Grammatical Features Home >  Feature Inventory > Aspect



Anna Kibort

  1. What is 'aspect'
  2. Expressions of 'aspect'
  3. The status of 'aspect' as a feature
  4. The values of 'aspect'
  5. Oddly behaving aspect markers
  6. Problem cases
  7. Key literature

1. What is 'aspect'

The term 'aspect' designates the perspective taken on the internal temporal organisation of the situation, and so 'aspects' distinguish different ways of viewing the internal temporal constituency of the same situation (Comrie 1976:3ff, after Holt 1943:6; Bybee 2003:157). The 'situation' is meant here as general term covering events, processes, states, etc., as expressed by the verb phrase or the construction. Unlike tense, which is situation-external time, aspect is situation-internal and non-deictic, as it is not concerned with relating the time of the situation to any other time point.

Aspectual meaning of a clause can be broken up into two independent aspectual components (Smith 1991/1997):

  • Aspectual viewpoint - this is the temporal perspective from which the situation is presented. An aspectual viewpoint can span an entire situation, as in the perfective, or it can span only part of it, as in the imperfective. The perfective indicates that the situation is to be viewed as a bounded whole, looks at the situation from outside, without necessarily distinguishing any of its internal structure. The imperfective looks at the situation from inside, or looks inside its temporal boundaries, and it is crucially concerned with its internal temporal structure. Perfectivity and imperfectivity are not objective properties of situations, and so the same situation can be presented from either viewpoint. In the English John read that book yesterday; while he was reading it, the postman came, the different forms of the verb 'read' refer to the same situation of reading (which in both cases is located in the past through the use of the appropriate tense), but the situation is presented in two different ways, with a difference in aspect (see §4 for other possible aspectual viewpoints).
  • Situation type - situations unfold in time in different ways. This component of the aspectual meaning of a clause indirectly classifies the situation according to its temporal properties. Smith (1991/1997) distinguishes five types of situation: state, activity, accomplishment, semelfactive, and achievement. They differ in the temporal properties of dynamism, durativity, and telicity (see §2 below for definitions). The following table, based on Smith (1997:3, 20), provides a summary of situation types, with typical examples from English (see also Vendler 1957/1967, Comrie 1976):

    Situation type Temporal properties Examples
    state stative, durative; (N.B. telicity is irrelevant to stative situations) know the answer, love Mary
    activity dynamic, durative, atelic laugh, stroll in the park
    accomplishment dynamic, durative and telic (i.e. consisting of process and outcome) build a house, walk to school, learn Greek
    semelfactive dynamic, atelic, punctual (i.e. non-durative/instantaneous) tap, knock
    achievement dynamic, telic, punctual (i.e. non-durative/instantaneous) win a race, reach the top

Aspectual meaning of a clause results from the interaction of aspectual viewpoint and situation type. Hence, clauses expressing aspect can be referred to as having viewpoint aspect and situation aspect.

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2. Expressions of 'aspect'

Aspectual characteristics are coded in a wide range of ways: lexical, derivational, or inflectional; synthetic ('morphological') and analytic ('syntactic').

Verbs tend to have inherent aspectual meaning because the situations described by them tend to have inherent temporal properties. Three types of lexical aspectual oppositions are frequently identified (see e.g. Comrie 1976:41-51; for an example of a recent discussion of inherent aspect and temporal properties of situations, including an overview of formal approaches, see Arsenijević 2006):

