Tema 22- La localización en el tiempo. Duración y frecuencia

Tema 22- La localización en el tiempo. Duración y frecuencia

Obligatory predication adjuncts of time occur with be-clauses where the subject refers to an event

– The wedding was on Thursday

– The concert is from seven till nine

Just as live in the sense “reside” has an obligatory space adjunct, so in the same sense “be alive” it has an obligatory time adjunct

– Chaucer lived in the 14th century

Verbs such as last take obligatory time adjuncts of duration

– The concert lasts 2 hours

– My mother-I-law is staying for 3 weeks


No other type of adjunct has such a wide range of grammatical realizations available as the adjunct of time. Especially notable is the use of noun phrases and prepositional phrases.

1. The noun phrase occurs position, duration and frequency.

– We were in France last year

– They lived several years in Italy

– She writes an article or a review every month

The conditions for noun-phrase realizations, however, vary according to the semantic type. So far as time position is concerned, the noun phrases frequently have determiners.

– She met him that afternoon/ in the afternoon

Although a preposition can sometimes be inserted, it often cannot, this is specially so before next and last

– We hope to see Veronica last Monday

– We hope to see Veronica next Monday

The noun-phrase realizations imply a span and correspond to adjuncts introduced by on, in the course of or during.

Sometimes that can be regarded as abbreviated prepositional phrases and can be made more explicit and rather more formal by the introduction of for.

– They stayed (for) a while

With or without for, time units can be postponed by round (with years) or through, especially when the reference is habitual

– The Stewarts now stay in Italy the whole summer through/ the whole year round

As frequency adjuncts, noun phrases are virtually limited to every/each + N (where N is a unit of time), or X+ times (where X is quantifier or numeral)

– He takes risks everyday

– She visited me four times

We also have the use of plurals without determiner

– She went to the theatre Saturdays

– They work nights/days

2. Time adjuncts mucho more usually take the form of prepositional phrases

I. Time position: He visited her on Monday

II. Forward span: She is staying till Thursday

III. Backward span: The house has been empty since the war

IV. Duration: They worked steadily for 2 hours

V. Frequency: he practises the piano at every opportunity

VI. Relationship: I had confidence in her up to that time

3. Several of the prepositions used in the examples can also function as conjunctions. So we have a range of finite and non-finite clause realizations of time adjuncts

– The house has been empty since the war ended

There are when-clauses which express time position

– I bought a car when I received my first salary


– She can write only when the baby is asleep

Indefinite frequency is commonly realized by clauses introduced by when(ever)

– They come here when(ever) they feel like it

4. The shortest and frequently the most convenient realization of time adjuncts is the adverb. There is a wide range of them, falling into 2 classes: closed-class adverbs and open-class adverbs

A. Semantically the closed-class adverbs can be subdivided into 3sets:

a) Those like then, before, since which are essentially anaphoric, referring to a time contextually given (at that time, before that time)

b) Those like now, today, tomorrow, yesterday, that refer to very specific point of time

c) Those like often, always, seldom which are general and vague in their reference

B. The open-class adverbs are lexically specific. They re for the most part –ly formations on adjective bases (immediately, eventually) or to express frequency on noun phrases (hourly, monthly)

Time position adjuncts:

The preposition helps us to distinguish the narrowness or broadness respectively: arrive, live. Bout whether narrow or broad, position adjuncts typically serve as a response to a pontential “when” question

– When did she arrive? Last night/ at five o´ clock/quite recently

Time-position adjuncts can be divided into 2 sets determined by 2 modes of orientation

A. Those denoting

B. Thos which

A. Again, early, late, now, sometimes, nowadays, immediately, today, tomorrow, yesterday, simultaneously

– Come and see us again

– I was in New York last year and I am now living in Baltimore

B. Afterwards, before, finally, first, later, next, once, shortly, since, soon, then

– She once owned a dog

– Take a hot drink and then go to bed

– I left the factory before the strike

Time-position adjuncts can be in a hierarchical relationship

– I´ ll see you at nine (A1) on Monday (A2)

The order of the adjuncts at end position is for the one denoting the more extended period to come last.

Adjuncts of span and duration:

In contrast to the adjuncts which relate to time conceived as a fixed point or static span, there are 3 types of adjunct which relate to time as a linear dimension.

Two of these have an orientation to the speaker´ s now, the one referring to a span in the past, the other to one in the future.


Thirdly there are the adjuncts of more general temporal measure, requiring no orientation to a particular now.

Forward span:

The key items in realizing adjuncts of forward span are until and till introducing either clauses or prepositional phrases

– They will live in Chicago until William finishes his thesis

– She will be working till 9 o´ clock

Phases and clauses with until/ till interact with verb semantics. A positive clause requires a verb of durative meaning and the span extends up to the reference of the time adjunct


With negative clauses and a verb of momentary meaning, the span will also extend from the speaker´ s now, though not of course up the reference of the time adjunct


Other modes of realizing forward span involve the use of up to, over, for, before, by, by the time.

– I have to leave before midday

– I shall be away by that time

Prepositional phrases with to are correlated with from phrases marking the beginning of the time span.

– She will be working from May to/till September

Backward span:

The key item in realizing adjuncts of backward span is since introducing either a prepositional phrase or a clause, or used alone as an adverbial

– She has not lived in America since her graduation from high school

– She has been trying to make a living as a writer since her first novel was published

– I spent some time in the National Gallery last year but I haven´ t been there since.

