Sequence of tenses: playing with possibilities
Keywords:sequence of tenses, posteriority, simultaneity, priority, actual time, double access interpretation
The aim of this article is to analyse the sequence of tenses in Spanish, a phenomenon typical of the Romance languages. Our purpose is to systematize and formulate the rules of use by means of examples with graphical representations. We focus on such cases of use of the sequence of tenses where it is possible to apply a “double-access interpretation”, i. e. which allows the possibility of choosing between reference points: with the actual time (the moment of speech) or with the main clause. This double interpretation is to be found in all three types of time relationships: simultaneousness, priority and posteriority. Some pairs differ semantically; others are used according to the preferences of the speaker with no change of meaning. Most examples are subordinate noun clauses, nonetheless we included examples of other types of clauses as well (e.g. relative, reason clauses). We also analyze the problem of the sequence of tenses where the main verb is in the conditional tense.
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