This article assumes that tenses in English and Dutch are non-time-based. A verb in the present tense form signals ‘verb-in-this-context-of-situation“, whereas a verb in the past tense form signals ‘verb-in-that-context-of-situation’. It is argued here that the non-time-based analysis of tenses is particularly relevant in cases in which two tense forms should indicate the same time, but have to be interpreted as indicating different times. This discrepancy may occur in the relative use of tenses in various languages (e.g. Classical Greek, Old Irish, Ngiti, and Russian). © 2012 John Benjamins Publishing Company.