I have questions which perhaps should be posted to Linguistics.SE; but since my primary concern is to discover what terminology in discussing English grammar and usage on ELU (and in similar contexts), I hope I may be allowed to post them here.
Back in the early ‘60s, when I was learning to distinguish tense, aspect and mood in Latin and English, it was explained to me that (despite what the schoolmarms were telling me) I should regard these categories as attributes not of verbs but of entire sentences, realized in Latin primarily through verbal inflection but in English mostly through constructions employing a variety of lexical and syntactic components.
This way of thinking about the categories has always made sense to me, and it is echoed here and there in my old Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics (Lyons, 1968). For instance:
Tense is therefore a deictic category, which […] is simultaneously a property of the sentence and the utterance. (305)
In recent years, however, I have on several occasions been chided for using the term tense in this manner. I am told that it is properly applied only in cases where temporal reference is expressed through inflection. I have not been made aware of any similar restriction in the use of aspect or mood.
I am painfully aware that my understanding of English grammar and syntax is by now two generations out of date. So I’d like to ask:
- Is the term tense today only properly used in the restricted sense, in formal discourse about English grammar?
- Does this restriction similarly apply to 1) such terms of tense-distinction as past, present and future, and 2) the parallel categories aspect and mood and their corresponding terms of distinction?
- In cases where such restrictions apply, what terms should be used to name the categories and distinctions when they are expressed through some means other than inflection of a verb?