One of the most often referred to pages on ELU when it come to queries regarding verb forms, tense and aspect is the following:
If you visit this page, you'll find two answers. One is a diagrammatic representation of how the poster(s) view our mental representations of different verbal catenations or constructions relating to time in English. The second is a rough breakdown of what EFL teachers would call 'tenses', and how they're used.
Now my natural inclination with regards to this question would be to close it. It is far to broad in scope and simply cannot be answered in any meaningful or useful way. There is a further issue, which is that the representation is arguably not accurate in most cases. However, setting the latter issue aside completely, let us just consider how comprehensive this answer (or the other one, or, in fact, any that might possibly be posted in the future) is or could possibly be in the first place. I have duplicated the diagram here for convenience:
Let us take for example the bottom representation, the one for the present simple. This seems to indicate that that the present simple represents actions that are permanent and continuous. While this may be true for I live in London, it obviously isn't in the following cases:
- My head hurts
- We leave at nine am tomorrow morning
- This man walks in to a bar and says...
- Beckham passes the ball to Rooney and runs past his opponent
- George Clooney asks his girlfriend to marry him, but she says no.
- When you see her tomorrow, ask her ....
- I redecorate my house every twenty-five years.
That's just off the top of my head. It is clear that far more detail and description would be needed to even partially address our usage of the present simple in relation to time.
I won't go through each of the constructions on the diagram here, but I hope the point is made. The purpose of my question is not to poke holes in that answer, but merely to point out that issues to do with verb forms, tense and aspect are extremely complex and, furthermore, may not depend on considerations of time at all. Although the post being discussed may possibly be useful to a limited extent to some readers, one thing is definitely clear:
- This answer post cannot be said to have comprehensively 'answered the question'.
This brings me, finally, to the point of my question here. As I said at the beginning of the post, many other questions about tense and aspect (including those that have nothing to do with temporality at all) are closed with the following banner attached:
This question already has an answer here:
How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another? 5 answers
Invariably the Original Poster's question has not been answered on this page! More importantly the actual question on this very page itself has not been answered in the sense that not every aspect of 'time, tense and aspect' has been comprehensively addressed. I would like to lobby the community here to prevent this page from being used in this way. There is no question that might be asked about tenses, aspects or temporality (other that true duplicates of this one) that wouldn't be better served by a more detailed answer tailored to that specific question. If we have not comprehensively covered tenses and aspect here, we should not be redirecting users here just because their question is about tense or aspect. I am hoping (probably vainly), therefore, that can we agree:
- Not to refer to this question an being 'answered'( in the sense that all aspects of tense, aspect and time have been comprehensively addressed).
- Not to redirect people to this page unless they have specifically asked an absolutely identical question to this one.
I would love to hear other users' opinions about whether it is useful to use this page in the way described, and also whether it is felt that reviewers should be able to redirect questions to this page as a comprehensive solve-all for questions about tense aspect and so forth. Ideally I'd like the community to prevent readers being redirected here from other answers altogether. (I'm have no qualms with people being directed here for addtional info, or as a related page containing pertinent content however).