  • Punctual and durative - these refer to situations which are not conceived of as lasting in time (punctual), versus situations which are conceived of as lasting for a certain period of time, however short it may be (durative). Inherently punctual situations can be further interpreted as semelfactive (taking place only once) or iterative (repeated). Many languages recognise a class of verbs that under normal circumstances can only refer to punctual situations (or iteration of punctual situations). However, semelfactive and iterative predicates are frequently derivational. N.B. In Slavonic linguistics, the term semelfactive is often used to refer to punctual situations irrespective of whether they are used iteratively or not.
  • Telic and atelic - these refer to situations which have an internal structure consisting of a process leading up to the terminal point and the terminal point (telic), versus situations which do not have an inherent endpoint (atelic). In this semantic distinction, it is particularly clear that situations are not described by verbs alone, but rather by the verb with its arguments (subject and objects), and it is in fact difficult to find sentences that are unambiguously telic or atelic. The telic nature of a situation can often be tested as follows (Comrie 1976:44-45): "if a sentence referring to this situation in a form with imperfective meaning (such as the English Progressive) implies the sentence referring to the same situation in a form with perfective meaning (such as the English Perfect), then the situation is atelic; otherwise it is telic. Thus from John is singing one can deduce John has sung, but from John is making a chair one cannot deduce John has made a chair. Thus a telic situation is one that involves a process that leads up to a well-defined terminal point, beyond which the process cannot continue." N.B. The term 'telic situation' corresponds most closely to Vendler's (1967:102) 'accomplishment'.
  • Stative and dynamic - roughly, these refer to situations which continue and do not change over time (stative), versus situations which involve necessarily change (dynamic). More precisely (Comrie 1976:49), with a state, unless something happens to change that state, the state will continue (e.g. standing, or knowing). With a dynamic situation, the situation will only continue if it is continually subject to a new input of energy, whether from inside or from outside (e.g. running, or emitting light). Since punctual situations inherently involve a change of state, they are always dynamic. N.B. Sometimes the distinction between states and non-states is referred to as 'states' and 'actions'. However, the term 'action' is also used in a more restricted sense, for a dynamic situation that requires the involvement of an agent. Similarly, the term 'event' is used to refer to a dynamic situation viewed perfectively, and the term 'process' - to a dynamic situation viewed imperfectively.

Lexical aspectual meaning, or inherent meaning, is frequently referred to as Aktionsart. However, in Slavonic linguistics, the term 'aspect' is often used to refer to the grammaticalisation of a semantic aspectual distinction, while 'Aktionsart' - to the lexicalisation of a semantic aspectual distinction by means of derivational morphology (Comrie 1976:7). Hence, in Slavonic linguistics, Aktionsart (or, način na dejstvie 'mode of action') is the category that captures the regularities in the semantics of aspectual prefixes: "Aktionsarten refer to those common meanings of verbs which are expressed formally (through prefixes and suffixes) and modify the meaning of the source unprefixed or unsuffixed verb with respect to the phase, the rate, or quantity of the eventuality, and are semantically related to it" (Isačenko 1960, translated by and cited in Popova 2006:12). The most common Aktionsarten are the iterative, the inceptive, and the inchoative.

As was already mentioned above, perfectivity and imperfectivity obviously interact with lexical aspectual meaning. The perfective involves lack of reference to the internal temporal constituency of a situation, but it does not imply the lack of such internal temporal constituency. Therefore, "it is quite possible for perfective forms to be used for situations that are internally complex, such as those that last for a considerable period of time, or include a number of distinct internal phases, provided only that the whole of the situation is subsumed as a single whole" (Comrie 1976:21). Thus, while semelfactive situations are necessarily perfective, punctual situations with iterative interpretation can be imperfective, and perfective forms can refer to non-punctual situations. As for the telic/atelic distinction, the semantic range of telic verbs is restricted considerably when it is combined with the perfective/imperfective opposition. Thus, a perfective form referring to a telic situation implies attainment of the endpoint of that situation, while imperfective forms carry no such implication, and imply rather that the endpoint had not been reached at the time referred to (Comrie 1976:46). Finally, in many languages all or some stative verbs do not have forms with perfective meaning. However, since states can begin and end, in some languages states can be referred to by forms with perfective meaning, in which case the interpretation involves the inception and/or termination of the state.

Some of the lexical distinctions listed above may also be expressed as derivational distinctions - for example, the Russian semelfactive formed with -nu- (Comrie 1976:43). Bybee (1985:100) argues that the -nu- element should not be analysed as a suffix, since the stems do not apparently occur without this element. Rather, semelfactive in this case "has a mode of expression that is half-way between lexical and derivational". After examining a stratified probability sample of 50 languages of the world, Bybee concludes that while related aspectual notions may have more than one expression type, there are some tendencies in the expression of aspectual notions (the following table has been adapted from Bybee 1985:102):

  Lexical Derivational Inflectional

Languages that have morphological means of expressing an aspectual opposition often have a clearly indentifiable marker of aspect (or of one member or an aspectual opposition), the forms of the verb being otherwise the same for both aspects. Examples of this type are Chinese -zhe (progressive), and Persian mi- (imperfective), which are invariable affixes indicating aspect. Similarly, Slavonic and Baltic languages, and also Georgian, have prefixes to mark the perfective - however, additionally, the choice of prefix is often lexically determined and may modify the meaning of the verb in accordance with the meaning of the prefix elsewhere in derivational morphology. Such prefixed perfectives in Slavonic (and to a lesser extent in Baltic) can be further imperfectivised by a derivational process (suffixation) (Comrie 1976:88).

Bybee's criteria for considering particular instances of aspect as inflectional were: boundedness (inseparability of the marker from the stem, its occurrence in a fixed order contiguous to the stem, or with only closed class items intervening between it and the stem), obligatoriness (obligatory marking every time a stem category to which the category applies appears in a finite clause; thus, there must be some means of expression for the category with every stem, and the lack of a marker is interpreted as zero expression rather than as the absence of the category), and predictability of meaning (the meaning of the category must be predictable with every verb) (Bybee 1985:27). Those instances of aspect which have been classified by Bybee as inflectional in her study indeed effect a relatively small change in meaning. To account for this change, she quotes Hopper (1977), who has argued that inflectional aspect serves to indicate how the situation described by the verb should be viewed in the context of the whole discourse. Thus, background information is expressed by imperfective verb forms, and the foregrounded information of the main narrative line appear in the perfective verb form. This discourse use of aspect leaves the basic meaning of the verb unaffected, and only changes its relation to the discourse unit (Bybee 1985:21).

Examples of syntactic expression of aspect are the progressive in Yoruba (a Niger-Congo language spoken in Nigeria), where the verbal construction is like that of an adverbial phrase (e.g. literally 'he in work' = 'he is working'), the progressive in English, with copula verb plus predicate, or the French progressive paraphrase (e.g. literally 'I am in [the] process of working') (Comrie 1976:87; for more detailed discussion of syntactic expressions of aspectual distinctions see Comrie 1976:98-110).

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3. The status of 'aspect' as a feature

Most of the familiar instances of aspect are morphosemantic: a particular value of aspect is chosen on the basis of semantic or formal criteria, but it is not required by syntax through the mechanism of agreement or government. That is, syntax is not sensitive to the aspect value of the verb. Furthermore, like tense, inflectional aspect (whether synthetic or analytic) is better viewed as a property of the clause rather than the verb.

Corbett (2006:138-141) investigated whether tense, aspect, mood and polarity could function as features of agreement - and therefore be morphosyntactic features - but did not find convincing examples and concluded that "the argument for tense, aspect, mood and polarity as agreement features remains open". The two types of construction from Kayardild which show elements of a clause matching in aspect, are probably better analysed as multiple marking of the same value of aspect in the clause.

The first type of construction involves so-called 'verbalising cases' (Evans 2003; earlier 'verbal cases', Evans 1995). Besides ordinary cases, Kayardild has several verbalising cases that are marked on all parts of the selected noun phrase. Verbalising case is involved in various domains; once an element is marked by verbalising case, it takes tense-aspect-mood and polarity inflection matching that of the main verb. Evans (2003:215) and Corbett (2006:80, 139) cite an example in which all the items marked with the verbalising dative case match the main verb in tense (see §3 of the 'Tense' entry of this Inventory). In order to express an aspectual meaning of ongoing uncompleted action, main verbs in Kayardild can be nominalised with the nominaliser -n-. If the clause with a nominalised main verb has elements bearing verbalising case, all these elements then take the nominalised form to match the main verb (Corbett 2006:139, from Evans 2003:215; A_OBL stands for 'associating oblique', V_DAT for 'verbalising dative'):

(1) ngada waa-n-da wangarr-inja
  1SG.NOM sing-NMLZ-NOM song-A_OBL
  ngijin-maru-n-da thabuju-maru-n-d
  my-V_DAT-NMLZ-NOM brother-V_DAT-NMLZ-NOM  
  'I am singing a song for my brother.'

