Uses of Imperfect tense

bertdehaan at gosympatico.ca bertdehaan at gosympatico.ca
Wed Jan 15 21:36:59 EST 2003


John 6:52 reads in part; EMACONTO OUN PROS ALLHLOUS hOI IOUDAIOI LEGONTES...
This is commonly translated something like; The Jews therefore began to argue with one another, saying...
The imperfect is translated as an ingressive.
It is clear from the word OUN that the arguing began as a result of what was said immediately before. The translation would mean the exact same without the word "began". Are the different uses of the imperfect always clearly discernible from the immediate context? In other words, if in a translation I use simply the continuous past tense, will I get the correct meaning? In the example above, I think I would- "The Jews therefore were arguing..."
I am not saying that my translation is the better one. (It might even sound a bit awkward.) I am just trying to understand the different uses of the imperfect. Thank you.
Bert de Haan, Arthur Ontario





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