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  • Are you tense about tense? Well, don't be!

  • In this session's masterclass, I'll let you into a little secret of all English tenses - it's all about character.

  • After this.

  • Okay guys, in this masterclass we're going to get a little bit theoretical, okay? So try and hold on.

  • Tenses in English are made up of two things: a time and an aspect.

  • Now, almost all languages and cultures recognise three times: past, present and future.

  • But what about an aspect?

  • An aspect is the character of a verb.

  • It adds extra information to the verb's meaning and reflects the perception of the speaker.

  • Now, depending on who you talk to, there are between two and four aspects, but I like to say three.

  • They are simple, continuous and perfect, and all three of them can be used in past, present and future.

  • [The Simple Aspect.]

  • The simple aspect is actually not an aspect at all.

  • It does not modify the verb in terms of its meaning, only in terms of its form.

  • And this is because, in all cases, the unmodified verb is enough to express exactly the meaning that the speaker wants to say at the time of speaking.

  • They broadly fall into three categories.

  • We have the long-term general truth.

  • For example: 'I like studying English.'

  • We have the instantaneous.

  • For example: 'I now pronounce you man and wife.'

  • And we have the habitual.

  • For example: 'I woke up every day at 6 a.m. last year.'

  • [The Continuous Aspect.]

  • The continuous aspect is formed with some sort of 'be plus verb-ING.'

  • The focus of this aspect is primarily upon the duration of an event.

  • All progressive forms contain characteristics of temporariness, unfinishedness or in progress-ness.

  • The progressive aspect tends to disregard the end of an action and view the event from the centre.

  • So, an action might be happening at the moment of speaking.

  • For example: 'I'm making a video right now.'

  • Or, around a certain time.

  • For example: 'Before we met, I was living in Scotland.'

  • Or, simultaneously when another action occurs.

  • For example: 'When you get home, I'll be working in the office.'

  • [The Perfect Aspect

  • The perfect aspect is formed with some version of 'have plus the past participle.'

  • Perfect aspects focus on bridging two times together, and connecting events between one time and another, often through relevancy.

  • An event in the past might be relevant to the present moment.

  • An event in the future could be connected in some way to the present or the past.

  • Perfect verb phrases can describe states.

  • For example: 'I've loved you since I first met you.'

  • Actions.

  • For example: 'I will have gone to the gym by the time you get home.'

  • And habits.

  • For example: 'My father had started work at 9 o'clock every day for the last 20 years.'

  • And of course, we can link aspects to create perfect continuous verb phrases.

  • These combine the forms of their two base aspects.

  • For example, 'have plus been plus verb-ING', and they combine their meanings.

  • So, we can create verb phrases which focus on actions or events with duration with relevancy to more than one time period.

  • Did you get it? Of course you got it.

  • Now for more information, go to our website at

  • I've been Dan, you've been fantastic and I'll see you next time guys.

  • Remember, don't get tense! It's all about character.

Are you tense about tense? Well, don't be!

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A2 UK aspect masterclass tense continuous event perfect

Grammar: How to choose the correct tense in English - BBC Masterclass

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    Minnie posted on 2021/03/23
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