In a dependency approach to syntax, which implies asymmetrical marking, it can be argued that tense, aspect, mood and polarity are primarily features of the verb, and if other items are marked secondarily, we have asymmetrical marking and an instance of agreement (Corbett 2006:139). However, if one believes that tense, aspect, mood and polarity are features of the clause, then marking of these features on items other than on the verb is symmetrical marking and hence does not qualify as agreement. This argument is paralell to the argument about case marking within a noun phrase. On the dependency view, the adjective can be seen as agreeing in case with the noun which is head of the phrase (this view is expressed, for example, in Mel'čuk 1993:329,337). However, on the constituency view, the matching of case within the noun phrase results from the case being imposed on the noun phrase (often through government by the verb), and the case value being shared within the noun phrase. At this point we will, therefore, treat instances of feature matching as in (1) as multiple marking, or sharing, of the same feature value within the clause.

The other type of construction from Kayardild involves what Evans (2003:215-216) calls a 'verbal group', which is a sequence of serialised verbs consisting of an obligatory main verb plus up to two further verbs functioning as markers of associated motion, adverbial quantification and aspect. They appear in a fixed order in a single intonational group, and the meaning of the group may be non-compositional. In Kayardild, all verbs in a verbal group take identical values for tense, aspect, mood and polarity. Evans (2003:223) and Corbett (2006:140) cite an example in which two verbs constituting the verbal group match in tense (see §3 of the 'Tense' entry of this Inventory).

The matching of verbal features within a serial verb complex is common in serial verb constructions. As suggested by Corbett (2006:140) for Kayardild, it is possible to view the verbal group as a semantic and syntactic unit, and tense, aspect, mood and polarity as being assigned to this unit. This is consistent with viewing a serial verb construction as "a sequence of verbs which act together as a single predicate, without any overt marker of coordination, subordination, or syntactic dependency of any other sort. Serial verb constructions describe what is conceptualised as a single event" (Aikhenvald 2006:1; though see Baker & Harvey (forthcoming) for discussion of serial verb constructions versus co-verb constructions). Therefore, we conclude that aspect matching in verbal groups is also better treated as an instance of multiple marking, or sharing, of the aspect value within the verbal group - unless one adopts a dependency view of syntax, or reformulates the definition of agreement and revises the typology of controllers, domains and features. In other words, unless we consider tense, aspect, mood and polarity to be features of the verb rather than the clause, the symmetrical marking of these features on all relevant items in the clause cannnot be considered agreement. (For more discussion of tense and aspect as morphosemantic, but not morphosyntactic features, see Kibort 2010.)

Finally, note that, as a morphosemantic feature, aspect frequently interacts with other features, for example with tense in Slavonic. The selection of a particular value of aspect on the basis of formal, rather than semantic, criteria (as is frequent in Slavonic) calls into question attempts to identify invariant meanings of the grammatical expressions of aspectual values (see e.g. the conclusions drawn by A. Zaliznjak & Šmelev 2000:35 with respect to Russian aspect).

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4. The values of 'aspect'

The minimal set of aspectual values is two, with the most frequent opposition being perfective versus imperfective. Many languages have a single category to express imperfectivity, in some languages an aspectual category may correspond only to a part of the meaning of imperfectivity, and in others imperfectivity may be subdivided into a number of distinct categories. Comrie (1976:25) offers the following diagrammatic representation of the most typical divisions within the set of aspectual values:

Habituality refers to situations which are characteristic of an extended period of time, so extended that the situation is viewed as a characteristic feature of a whole period. The decision that a situation constitues a characteristic feature of an extended period of time is not in itself linguistic, but once it has been made, an explicitly habitual form can be used to describe it. Habituality can in principle be combined with any other semantic aspectual values appropriate to situations that can be protracted in time or iterated (Comrie 1976:26-32). Continuousness can be defined negatively as imperfectivity that is not habituality (Comrie 1976:26). And progressiveness is defined by Comrie (1976:32-40) as the combination of progressive meaning (referring to a situation in progress, but not habitual) with nonstative meaning. Since languages have different criteria for classifying predicates as stative or not, they may have different rules for determining when explicitly progressive forms can be used.

