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See also: tensé


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  • enPR: tĕns, IPA(key): /tɛns/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛns

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English tens, from Old French tens (modern French temps), from Latin tempus. Doublet of tempo and tempus.


tense (plural tenses)

  1. (grammar, countable) Any of the forms of a verb which distinguish when an action or state of being occurs or exists.
    The basic tenses in English are present, past, and future.
  2. (linguistics, grammar, countable) An inflected form of a verb that indicates tense.
    English only has a present tense and a past tense; it has no future tense.
    • 1530 July 18, Iohan Palſgrave, “The Introduction”, in Leſclarciſſement de la langue francoyſe [] [1], London: Richard Pynſon, Iohan Haukyns, →OCLC, page 32; reprinted as Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse, Genève: Slatkine Reprints, 1972:
      In ſo moche that if any verbe be of the thyꝛde coniugation
      I ſet out all his rotes and tenſes []
  3. (linguistics, uncountable) The property of indicating the point in time at which an action or state of being occurs or exists.
    Dyirbal verbs are not inflected for tense.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Some English-language authorities only consider inflected forms of verbs (i.e. the present and past tenses) as tenses, and not periphrastic forms such as the simple future with will.
  • Grammatically tense (the location of an event in time: past, present, future) is often distinguished from aspect (how an event occurs or is viewed by the speaker: finished, ongoing, habitual, etc.). So I am eating and I was eating have different tenses (present and past) but the same aspect (continuous), whereas I was eating and I had eaten have the same tense (past) and different aspects (continuous and perfect). However, it is common in English (especially in language teaching) to refer to aspects as tenses (e.g. the perfect tense, the continuous tense).
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tense (third-person singular simple present tenses, present participle tensing, simple past and past participle tensed)

  1. (grammar, transitive) To apply a tense to.
    tensing a verb

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from Latin tēnsus, one form of the past participle of tendō (stretch). Ultimately identical to Etymology 1.


tense (comparative tenser, superlative tensest)

  1. Showing signs of stress or strain; not relaxed.
    Synonyms: stressed, unrelaxed
    You need to relax, all this overtime and stress is making you tense.
  2. Pulled taut, without any slack.
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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


tense (third-person singular simple present tenses, present participle tensing, simple past and past participle tensed)

  1. (transitive) To make tense.
  2. (intransitive) To become tense.
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  1. vocative masculine singular of tēnsus




  1. inflection of tensar:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative