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Okay, this is the tricky one. Probably the reason why it so tricky is that many other languages simply don’t have it! So when you start learning this in English, it can seem very confusing.
So what’s an ASPECT?
An aspect is a point of view, a way to look at something.
In grammar, an aspect is a way to change the verb in order to show additional information about it.
This additional information tells us whether the action is complete or ongoing (in progress).
In the sentence “I eat apples,” the verb “eat” has a simple form.
Meaning, it only shows us the time of the action. It doesn’t give us any additional information.
“I am eating an apple.”
Now, here the verb form “am eating” does not only show us the time of the action, but it also gives us an additional piece of information. It tells us that the action is currently in progress, it is not finished yet.
In other words, it emphasizes the fact that the action is continuing as we speak.
“I have eaten an apple.”
Here the verb form “have eaten” does not only show us the time of the action, but it also gives us an additional piece of information. It tells us that the action is already complete, it is no longer in progress.
In other words, it emphasizes the fact that the action is finished.
Take a look at the following table:
|Action||Verb Form (=Tense)||Sentence||Time||Aspect||Meaning|
|to eat||eat||I eat an apple.||Present||Simple||It simply tells the time. It doesn’t emphasize anything.|
|to eat||am eating||I am eating an apple.||Present||Progressive||It gives the time AND emphasizes the fact that the action is in progress.|
|to eat||have eaten||I have eaten an apple.||Present||Perfect||It gives the time AND emphasizes the fact that the action is finished.|
So we get 3 different TENSES!
These tenses are:
Note that for each tense we change the basic verb in a different way:
This example was for the present, but obviously it’s the same with the past and the future.
|Simple||Simple Past||Simple Present||Simple Future|
|Progressive||Past Progressive||Present Progressive||Future Progressive|
|Perfect||Past Perfect||Present Perfect||Future Perfect|
In the above table TIME and ASPECT combine to create the different English tenses.