Whether English is spoken or written, verb shapes as be and have are the most usual to occur. If we join views on the fields and the river of time, we can see two patterns that grammar books name the Progressive and the Perfect.
We may refer to verb infinitive or base forms, as in subchapter 2.1, and extract the two patterns. One pattern uses the verb to be with particle ING. The other has particle 3RD with the verb to have.
Spring Flowing Colors
Infinitive or base forms do not belong with any field of time in particular: they are not PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE. If we view language patterns without a particular field of time on mind, grammars say the picture we get is the Aspect.
The word aspect comes from Latin; aspectus meant “a seeing, looking at”; aspicere meant “to look upon, behold”.
There is no “objective grammar” to decide how we people should regard the world. Grammar can only help tell a view. To say how we perceive events, we join the Aspect and grammatical time.
The Progressive Aspect is for matters in progress. Progress may be a changing condition, state, or activity. It may mean betterment, but it not always does.
The Perfect Aspect is for something or someone regarded to a point in time. The name “perfect” comes from Latin. For grammar, it has nothing to do with faults, flaws, or their absence. It tells about effects to a time.
To say we view an event or activity as a matter in progress, we adapt the verb to be for the PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE, and make Present, Past, or Future Progressive tenses. In simple words, we use the verb to be in a field of time, with the Progressive pattern. To say we regard matters until some mark in time, we use the verb to have in a field, with the Perfect pattern.
The tenses always belong with a field; they are always PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE. When the verbs to be or to have are part in a tense pattern, they are auxiliary verbs, or auxiliaries, in short.
In Latin, the word auxiliaris meant “helping”, “accompanying”. Today, auxiliaries can help us render “where” we are in our thoughts about time: in our linguistic PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE.
The “place, where” is a figure of speech. There is no singular or specific brain area for thought. Own language activity is the strongest single factor to unite the working of the human brain entire (!)
Auxiliaries keep company to head verbs. There are thousands of verbs in English that can head phrases and tell faculties or activities, as to learn, to read, or to write.
We can symbolize head verbs with the lemniscate or infinity: whether we read or speak, we never have exact predictions on the conversation or text.
Let us try the Progressive Aspect in our Future field. The pattern is,
will be reading.
The grammatical tense we make is the Future Progressive.
The Perfect pattern takes the third form. It ends in –ED, for regular verbs. For irregular verbs, the ending can be –EN.
In the field for grammatical PAST, it makes the Past Perfect tense:
The river of time has one more pattern. Grammars name it the Simple. The name comes from the Latin word simplus. The form is “simple”, because it can work without an auxiliary.
An activity or faculty may be not simple at all, and we might use the Simple Aspect, still:
I love my grammar
(though loving grammar is not an easy feeling).
We capitalize, that is, use big letters, to write Aspect names. We use the words “simple”, “progressive”, or “perfect” as parts of noun phrases where the noun ― Aspect ― is a proper noun.
The words Simple, Progressive, Perfect, or Aspect do not have any sense other than grammatical.
To reckon on the Simple Aspect, let us try the verb to learn. It is a regular verb, in American English. We can begin with the PAST.
Regular verbs take the ending ―ED, for the Simple in the PAST.
I, you, we, they, he, she, it
In the PRESENT field, the third person singular has the feature “S”. We say,
he, she, or it is, has, or does.
I, you, we, they
He, she, it
■→CHAPTER 2 shows the verb form will mapping on the FUTURE with its PRESENT form.
I, you, we, they, he, she, it
It is the head verb to map the grammatical time in the Simple. We can present the pattern with infinity and attributes: the feature —s for the PRESENT field of time, and the 2ND form the for the PAST field.
The infinity symbol is to mean that something cannot be exactly calculated, similarly to the ■→PI, π. It is impossible to calculate natural languages mathematically.
Nobody can count all thinkable phrases or even words. To ascribe numerical values to alphabets, words, or phrases, we could be only arbitrary — our code would not represent any objective linguistic reality.
Spring Flowing Colors
We might think it takes at least two words to shape a phrase, and the Simple does not have the phrase, sometimes. Phrases yet can work as room we make in our language. Verb phrases are the room for grammatical time, and one word is enough to make the verb phrase in the Simple.
Let us see language mapping in big letters, for all the Aspects so far.
AM, IS, ARE, learning
HAVE, HAS, learned
WAS, WERE, learning
WILL BE learning
WILL HAVE learned
Some grammars use the label “Continuous” for the “Progressive”. They mean the same Aspect in practice. Travelers in Grammar remains with the name Progressive.
There is one more Aspect pattern in English, the Perfect Progressive. We can get to know it better in Part 2 of the journey. Feel now most welcome to ■→3.2. THE PERSON “YOU”.
In the first part of the language journey, feel welcome to consider a picture for
■ the grammatical Past, Present, and Future;
■ the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect;
■ infinitive, auxiliary, and head verb forms;
■ the Affirmative, Interrogative, Negative, and Negative Interrogative;
■ irregular verbs and vowel patterns: high and low, back and front.
Third edition, 2022.
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The world may never have seen her original handwriting, if her skill was taken for supernatural. Feel welcome to Poems by Emily Dickinson prepared for print by Teresa Pelka: thematic stanzas, notes on the Greek and Latin inspiration, the correlative with Webster 1828, and the Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity.
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