Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(22) Verbs and the Perfect Aspect.

(Formal and Functional Description).

(22.1) Grammatical Categories of Verbs

- E: tense, aspect, mood, voice, person, number

- primary verbal features: tense, aspect, mood, voice

- secondary nominal features: subject-verb agreement in person and number

- verbal categories manifested in: (a) flexion/(b) auxiliaries

- CZ: tense, aspect, mood, voice, person, number, gender, conjugation

(22.2) The Category of Tense/Aspect

(22.2.1) Time versus Tense

- time = a universal non-linguistic concept divided into past/present/future

- tense = the correspondence btw the form of the verb and our concept of time

- present tense: actions simultaneous wrt the time of utterance

- past tense: actions preceding the time of utterance

- future tense: actions following the time of utterance

- tense => a deictic category (<> some pronouns/adverbs)

(22.2.2) Tense/Aspect System in English/Czech

- CZ: 3 tenses (past, present, future) + 1 aspect (perfect) = 5 verbal forms (combination PERF + PRES impossible)

- E: 3 tenses + 2 aspects (perfect, progressive) = 12 verbal forms modified wrt tense/aspect complex

- CZ: most verbs morphologically marked either as having no aspect [nedokonavé] or having the perfect aspect [dokonavé]

- CZ: aspect = an inherent verbal category

- E: base verb forms neutral wrt aspect, only the progressive forms marked for aspect

- E: the PROG = a tense + aspect category x the PERF = a tense category (Dušková)

- aspect = the manner of experiencing the verbal action either as completed or in progress

- perfect aspect: have (in different forms accord. to the structure) + passive participle

- progressive aspect: be (in different forms according to the structure) + present participle of the lexical V

(22.3) Functions of the Perfect Aspect

(22.3.1) Present Perfect

- suggests a relationship btw present time and past time

- typically undefined time reference, emphasis put on the present result of the action

- an action finished in the past with consequences in the present: I have told him

- an action started in the past, in progress up to the present moment: they have been married for twenty years

- typically co-occurs with the adverbials never, seldom, just: I have never been to the USA

- x but: just now co-occurs with past simple = a little while ago: I saw him just now

( Present Perfect x Present Perfect Progressive

- present perfect = completed action: I’ve painted my room – that’s why it looks so good

- present perfect continuous = action in progress: I’ve been painting my room – that’s why I’m dirty now

(22.3.2) Past Perfect

- the same implications as the PRES PERF x but: the point of current relevance in the past

- used esp. for establishing the sequence of events: I had told him before she came

( Past Perfect x Past Simple

- interchangeable when the sequence of events established by the conjunctions before/after: I ate my lunch after Mary came/had come home from her shopping

- x not interchangeable when asking a specific point in the past: when did you fly in Concorde? x have you have flown in Concorde?

(22.3.3) Future Perfect

- expected result of a past action: they will have finished their book by next year

- prediction about the result of a past action: the guest will have arrived by now

(22.3.4) Present Perfect Progressive

- an action started in the past, still in progress and likely to continue in the future: I’ve been waiting for him for half an hour but he hasn’t come yet

- an action in the past with consequences at the present: he is tired because he has been working too hard

(22.3.5) Past Perfect Progressive

- expresses the same type of action as the PRES PERF PROG but in relation to another action in the past

- I had been waiting for him for half an hour when his wife came to tell me he had had an accident

- he was very tired because he had been working too hard

(22.3.6) Future Perfect Progressive

- by next January we shall have been living here for ten years

(22.3.7) Other Means of Expressing Perfect Aspect

(1) adverb particles referring to the completeness of action: down, out, off, through, up

- write down, blow out, cool off, soak through, eat up

(2) prefixes: en-, out-, over-

- enslave, outshine, overeat

(3) verbo-nominal structures pointing out a single occurrence of action

- have a drink of water, take a deep breath, give the door a push


Dušková, Libuše, et al. Mluvnice současné angličtiny na pozadí češtiny. Praha: Academia, 2003.

Svoboda, Aleš, and Mária Opělová Károlyová. A Brief Survey of the English Morphology. Ostrava: Ostravská univerzita, 1993.

Other Sources

Veselovská, Ludmila. Přednášky a semináře: Morfologie 2. ZS 2003/04.

Veselovská, Ludmila. Přednášky a semináře: Syntax 1 a 2. ZS a LS 2003/04.


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