Deictic temporal pronoun
Meaning[edit | edit source]
Deictic temporal pronouns reference relative time:
- Yesterday was Thursday, 20 January 2022.
- Today is Friday, 21 January 2022.
- Tonight is the night of Friday, 21 January 2022 and Saturday, 22 January 2022.
- Tomorrow will be Saturday, 22 January 2022.
Tomorrow’s today is today’s tomorrow, and tomorrow’s yesterday is today’s today. As we advance through time, these pronouns' referents are constantly changing.
Form[edit | edit source]
In traditional grammar however, deictic temporal pronouns are analysed as nouns or adverbs, depending on syntactic function. However, unlike prototypical adverbs, they can’t be used in adverb mid-position; e.g. *I yesterday did it does not parse - this is like the place adverbs here and there, but unlike prototypical adverbs e.g. I obviously did it.
They can be used as nouns; e.g. "Yesterday was a drag, but tomorrow will be great". And noun modifiers - "yesterday morning was cold". These also form the head of time point noun phrase adverbials ("I did it yesterday"); or as a noun embedded within a noun phrase adverbial, (e.g. I did it the day before yesterday").
Pedagogy[edit | edit source]
From a learning point of view, second language learners tend not to have a problem with these. They may occasionally say #"this day", #"this night", #"next day" or #"last day"; these are pragmatic errors rather than grammatical errors as they are very much less frequent than deictic temporal pronouns. There may be some L1 interference; in Chinese, 今天 (Pinyin: jīntiān) literally means "this day", 今晚 (jīn wǎn) "this night", 明天 (míngtiān) "next day", and 昨天 (zuó tiān) "last day".