In many languages aspects express different groupings of the semantic distinctions captured in the diagram. For example, Spanish, in the past tense, has a distinction between perfective and imperfective, and a separate though optional progressive aspect. So, there is evidence for an aspectual opposition between perfective and the class of imperfectives, and a further opposition within the class of imperfectives between progressive and non-progressive:

And English has a separate though optional habitual aspect, only in the past tense, and a separate progressive. So, there is evidence for an aspectual opposition between progressive and the class non-progressives, and a further opposition within the class of non-progressives between habitual and non-habitual:

Finally, the category of aspect itself may be optional in some languages which have grammaticalised aspectual distinctions. Specifically, there are aspectual systems which allow sentences with no realisation of an aspect value (as in the French Future tense; Navajo; and Chinese; Smith 1997:77-81). Such sentences are aspectually vague, i.e. neither perfective nor imperfective, and "more flexible than either viewpoint in that they allow both open and closed readings", though "the context often indicates the favoured interpretation" (Smith 1997:78). Note that Smith suggests that, instead of being analysed as lacking aspectual viewpoint, they should be analysed as having the 'neutral' viewpoint - a positive semantic value on a par with the perfective and the imperfective, expressing flexibility and the inclusion of the initial endpoint of a situation together with at least one internal stage (where applicable) (Smith 1997:3, 77-78).

Although, in general, aspects and tenses cross-classify, aspect and tense do sometimes impinge on one another. For example, it is common for the perfective to be restricted to past tense. For detailed discussion of some of the relationships between aspect and tense in various languages, see Comrie (1976:66-78), Dahl (1985), and Dahl & Velupillai (2005). For an account of aspect and time reference in tenseless languages, see Comrie (1976:82-84) and Smith (2005). Examples of such languages include Yoruba and Igbo, spoken in Nigeria; Salishan languages of Northern America - e.g. Lillooet; see also Mandarin Chinese, Thai and some Mayan languages - none of which have strictly temporal inflections of particles; and Navajo and other Athabaskan languages - which have optional tense markers.

It is common to find in traditional grammars of many languages aspects and tenses not distinguished from each other, labels for tenses indicating that they capture aspectual distinctions, and the various types of imperfectivity mislabelled or misgrouped. However, in some languages, grouping tenses and aspects into combined categories is justified. Some tense/aspect combinations are found in familiar languages such as Romance or Slavonic. In Arabic there are two sets of forms, referred to variously as aspects, tenses, or states, and distinguished either as Perfect and Imperfect, or as Perfective and Imperfective (Comrie 1976:78-81); and Mandarin Chinese has a similar opposition to that in Arabic, with one set of forms bearing the past perfective aspectual suffix -le (Comrie 1976:81-82; but see also §5 below). In Kartvelian languages (e.g. Georgian, Svan, Laz), where tense and aspect meanings combine with mood to form complex paradigms, the combinations of tense, aspect and mood values have traditionally been referred to as 'screeves' (see the 'Screeve' entry of this Inventory).

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5. Oddly behaving aspect markers

A flag icon Mandarin Chinese has very strong restrictions on what phrases it allows to follow the main verb. In the presence of the perfective aspect marker -le, prepositional phrases indicating locations or goals are never found following the verb. Instead, in the presence of the perfective marker, nominal phrases expressing locations and goals are treated like subcategorised arguments of the verb, while the preposition is 'incorporated' into the verb and appears before the aspect marker. With some verbs, the incorporated preposition can be absent. But the presence of the perfective marker is a reliable indicator of the status of the complement as a subcategorised argument regardless of its semantics (Peck & Sells 2006; previous analyses Li 1990, Gao 2005, Feng 2003).

A flag icon In languages of Australia, tense, mood and aspect distinctions are sometimes achieved with the use of selected case markers together with particular verb inflection. In the following examples from Kayardild (Evans 1995:107-108, also cited in Butt 2006:10), the allative (ALL), modal proprietive (MPROP), modal ablative (MALBL) and modal oblique (MOBL) all serve to express tense-aspect-mood distinctions together with particular verb inflections:

(4) ngada warra-ja ngarn-kir
  1.SG.NOM go-ACT beach-ALL
  'I am going/have gone to the beach.'

(5) ngada warra-ju ngarn-kiring-ku
  1.SG.NOM go-POT beach-ALL-MPROP
  'I will go to the beach.'

