AN EXAMINATION OF TENSE ERRORS IN ENGLISH ESSAYS AMONG STUDENTS
Adejare and Adejare, states that tense is the linguistic feature of handling time relations in speech and it differs from language to language. To them, tense is a linguistic feature usually characterized by abstraction with language specific rather than universal. According to them, traditional Grammar assumes that since there exists three time frames, there must be three tenses referring to the three time frames, thus, the past, the present and the future tense.
Tense is the form that a verb takes to show time, or an aspect expressing time relation. Hornby, (78) defines tense as “a verb form or series of verb forms used to express time relation. By time, we mean a universal non- linguistic concept which has three dimensions, the present the past and the future and time is a continuous process that is from a day to the next.
In expressing time relation, tense system is used to indicate the different time at which an action is viewed as happening.
Contributing in the same vein, Palmer, defines tense as a linguistic reference to time. This definition differs from language as it is believed that some languages have an elaborate indicator to time while others don’t.
Orji, (30) states that “traditionally, there are up to 16 tenses in English, today, however linguistics have seen through the traditional flaw, which is that traditional grammarians equated “tense” with “time.”
Every race or every generation has three (3) times namely; the present, the past and the future, so time is a universal concept.
Thus palmer’s idea of 3 forms of tense is considered the theoretical framework within which this study is made. However, other tenses as in Orji, are incorporated as generated from the three basic tenses mentioned above.
According to Quirk and Greenbaum, (24 – 25) “that there is a choice of the past, present and future and that choice may be repeated and each new choice taking the place of the previous one at its departure.”
Leach and Svartvik, (81), state that most tenses in English have several uses, because the present tense, past tense and future tense can be used to indicate different times. To this effect therefore, students find it difficult to differentiate the term reference or verbs forms.