From Time to Time Part 2: How Long and How Often?

26 Aug

Jean E Levy

big ben

This POST discusses the representation of TIME in narrative… although I must begin with a bit of grammar … and some tedious terminology.

But don’t let that confuse you.doubtful

Because it’s the ideas, rather than the terminology, that count …

In many languages, including English, verbs are used to indicate actions in TIME, and this is done via a number of tense and aspect combinations. Tenses locate actions along a linear timeline, revealing whether these actions are PAST, PRESENT, or FUTURE actions:


ASPECT is different. ASPECT provides extra information about actions wherever they sit along this timeline. ASPECT reveals duration, recurrence and regularity of actions and is, therefore, important to the PACE of a narrative.

Let’s consider two major VERB ASPECTS:

1. PERFECTIVE ASPECT – which describes an action that was, is or will be complete or limited.

                           Joe sat outside the Principal’s Office.

                           I smile nervously.

                           We will wait.

                           They have arrived

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From Time to Time 1: Present Tense and Past Tense Narratives

18 Aug

Read the first in my series of Blogs about TIME in Narrative:



28 Jun

There’s currently an exhibition on at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art called One-Way Ticket. It’s about the Great Black Migration from the South to the North … to avoid lynching, discrimination, poverty, starvation and wrongful imprisonment. I visited it on a recent trip to New York. It was very sobering to see, coupled with the history of slavery that I learned at Ellis Island. History makes me feel bad. I wish it was over.