Backward span is elicited by such questions as: How long have you…? How long is it since you…? When…? Since when…?

– When did you start giving the orders?

– Since when have you been giving the orders?

– Since I was made foreman

With perfective aspect in the clause, the span indicated by the adjunct reaches up to now.


Both since and for adjuncts specify a span of time, but since marks in addition the starting point: but unlike adjuncts with since, for- adjuncts do not require the perfective in the clause, and the time span may therefore be “unlocated” in the past, the hearer knowing only that the span does not extend to “now”.


The time span indicated by during, since and while adjuncts may correspond either to a continuous state or activity


With the adjunct too it is possible to be specifying a continuous activity through the time span.

– Since they have lived in London, they have been increasingly happy (during that time)

Other adverbials for indicating backward span include up to (date or time) till/until (date or time), so far, subsequently, recently, lately, correlatively from (time)…. to (time), before:

– I worked in America up to 1979

– They were on vacation from June to September


Just as several times can be used for both forward and backward span, so several of them can also be used to express measures of time that are not specifically confined to future or past

– She writes for an hour everyday

– It takes me only ten minutes to clean my car

Certain adverbs are used for general measures of time: always, briefly, indefinitely, momentarily, permanently, temporarily. Time-duration adjuncts are elicited by questions with how long? and are normally placed at end position. Single-word adverb realizations, however, would be unusual at end position and are commonly at medial position.

Time-frequency adjuncts:

Frequency can sometimes be conceived in absolute terms without concern for the period of time over which the recurrence in question took place

– How many times did you ring the bell? Twice

More usually, however, we are concerned with frequency with respect to a specified or implied span of time, a frequency that responds to How often?

– How often do you wash your car? Not very often/ monthly/ weekly/ once a week/ every Sunday/ from time to time/ as often as I can/ whenever it gets very dirty

Time adjuncts of frequency are mostly realized by noun phrases or by adverbs. Ther are 2 major semantic subclasses of frequency adjuncts:

1. Definite frequency: those meaning explicitly the times by which the frequency is measured

2. Indefinite frequency: those not doing so.

1. Definite frequency:

A. Period frequency: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, biannually, twice a week/ month, N times a week/month.

– Take three pills twice a day

Phrases of the form per + noun are occasionally used with reference to periodic month payments:

– If so desired, rent can be paid per week instead of per month.

B. Occasion frequency: once, twice, noun phrases or prepositional phrases: a time or two, three times, on five occasions

– I visited England three times

2. Indefinite frequency:

A. Usual occurrence: commonly, generally, habitually, normally, usually.

– He generally leaves home at 7

B. Continuous, continual, universal frequency: always, constantly, continually, continuously, permanently

– He is continually complaining about the noise

C. High frequency: frequently, often, regularly, repeatedly

– I have often told them to relax more

D. Low frequency: rarely, seldom, never, infrequently, occasionally

– We seldom see our elder son these days

Most time frequency adjuncts are normally positioned at end. However, those realized by adverbs are referring to indefinite frequency are normally placed at medial, while those realized by prepositional phrases and denoting usual occurrence are normally positioned ay initial.

When rarely and seldom are in initial position, they cause subject-operator inversion

– Rarely have I been so tired

Time-relationship adjuncts:

Time adjuncts expressing a relationship between 2 time positions that are both being considered in an utterance are realized by forms that serve more than one function

There are 3 main subclasses:

1. They denote temporal sequence and are also used for time position: afterwards, before, first, finally, subsequently, then.

2. They imply something of the concessive relation: by that time, before that time, up to that time.

3. The tendency is to compare one time with another: again, once more, afresh.

Relative positions of time adjuncts:

They tend to occur in the order: time duration (d) + time frequency (f)+ time position (p)

– I was there for a short while (d) everyday or so (f) in January (p)

Syntactic features of time adjuncts:

Most time adjuncts have syntactic characteristics that are general to adjuncts. However, time-frequency adjuncts allow only the following:

1. They can be the focus of a question

2. They can be the focus of negation

3. They can come within the scope of predication pro-forms or predication ellipsis

Most time adverbs cannot be premodified by very or analogous modification (so, however, more…than) except time position, time duration and time frequency.

Time Prepositions:

1. Time position

3 prepositions (at, on, in) are used in expressions answering the question when? And they reflect a concept of time as analogous to space.

AT is used for points of time, where time is conceived as being dimensionless

– The film will begin at 7.20 p.m.

It is only instants that can be so considered (at weekends, at Christmas, at night)

Where time is regarded as a period, the usual preposition is IN, reflecting analogy with 2 or 3 dimensional space (months, years, seasons, centuries, in the morning, in the evening, in the afternoon)

– Where did he live in his childhood?

In expressions referring to days, the preposition is ON and also dates with an interval that is specifically part of a day.

2. Time duration

In answer to how long? We have above all phrases with for

– We stayed in a rented cottage for the summer.

The same meaning with some emphasis on the duration can be expressed with throughout and all through.

By contrast, during indicates a stretch of time within which a more specific duration can be indicated

– During the summer, we stayed in a rented cottage for a month.

Duration expressions with over carry the implication of a period containing some divisions or fences

Duration can be specified by reference to the beginning and ending

– The office will be open from Monday to Friday

While from…..to corresponds to for, between….and can be used in the more general sense of during

Duration specifying only a starting point or a terminal point is expressed by phrases with by, before, from, since, till, until, up to

– She will be here by Friday night.