Difference Between Tense and Aspect

Tense vs Aspect
 

In English grammar, it is essential to understand the difference between tense and aspect carefully as they are important verb forms that show many differences between them. From these two words, tense and aspect, tense is a word we have all heard of. Mainly, there are three tenses; present tense, past tense and future tense. Each of these tenses are again divided to four sub-categories. Teaching these tenses is one of the basic duties of an English teacher. Then, there is aspect. In English there are three aspects; the progressive or continuous aspect, the perfect or perfective and unmarked aspect.

What does Tense mean?

The verb-forms that show differences in time are called tenses. It is important to know that tenses are formed by changing the verb as in the sentences given below:

I know him very well.

I knew he was lying.

She works at the mall every Saturday.

She worked all through the night.

In all four sentences given above, you can see that the verbs have been changed to convey time and hence the first sentence and the third sentence are in present tense while the second sentence and the fourth sentence are in past tense. It is equally important to know that tenses are also formed by adding auxiliary verbs as in the sentences given below:

He will work hard to get the desired result.

She has gone already.

She had done a great job.

We had all resigned from the garment by the time the new law was passed.

In all four sentences given above, you can see that the speaker has added auxiliary verbs such as ‘will’ in the first sentence, ‘has’ in the second sentence, ‘had’ in the third and fourth sentences.

What does Aspect mean?

On the other hand, aspect refers to the changes in verb-forms that express other ideas besides differences of time. For instance, the ‘perfect’ verb-form can be employed to emphasize the idea of completion as in the sentence given below.

I have finished the job.

Also, observe the following sentence.

He will have scored 100 centuries by the time he retired.

This is the purpose of using aspect in English grammar.

It is interesting to note that the present perfect tense often suggests that a past event is still being remembered, being talked about and is still present in some way as in the sentence given below.

The Japanese have progressed well in technology.

Difference Between Tense and Aspect

What is the difference between Tense and Aspect?

• The verb-forms that show differences in time are called tense. It is important to know that tenses are formed by changing the verb.

• Tenses are also formed by adding auxiliary verbs.

• On the other hand, aspect refers to the changes in verb-forms that express other ideas besides differences of time.

• The present perfect tense often suggests that a past event is still being remembered, being talked about and is still present in some way.

These are the important differences between the two grammatical terms, namely, tense and aspect.