The category of aspect


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In generl the ctegory of spect shows the wy or mnner in which n ction is performed tht is whether the ction is perfective совершенное imperfective несовершенное momentry мгновенное однократное itertive многократное повторяющееся inchotive зачинательное durtive продолженное длительное etc.In English the ctegory of spect is constituted by the opposition of the continuous spect nd the common spect.The opposition the continuous spect the common spect is ctulized in the following contrsting pirs of forms: Continuous Common...



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The category of aspect

§ 11. In general the category of aspect shows the way or manner in which an action is performed, that is whether the action is perfective (совершенное), imperfective (несовершенное), momentary (мгновенное, однократное), iterative (многократное, повторяющееся), inchoative (зачинательное), durative (продолженное, длительное), etc.

In English the category of aspect is constituted by the opposition of
the continuous aspect and the common aspect.

The opposition the continuous aspect <——> the common aspect is actualized in the following contrasting pairs of forms:



is speaking

was speaking

will be speaking

has been speaking



will speak

has spoken

The forms in the left-hand column (whether taken in context, or treated by themselves) have a definite meaning: they describe an action as a concrete process going on continuously at a definite moment of time, or characteristic of a definite period of time (hence its name - the continuous aspect). The forms in the right-hand column, if treated by themselves, are devoid of any specific aspectual meaning. They denote the action as such, in a most general way, and can acquire a definite and more specified aspective meaning due to the lexical meaning of the verb and specific elements of the context in which they are used. Thus, for example, the verb form
sang, when regarded out of context, has no specific aspectual characteristics, conveying only the idea of the action of singing with reference to the past. However when the same form is used in the context, it acquires the aspectual meaning conferred on it by that context. Compare the following sentences:
When he was young he
sang beautifully (пел = умел петь).

The fact that these forms may express different aspectual meanings according to the context, accounts for the term -
the common aspect.
Whereas all verbs can be used in the common aspect, there are certain restrictions as to the use of the continuous aspect. Some verbs do not usually have the forms of the continuous aspect. They are referred to as
statal verbs. The most common of them are the following:

^ Relational verbs have, be and some link verbs:

become, remain, appear, seem, sound.

However, both
to be and to have can be used in the continuous aspect forms where to be has the meaning to act and to have has a meaning other than to possess.

is so foolish!

have three brothers.

is being so foolish (acting foolishly) today.

am having dinner (am dining) now.

Other verbs having the same meaning of relation are not used in the continuous aspect forms:

to apply to

to belong to

to compare (to)

to concern

Verbs expressing sense

perception, that is involuntary reactions of the senses:

to feel (

to hear (

to see (

to smell (
чувствовать запах),

to taste (
чувствовать вкус).

However these verbs as well as

other statal verbs may be

sometimes used in continuous

and perfect continuous forms, especially in informal English.*

Verbs expressing emotional


to care, to detest, to envy, to fear, to hate, to hope, to like, to love, to prefer, to want, to wish.

Verbs expressing mental state:

to assume, to believe, to consider, to doubt, to expect, to find, to forget, to imagine, to know, to mean, to mind, to notice, to perceive, to remember, to suggest, to suppose, to think, to understand.

Care should be taken to

distinguish between some of

these verbs denoting a

mental state proper and the

same verbs used in other

meanings. In the latter case continuous aspect forms also occur. Compare, for example, the

following pairs of sentences:

consider (believe) her to be a very good student.

expected (supposed, thought) you’d agree with me.

feel (suppose) there is something wrong about him.

think (suppose) you’re right.

I’m still considering (studying) all the pros and cons.

I could not come for I
was expecting (waiting for) a friend at the time.

’m feeling quite cold.

am thinking over (studying) your offer.

am forgetting things more

and more now (beginning to


is understanding grammar

better now (beginning to


Moreover, all the verbs treated in

12 can occur in the continuous

aspect when the ideas they denote

are to be emphasized:

Don’t shout, I
'am hearing you perfectly well!