Variation in the Verb Phrase Aspect Brenda Pereira Cássia Farias Leonardo Cardoso Marcelli Helt Tamy de Macedo
Perfect and Progressive aspect Aspect adds time meanings to those expressed by tense. Aspect answers the question ‘Is the event/ state described by the verb completed, or is it continuing?’ There are two aspects in English: perfect and progressive (continuous).
Meanings of perfect and progressive• The perfect aspect often describes events or states taking place during a preceding period of time. The progressive aspect describes an event or state of affairs in progress or continuing. Both aspects can be combined with either present or past tense. “I’ve got one hand in my pocket And the other one is giving a high five” Hand in my pocket – Alanis Morissette “Well, I was sittin, waitin, wishin” Sitting, waiting, wishing – Jack Johnson “Me and Dre had sat with him” Like toy soldiers – Eminem
• Present perfect verbs often refer to past actions that continue up to the present time. “Well, you bought all those smoke alarms, and we havent had a single fire.” Homer Simpson• Past perfect verbs refer to actions on the past that are completed at or before a given time in the past. “Mick went into the closet of Bill’s room and brought out some other pictures she had done in the class – some pencil drawings, some water- colours, and one canvas with oil” The heart is a lonely hunter – Carson McCullers
The perfect progressive• Verb phrases can be marked for both aspects (perfect and progressive)Present perfect tense:“I’ve been running around” Joss Stone - Arms of my babyPast Perfect Progressive“For months she had been waiting for that particular corner location” (FICT) • The perfect progressive aspect is rare, occurring usually in the past tense in fiction. It combines the meaning of the perfect and the progressive, referring to a past situation or activity that was in progress for a period of time.
Perfect and progressive aspect across registers and dialectsA) Register differences• The large majority of verb phrases are not marked for aspect. In fact, almost 90 percent of all verbs are simple aspect.• Perfect aspect is used in all registers, but is is somewhat more common in fiction and news. “Call for Growth Rises to Counter German Push for Austerity By NICHOLAS KULISH A euro zone strategy to cut deficits has come under increasing strain from slowing economies, gyrating financial markets and electoral setbacks.” The New York Times, 04/23/2012
• Progressive aspect is more common in conversation than in the written registers “Summer: This is a nightmare. Im sweating to death, driving ten miles an hour on, like, a rickshaw, listening to this... music. Seth: Hey, do not insult Death Cab. Summer: Its like one guitar and a whole lot of complaining.” The O.C.
B) Dialect differences• American English conversation uses progressive aspect much more than British English conversation does.“Nothing’s happening over here” (AmE conv)• In contrast, British English uses perfect aspect much more than American English does.• American English often uses past tense in contexts where British English uses the present perfect. “We already gave him a down payment” (AmE Conv) “They’ve given me that already” (BrE Conv)
• The British English preference for perfect aspect shows up most strongly in news. “The ceremony took place on the main State Department lobby next to the honor roll of American diplomas who gave their lives in the line of duty.” (AmE News) “She praised the gallantry, determination and sense of duty os the servicemen and women who had given their lives for their country.” (BrE News)
Perfect aspect in usePresent perfect• The present perfect is more common in conversation, news and academic prose.• There are some verbs that are common in the present perfect •Has/have been “ ‘Cause I’ve been in love before” If I fell – The Beatles “He has never been attracted to women or men” The Telegraph•
• Has/have got1. In British English it is very common in conversation with a similar meaning to the simple present “have”“You’ve got to work out” Interviewer“You’ve got to leave it behind” Walk On – U22. It is also common in BrE to find this use without the perfect aspect marker. This construction is considered non-standard to formal written English.“Oh I got loads left” BrE conversation from the Grammar“Mr. JT, now what you got for me” What you got – Justin Timberlake 3.In American English, there is a difference between has/have got and has/have gotten: The first one refers to current possession, while the second one means that something has been acquired or that a change of state has occurred. “I’ve got homework to do” “Celebrities Who Have Gotten In Trouble For Doing Really Stupid Shiz!” Internet
• Has/have had In British English it expresses the current relevance of some state that came into being in the past. “I’ve had the time of my life” The time of my life - Bill Medley/ Jennifer Warnes• Other verbs that are common in present perfect aspect are gone, done, made, seen, come, said, taken, become, given, shown, thought, called – verbs whose consequences may persist over an extended period of time. “What I’ve done” I’ve done – Linkin Park “I’ve just seen a face” I’ve just seen a face – The Beatles
