What Is the Indefinite Aspect? (with Examples)
What Is the Indefinite Aspect? (with Examples)The indefinite aspect (or simple aspect as it's more commonly called) is the verb form used to express a fact. Unlike the progressive aspect or the perfect aspect, the indefinite aspect does not make it clear whether the action is a complete action or a habitual action. For example:
- Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. (fact)
- We climbed Mount Everest yesterday. (This is a fact. Context tells us it's a complete action.)
- He climbs Mount Everest every year. (This is a fact. Context tells us it's a habitual action.)
The Indefinite (or Simple Aspect) Is Not SimpleA verb in the indefinite aspect relies on tense and context to make it clear whether the action is complete or on going. For example:
- He ate fish. (The tense tell us this is a complete action, but it is unclear whether this was a habitual action or not. The context doesn't make it clear.)
- He ate a fish. (This is also a complete action. This time, context suggests it wasn't a habitual action.)
- He eats fish. (This time, it's unclear whether this is a habitual action or just a fact.)
That said, with the exception of the simple future tense (which is formed with the auxiliary verb will), verbs in the indefinite aspect are not formed using auxiliary verbs or participles. So, it's quite simple to form.
Examples of Verbs in the Indefinite AspectHere are some examples of verbs in the indefinite aspect.
In the Past Tense
- I drove the car. (simple past tense)
- They watched the play. (simple past tense)
- I drive the car. (simple present tense)
- They watch the play. (simple present tense)
- I will drive the car. (simple future tense)
- They will watch the play. (simple future tense)
Forming the Indefinite AspectHere is an overview on how to form the indefinite aspect:
Forming the Simple Past Tense (for most verbs)
[base form of the verb] + ed
- They played.
Read more about forming the simple past tense.
Forming the Simple Present Tense (for most verbs)
[base form of the verb by itself]
or (if it's the third person singular (he, she, or it))
[base form of the verb] + s
- We play.
- He plays.
Read more about forming the simple present tense.
Forming the Simple Future Tense
"will" + [base form of the verb]
- He will play.
Verb Tenses Showing the Indefinite AspectHere is a list of the verb tenses. The ones in the indefinite aspect are shaded.
|The 4 Past Tenses||Example|
|simple past tense||I went|
|past progressive tense||I was going|
|past perfect tense||I had gone|
|past perfect progressive tense||I had been going|
|The 4 Present Tenses||Example|
|simple present tense||I go|
|present progressive tense||I am going|
|present perfect tense||I have gone|
|present perfect progressive tense||I have been going|
|The 4 Future Tenses||Example|
|simple future tense||I will go|
|future progressive tense||I will be going|
|future perfect tense||I will have gone|
|future perfect progressive tense||I will have been going|
Interactive TestYour score:
Click on the example with a verb in the indefinite aspect: