Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Relative Past Tense

Definition: 

Relative past tense is a relative tense that refers to a time located before that of a contextually determined temporal reference point.

Examples: 

The construction “having + verb” in the following sentences expresses relative past tense:

  • Having spoken, he sat down.
  • Having spoken, he will sit down.

The speaking occurs before the time of sitting, which may have differing relations to the moment of utterance.

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