What Is the Aspect of a Verb? (with Examples)
Aspect of a Verb (with Examples)The aspect of a verb is determined by whether the verb expresses a fact, an ongoing action, a completed action, or the end of an ongoing action. This is simpler concept than it sounds. Look at this infographic.
The Four Aspects of a VerbHere are some more examples of the four aspects:
(1) Simple Aspect. The simple aspect expresses a fact.
- John fished in the sea.
(2) Perfect Aspect. The perfect aspect expresses a completed action.
- John had caught two mackerel before the seals arrived.
(3) Progressive Aspect. The progressive aspect expresses an ongoing action.
- John was fishing when the seals arrived.
(4) Perfect Progressive Aspect. The perfect progressive aspect expresses the end of an ongoing action.
- John had been fishing successfully before the seals arrived.
Examples of AspectHere are some examples of the four aspects in sentences. These four examples are all in the past tense.
- He took the photos. (This is the simple aspect. There is no emphasis on whether the action was completed or ongoing.)
- He had taken the photos by the time the owner arrived. (This is the perfect aspect. It emphasizes that the action was completed.)
- He was taking the photos when the owner arrived. (This is the progressive aspect. It emphasizes that the action was ongoing.)
- He had been taking the photos before the owner arrived. (This is the perfect progressive aspect. It emphasizes that the action was ongoing but then finished.)
Aspect applies equally to the present tense and the future tense.
Aspects in Past, Present, and Future TensesHere is a table showing how the different aspects are formed in the past, future, and future tenses:
|The Simple Aspect (Indefinite Aspect)||Example|
|simple past tense||I went|
|simple present tense||I go|
|simple future tense||I will go|
|The Perfect Aspect (Completed Aspect)||Example|
|past perfect tense||I had gone|
|present perfect tense||I have gone|
|future perfect tense||I will have gone|
|The Progressive Aspect (Continuing Aspect)||Example|
|past progressive tense||I was going|
|present progressive tense||I am going|
|future progressive tense||I will be going|
|The Perfect Progressive Aspect||Example|
|past perfect progressive tense||I had been going|
|present perfect progressive tense||I have been going|
|future perfect progressive tense||I will have been going|
Verb Tense WidgetUse this widget to learn about the different tenses. How do you use this widget? Well, if there's a button, a drop-down menu, or a , then you can click it!
Why Should I Care about Aspect?Tenses do not just tell us whether something is a past, present, or future action. They also tell us whether the action is habitual, completed, or ongoing. That's the aspect part of tense. If you're learning or teaching English, you must spend time mastering the tenses and the various aspects because being accurate with relaying when something occurs and whether the activity is ongoing or completed is a fundamental communication skill.
The trick to learning tenses is mastering the following:
- The verb "to be" in all its forms (am, is, are, was, were, will be)
- The verb "to have" in all its forms (has, have, had, will have)
- Present participles, i.e., the "ing" form of verbs (e.g., playing, thinking, eating)
- Past participles (e.g., played, thought, eaten)