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Find out what all English tenses have in common - it's all about Aspect. Join Dan to find out more.

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    Упражнение 1

Упражнение 1

BBC Masterclass

Aspect

What's the secret that links all tenses together?

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Dan:

Are you tense about tense? Well, don’t be! In this session’s masterclass I’ll let you into a little secret of all English tenses – it’s all about character. After this. Ok guys. In this masterclass we’re going to get a little bit theoretical, ok? So try and hold on. Tenses in English are made up of two things. A time and an aspect. Now almost all languages and cultures recognise three times: past, present and future. But what about an aspect? 

An aspect is the character of a verb. It adds extra information to the verb’s meaning and reflects the perception of the speaker. Now, depending on who you talk to, there are between two and four aspects, but I like to say three. They are simple, continuous and perfect and all three of them can be used in past, present and future.

The simple aspect is actually not an aspect at all. It does not modify the verb in terms of its meaning, only in terms of its form. And this is because, in all cases, the unmodified verb is enough to express exactly the meaning that the speaker wants to say at the time of speaking. They broadly fall into three categories. We have the long term general truth. For example, I like studying English. We have the instantaneous. For example, I now pronounce you man and wife. And we have the habitual. For example, I woke up every day at 6am last year.

The continuous aspect is formed with some sort of be plus verbING. The focus of this aspect is primarily upon the duration of an event. All progressive forms contain characteristics of temporariness, unfinishedness or in progress-ness. The progressive aspect tends to disregard the end of an action and view the event from the centre. So, an action might be happening at the moment of speaking. For example, I’m making a video right now. Or, around a certain time. For example, before we met I was living in Scotland. Or, simultaneously when another action occurs. For example, When you get home, I’ll be working in the office

The perfect aspect is formed with some version of have plus the past participle. Perfect aspects focus on bridging two times together, and connecting events between one time and another, often through relevancy. An event in the past might be relevant to the present moment. An event in the future could be connected in some way to the present or the past. Perfect verb phrases can describe states. For example, I’ve loved you since I first met you. Actions. For example, I will have gone to the gym by the time you get home. And habits. For example, my father had started work at 9 o’clock every day for the last 20 years.

And of course we can link aspects to create perfect continuous verb phrases. These combine the forms of their two base aspects. For example, have plus been plus verbING, and they combine their meanings. So we can create verb phrases which focus on actions or events with duration with relevancy to more than one time period.

Did you get it? Of course you got it. Now for more information, go to our website bbclearningenglish.com. I’ve been Dan, you’ve been fantastic and I’ll see you next time guys. Remember, don’t get tense! It’s all about character.

Summary
Aspect 

Tenses in English are made of a time and an aspect. English recognises 3 times (past, present and future) and 3 aspects (simple, continuous and perfect.)

An aspect is the character of a verb. It adds extra information to the verb’s meaning and reflects the perception of the speaker. 

The simple aspect does not modify the verb in terms of its meaning, only in terms of its form, e.g. I go / he goes. The verb alone is enough to fully understand the speaker. There are broadly three categories:
Long term general truth: I like studying English. Water boils at 100C. He lived an unhappy life. Humanity will continue. 
Instantaneous: I now pronounce you man and wife. I walked through the town. Those books will fall!
Habitual: It barks all night when the moon is up. I woke up every day at 6am last year. She will constantly forget her keys.

The continuous aspect is formed with some sort of be plus verbING. E.g. I am walking. He was waiting. They will be eating.
It makes events seem in progress, temporary and/or unfinished, and stretches them by giving them duration. For example:
I walked home and I fell. (First I walked home and the action finished. Then I fell, inside the home).
I was walking home and I fell. (I fell while walking. My walk action was not completed and my fall was in the middle of the walk.)
Actions can be:
At the moment of speaking: I am dancing.That man is singing.
Around a certain time: This week I'm staying with my parents. In those days people were wearing shoulder pads. This time next week I'll be in France.
Happening simultaneously with another action: I was walking and I fell. He was eating chips and watching TV when the phone rang. 

The perfect aspect is formed with some version of have plus the past participle. E.g. He has eaten. We had left the hotel. He will have finished.
Perfect aspects focus on joining the events or actions of two time periods together. E.g. The Present Perfect (Past to Present), The Past Perfect (Past 1 to Past 2), The Future Perfect (Present to Future).
Perfect verb phrases can describe:
States: I’ve loved you since I first met you. He had been happy for many years. We will have known each other for 5 years next week!
Actions: I have eaten. She had dropped her purse before leaving. I will have gone to the gym by the time you get home. 
Habits: My father had started work at 9 o’clock every day for the last 20 years.

We can combine aspects to make perfect continuous verb phrases. These combine the forms of the perfect aspect(have + the past participle) and the continuous aspect (be+verbING). For example, have+been+verbING. We can create verb phrases which focus on actions or events with duration with relevancy to more than one time period. For example:
I have been working here for 6 years.
I had been studying hard all that week.
I will have been studying English for 10 years by my next birthday.

Test your knowledge of Aspect

5 Questions

Choose the correct answer for each question.

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End of Session

Now that you're no longer tense, we hope to see you next time.

Next, join us for News Review, where you can gain language from the latest stories and learn how to use it in your everyday English.

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  • Summary

    Tenses in English are made of a time and an aspect. An aspect is the character of a verb. 

    The simple aspect. The verb alone is enough to fully understand the speaker. There are broadly three categories: Long term general truth, instantaneous and habitual. 

    The continuous aspect is formed with be+verbING. Events are in progress, temporary and/or unfinished. Actions can be:
    At the moment of speaking, Around a certain time, Happening simultaneously with another action. 

    The perfect aspect is formed with have+the past participle. Perfect aspects join the events of two time periods together. Perfect verb phrases can describe States, Actions, Habits.

    Perfect continuous verb phrases combine the forms of the perfect aspect (have + the past participle) and the continuous aspect (be+verbING). We can create verb phrases which focus on actions or events with duration with relevancy to more than one time period.