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English Tense & Aspect System
Transcript of English Tense & Aspect System
[Subject] + [Verb] + s/es/ in third person
Used to express the idea that an action is repeated or usual.
Habit, hobby, daily event, schedule event, or something that often happens.
Can also be something someone does not do.
Refers to the absolute location of an event or action in time
Present, Past, Future*
Refers to how an event or action is to be viewed with respect to time
What does this mean for writing?
You should choose the correct tense/aspect combination to express your ideas.
Utilizing the wrong tense/aspect can hinder meaning.
1. David fell in love on his eighteenth birthday.
2. David has fallen in love.
3. David is falling in love.
*Since the expression of future time does not involve any inflection of the verb, we do not refer to a "future tense", strictly speaking.
1. The verb fell tells us that David fell in love in the past, and specifically on his eighteenth birthday. (Simple Past)
2. The action took place in the past, but it is implied that it took place quite recently. It is also implied that it is still relevant at the time of speaking. David has fallen in love. Therefore, he is behaving strangely. David's love state is relevant to something more. This verb has the "perfect" aspect because the auxiliary "has" notes this. (Present Perfect)
3. The action of falling in love is still in progress.
Here there is the progressive aspect.
[Subject] + [Verb +ed] or irregular verb
Used to express the idea that an action started and finished specific time in the past.
Can be used with a time marker to specify the time.
[will] + [verb - in base form]
[am/is/are] + [going to] + [verb - in base form]
Used to express things that are going to occur in the future.
"Will" and "going to" are interchangeable but hold different meanings.
[Subject] + [is/am/are] + [Present Participle]
Used to express the idea that something is or is not happening now at this very moment.
Can be used for now, longer actions in progress now, near future, with "always"
Non-action verbs can not be used with present continuous
[Subject] + [was/were] + [present participle]
Used to express a longer action in the past was interrupted.
Interruption is usually a shorter action in the simple past.
[will be] + [present participle]
[am/is/are] + [going to be] + [present participle]
Used to indicate that a longer action in the future will be interrupted by a shorter action in the future (simple present or simple future)
Interruption can also be a specific time.
Can be used with parallel actions
Can also be used to express two parallel actions
*Note* Like all future tenses, the Future Continuous cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc. Use present continuous instead.
: While I am going to be finishing my homework, she is going to make dinner.
: While I am finishing my homework, she is going to make dinner.
[Subject] + [has/have] + [Past Participle]
Used to express the idea that an action happened at an unspecified time before now.
Exact time is not important
You cannot use present perfect with specific time expressions.
[Subject] + [had] + [past participle]
Used to express an idea that something occurred before another action in the past
With non-action verbs - used to express something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past.
[will have] + [past participle]
[am/is/are] + [going to have] + [past participle]
Used to indicate an idea that something will occur before another action in the future.
With non-action verbs, you can use future perfect to show that something will continue up until another action in the future
Present Perfect Continuous
[Subject] + [has/have] + [been] + [Present Participle]
Used to show something started in the past and has continued up till now.
Used without duration of time, tense/aspect has a more general meaning.
Past Perfect Continuous
[Subject] + [had been] + [present participle]
Used to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past.
Used to show cause of something in the past to show cause and effect.
[will have ben] + [present participle]
[am/is/are] + [going to have been] + [present participle]
Used to show something will continue up until a particular event or time in the future
Used to show cause of something in the future.
Change over time
Uncompleted Action You are Expecting
Multiple Actions at Different Times
Although not usually necessary, you can use past perfect with specific time words or phrases.