Language Matters: The English Verb System (2) - Aspect

Another extract from our Delta Module One Course today - looking at the area of progressive and perfect aspect.

Pre-Viewing Tasks

Before you watch the presentations, make notes on the following questions, noting those where you're not sure of the answers.

1.       There are three types of aspect in English : simple, progressive (also called continuous) and perfect.       What form does each take?

a)     Simple aspect        b)     Progressive aspect        c)    Perfect aspect 

 2.         What does aspect express? What concepts are expressed by

           a)     Simple aspect        b)     Progressive aspect        c)    Perfect aspect  

3.     Whatever definition you chose for simple and progressive aspect, check how well it  explains each of the following examples:

            I live in Milan  / I'm living in Milan

            I have a shower every morning  /   He's having a shower

              I feel ill     /    I'm feeling ill
              Prell looks back over her shoulder and sees … / .... that Trusko is gaining on her
              Two and two makes four  /   We're making progress in the Asian markets
              I name this ship “The Queen Eleanor”  /    I'm naming my new cat Fluffypuss
              He always leaves the door open  /   He's always leaving the door open
              I leave for Greece on Tuesday    /    I'm leaving for Greece on Tuesday  
              I read “War and Peace” yesterday   / I was reading "War and Peace" yesterday
              I saw an accident    / ....while I was waiting for the bus                                     
              I didn’t expect to see him there    /I wasn'r expecting to see him there
              I wondered if you could give me his address / I was wondering if you could give me                                                                                                                                        his address

4.    How would you explain the difference between the following? Is there any? 

         a)    The phone was ringing as I left the house.   
         b)    The phone rang as I left the house.   
         c)    The phone rang as I was leaving the house.  
         d)    The phone was ringing as I was leaving the house.

5.   How would you explain the difference between “stative” and “dynamic” verbs? Does your  explanation match with these examples?

  • I want to talk to you.    /   I’ve been wanting to talk to you for ages. 
  • And he doesn’t like it one bit. / and he isn’t liking it one bit.
  • I remember when …/ …he constantly looks as if he's remembering when 
  • I own a bike        / More and more people are owning bikes these days...  
  • OK, I understand ..   / The course was difficult at first, but I’m understanding more now.
  • That smells good!    / That’s smelling good!

Now watch the two parts of the presentation, where these questions are discussed.

  Simple and Continuous Aspect  (approx. 20 mins)          Perfect Aspect  (approx 23 mins)

Follow Up Reading

The ELT Glossary:   Tense         Aspect       Stative and Dynamic Uses of Verbs
Highly recommended: Richards, J.C. The Context of Language Teaching, Cambridge - Chap. 11 Introducing the Progressive; Chap.12 Introducing the Perfect