1

Does the English language have a mechanism for expressing past, present and future tense simultaneously?

In other words, consider the following three sentences:

1) The force was with me.

2) The force is with me.

3) The force will be with me.

Is there way to construct a sentence in English, such that all three can be combined into:

4) The force x with me.

Where x is replaced with one or more English words?

[Secondary question: is there any language other than English that has such a word, or a mechanism for combining past present and future into one?]

  • 1
    The force was, is, and will be with me. – GEdgar Jan 24 '14 at 1:26
  • 1
    Or even simpler, foregoing the verb (and hence also tenses) completely: The force: with me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '14 at 1:35
  • @GEdgar Change will to always shall. – tchrist Jan 24 '14 at 2:56
  • The force exists to be with me = The force be with me. – Blessed Geek Jan 24 '14 at 7:43
4

A clear indication of multiple time frames is not easily accomplished in English (and many other languages). The very concept appears in several variations in Christian liturgical tradition, often expressed in Latin as

sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper

This is often translated

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be

There are also statements about status that seem to transcend time, such as

l'etat, c'est mois (I am the state)

While the implication may suggest past and future roles in addition to the expressed present, these are not explicit. No tense in English unequivocally indicates past, present and future.

  • would eternally express the same thing? – anongoodnurse Jan 24 '14 at 1:21
  • @Susan The next phrase in the Christian doxology is often for ever and ever, amen or world without end, amen. Eternally is an adjective rather than a verb, but it obviously conveys much of the intent. – bib Jan 24 '14 at 1:33
  • Both eternally and forever necessarily extend into the future for me, but not necessarily into the past. – RegDwigнt Jan 24 '14 at 19:28
  • @RegDwigнt Exactly. That is why the concept seems to need more than a single descriptor. – bib Jan 24 '14 at 19:36
  • @bib The "world without end" translation is interesting as it would seem to be heretical in allowing the suggestion of denying the apocalypse, but is meant to cover the world after the events of Revelations too. (It's often attributed to Henry VIII, but he in fact used a plain "forever"). The Latin would be in saecula saeculorum literally "a century of centuries" or more loosely "an age of ages" this latter matching the original Greek εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. – Jon Hanna Feb 28 '14 at 12:34
3

The force is always with me.

This is in line with modern usage where brevity is disdained.

My preference is actually "The force is with me", with "is" having continuous connotations.

3

The closest to that is Present Perfect:

The force has always been with me.

That indicates that the force was with you, now is with you, and has the possibility (will) be with you.

So the problem is not the word (in the case of English), but the Tenses.

Note: You might want to see more examples in the link I provided you with.

  • That's ordinary present perfect. Present perfect progressive would be "The force has always been being with me", which is not ordinarily an acceptable utterance in English. It permits the inference that force is with you now, but it does not constrain that inference. – StoneyB Jan 24 '14 at 0:57
  • Would you like to see the link I enclosed? There is an explanation to that. – Safira Jan 24 '14 at 1:00
  • 1
    In those constructions the BE form is an auxiliary and is complemented with an -ing form -- that's what constitutes the progressive construction. You have no -ing form; been is lexical BE, not auxiliary BE. – StoneyB Jan 24 '14 at 1:12
1

You could express the concept as:

The force is perpetuated in me.

  • Or "the force is perpetually with me" – PV22 Jun 25 '17 at 22:39
0

'As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen'

This forms part of the 'doxology' or short hymn of praise in Roman Catholic, Anglican and other high churches. It derives from a similar practice in the Jewish synagogue. The above is the Anglican version, metrically and poetically English.

The Latin, from which it has been translated, reads:

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen

Literally: 'As it was in the beginning, and now, and always, and to the ages of ages. Amen' (Note the verb is stated only once.)

However the US Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a version very similar to the Anglican, where each tense is separately stated, 'was', 'is' and 'ever shall be'.

Bear in mind that the original was perhaps in Hebrew (which might be worth a visit if you are sufficiently interested) and got to Latin via Greek. But the Latin at any rate seems content merely to state the verb once, English appears to have insisted on the 'was', 'is' and 'shall be' being separately stated. That may be telling us something about English that makes it different to at least one of the predecessor languages. It could be that in Hebrew, for example, that there is a single verb which encompasses past, present and future, but I don't know.

So I would suggest you have a look at Hebrew (and semitic languages generally.

see Wiki entry on 'doxology'.

protected by user140086 Jul 17 '16 at 7:00

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