Past perfect• Past perfect is especially common in fiction.“He remembered that Lord Henry had said to him once” The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde“Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,I had been better than I now can be;” Epistle to Augusta – Lord Byron • But we can find it in conversation as well “I mean…I hadn’t seen…I had no idea of how Voldemort would look like” Daniel Radcliffe
Present perfect X Simple past• Simple past describes an event that took place at a particular time in the past, while present perfect evokes a situation that happened in the past but that we don’t know or don’t mention exactly when. “Ive seen your daughter Man, shes cute I was scared but I wanted to Boy she looks a lot like you” Advertising space – Robbie Williams
Past Perfect X Simple Past• Past perfect verb phrases look back to an extended time period that was completed in the past. “It was indeed the crocodile. It had passed the redskins, who were now on the trail of the other pirates. It oozed on after Hook.” Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
I Still Havent Found What Im Looking ForU2 Ive spoken with the tongue of angels Ive held the hand of the devil Ive climbed the highest mountains It was warm in the night Ive run through the fields I was cold as a stone Only to be with you But I still havent found Ive run I have crawled What Im looking for Ive scaled These city walls I believe in the Kingdom Come Only to be with you Then all the colors will Bleed into one But I still havent found But yes Im still running What Im looking for You broke the bonds and you loosed Ive kissed honey lips the chains Felt the healing in her You carried the cross fingertips And my shame It burned like fire You know I believe it This burning desire But I still havent found What Im looking for
Progressive Aspect• The least frequently used aspect• Describes events in progress at a particular moment in time, usually for brief periods • Can be used either in the present or in the past tense I am doing the dishes I was talking to Bob
• Present tense: describes events that are currently in progress “The day begins in the middle of the night. I am not paying attention to anything but the bass in my hand, the noise in my ears. Dev is screaming, Thom is flailing, and I am the clockwork(…)” Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist• Past Tense: describes events that were in progress at an earlier moment “As we were talking outside It was cold, we were shivering” I was hoping – Alanis “Today, I was trying on some clothes in the stores changing room, when someone reached under the door and grabbed my purse, shoes, and pants. FML” FML Website
• Can also be used to talk about future events, when the speaker feels, or is, certain that something will happenBut she’s coming back tomorrowBy this time next year, I will be living in Canada• It’s not only used with dynamic verbs, it can also be used with verbs that describe a situation or a state. continuation of the state “Ive been walking around trying to figure out why I am feeling all the feelings that Im feeling now” I Love you 5 - Never Shout Never
Verbs with the Progressive Aspect• More common in conversations and in fiction. in conversations, most verb phrases are in the present, and in fiction, most of them are in the past. “Luke: I am not wearing my socks Lorelay: So what are those, someone else’s? Luke: Yes, I’m wearing someone else’s socks” Gilmore Gils “Portia and Bubber were sitting at the kitchen table eating their dinner” The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
• The exception to this would be the past tense forms was/were saying and was/were thinking• Some verbs almost always occur in the progressive aspect, like starve , bleed and kid • Some other verbs almost never occur in the progressive aspect. These verbs usually have a more “instantaneous” meaning, like shrug and smash
Characteristics thatdetermine whether a verb iscommonly or rarely used in the progressive form1. Wheter the subject is an agent or an experiencer2. The duration of the action described by the verb
• The verbs that are commom with the progressive usually have a human agent that actively controls the situation as its subject “Im singing in the rain Just singin in the rain What a glorious feeling” “But I guess you don’t see the planets when you’re staring at the sun. You just get blinded.” Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist • In contrast, some verbs rarely occur in the progressive because their subject is not an agent, but an experiencer, they don’t control the action, like see and hear
• The same logic can be applied to mental verbs. Think and wonder, for example, involve a subject who controls the mental activity. “Little girl, Im wondering How can I make you love me A little more than you loved him?” I’m Wondering - Stevie Wonder • However, verbs like appreciate, know, like and want, describe a state, not an activity, being less used in the progressive form “I never wanna hear you say I want it that way” I want it that way, Backstreet Boys • Verbs that rarely have human subjects are also less common in the progressive aspect
• The action or state described by progressive verbs extends over a substantial period of time.• Verbs that describe “instantaneous” actions, or states of short durations are rarelly used in the progressive, like shallow and throw• When you use a verb in the progressive it is implied that the action extends over time, but it’s not permanent • Other verbs that rarely occur in the progressive are those that report the end-point of a process, like rule, attain, find and invent.