Tense and Aspect in English
Tense and aspect are two different grammatical categories, but they always go together in a given phrase or structure.
There are six (three primary and three secondary) tenses and two aspects in English:
1 Usual, regular action:
I always go out on Saturday evenings.
She never gets up early in the morning.
My father paints pictures.
We sometimes take the children to the zoo.
Peter goes to secondary school.
2 General existence; stating a fact:
Dogs have four legs.
The moon goes round the earth.
3 Dramatic narrative (theatre, sports, etc. events):
Smith holds the ball, now he passes it to Jones, he kicks, and it's a goal!
1 Action happening now (at the moment):
I'm sitting here and listening to you.
Look out, it's raining.
2 Action happening about this time, but not necessarily at the moment:
He's teaching French and Italian.
They're attending a course on philosophy.
3 Definite arrangement in the near future:
I'm flying to London tomorrow.
My daughter is going out with Jason tonight.
Actions and events in the past:
I played tennis with Sheila yesterday.
Grandfather came home early.
It rained last night.
Action in progress in the past:
I was sleeping when mother came home.
We were playing tennis at six yesterday.
She was studying English from six to seven.
Present Perfect Simple
1 Action with a result:
Sorry, I've broken your glasses.
Have you done your homework (yet)?
We haven't had breakfast yet.
He has already cleaned the car.
2 Action in incomplete time:
Our team have played six matches this season.
3 Action in the past without saying when:
Peter has already been to England.
Have you ever visited this museum?
4 Action beginning in the past and still continuing:
We have lived here for ten years.
She has played the guitar since 1986.
Present Perfect Progressive
Cp. Pres. Perf. 4 (above) with the progress emphasized:
We've been living here for ten years.
She has been playing the guitar all this morning.
Past Perfect Simple
Action in the past before another:
She said she had played tennis with Peter the day before.
We had lived in Oxford before we moved to London.
Past Perfect Progressive
Past Perf. with the progress emphasized:
She said she had been playing tennis all that morning.
Future actions and events:
I'll have a day off tomorrow.
Our train will arrive at 7.30.
Action in progress at a given time in the future:
This time tomorrow we'll be flying to Scotland.
He will be working when you come home tomorrow.
Action completed by a given time in the future:
They will have finished the work by seven tomorrow.
I'll have posted all the letters by the time the boss comes back.
Future Perfect Progressive
Action still in progress for a given period of time in the future:
By this time next week the tourists will have been staying here for five days.
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