the tense of a word

Discussion in 'English Only' started by salsabeel, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. salsabeel Senior Member

    what is the tense of the bold words please?

    1- he was walking along the road, minding his own business .
    2- she started calling him names and abusing him.

    thank you
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I suspect that 1 is a present participle and that 2 is a gerund.

    Neither is, strictly speaking, a tense, Salsabeel.
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Minding may be analysed as a participle, agreeing with he. We usually think of the English -ing participle as a "present participle active", though I suspect that it could be argued that it is only weakly "present". Alternatively "minding" could here be analysed as an abbreviated part of the verb form He was minding, which is continuous simple past tense. Calling could perhaps be thought of as a present participle like minding but I think it is better to think of it as a gerund, the object of the verb started. I don't usually think of England gerunds as having tense, but I suppose you can think it as a present tense because there is also a past tense gerund form I don't like having done that.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  4. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    1. In my view, 'minding' must be the present participle of the verb 'to mind', because the meaning is that this attitude of mind existed during the time that 'he' was walking: it expresses action contemporaneous with the main verb.
    Answer: present tense.

    2. Pace se16teddy, I agree with Thomas Tompion that 'calling' is a gerund and is timeless.
    Answer: no tense.

    As regards 'having done', this only expresses past time because of the participle 'done': the gerund 'having' in that phrase is still timeless.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  5. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    I'm going to disagree that 'calling' is a gerund here although I understand the reasoning.


    "She started name-calling." In this case we can see that we have a gerund. Indeed we could say ""She started the name-calling."

    However as soon as we add a direct object 'him' the situation changes. It is the difference between

    1. she started [the] {calling him names}. [Using a gerund]
    This implies that more than one person called names and she started the activity.


    2. she started calling him names [using a present participle]
    This is synonymous with "She started to call him names" and does not imply that anyone else did so.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In my opinion, they're both participles.

    Please note that in English, sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a period.

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