(6) ngada warra-jarra ngarn-kiring-kina
  1.SG.NOM go-PST beach-ALL-MABL
  'I went to the beach.'

(7) ngada warra-da ngarn-kiring-inj
  1.SG.NOM go-DES beach-ALL-MOBL
  'I would like to go to the beach.'

Specifically, the proprietive, ablative and oblique suffixes here are being used 'modally': the proprietive and the 'potential' verb inflection express futurity; the ablative and the 'past' verb inflection express 'prior occurrence'; and the oblique and the 'desiderative' verb inflection express strong emotion (in this instance desire) towards the event. The allative may also be used modally, as in (5), to express 'that the event is spatially oriented towards the speaker, or that it is just beginning, or just coming into the speaker's awareness' (Evans 1995:108). Butt (2006:10) notes that "this phenomenon is not confined to Australian languages, but that languages like Finnish have also been implicated in this type of case usage" (see e.g. Comrie 1976:8 on the use of accusative versus partitive case of the direct object in Finnish that corresponds to an aspectual difference).

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6. Problem cases

A question mark icon Non-aspectual derivational morphemes misclassified as aspects. It is common to find in grammars a variety of derivational morphemes listed as aspects. However, Bybee (1985:151-152) argues that frequently they do not qualify as aspects, since they do not modify the temporal contour of a situation. The suffix in Tiwi (Australian) which means 'to do something while moving about' is classified as an aspect (Osborne 1974), but conceptually it does not fit in with aspect, and indeed, it co-occurs rather than contrasts with the other aspects of Tiwi. Similarly, Quileute (a Chimakuan language of Northern America) has a morpheme that indicates a 'sudden jerking action', and Nicobarese (an Austro-Asiatic, Mon-Khmer language spoken in the region of Nicobar Islands in India) has a morpheme that signals 'completed action, with the goal destroyed, and the action taking place in the direction of the jungle', and many languages (e.g. Yukaghir spoken in Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula) have a 'diminutivising' morpheme that means 'do something a little'. None of these, argues Bybee, are aspectual, as these meanings do not express the temporal contour of the situation. Furthermore, in Songhai (a Nilo-Saharan language spoken in Mali), Maasai (a Nilo-Saharan language spoken in Kenya), Vietnamese and Tongan (Malayo-Polynesian) 'diminutive' meaning can be expressed by reduplication. However, in none of these languages is it the only meaning signalled by reduplication.

A question mark icon Is English Progressive an expression of progressive aspect? The English Progressive form has a number of specific uses that do not seem to fit under the general definition of progressiveness given in §4 above. That is, it can be used to refer to a temporary state or to a habitual situation that holds for a relatively limited period, and it can also have some purely idiosyncratic uses. For argumentation that English may be developing from a restricted use of the Progressive, always with progressive meaning, to a more extended meaning range of the Progressive indicating a contingent situation, see Comrie (1976:32-40).

A question mark icon What is the difference between the perfective and the perfect? The perfective is a type of aspect and it is concerned with a particular way of representing the internal temporal constitution of a situation. The perfect tells us nothing directly about the situation itself, but is typically understood as relating some state to a preceding situation (e.g. Comrie 1976:52), which makes it closer in meaning to tense than to aspect.

In the analysis of tense offered in this Inventory (see the 'Tense' entry), tense dinstinctions result from the different possibilities of arranging three points in time on the time line: the time of speech (S), the time of the event (E), and the reference point (R). The maximum number of absolute tense meanings created by the different arrangements of these points (i.e. tenses that involve only one set of points {S,E,R}) is 13. These include three simple tenses (where R=E), five anterior tenses (where E < R), and five posterior tenses (where R < E). The anterior tense meanings and the posterior tense meanings share the characteristic of R ≠ E, which can be seen as the conceptualisation of the category of the 'perfect'. The perfect is typically used "to express events that took place before the temporal reference point but which have an effect on or are in some way still relevant at that point" (Dahl & Velupillai 2005:271), so it is E < R ('anterior'), as in the English I have seen John. The meaning represented as R < E ('posterior') describes a present situation which is looked at from the reference point located in the past. This meaning is compatible with situations that started in the past but continue (persist) into the present, as in the English I have known him since 1996, or I have lived here for ten years. Many languages group the latter ('posterior') meaning together with the present tense, but English groups it together with the 'anterior' meaning, with the resulting Perfect tense in English covering both. For other languages using Perfect to mean 'present plus past', see Comrie (1976:106-108). For discussion of the different uses of the 'anterior' perfect (i.e. perfect of result, experiential perfect, and perfect of recent past), see Comrie (1976:56-61).

Although the 'perfect' can be analysed as a tense, it may also be understood as a category intermediate between tense and aspect, overlapping both.

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7. Key literature

  • Bybee, Joan L. 1985. Morphology. A Study of the Relation between Meaning and Form. (Typological Studies in Language 9). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (§5.1 The expression of aspect - pp. 100-102; Ch.6 Aspect - pp. 141-153)
  • Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and Aspect Systems.Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Smith, Carlota. 1997. The Parameter of Aspect. (Second Edition). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. (Revised version of Smith, Carlota. 1991. The Parameter of Aspect. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers).
  • Smith, Carlota. 2005. Time with and without tense. Paper presented at the International Round Table on Tense and Modality, Paris, December 2005. Available at:


  • Arsenijević, Boban. 2006. Inner Aspect and Telicity. The Decompositional and the Quantificational Nature of Eventualities at the Syntax-Semantics Interface. PhD thesis, Leiden University. Available at:
  • Butt, Miriam. 2006. Theories of Case. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Bybee, Joan L. 1985. Morphology. A Study of the Relation between Meaning and Form. (Typological Studies in Language 9). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (§5.1 The expression of aspect - pp. 100-102; Ch.6 Aspect - pp. 141-153)
  • Bybee, Joan L. 2003. Aspect. In: Frawley, W.J. (ed.) International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Second Edition. Oxford: OUP. 157-158.
  • Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Corbett, Greville G. 2006. Agreement. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and Aspect Systems.Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Dahl, Östen & Viveka Velupillai. 2005. Tense and aspect. In: Haspelmath, Martin, Matthew S. Dryer, David Gil & Bernard Comrie (eds) The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 266-272.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 1995. A Grammar of Kayardild, with Historical-Comparative Notes on Tangkic. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 2003. Typologies of agreement: some problems from Kayardild. In: Brown, Dunstan, Greville G. Corbett & Carole Tiberius (eds) Agreement: A Typological Perspective (Special issue of Transactions of the Philological Society 101/2). Oxford: Blackwell. 203-234.
  • Feng, Shengli. 2003. Prosodically constrained postverbal PPs in Mandarin Chinese. Linguistics 46: 1085-1122.
  • Gao, Man. 2005. Preposition incorporation in Mandarin. Paper presented at NACCL-17.
  • Holt, Jens. 1943. Études d'aspect. Acta Jutlandica 15.2.
  • Hopper, Paul J. 1977. Observations on the typology of focus and aspect in narrative language. NUSA 4. Jakarta. (Reprinted in Studies in Language 3.37-64, 1979.)
  • Isačenko, Alexander V. 1960. Grammatičeskij stroj russkogo jazyka v sopostavlenii s slovackim. Morfologija. Volume 2. Bratislava: Izdatel'stvo slovackoj akademii nauk.
  • Kibort, Anna. 2010. Towards a typology of grammatical features. In: Kibort, Anna & Greville G. Corbett (eds) Features: Perspectives on a Key Notion in Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 64-106.
  • Li, Yen-hui Audrey. 1990. Order and Constituency in Mandarin Chinese. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Osborne, C.R. 1974. The Tiwi Language. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Peck, Jeeyoung & Peter Sells. 2006. Preposition incorporation in Mandarin: economy within VP. Paper presented at LFG06 Conference, Konstanz, 10-13 July 2006. Will be available on-line at:
  • Popova, Gergana D. 2006. Aspect in the Morphological Paradigm: a Case Study of Bulgarian. PhD thesis, University of Essex.
  • Smith, Carlota. 1997. The Parameter of Aspect. (Second Edition). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. (Revised version of Smith, Carlota. 1991. The Parameter of Aspect. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers).
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How to cite this entry:

Kibort, Anna. "Aspect." Grammatical Features. 7 January 2008.

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