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to time
Has to do
with the
structure of
the action
occurring at
any time
have + -en be + -ing have + -en be + -ing
write/writes has/have written am/is/are writing has/have been writing
walk/walks has/have walked am/is/are walking has/have been walking
wrote had written was/were writing had been writing
walked had walked was/were walking had been walking
will write will have written will be writing will have been writing
will walk will have walked will be walking will have been walking

Hirtle (1967) explains that
simple aspect refers to events
that are conceptualized as
complete wholes.

The events are not presented as
allowing for further development.
This aspect stands in contrast to
progressive aspect, which is
incomplete or imperfective.

Simple Present: Susan and Carl live
in Newark.

Present Progressive: Susan and Carl are
living in Newark.

conveys immediate factuality
(Lewis 1986)
a. Habitual actions in the present:
I commute to UP every day.

b. General timeless truths, such
as physical laws or customs:
The sun rises in the East.

c. With be and other stative verbs
to indicate states:
There is a large house in the

or even in the inception of
Now, I understand.

d. In the subordinate clauses of
time or condition when the
main clause contains a future-
time verb:

If Dian passes the LET, shell
become a licensed teacher.
e. Expresses future (when a
scheduled event is involved,
usually with a future-time

She has a meeting this
f. Present event/ action (usually
in sporting events or
demonstrations/ procedures of
some sort):

Now I add three eggs to the
g. Present speech acts (where the
action is accomplished in the
speaking of it):
I second the motion.

h. Conversational historical
present (used to refer to certain
past events in narration):
So he stands up in the boat
and waves his arms to catch
our attention.

also states facts. What the core
meaning of the past tense adds is
a sense of remoteness (Knowles
a. A definite single completed
event/action in the past:
Cara graduated from the
College of Education last
b. Habitual or repeated action/
event in the past:
It rained almost every day
last June.

c. An event with duration that
applied in the past with the
implication that it no longer
applies in the present:
George lived in Manila for
two years.
d. With states in the past:
Cheddar owed me a lot of

e. Imaginative conditional in the
subordinate clause (referring to
present time):
If Benj regularly attended
class, he wouldnt have
dropped the course.
f. Social distancing:

Did you want to sit and talk
used when the event is
conceptualized as a whole.

One difference in its core meaning
is that events in the future cannot
be factually knowable in the same
way as those in the past or present

a. An action to take place at
some definite future time:

Val will graduate with the
degree BSE English in three
b. A future habitual action or

After today, we will meet at
room PH 116 every Tuesday
and Friday.
c. A situation that may obtain in the
present and will obtain in the
future but with some future
termination in sight (notice here
it is not the will that suggests the
limitation on the event, but the
subordinate clause):

Eli will live in France until
she improves her French.
d. In the main (result) clause of
future conditionals:

If you go, youll be sorry.
The core meaning of the perfect
is prior, and it is used in
relation to some other point in

It also offers a retrospective
point of view on some past time
or future time.
a. A situation that began at a prior
point in time and continues in to
the present:
Fil has been a tutor since

b. An action occurring or not
occurring at an unspecified prior
time that has current relevance:
I have already seen that movie.

c. A very recently completed action
(often with just):
Vangie has just married.

d. An action that occurred over a
prior time period and that is
completed at the moment of
The value of the peso has
dropped tremendously in the
last two years.

e. With verbs in subordinate
clauses of time or condition:

May wont be satisfied until
she has finished her thesis.
a. An action completed in the past
prior to some other past event or
Carla had already left before
Val could offer her a ride.

b. Imaginative conditional in the
subordinate clause (referring to
past time):
If Benj had studied harder, he
would have passed the exam.

a. A future action that will be
completed prior to a specific
future time:

Zanne will have finished all
this word processing by 5pm.

b. A state of accomplishment that
will be completed in the future
prior to some other future time or

After this semester, Prof.
Orillos will have taught for 20
It portrays an event in a
way that allows for it to
be incomplete, or
somehow limited.
a. Activity in progress:
We are having a class right now.

b. Extended present (action will
end and therefore lacks the
permanence of the simple
present tense):
Lei is studying Language Teaching
at the University of the

c. A temporary situation:
Mina is living with her parents.
d. Repetition or iteration in a series of
similar ongoing actions:
Leila is busy encoding documents
in her room.
e. Expresses future (when event is
planned; usually with a future-time
Somebody is coming tomorrow.

f. Emotional comment on present habit
(usually co-occurring with frequency
adverbs always or forever):
He is always coming to school on
time. (approving)
Somebody is consistently ruining
my day. (disapproving)
g. A change in progress:
She is becoming more and more
like her mother.

a. An action in progress at a specific
point in time in the past:
Margarita was walking to school
at 8:30 this morning.

b. Past action simultaneous with some
other event that is usually started in
the simple past:
Bernice was sleeping when
somebody knocked at the door.

c. Repetition or iteration of some
ongoing past action:
Gerbie was whining all day long.

d. Social distancing (which comes from
the past tense and the tentativeness
of the progressive aspect):
I was hoping you could kiss me

a. An action that will be in progress at
a specific time in the future:
Alla will be taking a test at 8am

b. Duration of some specific future
Florene will be working on her
thesis for the next three years.

This aspect combines the
sense of prior of the
perfect with the meaning of
incompleteness inherent
in the progressive aspect.
a. A situation or habit that began in the
past (recent or distant) and that
continues up to the present:
Noel has been going out with Eli.

b. An action in progress that is not yet
Kathy has been reading that book.

c. A state that changes over time:
The students have been getting
better and better.

d. An evaluative comment on
something observed over time
triggered by current evidence:
Benj, youve been drinking again!

a. An action or habit taking place
over a period of time in the past
prior to some other past event or

Diana had been working hard,
so her doctor told her to take a
b. A past action in progress that
was interrupted by a more
recent past action:

My friends had been planning
to visit Cebu, but changed
their minds after receiving a
brochure on Boracay.

c. An ongoing past action or state
that becomes satisfied by some
other event:

I had been wanting to leave for
Cambridge, so I was pleased
when I got the scholarship.
Durative or habitual action that
is taking place in the present and
that will continue into the future
up until or through a specific
future time:

On Christmas Eve we will have
been living in the same house
for 20 years.

Verbs can be divided into four categories
based on their inherent lexical aspect
(Vendler 1967).
Activity Accomplishment Achievement State
Paint (a picture)
Make (a chair)
Build (a house)
Write (a novel)
Grow up
Recognize (something)
Realize (something)
Lose (something)
Find (something)
Win the race
accomplishments, and
achievements all involve
changes of state.
Activity verbs are durative and
describe an ongoing action.
They each have an undefined
beginning and end point.
Accomplishment verbs, on the other hand, share
with activity verbs their duration but each has a
well-defined end point, when the particular action
described in the verb-phrase is or is not
Achievement verbs also each have a
well-defined end point: however,
they have no duration. They are
Stative verbs do not
involve change. They
depict a stable situation
that is assumed to last
more or less indefinitely.
The simple tenses can
express either specific or
general facts, events,
habits, and states.

Activity verbs are not as
commonly used with perfect
aspect as some of the other
categories of verbs.

When they are used with
perfect aspect, they describe a
prior experience or activity:
I have run before.
Accomplishment and
achievement verbs go easily
with perfect aspect and signal
prior events that are

John Updike has written
many novels.
Stative verbs with perfect
aspect signal a state that may
or may not have ended at the
time of speech:

I have owned a Toyota before
Activity verbs readily take the
progressive, which reinforces
the fact that the action has

Meg is washing her car.
Accomplishment verbs also
take the progressive, but in this
case the progressive focuses
on progress toward a particular
end that has not yet been

The contractors are building
the hospital.
With achievement verbs,
because they are punctual, the
progressive gives the meaning
of iteration:
He is nodding his head in

or inception of an event:
Val is realizing his mistake.

Alternatively, by stretching out
the moment, the speaker can
place emphasis on the action
associated with the

The plane is landing right on
Stative verbs do not normally
take the progressive because
of a fundamental semantic
conflict between grammatical
aspect that denotes a limited
duration and a lexical aspect
that expresses a stable state.
However, the progressive can
occur with stative verbs to
achieve certain effects.

*I am knowing the answer.
a. Intensify the emotion
expressed by the verb:

Im hating this assignment.

I hate this assignment.
b. Indicate current behavior as
opposed to general description:

Hes being rude.

Hes rude.
d. Show limited duration:
Are you understanding this?
e. Emphasize conscious
What we are seeing is a red
dwarf star.
f. Show vividness:
One night in the middle of
the night, Im hearing
g. Express politeness:
Are you liking it?
(cf. Do you like it?)
h. Mitigate criticism:
I like the first piano notes,
but Im not liking it where the
strings come in.
(cf. but I do like it
i. Avoid imposition:
I was just wanting to invite
you to a gathering
(answering machine message)
With activity verbs, perfect
progressive aspect implies that
the action began in the past
and has duration at the present
Mike has been running for
two hours.

Or is iterative and/or habitual:
Mike has been running for
With accomplishment verbs,
the perfect progressive
indicates that the action has
been going on for some time
and is not yet complete:

They have been repairing
that bridge for months.
With achievement verbs, the
perfect progressive aspect is a
bit strange if only one action is
intended, due to the fact that
achievement verbs are

?Mike has been winning
that race for hours.
But not if the achievement is

Mike has been winning that
race for years.
With stative verbs, perfect
progressive aspect often
appears to be more compatible
than progressive aspect alone:

?I am wanting to see you.

I have been wanting to see
The present is used for limited
action in progress, white the simple
present is more compatible with
This distinction is manifest in the
following ways:

a. Action happening at the moment
of speaking versus a habit:
Why are you wearing glasses?

Why do you wear glasses?

moment of speech i.e., right now
b. Temporary event versus
permanent situation:
Daisy is living with her

Daisy lives with her parents.

temporary until she gets a better
permanent because it costs her
too much to live alone
c. Specific event versus general
What are you doing for

What do you do for Christmas?

one specific holiday the
forthcoming one
the holiday each year
d. Activity versus state:
I am thinking about the

I think it is 144.

mental activity
mental state/report
The present perfect progressive
emphasizes activity as compared
with achievement with the present
The following distinctions may occur:
a. Specific and possible still ongoing
activity versus prior event:
I have been visiting my great-

I have visited my great-

possibly still ongoing
prior event
b. Strong implication of continuation
versus continuation being only a

I have been teaching for 25 years.

I have taught for 25 years.

and I cant imagine doing anything
so now its time to think about
doing something else.
c. Single accomplishment, incomplete,
versus a completed one:

Kristian has been remodeling his

Kristian has remodeled his home.

We might say that the use of the
present perfect has more to do with
our present perspective on the event
rather than on the actual time at
which it took place.
Ways to determine whether to use
present perfect or the simple past
a. The simple past often occurs with
specific past-time adverbials. The
use of specific past-time adverbials
makes the past tense obligatory.
I went to the Main Library
b. Even if the past-time adverbial
isnt explicit, the remoteness
may be defined elsewhere in the
context or simply implied:

John Lennon was a creative
c. The past tense is used for a
completed historical period versus
an incomplete one:
My father lived here all his life.

My father has lived here all his

complete implies the father has
left or is dead
incomplete the father still lives
d. The present perfect is used for an
indefinite versus a definite query:
Have you ever gone to Puerto

Did you go to Puerto Galera?

You said that you traveled to the
South last summer
e. The function of the present perfect
is to change the nature of the
relationship between the subject
and predicate it emphasizes the
predicated events result on the
grammatical subject (Knowles,
Ive been to Japan twice already,
but I still dont speak much
a. The past progressive indicates
incomplete versus complete
He was drowning in the lake,
so the lifeguard raced into the

He drowned in the lake.

b. Simple past sees the event as a
totality with no room for change;
past progressive indicates that an
event has already begun and
extends the event in time and thus
allows for a change or its
He left when I came in.
He was leaving when I came in.
so he may have changed his mind
and stayed.
c. Permanent versus temporary
They lived in Quezon City all
their lives.

They were living in Quezon
City during the 70s.

past permanent
past temporary
a. The past perfect is used to mark
the completion of some event
before a past time period:
By the end of the 1920s, women
in the US had won the right to
Or before another past event that is
in simple past:
FPJ had blamed them for the
problem before he considered the

Even without a time adverbial,
the simple past tense can be
used with both clauses if the
sequence of the clauses follows
the sequence of events:

George worked in an
insurance company for 20
years and retired in 2000.
Only when the clauses report
two events out of sequence and
there are no time adverbials
that indicate the actual order is
the past perfect necessary:

When Ronald became a
photographer, he had finished
his degree in fine arts.
b. Sometimes the past perfect
appears to mark the later rather
than the earlier of the two
events in a two-clause
I answered before she had

She collected it before I had
a. Simple future with will is used
for the following:
Lorenzo will be 60 next
decision when
the person has
control over the
Ill get the phone.
b. Be going to is used for the
Lorenzos going to be 60
next year.
Eli and Noel are going to
get married in June.
Vangies going to have a
c. Present progressive is used for
the following:
Future plans
that have
already been
Im marching in the
parade next week.
d. Simple present is used for the
Fixed schedule
We get paid next Friday.
clauses of time
or condition
If the train arrives on
time, well beat rush hour
getting home.
The distinction between future
scheduled events and future
plans is sometimes
indiscernible, and the same
event can be referred to either
way simple present or
present progressive. However,
the simple present is more
formal and impersonable.
Zanne arrives today.
Zanne is arriving today.
The present progressive is very
common and sometimes
overlaps with be going to. The
present progressive, however,
emphasizes that arrangements
have already been made,
whereas be going to focuses
more on the speakers plans or
Im staying at the Manila Hotel.
Im going to stay at the Manila
Will and be going to are
sometimes interchangeable
when be going to expresses
the speakers certainty and
will is used to make a strong
Cara is going to be tall like her
?Cara will be tall like her dad.
Will is used for quick, on-the-
spot decisions, whereas be
going to is used with more
premeditated ones:
Ill get her that novel.
?Im going to get her that novel.
The future progressive allows for the
possibility of change with regard to
some future event:
Well go to Baguio on our

Well be going to Baguio on our
definite plan
less definite in that it allows for a
change in plans

We will offer that class next

We will be offering that class
next semester.
more definite
more tentative in that it allows for
a change
The future perfect marks an
event/activity that is complete prior to
some other time (in this case, future), or
complete prior to some future event:

By the year 2008, the information
superhighway will have become
accessible to all.

Ronald will have moved by the time
he completes his studies.
Simple future alone suggests that the
event/activity begins with the time

The information superhighway will
become accessible to all by the year

Ronald will move when he
completes his studies.
ELT 502
Structure of English
Prof. Alice M. Karaan

The Grammar Book
Marianne Celce-Murcia
Diane Larsen-Freeman

Chapter 7
The Tense and Aspect System

Zanne Dela Hostria
Rossinie Vennie Mana-ay
Bhelle Cruz