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The Tense and Aspect System. Eunseok Ro. Formal Characteristics of the Tense-Aspect System. Distinction between tense and aspect is blurred. 12 tenses. Tense : relates to time. Present, past, future Aspect : relates to the internal structure of the action occurring at any time.

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formal characteristics of the tense aspect system
Formal Characteristics of the Tense-Aspect System

Distinction between tense and aspect is blurred. 12 tenses.

  • Tense: relates to time.

Present, past, future

  • Aspect: relates to the internal structure of the action occurring at any time.

Simple, perfect, progressive, perfect progressive

simple past tense
Simple Past Tense

Facts, remoteness; the event is over

  • A definite single completed event/action in the past

I saw a show last night

  • Habitual or repeated action/event in the past; duration

I took French in high school

  • Imaginative conditionals in the sub-clause

If you didn’t watch that much TV, you would accomplish more

  • Social distancing

Did you want to tell me something?

simple future tense with will
Simple Future Tense with will

Strong predictions (but cannot be a factuality)

  • An action to take place at some definite future time

I will graduate in May 2012

  • A future habitual state or action

When I move to the city, I will take the train every day

  • In the main clause of future conditionals

If you don’t do your homework, you will never get an A

perfect aspect
Perfect Aspect
  • Prior, in relation to some other point in time
    • Present perfect: a time prior to now

She has given him the money

    • Past perfect: a time prior to a time in the past

She had already given him the money when we met her

    • Future perfect: a time prior to a time in the future

By 3:00 pm tomorrow, you will have given me the money

present perfect
Present Perfect
  • A situation that began at a prior point in time and continues into the present

I have lived in NY since 2001

  • An action occurring (or not) at an unspecified prior time with current relevance

I have never seen that movie

  • A very recently completed action (just)

I have just completed the task

  • An action that occurred over a prior time period and that is completed at the moment of speaking

The rent has gone up lately

  • With verbs in subordinate clauses of time or condition

You will not get your desert until you have eaten your vegetables

past perfect
Past Perfect

Past perfect: a time prior to a time in the past

  • An action completed in the past prior to some other past event or time

She had already told him before I found out

  • Imaginative conditional in the subordinate clause (referring to past time)

If you hadread the book, you would have known the answer

future perfect
Future Perfect

Future perfect: a time prior to a time in the future

  • A future action, state or accomplishment that will be completed prior to a specific future time

I will have completed the task by 5 o’clock tomorrow

In October I will have lived in the US for 10 years

progressive aspect
Progressive Aspect

Imperfective; incomplete or limited; temporary; specific statements

  • Present progressive (continuous)
  • Past progressive
  • Future progressive
present progressive
Present Progressive
  • Activity in progress

I cannot answer the phone; I’m reading a bed time story

  • A temporary situation

I am staying with some friends

  • Expresses a future (planned)

I’m leaving for Texas tomorrow

  • Emotional commitment on present habit

You are always making fun of me

  • A change in progress

I’m not getting any younger

past progressive
Past Progressive
  • An action in progress at a specific point of time in the past

I was reading a book last night

  • Past action simultaneous with some other event that is usually stated in the simple past

I was watching a show when you called

  • Repetition or iteration of some ongoing past action

He was watching TV all night

  • Social distancing

I was wondering if you could lend me some money

future progressive
Future Progressive
  • An action that will be in progress at a specific time in the future

I will be serving dinner at 8 o’clock

  • Duration of some specific future action

I will be coming home late for the next two weeks

present perfect progressive
Present Perfect Progressive
  • Combines the sense of prior of the perfect with the meaning of incompleteness of the progressive aspect
    • Present Perfect Progressive

They have been dating for two years now

    • Past Perfect Progressive

She had been working in finance for three years before she decided to change careers.

    • Future Present Progressive

She will have been teaching ESL for 10 years in December

the lexical aspect of verbs
The Lexical Aspect of Verbs

Verbs can be divided into four categories based on their inherent lexical aspect

the use of the tense aspect system
The Use of the Tense-Aspect System
  • Simple present versus present progressive

I watch True Blood (state)

I’m watching True Blood (limited action in progress)

  • Present perfect versus present perfect progressive

I have lived here for 8 years (prior event)

I have been living here for 8 years (possibly ongoing)

  • Simple past versus present perfect

I read Great Expectations in 11th grade (specific time in the past)

I have read Great Expectations (present perspective)

  • Simple past versus past progressive

He read the book (complete)

He was reading the book (incomplete)

  • Simple past versus past perfect

When she became the chairman, she finished her degree

When she became the chairman, she had finished her degree (mark completion before a past event/period)

the use of the tense aspect system1
The Use of the Tense-Aspect System

Simple future (will) versus other ways of indicating futurity

  • Will: future predictions

If you continue this lazy behavior, you will never amount to anything

  • Be going to
    • Future predictions (informal)

I’m going to call her

    • Future intentions (based on prior decision)

I’m going to travel around Europe this summer

    • Future certainty based on current condition or present evidence

This is going to be a hard quiz

  • Present progressive
    • Future plans that have already been made

I’m coming with you

  • Simple present
    • Fixed scheduled events:

We leave for France this evening

    • Sub-clauses of time or condition

If you buy the tickets, I’ll get the popcorn

more future
…More Future
  • Simple future versus future perfect
    • The future perfect marks an event/activity that is complete prior to some other time or event

she will move when she graduates

she will have moved when she graduates (event/activity completed prior to other event)