I came across the word 'vorzeitig' in this paper ("Zur Verwendung des Perfektfutur im Altlatein") by Martin Kümmel. It's in the following sentence in section 3.1 on page 131:

Wie schon bei Lindsay angedeutet, hat man schon lange vermutet, dass hier Reste einer älteren perfektiven (nicht perfektisch-vorzeitigen) Funktion vorliegen [...]

  • Could you please give more context?
    – Matthias
    Sep 4, 2017 at 22:48
  • @Matthias Okay, I've added a link to the article and the sentence it's from. Thanks!
    – franny
    Sep 4, 2017 at 23:00

2 Answers 2


This is very complicated stuff, so I'm not sure if I got it right, but here's how I understand it:

Short answer: it describes that something's in the past/preceding/previous to something else.

Long answer: this article is about the Old Latin usage of future perfect, which in Classical Latin means e.g. "I will have completed". Apparently in Old Latin it was closer to future tense with perfective aspect (which afaik means basically, describing a one-time event, as opposed to imperfective aspect which denotes an indefinite stretch or repetition of an action), as in something like "I will complete [at a certain point of time]".

So Classical Latin "I will have completed" describes a future action, but from a point of view in the even more distant future when it's already past. Thus, the action precedes the future scenario, and hence: "vorzeitig".

Finally, the "perfektisch" part marks a special aspect distinct from imperfective and perfective: it's also called resultative and focusses on the outcome of the action. I'm no linguist, but I think English "I have completed" fits that sense if the focus is on the fact that it is now completed. This is basically what's happening in Classical Latin future perfect: "in the future, it will have been completed".

I ask anyone who understands this all better than I do to correct me.


The passage means that Lindsay is making a reference to an "older" perfect tense, called the future perfect or "resultative" tense. This was contrasted to a "vorzeitig" or what would now call a past perfect tense, i.e. where an action is one that started and ended in the past.

  • He's not talking about perfect tense or past perfect tense, but about perfective vs. "perfektisch" (resultative) aspect. The article is actually about Old Latin usage of the future perfect. I'm working on my own answer, but it may take a while. Sep 5, 2017 at 3:58
  • @JimiJackson: Incorporated your insighful comment into a "rewritten" answer.
    – Tom Au
    Sep 5, 2017 at 4:02

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