What Is the Simple Aspect? (with Examples)
What Is the Simple Aspect? (with Examples)The simple aspect (or indefinite aspect as it's occasionally called) is the verb form used to express a fact. Unlike other aspects (like the progressive aspect or the perfect aspect), the simple aspect does not make it clear whether the action is a complete action or a habitual action. For example:
- Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Britain. (fact)
- We climbed Ben Nevis yesterday. (This is a fact. Context tells us it's a complete action.)
- He climbs Ben Nevis every year. (This is a fact. Context tells us it's a habitual action.)
The Simple Aspect Is Not SimpleA verb in the simple aspect relies on a combination of context and tense to clarify whether the action is complete or on going. For example:
- He ate cake. (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 cake. (This is also a complete action. This time, context suggests it wasn't a habitual action.)
- He eats cake. (This time, it's unclear whether this is a habitual action or just a fact.)
However, with the exception of the simple future tense (which is formed with the auxiliary verb will), verbs in the simple aspect are not formed using auxiliary verbs or participles. So, it's quite simple to form.
Examples of Verbs in the Simple AspectHere are some examples of verbs in the simple aspect.
In the Past Tense
- I cleaned the window. (simple past tense)
- They cleaned the window. (simple past tense)
- I clean the window. (simple present tense)
- They clean the window. (simple present tense)
- I will clean the window. (simple future tense)
- They will clean the window. (simple future tense)
Forming the Simple AspectHere is an overview on how to form the simple aspect:
Forming the Simple Past Tense (for most verbs)
[base form of the verb] + ed
- They jumped.
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 jump.
- He jumps.
Read more about forming the simple present tense.
Forming the Simple Future Tense
"will" + [base form of the verb]
- He will jump.
Verb Tenses Showing the Simple AspectHere is a list of the verb tenses. The ones in the simple 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 simple aspect: