Chapter 8. Alchemy of time for beginners

Most grammar resources agree that we have four Aspects in English, Simple, Progressive (or Continuous), Perfect, and Perfect Progressive (or Perfect Continuous). By the label, we can say the Perfect Progressive should have features of the Perfect and the Progressive.


We have correlated the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect Aspects with cognitive mapping values, {ON}, {IN}, and {TO}, compare chapter 4.


__ESSENCE 3 VALUE with patterns


We extracted general patterns for the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect in subchapter 3.1.



We can compare Perfect Progressive examples, as online or in books, and note a general pattern for it, too.



Let us think how this pattern might be built. We can reckon the verb to be from the Progressive takes the place for the head verb in the Perfect pattern.




The verb to have in the Perfect attracts the third form. The Progressive auxiliary be takes on the third form, within the Perfect pattern.




We can have the Perfect Progressive for a merger of the Perfect and the Progressive. Our alchemy makes room for the head verb in the merged, Progressive pattern.




We can try it with our bimo, as well as real verbs. Click here for the color code and virtual words.


I (you, we, they) have been bimoing.
He (she, it) has been bimoing.
I have been writing.
He (she, it) has been reading.
You (we, they) will have been talking.


Let us think about the meaning of our alchemy.


We can use the Perfect to say what has progressed TO a time.




We can use the Progressive to tell what is progressing IN a time.




The two combined, the Perfect Progressive can help tell what has been progressing IN a stretch of time we refer TO another time.




What language marker (preposition) could we choose for our merged variable? We could think about “into”, to join the “in” and “to”. However, “into” may mean the same as “in” or “to” alone, dependent on the context. The westerly wind frolicked into eddies, in exercise 44 (chapter 7.1). “Into” may make an impression more formal or emphatic than “in” or “to” on their own.


Let us think about the preposition AT.

Something has been progressing AT this time.

Value AT illustration


If our moment in time belongs with the FUTURE, we can say,
AT a time, something will have been progressing.


If our moment belongs with the PAST, we can say,
AT a time, something had been progressing.




Some grammar books will associate our feature TO with the Aspect we also can  name the Perfect Simple. Some may have the name Perfect Continuous, for our variable AT.


Psycholinguistics says that naming processes do not change the ways language forms can work for brains. Book authors are people, and people happen to differ in approaches. Language forms can work regardless of grammar labels.


Our visualization also is not to fix a picture for language. We do not have to stay with the same visuals for all time. We can present our mapping on one extent, as well as a few extents.






We also can recur to the River of Time (chapter 3).




We can merge our Progressive and Perfect arrow cue features (please refer to chapter 5.1).





Perfect tenses have an open time frame: they connote another, simultaneous reference in time. Let us think about the Perfect Simple. The PRESENT Perfect Simple can embrace some time with reference TO the PRESENT.


17. Madame Règle has lived in Paris for fifteen years.


Real time open frame

The open frame here looks TO the PRESENT, regarding a time fifteen years ago.




The PAST Perfect Simple can refer one time in the PAST TO another time in the PAST.


17a. Before moving to Paris, Madame Règle had lived and worked in Lyon, the silk capital of France, for five years.


Real time open frame

The open time frame looks TO the PAST, regarding a time five years before.




The FUTURE Perfect Simple may look to a time span from the PRESENT TO the FUTURE. Our basic or nodal time reference is the PRESENT, but we can think about the PAST as well.


17b. Tomorrow, Madame Règle will have lived and worked in France for twenty years.
(Altogether, in France, she has lived in Lyons and Paris.)


Real time open frame

We could say the open time frame embraces the language pool for the PRESENT, which regards also the PAST, and loops TO our logic for the FUTURE.




Madame Règle is an avid reader. She never really reads one book only. She usually has a small book with her, tied to her bag with a colorful scarf like with a string. She says that actually being able to look at a book makes it more present to her mind. At the same time, there is always another, bigger book she reads at home.


REGLE book


The practiced school habit of stringing books together might have had its advantages. Jill shares the behavior sometimes.


The auxiliary HAVE can work with Modal verbs. We can visit chapter 9.2 and have a glance. When learning a language, it is fine to go forward and backward, to get what the story brings. I always have done so myself. I hope Madame Règle also is a possible personality.


The Perfect Progressive makes a dual time reference and has an open time frame, the same as Perfect Simple. The Perfect Progressive can highlight a process, its time span or dynamism.


Let us think about the verb to read. We write the verb to read identically in the first, second, and third form. We say it differently.


1st form     2nd form     3rd form


read     read     read


[rI:d]     [re:d]     [re:d]


The verb to have takes the third form.


17c. Madame Règle has read [re:d] a book about a French thinker, René Descartes.
(She has finished.) {TO}


When we merge the Perfect and the Progressive, our pattern has room for the head verb in the Progressive.




17d. She has been reading [rI:dI Ƞ] a series of philosophical commentary books.
(Her reading is still in progress, she has not finished yet.) {AT}


We do NOT use the third form twice and we do not add the ING to it. The following example shows the potential error.

17e. She has been * [re:dI Ƞ].


Let us return to our variable {ON}. Could we have it for our basic cognitive reference? Feel welcome to further journey.