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tense [O.Fr., from Lat.,=time], in the grammar of many languages, a category of time distinctions expressed by any conjugated form of a verb. In Latin inflection the tense of a verb is indicated by a suffix that also indicates the verb's voice, mood, person, and number. Tense specifies whether the verb refers to action in the past, present, or future. A tenselike distinction found in many languages (e.g., Russian and Hebrew) is that of aspect, by which verbs specify whether or not the action has been completed; thus, he is risen might be translated by a verb in the perfective aspect, and he is rising by the same verb in the imperfective aspect. Aspect also refers to the distinction that a verb can make between repeated or ongoing action (he ran daily) and an event represented as occurring at a single point in time (he ran that race). Some terms borrowed from Greek grammar into English suggest aspectlike differences of meaning; these are imperfect (I was reading when …), perfect (I've read the book), and aorist (I read it last year). English tenses can also be classified as simple (e.g., look and looked) or compound (e.g., have looked, am looking, and will look). Any conjugated form of a verb that indicates tense is said to be finite; the infinitive is a special verb form that lacks all tense (as well as mood, person, and number), although it may indicate the active (to read) or passive (to be read) voice.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a grammatical tense characteristic of several languages (Greek, Old Indo-European, Old Slavic, Old Russian, and others).

The aorist designates a completed action in the past—for example, the Old Slavic polozhikh b (I placed), as compared with the past imperfect tense, polagaakh b (I was placing). Inasmuch as the aorist expresses completed action, in those languages which have grammatical aspect it is most often formed from the verb stems of the perfective aspect. Aorists based on stems of the imperfective aspect designate a prolonged action. It is supposed that the meaning of the aorist as a past tense developed relatively late in the Indo-European languages and that originally the aorist form expressed an aspect designating in this instance a non-prolonged or instantaneous action regardless of tense. The term “aorist” is also used in certain languages to designate an aspect form which simply states an action without providing any indication of its length in time. For example, in aboriginal languages the aorist designates an action in process without any indication of the time of its completion.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The model for such a formation rule is likely to have been provided by verbs whose imperative and, accordingly, -hi- future exhibited a base morph that was identical to that of the corresponding sigmatic aorist. This is, for instance, the case of the verb P[]li ne-'lead' (cf.
We can give as an example the verb gethein 'be happy.' The present gethei means 'he is happy,' the aorist egethese 'he became happy,' and the perfect gegethe means 'he is happy.' We see the reasons for the somewhat unhelpful labels "abnormal" or "intensive" perfect.
Des weiteren lasst sich Popovs Behauptung, Perfekt und Aorist wurden in den walachobulgarischen Urkunden nach beobachteten und nicht beobachteten Handlungen getrennt, die er in den Rang einer Tatsache erhebt, nicht beweisen.
To give an important example of the interplay: if an aorist is used of a stative verb, the nuance generated will often be ingressive (e.g.
Goodwin (1889: 17) noticed that in classical Greek, in "such expressions as he said, he commanded," "the action is of such a nature that it is not important to distinguish its duration from its occurrence." That is, the aspectual opposition between the Greek aorist indicative (i.e., the past perfective/simple past) and the imperfect indicative (i.e., the past imperfective) was sometimes neutralized when applied to verbs introducing direct speech, and both aspects could be used interchangeably, their distinction being "occasionally indifferent" (Goodwin 1900: 270).
Baum's discussion of the morphology of the imperative takes up the individual endings of this category and discusses the relationship of the imperative to the modal aorist injunctive.
In both 4 and 9, the root aorist of a + [square root of (ga)] provides the finite verb of the sentence.
(17) The ten are: lat 'present', lit 'perfect', lut 'second (or periphrastic) future', lrt 'future', let 'Vedic modal, or (sometimes) subjunctive', lot "imperative'; lan 'imperfect', lin 'optative', lun 'aorist', lrn 'conditional'--with asirlin 'benedictive' sometimes thrown in for good measure.
(9.) The aorists akah 'made', adat 'took' are also used.
The first, which Insler could not possibly have foreseen in 1972, is that Narten aorists--root aorists with *e: *e ablaut--seem not to have existed as a formal category in PIE.
Although the first elements of trasadasyu-, ksayadvira-type Rektionskomposita most often pattern with Class I thematic present stems or Class 10 -aya- presents, there are a number of formations where the correspondence is with an aorist stem (thematic aorist or subjunctive of a root aorist), (22) e.g., RV *vidadasva-, sanadrayi-, sanadvaja-, Rdhadri-, rdhadvara- (cf.
According to Paninian grammar, the imperfect (LAN) would place the action referred to in the more remote past, whereas the aorist (LUN) refers to a recent past (Astadhyayi 3.2.84, 110-11).