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Verb: the category of aspect

Verb: the category of aspect
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It is but natural that the verb should take up so much, or indeed, more space than all the other parts of speech we have so far considered, put together. It is the only part of speech in present – day English that has a morphological system based on a series of categories. It is the only part of speech that has analytical forms, and again the only one that has forms (the infinitive, the gerund and the participle) which occupy a peculiar position in its system and do not share some of the characteristic features of the part of speech as a whole.

In analysing the morphological structure of the English verb it is essential to distinguish between the morphological categories of the verb as such, and the syntactic features of the sentence (or clause) in which a form of the verb may happen to be used. This applies especially to the category of voice and, to a certain extent, to the categories of aspect and tense as well.

The order in which we shall consider the categories of the verb may to a certain extent be arbitrary. However, we should bear in mind that certain categories are most closely linked together than others. Thus, it stands to reason that the categories of aspect and tense are linked more closely than either of them is with the category of voice. It is also plain that there is a close connection between the categories of the tense and mood. These relations will have to be borne in mind as we start to analyse the categories of the verb.

One last preliminary remark may be necessary here. It is always tempting, but it may prove dangerous, to approach the morphological system of the verb in one language from the point of view of another language, for example, the student’s mother tongue, or a widely known language such as Latin. Of course the system of each language should be analysed on its own, and only after this has been done should to compare it with another. Anyway the assessment of the system of a given language ought not to be influenced by the student’s knowledge of another language. Neglect of this principle has often brought about differences in the treatment of the same language, depending on the student’s mother tongue.

We will begin the analysis of each verbal category by examining two forms or two sets of forms v differing from each other according to that category only.


The category of Aspect is a linguistic representation of the conceptual category which is defined as Aspectuality, the latter reflecting the objective category of Manner of action.

The problem of Aspect in English has always been one of most disputable and controversial. The discrepancy in views upon aspects in English is elicited by the diversity of their definitions.

First of all, Aspect should be defined in its linguistic status as a morphological category which represents Aspectuality in morphological or lexico – morphological ways.

The recognition of the morphological nature of Aspect makes it possible to exclude from aspects different lexical and it possible to exclude from aspects different lexical and lexico – syntactical devices of expressing Aspectuality which are widely used in Modern English. It follows that the number of aspects in a language and their character depend on how many and which of the notions of Aspectuality are represented lingually in the language by means of morphological or lexico – morphological devices.

Commenting upon the realization of the category of Aspect we should bear in mind that there is only one morphological verb – form

which marks Aspectuality and signifies Continuality or Durativeness.

Referring back to the point mentioned previously, a distinction between Continuous and non – Continunous aspective forms mustbe made. Furthermore, the Continuos forms is marked analytically by the Vbe + Ving marker whereas the non Continuous is, on the contray, unmarked. The paradigmatic meaning of the Continuous forms n English is “Durativeness” or Progressiveness”.

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