The Construction budem with l-participle in Serbo-Croatian: tense or modality?

Daniela S. Hristova, University of Chicago

The paper I would like to present deals with the function and meaning of what has been traditionally called by most linguists on Serbo-Croatian the future II tense. Trying to look with new eyes at the verbal categories in Serbo-Croatian, I came across this problem not very long ago. Even a superficial look at the construction budem with l-participle reveals that what is considered a future tense does not seem to be marked for tense. Demonstrating that in the system of verbal categories there is a complicated interrelationship between mood and aspect, Aronson (1977: 14- 15) has formulated the category of manner. My goal will be to show that the so called future II tense is a construction marked for this category and as a result belongs not to the tense system but to the modal system of Serbo-Croatian.

According to the tradition, there are two future tenses in Serbo-Croatian: the future and future II. While the classification of the future as a tense is problematic as a whole, the latter tense poses special difficulties. Implicit in the most of the traditional writings on this category is the view that the construction budem + l-participle refers to events occurring (if at all) after the speech event. Yet, one can find contexts where the construction does not refer to such events.

Kad se svi uhvate, onda onaj pusti slamke, pa se ljube ko se s kim bude uhvatio.
"When all join in the dance, then he would drop the straws and everybody would kiss whoever they have."

The constructions budem + l-participle which are usually formed from imperfective verbs, although perfective verbs also appear in this construction, are almost exclusively used in adverbial clauses of time an condition that are in subordinate relation to a main clause. They are introduced by ako (if); da (if); kad (if) traditionally viewed as subordinating conjunctions which introduce conditional adverbial clauses, or by kad, kada (when), chim (as soon as); dok (whereas), dokle (while), pre nego (before) which introduce temporal adverbial clauses. The main clause in such sentences has a verb form in the future tense or some other tense, used with a modal meaning. It is clear than that the construction in question appears in highly modal context which will definitely influence its meaning and function.

My answer to the question posed by the title of the paper: the future II - tense or modality, would therefore clearly be modality. It is my opinion that this account accommodates the facts of Serbo-Croatian far better than any other account I am aware of.


Aronson, H. (1977) "The interrelationships between Aspect and mood in Bulgarian." Folia Slavica 1.1: 9-32. Columbus: Slavica.