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Is there overt morphological marking of present tense on verbs?


This question aims to capture productive paradigms of overt tense marking. 'Morphological marking on the verb' means that the marker has to form a phonological unit with the verb. The marking of tense can involve affixes, clitics, suppletion, tonal marking and/or reduplication. This feature aims to capture overt marking of present tense on the verb. Lack of other marking is not enough. There are instances where TAM can be expressed by a combination of an affix and auxiliary or particle. For example some grammarians state that present tense is expressed by a certain aspect on the verbal root and an auxiliary. If this is a productive and obligatory way of expressing present tense then such a construction triggers 1 for both this feature (GB082) and the feature on tense auxiliaries (GB121). If not all parts of the discontinuous marking are necessary for expressing present tense, then only consider the marking that is obligatory.

Sometimes a language is described as having a past/non-past distinction. In this case, if there is an overt marker of non-past code the language as 1 for this feature (GB082), but 0 for the feature on future tense GB084. Future tense needs to be more dedicated to actual future reference, whereas present tense has less strict demands on the scope of its function. This situation is mirrored for future/non-future which results in a 1 for GB082 and GB084 but a 0 for GB083 (if both have over markers). It is however not acceptable for a present tense marker to occur in both future and past contexts.


  1. Find the section discussing tense in the grammatical description.
  2. If present tense is not explicitly defined, check the description of the other tenses (if there are any).
  3. Code 1 if present tense can be marked on the verb by an affix or clitic, suppletion, tonal marking or reduplication.
  4. Code 1 if present tense can be marked by a combination of morphology and an auxiliary or particle. In these cases, also code 1 for GB121 on tense auxiliaries and/or GB521 on tense particles.
  5. If present tense is only marked by the absence of other markers, code 0.
  6. If the language is described as having a non-past tense and it is overtly marked, code it as 1 for this feature (GB082), but as 0 for the feature on future tense marking GB084. (Granted that marking is morphological, not with a free-standing marker.)


Swedish (ISO 639-3: swe, Glottolog: swed1254)

Swedish has a present tense marker -r (Skirgård p.c. 2020), as the table below shows. Swedish is coded as 1 for this feature.

present past infinitive
wash dishes diska-r diska-de diska
swim simma-r simma-de simma

Further reading

Comrie, Bernard. 1985. Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and aspect systems. Oxford: Blackwell.


Related Features


Hedvig Skirgård