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Aspect - Glossary of Terms


The aspect of a verb is determined by whether the action is on-going or completed.  Although all verbs in the past have already happened, aspect is used to emphasise whether the action was on-going or completed at the time.  The four aspects are: simple aspect (also known as the indefinite aspect), perfect aspect (or complete aspect), progressive aspect (or continuing aspect) and perfect progressive aspect.


He took the photos.
(simple aspect - no emphasis of completed or on-going action)

He had taken the photos by the time the owner arrived.
(perfect aspect - action completed)
He was taking the photos when the owner arrived.
(progressive aspect - action on-going)
He had been taking the photos before the owner arrived.
(perfect progressive aspect - action on-going but then finished)

These are all in the past tense, but aspect applies equally to the present and future tenses: 

The Simple Aspect (Indefinite Aspect) Example
simple past tense I went
simple present tense I go
simple future tense I will go
The Perfect Aspect (Completed Aspect) Example
past perfect tense I had gone
present perfect tense I have gone
future perfect tense I will have gone
The Progressive Aspect (Continuing Aspect) Example
past progressive tense I was going
present progressive tense I am going
future progressive tense I will be going
The Perfect Progressive Aspect Example
past perfect progressive tense I had been going
present perfect progressive tense I have been going
future perfect progressive tense I will have been going
Associated pages:
Glossary of grammatical terms

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