although they have not seen the necessity of constructing a separate system in opposition to the absolute system. Bello recognized the existence of this meaning of the verb in what he called: "secondary meanings of the tenses of the indicative".25 As a matter of fact incorporated this concept in his nomenclature of the tenses. He used the preω

Bello, Gramática, pp. 221-222.



fixes ante-, co-, and pos-: co-pretérito, ante-presente, ante-co-pretérito, pospretérito, ante-pos-préterito, etc. He illustrates this relative nature of time with the following example: Cuando percibas que mi pluma se envejece, (dice el arzobispo de Granada a Gil Bias) ('When you perceive that my pen ages [the Archibishop of Granada says to Gil Blas]'), cuando notes que se baja mi esiilo, no dejes de advirtírmelo : de nuevo te lo encargo, no te detengas un momento en avisarme cuando observes que se débilita mi cabeza ('when you note that my style falls below its standard, do not fail to let me know; again I charge you, do not hesitate a moment to advise me when you observe that my mind becomes weak'). Bello very properly points out that these forms: se envejece, se baja, se debilita, are not present in the mind of the archibishop as he is speaking, but rather future. Gili y Gaya also remarks on this aspect when he says:2® Tenses are not, therefore, fixed values, but rather relative modifications of the verbal concept. [Here it appears that Gili y Gaya is confusing tense form with its meaning. As we shall show, a particular tense form may have a number of different meanings as we have previously shown in connection with the form -o]. Even those we have called absolute can move toward the past or toward the future, within the temporal connections of the sentences in which they appear. Thus, for example, the preterit ha[he~\ abandonado [has abandoned], is converted into a future in the sentence: Guando veas que el mundo te ha[heJ abandonado reflexionarás sobre la condicion de los hombres [When you see that the world has abandoned you, you will reflect on the human condition]. All the tenses here are future: ha[he] abandonado is a future. And in his chart of the tenses (see p. 22 above) he has made a division between absolute and relative time. We might note that he has called he leído in his chart an absolute while he has just admitted that it can be relative. This indicates the advisability of separating, as we are doing, time regarded as absolute and time regarded as relative (sequential and non-sequential, in our terms) into two separate systems and accepting the fact that the meaning of a form depends on which system it appears in. 7. The signal Ν 6211 consists of the signal Ν 'sequence' plus the form 62 estuve and 11 -ando and represents the meaning A 'past' E 'extended' D 'definite'. The meaning is: This event occurred during an extended, definite period of time, before, during, or after another event in the past. This meaning is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all meanings on the Β and F-axes. It is related by an opposition of mark to all other meanings on the A axis. There is also a mutual exclusion of mark with the meaning I 'indefinite'. The full notation is: N A E D - 1 (a-b-c, R) N A D - 1 (a-b-c, R, E) 2β

Gili y Gaya, pp. 152-153.



We can support our meaning with the following examples: El cuatro de enero nos dijo que su hermana estuvo(-e) cantando el tres de enero ('On the fourth of January he told us that his sister was singing on the third of January'); Antes de que trabajáramos, él estuvo (-e) durmiendo ('Before we worked, he was sleeping'); Mientras trabajábamos, él estuvo(-e) durmiendo ('While we were working, he was sleeping'); Nos dijo(-é) que su hermana estuvo (-e) cardando ayer ('He told that his sister was singing yesterday'); Después de cantar ella, su padre estuvo(-e) trabajando ('After she sang, her father was working'); Después de que trabajamos él estuvo(-e) durmiendo toda la noche ('After we worked, he was sleeping all night'). In addition to our final example where the definite time is stated, in all other examples our informants stated that the time was definite. The meaning of 'definite, extended, before, after, and simultaneous with, is clear. Here there are two factors which should be noted. First, the form is unmarked as far as the sequential system is concerned, in that it can appear in any of the types of the sequence. Second, there is one exception to the pattern we have described. In a regular sequence of events this form fits into any one of the three slots but in cases of subordination of one event to another in a subordinate clause, e.g., *Dijo(-é) que estuvo cantando ('He said that he was singing'), the form cannot have the meaning, 'past, after'. This phenomenon will also be noted below with the form 5 -aria. In other words, there is not an exact correlationship between independent and temporal clauses, on the one hand, and subordinate substantive clauses, on the other. 8. The signal Ν 7210 consists of the meaning Ν 'sequence' plus the form 7210 había -ado, and represents the meaning, Aa 'past, before' D 'definite limits', e.g.: había dormido antes de que entráramos ('he had slept before we entered'). The meaning is: this event (había dormido) occurred between definite limits before another event (entráramos) occurred. This meaning is related by an indirect opposition of exclusion to all other meanings on the Β and F-axes. It is related by an opposition of mark to all other meanings on the A-axis. The full notation is: Ν A a l e D - 1 (R, E) Ν AED- 1 (a-b-c, R) Ν AD" 1 (a-b-c, R, E) The meaning 'before' can be demonstrated by extra-verbal indicators of this meaning. The informant accepted the following: Antes de que viniera, había entrado su padre ('His father had entered before he came'). Conversely, the following forms were unacceptable because this form means past, before: *El dia que se mudaban a México, los habíamos visitado ('We had visited them on the day that they had moved to Mexico') ; * Después de que se mudaron a México, los habíamos visitado (*'After they moved to Mexico, we had visited them').



Since the form 7 10 does not appear in the non-sequential system, the use of the form alone with no other extra verbal indicators, antes que ('before'), means 'past, before': . . . el rey mandó revocar aquella prohibición que se había proveído. En los fueros de 1246 se habían abolido (había -ado) el tormento, la prueba del hierro candente . . . ('the king ordered the revocation of that prohibition which had been provided. In the charters of 1247, torture and the test of hot iron had been abolished . . .'). In our first example the relationship of the two events expressed by the use of the forms 2 and 7210 is clear: se habla proveído is prior to mandó. In the second example the function of 721