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Can tense be marked by an inflecting word (‘auxiliary verb’)?


This feature covers all tenses (present, past, and future) and aims to capture phonologically free elements that inflect (i.e. change form depending on person, number and other categories of the core arguments). These markers are often described as ‘auxiliary verbs’ in the literature, but are also analyzed under other labels by some authors (such as STAMP morphemes (STAM = Subject-Tense-Aspect-Mood-Polarity) or inflecting pronouns). We are interested in grammatical marking, i.e. dedicated, productive and obligatory marking.


  1. Look up the section on tense marking in the grammatical description.
  2. Consider all marking of tense, e.g. not only past tense.
  3. If you do not find any inflecting words expressing tense, such as auxiliary verbs or elements analyzed as pronouns that take TAM marking, code as 0.
  4. If there is an inflecting word that clearly expresses tense, code the language as 1.
  5. If not clear whether the inflecting word marks tense, code the language as ?.


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

Swedish uses an auxiliary construction derived from the verb ‘to come’ (kommer) for marking future tense (Teleman et al. 1999: 244). The construction also involves the infinitive form of the main verb and the infinitive marker (att). Swedish is coded as 1 for this feature.

Present Future
‘swim’ simma-r kommer att simma
‘dance’ dansa-r kommer att dansa

Further reading

Comrie, Bernard. 1985. Tense. Cambridge University Press

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

Dahl, Östen & Viveka Velupillai. 2013. The past tense. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.


Teleman, Ulf, Staffan Hellberg & Erik Andersson. 1999. Svenska akademiens grammatik, vol. 4. Stockholm: Svenska akademien.

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