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What Is the Perfect Aspect?The perfect aspect (or complete aspect as it's sometimes called) is the aspect of a verb that expresses a completed action.
In other words, "perfect aspect" is the collective term for all the verbs (in the past tense, present tense, or future tense) in a perfect tense.
Table of Contents
- The Three "Perfect Aspect" Verb Tenses
- Examples of Verbs in the Perfect Aspect
- Forming the Perfect Aspect
- Verb Tenses Showing the Perfect Aspect
- Verb Tense Widget
- Why Understanding the Perfect Aspect Is Important
- Printable Test
The Three "Perfect Aspect" Verb TensesThis lesson is about the three tenses (past, present, and future) in the perfect (or complete) aspect. There are four aspects in total, each of which has three tenses. So, overall, there are 12 tenses.
The tables below show all 12 tenses categorized by aspect. The tenses in the perfect (or complete) aspect are highlighted.
|The "Simple Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The simple aspect is used to describe facts and habits.|
|Simple Present Tense|
|Simple Past Tense|
|Simple Future Tense|
|The "Progressive (or Continuing) Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The progressive aspect expresses ongoing actions.|
|Present Progressive Tense|
|Past Progressive Tense|
|Future Progressive Tense|
|The "Perfect (or Complete) Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The perfect aspect expresses completed actions.|
|Present Perfect Tense|
|Past Perfect Tense|
|Future Perfect Tense|
|The "Perfect Progressive Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The perfect progressive aspect expresses the end of an ongoing action.|
|Present Perfect Progressive Tense|
|Past Perfect Progressive Tense|
|Future Perfect Progressive Tense|
Examples of Verbs in the Perfect AspectHere are some examples of verbs in the perfect aspect:
In the Past Tense
- We had seen.
- I had cleaned.
- She had drunk.
In the Present Tense
- I have seen.
- She has taken.
- It has found.
In the Future Tense
- You will have finished.
- They will have eaten.
- She will have swum.
Forming the Perfect AspectThe perfect aspect is formed using a form of the auxiliary verb "have" and the past participle. For example:
Forming the Past Perfect Tense
- They had played.
Forming the Present Perfect Tense
- He has played.
- We have played.
Forming the Future Perfect Tense
- He will have played.
Verb Tenses Showing the Perfect AspectHere are the 12 tenses again. This time, the tenses are ordered under the headings past tense, present tense, and future tense. As before, the tenses in the perfect (or complete) aspect are shaded in yellow.
|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|
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! Native English speakers can use all twelve tenses without giving the grammar a second thought. However, if you're learning or teaching English, you must spend time learning the tenses because expressing when something occurs is a fundamental communication skill. Remember though that 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 (called the aspects).
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)
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