Tense & Aspect


Tense and aspect are closely related and are combined to make up the 12 verb tenses that are commonly learned in school.   


Aspect indicates whether the action of a verb is complete or not.

There are three aspects: simple, perfect and progressive.

The simple aspect does not relate to the flow of time but merely states whether or not an action an occurs.
It is used to indicate habitual or repeated actions.

Sarah walks to school.
The sentence tells that Sarah walks, but not when.

The perfect aspect indicates that the end of the action is known and is used to emphasize the fact that the action is complete.

Sarah has walked to school.
The sentence tells that the action took place in the past, but it is implied that it took place recently.

The progressive aspect indicates that the action is ongoing in the present.

Sarah is walking to school.
In this sentence the action of walking is still in progress.


Tense indicates the location of an action in time. These are the 12 verb tenses that most people learn in school

three simple tenses (present, past, and future)

three continuous tenses (present, past, and future)

three perfect tenses (present, past, and future)

three perfect continuous tenses (present, past, and future)


For more information about tenses and aspect take a look at

The Basics of English Grammar


Fast Track Grammar Review


Other links for Tense and Aspect
XX Tense and Aspect
XX Aspect
XEnglish Tense and Aspect

An explanation of the difference between tense and aspect– www.understandinggrammar.com