The Uses of Grammar

By Judith Rodby; W. Ross Winterowd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Verbs: Perfect
and Progressive Aspect

CHAPTER PREVIEW
The chapter analyzes sentences in present perfect aspect (e.g., George has watched a movie), past perfect aspect (George had watched a movie), present progressive aspect (George is watching a movie), past progressive aspect (George was watching a movie), present perfect progressive aspect (George has been watching a movie), and past perfect progressive aspect (George had been watching a movie).
The auxiliary rule for sentences in active voice is developed.
Active voice: Bryce eats pickles.
Passive voice: Pickles are eaten by Bryce.
Nonfinite verb forms (such as to go, going, and gone) are introduced.

ASPECT

The nature of the action that the verb or verb group is conveying is its aspect. For instance, in the sentence The orchestra had been practicingBeethoven's Fifth, the practicing is completed; but in the sentence The orchestra has been practicingBeethoven's Fifth, the practicing is still going on. In The dog barks, the barking may or may not be occurring now, but in The dog is barking, the barking is occurring in real time.


Perfect Aspect (HAVE + EN)

What are the components of the verb group in the following sentence?

The teacher has given Dick a scolding.

The complete verb group consists of have + given. Have is an auxiliary verb, and in this sentence it is in the present tense. Given is the past participle of give. Any verb that has the auxiliary have (or has or had) and the past participle of the main verb is in the perfect aspect.

In the sentence I have ridden my bicycle, the auxiliary verb (have) is in the present tense, and the main verb is a past participle (ridden). We say, then, that the verb is in the present perfect aspect. In contrast, in I had ridden my bicycle, the auxiliary verb (had)

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