The Tense/Aspect System


The chart below takes two verbs (“eat” and “study”) and runs them through the different combinations of the tense/aspect system. The left column of the chart shows the different tenses, indicating whether an action occurred/occurs in the past, present, or future (future tense requires the verb "will"). Across the top of the chart are the four aspects: simple, perfect, progressive, and perfect progressive. Note how the verb forms change (these changes are called inflections) depending on tense and aspect. For example, singular third person verbs require the addition of an -s or -ies ending, while past tense verbs require an -ed (or possibly a -d or -t) ending. The different aspects all have different meanings and forms.

Tense and Aspect Chart