What's aspect?

In English, aspect in a verb shows whether the action or state is complete or not.(grammartical aspect

Tense vs. Aspect


Tense refers to the absolute location of an event or action in time, either the present or the pastIt is marked by an inflection of the verb

Reference to other times -- the future, for instance -- can be made in a number of ways, by using the modal auxiliary "will", or the semi-auxiliary "be going to"

Since the expression of future time does not involve any inflecton of the verb, we do not refer to a "future tense". Strictly speaking, there are only two tenses in English: present and past


・Joey eats hot dogs everyday. (Present)
・Joey ate hot dogs in the morning. (Past)
・Joey will eat hot dogs two hour later. (Future)
・Joey is going to eat hot dog for lunch. (Future)


 In English, the grammatical labels "past" and "present" do not necessairly correspond to time in the real world, but rather to grammatical features of the verbs. Events often do not fit neatly into categories of past,present, and future time. English uses a variety of strucrures to express different time references.

 Simple Aspect 

Any verb (in the pastpresent or future) in the indefinite (or simple) tense is said to be in the "indefinite aspect" (also called the "simple aspect" or "zero aspect"). Such verbs are used to describe actions but do notstate whether the action is complete or on-going.


・Joey eats hot dogs. (present simple )
・Joey ate hot dogs. (past simple )
・Joey will eat hot dogs. (future simple )
・Joey is going to eat hot dogs. (future simple )

 One important structure that functions together with tense is aspectAspect is a grammatical category that indicates temporal features such as durationfrequency, and completionAspect is indicated by complex tenses that are composed of an auxiliary verb + a main verb.

 There are two different aspects in English: the progressive (continuous) and the perfect.When "be" combines  with lexical verbs, the verb phrase shows the progressive aspect.

 Progressive aspect 

 We use the label "progressive" because the verb phrase describes the ongoing nature of an event or action. A progressive verb phrase consists of the auxiliary "be" in either present or past tense + the present participle of the lexical verb


・Joey is eating.   (Present progressive)
・Joey was eating.   (Past progressive)
・Joey will be eating.   (Future progressive)

Progressive Aspect

Non-progressive verbs (Stative verbs)

They are NOT normally used in progressive aspects. 

 Parfect aspect 

When "have" combines with a lexical verb, the verb phrase shows the "perfect aspect".

The perfect aspect describes the relationship between an earlier event or action with a later event or action. A perfect verb phrases consists of the auxilixary "have" in either present or past tense + the past participle of the lexical verb.


・Joey has eaten. (present perfect)
・Joey had eaten. (past perfect)
・Joey will have eaten. (future perfect)

Perfect Aspect

 Perfect progressive aspect 

 The perfect progressive express an action which began in the past and is still continuing now.

 The perfect progressive aspect can also refer to habitual actions or general truths. It is formed with thelexical verb in the present participle form, and with both auxiliaries, "have" and "be".The first auxiliary carries the tense of the verb.


・Joey has been eating. (present perfect progressive)
・Joey had been eating. (past perfect progressive)
・Joey will have been eating. (future perfect progressive)

Perfect Progressive Aspect 

English expresses 4 aspects:

・Simple Aspect   - sinple presentpast or furure tense of lexical verb.
・Progressive ( continuous) Aspect   - bepresent participle of lexical verb
・Perfect Aspect   have+past participle of lexical verb
・Perfect Progressive Aspect   have+been+present participle of lexical verb+ ing