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Tense is a category used in the grammatical description of verbs (along with aspect and mood), referring primarily to the way the grammar marks the time at which the action denoted by the verb took place. It can be broadly classified as:

  • absolute tense: indicates time in relationship to the time of the utterance (i.e. "now").
  • relative tense: in relationship to some other time, other than the time of utterance.

Natural language

In the UNLarium framework, the attribute tense is represented by the following hierarchy, where lower levels subsume upper levels:

General tenses
General tenses, such as simple past or simple future in English, are indicated by the uppermost level of the corresponding branch.
simple past = PAS
simple future = FUT
Relative and absolute-relative tenses are indicated by combining absolute and relative tags through "&"
past perfect (= past of the past): PAS&RPT
future perfect (= past of the future): FUT&RPT
passé antérieur (= past of the past): PAS&RPT
future antérieur (= past of the future): FUT&RPT
Tense, mood and aspect
Tense, mood and aspect can be conjoined with "&":
aorist: PAS&PFV
imperfect (past imperfect): PAS&NPFV
present perfect: PRS&PFC
Simple and compound tenses
The difference between simple and compound forms must be informed only if they represent different alternatives for the same tense. Compounds are indicated through the attribute "CPW":
passé simple: PAS
passé composé: PAS&CPW


In UNL, tense is to be represented by time attributes.


List of grammatical tenses: