Lawless English

Tense and aspect

In grammar, the word tense refers to the time period in which the verb of a sentence places an action.

There are two tenses in English: present and past. Unlike many languages, English does not have a future tense. To talk about the future, English requires either the modal verb WILL or the present progressive. Learn how to talk about the future in the lesson future constructions in English.

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For each grammatical tense, there are subcategories called aspects. Aspect refers to the duration of an event within a particular tense. In other words, the aspect of a tense allows us to describe or understand how an event unfolds over time. English has four aspects: simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive.

Here are all verbal aspects in English grouped by verb tense.

Tense Aspect Example
Present simple present I wash the car.
present progressive I am washing the car.
present perfect I have washed the car.
present perfect progressive I have been washing the car.
Past simple past I washed the car.
past progressive I was washing the car.
past perfect I had washed the car.
past perfect progressive I had been washing the car.


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